Weekly digest: what’s happening in Open Science?

Amy Williams

Looking at who should be responsible for monitoring open access, a blockchain-based start-up seeking to revolutionize scholarly publishing, and a new system for comparing researchers across disciplines.

The EU Open Science Monitor controversy via The Guardian

Tensions have been running high following the publication of an article in The Guardian written by popular Open Science advocate Dr Jon Tennant. The article is critical of the EU’s decision to contract publishing giant Elsevier to oversee and monitor progress towards the EU’s Horizon 2020 open access publishing targets. Tennant argues that Elsevier’s previous hostility to open access and the potential conflicts of interest involved in the monitoring role mean that they should not be given sole responsibility for this important undertaking. Elsevier has released a response to the article, disputing Tennant’s assertions and accusing him of spreading misinformation, which Tennant in turn refuted in his own counter-post. The controversy has gained significant attention on social media, and the complaint to the EU Ombudsman developed by Tennant to oppose the appointment of Elsevier has gathered hundreds of signatures.

Stockholm University uses ‘Big Deal’ cancellation savings to fund open access via Stockholm University Library

As of 1 July 2018, the cancellation by Swedish Universities of their Elsevier ‘Big Deal’ subscription came into effect. The Stockholm University Library released a statement this week promising that the savings from this cancellation will be used to cover the article processing fees of papers published in fully open access journals. The statement also argued that the so-called ‘hybrid model’ of open access, which allows authors to pay for articles published in a subscription-based journal to be made open access, did not provide sufficient impetus for change.

Will blockchain technology revolutionize scholarly publishing? via Crypto Briefing

There has been a lot of hype surrounding blockchain technology since the Bitcoin boom in 2017. Budding entrepreneurs have been trying to capitalize on the craze, some with great success such as the creators of ‘Dogecoin’, a cryptocurrency inspired by a dog meme with a market cap of over $2 billion. But can this craze provide a legitimate solution to the woes of the scholarly publishing community? That is the hope of startup Orvium’s founders. In their new model, authors submitting manuscripts will retain control of their work and can choose whether or not it is free to access. The service will be free, but Orvium will take a percentage of the charge for access to any paywalled article. There are many who worry that blockchain could represent the next major financial bubble, and others who see it as a great opportunity to improve the efficiency of organizational systems.

Making relevant comparisons between researchers across disciplines via Inspiring STEM

Good publication metrics are essential for any academic hoping to advance their career. However, not all disciplines are the same – varying in size, scope and culture – meaning that difficulties can frequently arise when reviewing interdisciplinary work. This post outlines a potential solution to this problem: an interdisciplinary ‘exchange rate’ designed to ensure researchers from all backgrounds are given a fair shot at academic applications.