Weekly digest: what’s happening in Open Science?

Amy Williams

Featuring the ‘Companion to Shakespeare’ for open access research, Europe PubMed Central begins to index preprints, and Projekt DEAL’s decision to abandon negotiations with Elsevier.

Will this new AI platform be the ‘Shakespeare companion’ of open access research? via Impactstory

As any schoolchild knows, study companions are essential to understanding Shakespeare. A text so rich with flowery language and classical references can seem impenetrable for anyone but those already versed in the specific contexts of the writing. Is this so different from the complex and technical language of science? The makers of Unpaywall this week announced their plans to build what will essentially be a study companion to scientific research in the form of a website called Get the Research. The project is being designed to help non-specialists to read and understand scientific research. The website will be built on the Unpaywall infrastructure and will link users to open access versions of articles across the Web. This underlying infrastructure will be augmented with AI, which will scan the text of research papers and generate a study guide to the paper in real time, with definitions explained and plain-language context provided.

What is evidence-based medicine? via Open Pharma

From the first of our series on the Evidence Live conference, this post explores what the term ‘evidence-based medicine’ actually means, why we need it, and how to practice it. The piece is based on a talk at Evidence Live by David Nunan, who is the author of an introductory paper on evidence-based medicine that looks at the top ten papers you need to know about in order to get started.

Europe PubMed Central to begin indexing preprints via Europe PMC

Europe PubMed Central (PMC) has announced that, from July this year, the platform will start indexing preprints in addition to peer-reviewed papers. Preprints will have to have a DOI in order to be registered, meaning that preprints in the new Lancet trial hosted on the Social Science Research Network will not be included. Other major preprint platforms, such as bioRxiv, F1000Research, all of the Open Research funder specific platforms and PeerJ Preprints will be indexed, however. Aside from enabling faster dissemination of scholarly research findings amongst the research community, Europe PMC also hopes to analyse future preprint usage data generated by Europe PMC to inform studies on the impact of preprinting on scholarly communication, such as the length of time between preprinting and publication, and the rate at which preprints are cited compared with final publications.

Projekt DEAL abandons negotiations with publishing giant Elsevier via the German Rectors’ Conference

While journal subscription costs climb year over year even though scholarly content is more and more often freely available via open access, universities across Europe are beginning to protest. A primary agitator in this space has been Projekt DEAL, the consortium of German universities that earlier this year cancelled subscriptions to Elsevier journals. Following the cancellation, journal access was temporarily extended by Elsevier in the hope that negotiations would yield a plan palatable to both sides. This week, however, Projekt DEAL representatives announced that the consortium would be abandoning negotiations with Elsevier owing to the publisher’s refusal to commit to a plan “in line with the principles of open access that is financially sustainable”. Negotiations with other scholarly publishers are ongoing.