Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Featuring the open access citation advantage for research into poverty-related disease, Finland’s decision to join Plan S, and how ORCID can help the pharmaceutical industry.

The open access citation advantage for poverty-related disease research via PLOS one

Open access is particularly important for researchers working in developing countries, because it enables researchers and healthcare providers to access research even if their institutions are not able to pay for subscriptions to academic journals. As such, many research funders that focus on improving outcomes in developing countries have implemented open access policies. This study set out to quantify just how big a difference open access has made to the impact of research into poverty-related diseases. The results showed that papers published open access were significantly more prevalent in the top 1% and 10% of most cited papers in the selected disease areas, compared with similar papers published in traditional subscription journals.

Infographic: using ORCID within the pharmaceutical industry  via Open Pharma

Open Pharma has developed an infographic to showcase the benefits of ORCID identifiers for authors on industry-sponsored papers. ORCID has grown from strength to strength in recent years, with millions of IDs registered for academics across the globe. This infographic pulls out the significant benefits of ORCID for industry, making it easier to track the publications of collaborators, and helping funded authors to disclose their affiliation consistently. The infographic also features a case study showing the uptake of ORCID in a pilot conducted by GSK Vaccines, which encouraged internal authors to register for their own IDs.

Will medical preprints help patients?  via The BMJ

In this debate piece, the pros and cons of medical preprints are laid out. In favour of preprints are Harlan M Krumholz and Joseph S Ross, who have been involved in the development of MedRxiv. They point to the improved speed of dissemination and transparency of research for preprinted articles – benefits that have special relevance to medicine. In instances of epidemics and outbreaks, time becomes more important than ever, and the faster life-saving interventions can be proven and approved, the more people they will save. Transparency is also important – allowing researchers to work together and build on each other’s work while the often-lengthy peer review process is underway. Krumholz and Ross argue that we are past a point where the public can be ‘shielded’ from information, and that clearly labelled preprints with full disclosures can only serve to improve medical research. Taking the stand against preprints in medicine, Catherine M Otto argues that peer review is an essential element of ensuring the validity of scientific research, and that the basic errors so frequently caught in the peer review process could risk presenting a misleading picture to researchers reading preprints. She also argues that journal publication adds value by curating and presenting research with interpretation and context. She ultimately calls for a renovation of the traditional publishing system, not a circumvention of it through preprints.

Finland sign up to Plan S via Nature

Reactions and responses to Plan S have reverberated throughout the academic and publishing world since its announcement in early September, with some strongly in favour, and others strongly opposed. The Finnish national research authority seems to have been convinced by the merits of the proposals, as this week they announced that they will be signing up to the bold new plan, which sets targets for achieving full open access for research funded by its signatories by January 2020.