Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Featuring an interview with the architect of Plan S, the legal case being brought against ResearchGate, and a systematic review on the open access citation advantage.

An interview with the architect of Plan S via Open and Shut?

Plan S has spurred debate within the world of scholarly publishing since its launch in early September by ‘cOAlition S’, a group of 13 major European research funders supported by the European Commission. The plan sets out bold open access principles, outlining how research funded by subscribing institutions must be shared from 2020. In this interview, journalist Richard Poynder speaks with the plan’s architect, Robert-Jan Smits, who is the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission. Smits’ answers are concise but address some of the vagueness for which Plan S has been criticized. Smits gives essentially the same answer to each of Poynder’s questions: Plan S is not partisan, and any option that is in line with its 10 guiding principles is encouraged. Smits makes clear that he does not seek to target or advocate for any single publisher and would simply like publishers to develop compliant routes to publication for researchers funded by cOAlition S. The goal of cOAlition S is an open access future, but the path to that future, it seems, is to be decided by publishers and researchers.

ResearchGate sued by major academic publishers via Nature

Elsevier and the American Chemical Society have launched legal proceedings against the academic social networking site ResearchGate, in the latest copyright infringement claim against the site. ResearchGate is used by researchers to network and share their papers with one another, with the goal of facilitating collaboration. However, Elsevier and the American Chemical Society claim that this sharing violates copyright law because the papers are often officially copyrighted by the journals in which they are published. The move has prompted criticism from many advocates of open science, who argue that researchers should be at liberty to share the research papers they have worked on if they so wish, and that ResearchGate simply facilitates this.

Is there an open access citation advantage? via Information Technology and Libraries

The open access citation advantage is the elephant in the room for many open access advocates: does open access publishing boost academic careers? Many studies have found that open access articles seem to receive slightly more citations than traditionally published articles, but it is hard to prove whether this is caused by the article being open access or is simply correlated with it. Given that researchers or journals may choose open access publishing for ‘exciting’ research, sceptics contend that this research is inherently more likely to receive a greater number of citations. This article does not find any definitive evidence to confirm an advantage, but argues that recent papers have provided enough information to show correlation, and hopes that other groups will work to finally prove or disprove the citation advantage. The possibility of libraries being able to negotiate lower journal subscription fees as a result of the increase in the number of open access articles is also explored.

New Zotero integration finds free PDFs with Unpaywall via Zotero

Zotero, the research management tool that helps users to collect, manage, cite and share relevant papers, preprints and news articles, has announced this week that its latest version is integrated with the open access via Unpaywall. This integration will allow users to find freely available PDFs of the research papers they have saved into their libraries.