Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Featuring the researcher cast out for investigating his institution’s predatory publishing habits, the end of the replication crisis, and how to have your say on Plan S.

Researcher ostracized for his research into predatory publishing via Inside Higher Ed

Canadian economist Derek Pyne has been suspended from his job and all but fired for researching his colleagues’ publishing habits in order to analyse rates of predatory publishing. Pyne’s research showed that the majority of his fellow academics at the School of Business and Economics, Thompson Rivers University had published in predatory journals while working at the university; this was a finding that the university did not take well. In response to his publication, Pyne has been effectively banned from campus and is unable to teach or access the university’s library. The university originally claimed that Pyne’s banishment was a result of erratic behaviour but then found new reasons to maintain the ban after Pyne was declared fit for work by a psychologist. The Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship in Canada has taken up his case and is arguing that the university’s behaviour violates Pyke’s rights to freedom of speech. Thompson Rivers University has refused to comment specifically on the case but maintains that it greatly values academic freedom.

Plan S strategy now open for public consultation via Plan S

It wouldn’t be a weekly digest without at least one story about Plan S, and this week, it’s a big one. Since the release of the bold open access plan with support from the European Commission and 11 other national research funders in September of this year, Plan S has variously been highly praised and strongly criticized. The plan’s supporters have congratulated its progressive stance and far-reaching commitments, whereas its detractors have raised concerns that it is too prescriptive and that it limits academic freedoms. In response to the feedback it has received, cOAlition S, the consortium of organizations behind Plan S, has put together a comprehensive implementation document that addresses many of the ambiguities seen in earlier versions of the plan. This implementation guidance is now open for public consultation until 1 February 2019. One of the main concerns that have arisen so far in response to the guidance document is that many institutional repositories that currently facilitate green open access publishing will not be compliant under the new guidelines. This means that new systems and platforms will need to be developed if the green open access route is to remain an option for Plan S-sponsored researchers.

Is the reproducability crisis coming to an end? via PLOS Biology

Ensuring that research is reproducible is essential for the conduct of good science; if one cannot do the same experiment twice and get the same result, then chances are that not much has been learnt. In recent years, many scientists have drawn attention to some of the difficulties associated with being able to reproduce research results. In many instances, the research data are not available, the protocols containing details on the methodology of the experiments are not shared, and conflicts of interest are not properly disclosed. This phenomenon is known as the replication crisis and has been particularly profound in the fields of psychology and social sciences. In this research paper, the authors set out to see whether the increased focus on reproducibility and transparency has led to improvements in reporting standards and appropriate sharing of research materials. The paper finds that reproducibility and reporting standards are indeed improving following the public scrutiny of research practices, although it warns that more work still needs to be done.

New open science toolkit from Foster Plus via Foster Open Science

With the growing profile of open science, more and more people are seeking to implement emerging best practices in sharing their research. This is often easier said than done, however, and it can be difficult to find the right resources to get started. To address this difficulty, Foster Plus has put together several free training courses about open science, including videos and quizzes, to help people learn the basics. Each course takes 1–2 hours to complete and focuses on a different topic, including: an introduction to open science; best practices; open licensing; open access; and preprints.


Image courtesy of Stewart Black