Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring mirror journals, fresh Plan S guidelines and new software to help open access publishers to index their articles properly.

Are mirror journals no longer the fairest of them all? via The Publication Plan

For many researchers, hybrid journals represent the middle ground between open access and subscription journals. By paying an article processing charge (APC), authors can publish in their journal of preference and choose to make their paper open access. Many hybrid journals have been called out for ‘double-dipping’ (charging both APCs and for subscriptions). However, hybrid journals will not be compliant with the open access publishing stipulations outlined in Plan S. One alternative to using hybrid journals would be to use mirror journals, which are fully open access versions of existing subscription-only journals. Articles published in mirror journals are subject to the same editorial board and review processes as the existing journals, thus negating any concerns surrounding academic integrity. However, recent implementation plans state that mirror journals will also be considered non-compliant unless there is a plan for the original journal to transition to full open access during a specified time frame. The article points to a clear need for publishers to find alternative solutions to meet the requirements of Plan S.

New guidelines tighten Plan S’ strings via The Scholarly Kitchen

Plan S is subject to increasing scrutiny since the release of its implementation plan, which shares information on publishing, reporting and technical compliance. Following criticism that Plan S is too vague, the updated guidance on the implementation of Plan S has now been deemed as too restrictive, particularly in respect to publishing in hybrid journals. To be compliant with Plan S, hybrid journals must sign a transformative agreement, guaranteeing their transition to full open access publishing within 3 years. Despite new guidelines, the details of this transition remain unclear. In addition, the implementation plan does relatively little to address the ambiguity surrounding the APC model, and the waivers and discounts proposed for lower- and middle- income countries, respectively. Finally, the article suggests that this new guidance may be easier for larger publishers to implement with smaller, independent publishers less well equipped to conform to this new system.

New software announcement from Scholastica via EurekAlert!

In agreement with Plan S, open access journals will now be required to have a full-text XML version of all published articles. However, open access publishers often lack both the time and the means to create proper XML documents for data archiving and indexing purposes. Already providing open access publishers with tools for peer review, Scholastica has announced new automations for depositing articles and metadata. These automations, which are available to all journals already using Scholastica’s open access publishing software, are designed not only to help the open access publishers but also to help manage the cost constraints associated with open access journals.

The increasing popularity of preprints via The Official PLOS Blog

Last week, the preprint server bioRxiv reached a new milestone of 1300 preprint posts. Authors submitting to PLOS have the option to share their paper on bioRxiv during the initial submission process. The opt-in service has seen more than a 10% rise in authors who are publishing in PLOS journals to opt for PLOS to post a preprint on their behalf. With concerns from some academics surrounding preprints, PLOS hopes to reassure authors that each opt-in paper is thoroughly screened by editors ensuring high data sensitivity, with updated information available online. The article suggests a potential shift in the attitude of academics towards preprints that PLOS hopes will continue throughout 2019.