Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring a fresh analysis of predatory publishing criteria, the development of an open access switchboard and a summary of feedback on Plan S

Identifying predatory publishers across the board via PeerJ Preprints

One of the many issues surrounding Plan S is the risk that authors may fall prey to predatory publishers that typically charge authors an article processing fee for open access publishing but provide limited or no editorial or publishing checks. Predatory publishers threaten both the integrity of academic publishing and the credibility of research outputs. To deter authors from submitting articles to predatory journals, several ‘blacklists’ (comprising journals with unethical and deceptive practices) and ‘whitelists’ (comprising journals that adhere to best publishing practices) have been published online. However, the criteria used to determine the nature of each journal remain vague. A paper published this week in PeerJ Preprints aimed to provide a better understanding of the inclusion criteria used in these lists through a systematic and comprehensive analysis of two blacklists (Beall’s and Cabell’s) and two whitelists (Cabell’s and the Directory of Open Access Journals). In general, high levels of overlap were observed between the two whitelists and between the two blacklists. The criteria for inclusion in the whitelists focused on journal policy, whereas the criteria for the blacklists emphasized the journals’ business and publication practices. Despite covering most measurable variables, categorizations in the future may need to put greater emphasis on peer review.

Operating the Open Access Switchboard via OASPA

The successful implementation of Plan S will come with a fresh set of challenges for all stakeholders involved. In preparation for the launch of Plan S in 2020, many institutions and organizations have already started to implement their own open access policies and models. However, the sheer number of these polices may make their initiation and application complex. The success of platforms such as Crossref and ORCID inspired the development of the Open Access Switchboard, a centralized means of communication for publishers, funders, institutions and researchers that will facilitate the transition to open access models. The switchboard will enable publishers to assist authors with fulfilling journal criteria, with understanding what funding is available and with making a payment request when appropriate, while ensuring that the funding bodies and institutions that are involved remain informed and in correspondence with each other at each stage. With an ambitious launch set to coincide with the implementation of Plan S, and a website due to launch soon, there is still a long way to go before the details of the switchboard are finalized. Discussions between stakeholders over the next few months will centre on developing the switchboard infrastructure, engaging with the academic community, and the long-term governance of the switchboard.

Summarizing the feedback on Plan S via The Scholarly Kitchen

The response to the call for feedback on the guidance for the implementation of Plan S, which was launched by cOAlition S in November 2018, has been astonishing However, with the sheer volume of feedback provided, it is hard to obtain a clear view of the general opinion on the plan. In light of this, this week, The Scholarly Kitchen published a summary of the feedback given on Plan S to date. Most of the responses are in support of both open access and Plan S. It comes as little surprise that the most frequent points of criticism of the plan are the unrealistic time frames and the need for non-hybrid publishing models. Other common concerns are related to the technical requirements of the plan, implications for smaller, independent and society publishers and economic barriers for lower-middle-income countries. The article also calls for Plan S to publish a full summary of the feedback in addition to the individual responses already available in the public domain.