Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring the release of the ISMPP open access white paper, the threat of predatory publishers to the student community and the opinions of faculty members on open access publishing models

Open access – what’s at stake? via ISMPP

This week, during the 15th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) in National Harbor, MD, USA, the society’s President and CEO Al Weigel announced the launch of the ISMPP open access white paper titled A multistakeholder discussion on open access and medical publishing’. The first of its kind to be released by ISMPP, the white paper features discussions on Plan S, Creative Commons licensing and the challenges faced by the scholarly publishing community. After acknowledging that the meaning of open access is inconsistent between journals, the white paper describes the most common open access publishing models currently available. The white paper concludes by presenting the views of the different stakeholders affected by the open access movement, namely those of publishers, industry, academics and patients.

Ambitious students falling prey to predatory journals via The Runner

As postgraduate research programmes become more competitive, there is growing pressure on undergraduate students to publish their research. This pressure makes students easy prey for predatory publishers because, although many academics are familiar with these publishers, less experienced researchers may not even be aware of their existence. Lured by the hope of accelerating their academic career, students pay large sums of money to submit their work to predatory publishers and are rewarded with subpar peer review and publication in a disreputable journal. The article alerts students to the warning signs that a journal might be predatory, including submission fees and short waiting times from submission to publication. It also directs readers to helpful resources such as Beall’s list and predatoryjournals.com. Association with predatory publishers not only comes at great financial cost to students but may also damage their chances of being accepted onto some postgraduate research programmes.

Academics don’t always practice what they preach via The Scholarly Kitchen

Last week, Ithaka S+R released the results of their latest US Faculty Survey used to monitor changes in higher education publishing, research and teaching practices. The findings reiterated the notion that open access publishing is of interest to faculty members, with almost two-thirds of respondents stating that they would be happy to see a full transition from traditional subscription-based publishing to open access models. Although this opinion was particularly strong among the younger faculty members, their attitude was not always reflected in their behaviour – their career progression still centred on journal impact factor and prestige. Overall, faculty members were more concerned about the personal costs they may incur in the form of open access article processing charges than making their research outputs freely available. The full report can be found here.

Can you fix what’s already broken? via Samuel Moore

Despite the clear benefits of open access for the research community, academic progression is still based on journal impact factor and reputation. Although open access advocates hope to, one day, see decisions on career progression based on a researcher’s commitment to data sharing and positive attitude towards open research, this has yet to become common practice. Although acknowledging the good intentions behind this idea, this article raises the important question of who should initiate these changes and how to account for the different opinions of the people involved. For example, the opinion of a university administrator is likely to differ to that of a junior researcher. Most importantly, these problems cannot be fixed by persuading researchers in the infancy of their careers to change their behaviour; change must come from those who have already climbed the career ladder.