Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring a summary of Scholastica’s interview with Stuart Taylor, revised feedback on Plan S from Springer Nature and the development of a community-led publisher

The futile cycle of brand-name publishing via Scholastica

In an interview with Scholastica, Stuart Taylor, Publishing Director at The Royal Society, discusses the role of the scholarly community in driving the open access movement. He states that one of the major barriers to the open access movement is the emphasis academics place on brand-name journals. He goes on to highlight how the power to change this lies with funders, institutions and individual researchers. The scholarly community is stuck in a futile cycle whereby publishers promote the brand-name journals based on the needs of the academic community. The demand for these journals will continue to rise until measures other than impact factor are used to determine career progress in academia. This could be achieved by using a combination of more creative assessments, such as a researcher’s commitment to public engagement and data sharing, or by adhering to the principles of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment.

The Royal Society is trying to set an example of good open access principles to other publishers by requiring all submitting authors to have an ORCID iD, and by introducing a very strict data-sharing policy and open peer review on some of its journals. Taylor concludes by discussing the UK Scholarly Communications Licence (UK-SCL). Institutions that adopt the UK-SCL model will require their researchers to grant them with a non-exclusive worldwide licence to any publications they produce. Provided publishers are given advance notice, universities will be able to store a copy of such publications in their repository. A pioneer group of universities is expected to sign up to the SCL towards the end of 2019.

Driving and not just enabling open access via Springer Nature

Earlier in 2019, Springer Nature was one of the many open access stakeholders to provide feedback on the implementation guidance on Plan S. Like many other publishers, it also expressed its support for hybrid journals. Despite this support, cOAlition S remains convinced that hybrid journals are not compliant with Plan S. In a radical new proposal, Springer Nature outlines a new approach whereby publishers will help to drive, rather than simply enable, the open access movement. This would be led by a group of Transformative Publishers involved in advocating and promoting open access, and in educating the scholarly community on the benefits of the model. This active approach in promoting open access publishing would first involve publishers committing to transformative ‘Read-and-Publish’ deals, followed by the transition of subscription and hybrid journals to full open access. The article also emphasizes how even highly selective journals, such a Nature, should commit to this transition.

From Elsevier to community-led publishing via Scholastica

Upon the end of his contract with Elsevier, editor and open access advocate Lajos Balogh, along with a team of associate editors, launched the fully digital open access publishing organization Andover House. The organizations aim is to provide a good-quality, supportive publishing forum offering a quick turnaround of reliable and cutting-edge research to the scholarly community. In 2018, the publishing organization launched its first open access journal Precision Nanomedicine (PRNANO), using Scholastica’s peer review and publishing platform. With four issues already available, PRNANO accepts original manuscripts covering various topics ranging from basic science to clinical research, in addition to replication studies and reports of negative results. Articles become accessible online under a CreativeCommons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 licence before being organized into quarterly issues. Despite the journal’s success, Balogh recognizes that PRNANO still has a long way to go before the journal gains credibility and increases its reach within the scholarly community.