Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Sarah Sabir

Featuring the development of a new evidence framework for discussing hot open science topics that can be used to address misinformation in scientific publishing, the introduction of transparent manuscript-handling processes, and making the costs of clinical trials publicly available.

Hot topics on scholarly publishing via Publications

The international open access journal Publications recently welcomed manuscript contributions to their special issue New Frontiers for Openness in Scholarly Publishing. Currently, several aspects of the movement towards open science are widely debated in the research community. Progress in scholarly publishing is often hindered by misinformation and lack of evidence. This month, Jon Tennant and colleagues published an article titled ‘Ten hot topics around scholarly publishing’ in a bid to provide an evidence framework for the most discussed topics in open science. Among other issues, the article covers concerns over preprints and the threat of scooping, the link between open access and predatory publishing, the limitations of bibliometric databases, and article processing charges for gold open access publishing. Evidence provided in the paper will be useful for informing changes in policy and practice.

PLOS journals to publish peer review history via PLOS blogs

This week brought some exciting news from open access publisher PLOS. Authors submitting to any of the seven PLOS journals will now have the option to publish the peer review history of their paper alongside their manuscript. This will enable a more open publication process and will increase reviewer accountability and research transparency. The publication of the decision letter, the reviewers’ comments and the authors’ responses will also help to increase public understanding of how scientific claims are validated. In addition, a more transparent manuscript-handling process will reveal the context in which evaluation is made and will thus pave the way to further scientific discussion. Finally, reviewers who wish to cite their reviews and get credit for their work will be able to do so because each peer review history will be allocated a digital object identifier.

Can sharing the costs of clinical trials improve policy making? via Knowledge Ecology International

The decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Health Assembly, met this week in Geneva, Switzerland for its 72nd annual meeting. Attendees discussed the proposal that costs for individual clinical trials should be reported and made publicly available. Arguments made against transparent costings raised concerns that governments may use simple cost-plus pricing policies that would encourage excessive spending on research and development as a result of misinterpreting the data. However, the benefit of sharing trial costs is that the government would be able to use this information to budget accordingly, to introduce appropriate incentive mechanisms for the development of new drugs, particularly antibiotics, and to challenge drugs that may be too highly priced.