Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring concerns over predatory journals infiltrating PubMed, priorities for
Plan S, new guidelines for open peer review and the first full open access agreement for Springer Nature

Should we fear the predatory journals lurking on PubMed? via The Publication Plan

PubMed is the first port of call for many researchers searching for scientific articles. Thus, it came as a shock to some members of the academic community that more than 10% of predatory journals in the fields of neurology, neuroscience and rehabilitation are being indexed on the PubMed database, as revealed by two studies published by Professor Andrea Manca and his colleagues. It is believed that articles published in predatory journals may have leaked through PubMed Central, one of the three citation databases that supplies PubMed. Further research has found higher rates of predatory journals listed on other digital resources such as Scopus and Google Scholar. To address concerns about the presence of predatory journals on PubMed, the National Institutes of Health and some university libraries have issued guidelines for authors to help them avoid predatory publishers.

Upcoming priorities for Plan S via cOAlition S

A major criticism of Plan S is the short time frame in which participating funders, organizations and institutions have to comply with its implementation guidelines. Acknowledging these concerns, cOAlition S has released a set of priorities and goals for the coming months. The first two of these priority tasks are to assign an open access champion to promote Plan S to research funders and other stakeholders, and to establish a secretariat to help with putting the plan into effect. In addition, two task forces will be assembled to monitor the effects of the plan on the scholarly publishing community and to identify areas in which organizations are struggling to comply with the current guidance. cOAlition S has also identified the need to work towards developing clear approaches to transformative agreements and editorial costs.

Opening the peer review process via The Publication Plan

The scientific community is demanding transparency, not just in terms of clinical trial reporting but from publishers as well. One way for publishers to increase transparency is to move from a blind to an open peer review model. To help ease this transition, a set of guidelines has been developed and published in Research Integrity and Peer Review. The guidelines highlight the key principles of open peer review, identifying key forms of openness in peer review; for example, open identities (according to which, identities of both authors and reviewers are disclosed to each other) and open reports and interaction (according to which, the reviewers’ comments and subsequent discussions are published alongside the article itself). The authors suggest that editors identify key elements of open peer review to set a clear path to achieving these goals. The article also highlights the need to include the wider scientific community, not only in the peer review process but also in the development of the open peer review process.

Springer Nature’s number of open access agreements hits double digits via Info Docket, Library Journal

This week, Springer Nature signed a landmark full open access agreement with Sweden’s Bibsam Consortium, representing institutional libraries, and four of Sweden’s funding bodies (the Swedish Research Council, Formas, Forte and Vinnova). The new deal will allow researchers affiliated with participating organizations to publish in more than
570 of Springer Nature’s open access journals, including Nature Communications and Scientific Reports, without facing any direct costs. This, in addition to the recent read-and-publish transformative agreement signed between Springer Nature and UNIT in Norway, takes the number of Springer’s open access deals to ten, reflecting the publisher’s goal to speed up the transition to open access.