Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Sarah Sabir

Featuring the latest results from the Good Pharma Scorecard, the newest signatories to DORA, incentives for sharing data and potential barriers to mandating open access.

Score for pharma companies! via FiercePharma

A study published this week in The BMJ revealed that data sharing by pharma companies for new drugs is on the rise, with 95% of patient trials now providing public results within 6 months of FDA approval. Increased data sharing is crucial for advancing therapies, generating knowledge and maximizing the use of data, as well as strengthening trust in pharma. The Good Pharma Scorecard developed a tool to assess data sharing policies and practices among large pharma companies. Initially, the researchers found that 25% of pharma companies fully met standards for sharing data, including registering clinical trials, sharing data and protocols and reporting requests for data. However, when they were given the chance to improve scores, this rose to 33%, indicating that this tool can not only be used to standardize practices but also catalyse change. Roche and Novo Nordisk were the top-scoring companies for pharma trial transparency, with perfect scores for both trials and data sharing.

Meet the newest signatories to DORA via Cambridge University News

This week saw the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Press sign up to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). Developed during the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in 2012, DORA recognizes the need to improve the ways in which scholarly research outputs are evaluated. The global initiative calls for institutions to avoid using journal-based metrics, such as impact factors, to influence the recruitment, promotion or funding of individuals when assessing researchers’ contributions. Alignment with the DORA principles is just one of the University’s most recent actions to improve the area of scholarly publication. In February 2019, Cambridge became one of the first universities to publish a position statement on open research, outlining its aim to increase the transparency and reproducibility
of research.

Share your way to more citations via Chemistry World

Journal policies are increasingly encouraging or mandating authors to provide data availability statements in an effort to make research results open and reproducible. An analysis led by researchers at the Alan Turing Institute may now provide an additional incentive for authors to state where data supporting the results in a published article can be found – for example, whether they are available in a public data repository, as supplementary information, upon request or not at all. The researchers examined
532 000 articles in over 350 open access journals published by PLOS and BMC between 1997 and 2018. One-third of these articles included data availability statements. The analysis showed that research papers that linked to a repository via a URL or other permanent identifier were cited up to 25% more often than those that did not. This citation advantage could incentivize more researchers to make their data transparent.

Access all areas? via *Research Professional

Although pharma has shown clear progress in disclosing clinical trial results, Chris Winchester from Oxford PharmaGenesis highlights that, to maximize the benefits to society, data need to be made more accessible and usable. Companies including Shire (now part of Takeda) and Ipsen have taken on this challenge and introduced mandatory open access policies, but why are these companies the exceptions rather than the norm, when half of medical research is funded by pharma companies? Reasons may include the fact that not all journals offer open access to pharma, regulation by the pharma company itself – for example to avoid the risk of appearing to promote products when publishing preprints – and the fact that GPP3 guidelines state that authors ultimately select the journal to publish in, making it difficult for pharma companies to commit to such a policy.