Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring the release of the AMWA-EMWA-ISMPP position statement on predatory publishing, the hidden disclosures of medical journal editors, the citation advantage of preprints and the launch of the Open Pharma Calendar of Open Access Events.

Taking up position against predatory publishing via The Publication Plan

In a joint position statement released earlier this week, the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) and the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) took a stand
against predatory publishing. The organizations state that predatory publishers pose
a serious threat to the scientific community, and that publishing in such journals may damage the integrity, reliability and quality of scientific research findings. It is therefore the responsibility of researchers, medical writers and editors to evaluate the reputation and publishing practices of all prospective journals.

The statement lists the characteristics of predatory journals, including rapid peer review, large numbers of recently established journals with limited numbers of published articles, and editorial boards composed of members outside of the journal’s ‘speciality’. The full position statement is available to read and download here.

Conflicts of interests – not just for authors via Science

Conflicts of interest (COI) were a hot topic at Evidence-Based Medicine Live 2019. Presentations and group discussions during the final day focused on current issues with the disclosure of COIs and the steps that authors could take to improve disclosure transparency. Most journals require authors to disclose any potential COI. However, a recent study published in BMJ Open revealed that only 12% of the leading medical journals apply these rules to their own editors. Of the 130 medical, imaging and surgery journals included in the study, 50% of the journal editors had received payments from industry. Ironically, most of these journals have endorsed publication policies that encourage the disclosure of COIs. Over 70% of the journals belong to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), which recommends that editorial COI should be disclosed, and 45% claim to adhere to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) standards of transparent publishing. Surprisingly, the publishers did not deny these claims when questioned, and assured Science that they are taking steps to ensure that all editorial COI are disclosed internally and challenge their involvement in any relevant publications.

A win for preprints via The Publication Plan

The pros and cons of preprints in medical publishing have sparked numerous debates over the last few years. However, is the recent finding that articles that have been published as preprints have higher citation levels and Altmetric scores than articles that have not been published as preprints finally a win for preprints? The study, published in June 2019, revealed that the number of citations to articles published as preprints in bioRxiv was 61% higher than articles without a preprint. Articles published as preprints also had higher mean counts for social media shares on Twitter and on blogs than those not published as preprints. Although the cause of this citation advantage remains to be assessed, the authors suggest that it may be indicative of an increased willingness by researchers to cite unreviewed publications, an interesting thought given the current debates surrounding the future of the peer-review process.

New Open Pharma Resource via Open Pharma

Keeping track of upcoming open access events can be challenging! With this in mind, Open Pharma have developed the Calendar of Open Access Events. The calendar is available to view or download from the Resources page of the Open Pharma Blog or from our figshare page.