Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Steph Macdonald

Featuring the pros and cons of ‘patient-orientated research’, a new addition to the Medical Publishing and Insights Practices (MPIP) open access toolkit and an update on Plan S.

Is it time for patients to call the shots? via Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy

The gateway to clinical trials is often guarded by the investigators. They decide which therapy areas and diseases to investigate, what research questions to answer, and how to measure the success of the treatments that are tested. Although this approach has led to significant advances in medical research, is ‘investigator-led research’ really the most efficient way to run a clinical trial in today’s research environment? Clinical trials are conducted in and for patients, so shouldn’t they have a say in what research questions are worth addressing and what outcomes need to be measured? By engaging with patients, investigators can ensure that questions of the greatest benefit to those affected by the disease under study are asked, and that the most appropriate and relevant outcomes are measured. Patient involvement in the early stages of a clinical trial has also been shown to lead to high rates of recruitment and patient retention, which are essential to any clinical trial.

However, ‘patient-orientated research’ is not without its challenges. It takes time for individual research team members to engage with patients, and – as concluded by research teams exploring recruitment of and engagement with patients in Australia, Canada and the UK – there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this process. The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy has stated that it plans to support its authors in ‘patient-orientated research’ through a patient-partnership editorial series, which will describe the best approaches to establishing and maintaining future patient partnerships.

A new tool for open access advocates in the pharma industry via MPIP Transparency Matters 

In late 2018, the MPIP initiative launched their Open Access Reference Site to help to answer the growing number of questions about open access publishing. This was followed by various collaborative webinars aimed at assisting publication professionals to understand open access. Last week, MPIP launched the latest tool in its open access series, the Open Access Journal Tool for Industry, a free resource that that allows authors and publication professionals to search for journals offering open access options for industry-funded publications – a handy tool for many of our Open Pharma followers! The tool brings together information from over 300 journals across 30 therapeutic areas, which means that authors no longer have to reach out to individual journals to access their policies, saving them both time and money. With more journals to be added in 2020, MPIP hopes that the accessible and easy-to-use platform will facilitate the uptake of open access for industry publications.

Plan S – where are we now? via cOAlition S

A little over a year ago, cOAlition S announced its controversial plan towards universal open access. Plan S mandates that, from 1 January 2021, all publications funded by public research grants must be published in compliant open access journals or platforms. This week, the Wellcome Trust, in partnership with UK Research and Innovation and on behalf of cOAlition S, has appointed Information Power to develop a collaborative communication framework that will facilitate stakeholder communication on open access publishing services and transparent pricing practices. The project, which commenced earlier this week, will complete in December 2019. The full story is available from the Information Power press release.

In other news, the World Health Organization has this week announced its plans to join cOAlition S. What started as a group of 11 European organizations is now a global movement with members in the USA (e.g. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and Africa (e.g. National Science and Technology Council, Zambia). It will be interesting to see whether this news encourages any other global organizations to pledge Plan S.