Weekly digest: NIH mandate, a science search engine and article processing charges

Luke Bratton

This week, we read about a new open data mandate for NIH-funded research, and an upcoming search tool that will use a machine-readable database to answer users’ scientific questions. We also find out how article processing charges might act as a barrier for authors in the Global South, and how citation count relates to perceived research influence and quality. Finally, we highlight recent lectures on science in the media, and an upcoming open science festival at the University of Oxford.

To read:

An open data mandate for NIH-funded research via Nature | 6-minute read

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recently introduced an open data mandate for NIH-funded research. The new requirements, which came into effect in January of this year, will apply to around 2500 research institutions conducting biomedical research. Under the new plan, grant applicants will need to provide a data management and sharing plan including details of the planned publication of open data. It is hoped that the mandate will help to avoid failures of reproducibility of biomedical research.

New services to provide scientific insights for humans and machines via JISC Research | 2-minute read

The widening online access to scientific research is largely seen as a positive thing, but with such a vast amount of information available, it may be difficult and time consuming to find the answer to a given question. CORE is a not-for-profit service that provides machine-readable repositories of open access research. In collaboration with CORE, Consensus is developing a search platform to provide evidence-based answers to users’ scientific questions. It is hoped that the software, which uses natural language processing to aggregate peer-reviewed scientific findings, will be a remedy for the spread of scientific misinformation online.  

Article processing charges and the global divide in open access publishing via Nature | 3-minute read

Open access journals typically require authors to pay article processing charges (APCs) for publication. An investigation comparing paywalled journals and Elsevier’s open access mirror journals showed that fewer authors from low-income countries had publications in open access journals with APCs. This typically affected authors in the Global South, including those in the Caribbean, Latin America, North Africa, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Surprisingly, access to APC waivers in these regions were ineffective at promoting open access publishing.

The relationship between citation count and perceived research influence and quality studies via LSE Impact Blog | 6-minute read

A survey of almost 10 000 authors of recent publications examined the relationship between citation count and the perception of research quality and influence. Authors across 15 scientific disciplines were asked to rate the quality of specific studies they had cited in their own work and the influence the cited paper had on their research. This was then compared to the citation count for each paper. Results showed that just over 50% of cited studies were perceived by authors to have little to no influence over their research paper, but the most highly cited papers were perceived to have high influence. Revealing the citation count of participants’ cited papers reduced their perception of the quality of all but the most highly cited papers.

Creating open access research summaries for policy makers via Oxford PharmaGenesis | 4-minute read

Restatements are open access summaries of evidence that aim to assist non-specialist but informed policymakers on key scientific matters. In a lecture last week at Green Templeton College at the University of Oxford, Professor Sir Charles Godfray described the process of creating impartial and transparent scientific summaries in collaboration with a range of experts and stakeholders on topics such as bovine tuberculosis and how neonicotinoids affect insect pollinators. This talk was the third in the annual Green Templeton Lecture series on the topic of science and the media.

To engage with:

An inaugural open scholarship festival at the University of Oxford via Open Access Oxford | 2-minute read

The Oxford Festival of Open Scholarship (OxFOS) 2022 is a 2-week online festival providing researchers with the opportunity to explore and debate issues affecting open research. Following in the footsteps of the successful Open Access Oxford Week, which celebrated and promoted open access in Oxford annually from 2017 to 2019, OxFOS will include sessions covering open access basics, Plan S, Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation policies, and the future of open access research at Oxford. The festival kicks off on Monday 7 March and sessions can be booked online.

Have you listened to our podcast with Inspiring STEM Consulting about driving positive change in the communication of pharma-sponsored research? Listen to it for free here, along with the rest of the series – featuring how open access saves lives, accelerates discovery and promotes global equity.