Weekly digest: open access recommendations, transparent publication policies and open peer review

Luke Bratton

This week, we highlight recommendations from the Budapest Open Access Initiative to address obstructions to open access publishing, and the ON-MERRIT recommendations for maximizing equity in research. We read a letter to publishers from cOAlition S calling for transparent publication policies, and we look at the benefits and risks of transparent peer review. Finally, we look at how preprint servers and traditional publishers can combat misinformation.

To read:

BOAI’s 20th anniversary recommendations via BOAI | 32-minute read

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) celebrated its 20th anniversary on 14 February 2022. To mark the occasion, the BOAI have published four recommendations to address obstructions to open access: (1) the infrastructure used to host open access material should be built and hosted using open source software and practices; (2) methods used to assess bids for research funding and justify researcher career progression, such as journal impact factors, should be reformed; (3) publishing and distribution channels that do not exclude authors on economic grounds should be favoured; and (4) careful consideration should be given to the potential impacts of paying large commercial publishers for open access.

ON-MERRIT recommendations for maximizing equity in research via Nature | 5-minute read

ON-MERRIT is a project funded by the European Commission to investigate how open science affects the research system. In this article, Tony Ross-Hellauer (Leader of ON-MERRIT and the Open and Reproducible Research Group at Graz University of Technology and Know-Center, Austria) argues that, despite the good intentions of the open science movement, some practices, such as charging fees to publish open access, could worsen existing inequalities. In an article available on the open science platform Zenodo, ON-MERRIT researchers identify four key areas of risk and make recommendations to overcome them to maximize equity in open research.

cOAlition S calls for clarity and transparency of publication policies via STM Publishing News | 3-minute read

Authors who wish to publish their research open access are sometimes met with restrictive policies or contractual clauses relating to copyright licences, fees and the re-routing of their manuscript to another journal. In a letter sent to publishers, cOAlition S requested that publisher submission workflows and process are made as straightforward and transparent as possible to help authors avoid a clash between the conditions of their grants and the open access conditions of publishers.

The benefits and risks of transparent peer review via The Publication Plan | 3-minute read

Transparent peer review is thought to introduce more accountability, credit and quality into the publication process. However, a number of risks should also be considered, including: bias based on author and reviewer identities; the impact of potential retaliatory reviews or the potential trading of positive reviews; and the introduction of article quality judgements based on the credibility of reviewers. The Publication Plan summarizes the positives and negatives of transparent peer review as discussed in detail by the PLOS Chief Executive Officer Alison Mudditt and Chief Scientific Officer Véronique Kiermer.

Countering misinformation with preprint servers and publishers via The MAP Newsletter | 6-minute read

The shift in readership of preprint servers during the COVID-19 pandemic brought into question the reliability of the format for medical research. Misinformation became an inevitable consequence of preprints, which allow almost anyone to publish preliminary work. The MAP Newsletter discusses how preprint servers can address such issues, and how traditional publications can help prevent public misunderstanding and misinformation stemming from medical research.

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.