Weekly digest: Peer Review Week, paper mills and Asian open access

Mark Elms

Following on from the last digest, this week we look at what happened in the latter part of Peer Review Week. First, we link to an overview of the personal highlights of Nicola Nugent – a member of the Peer Review Week steering panel. We also read about UKRI’s plan to evaluate peer review processes in the UK, the release of a new research integrity toolkit for peer reviewers, and an interview with Simon Linacre from Digital Science. Finally, we hear about the results of a survey on the good and bad aspects of open peer review. Outside of Peer Review Week, we read about the launch of a software tool to root out paper mills, the future of Asian open science, and PLOS’s continuing mission to change the APC business model.

To read:

Peer Review Week: a week in review via Peer Review Week | 3-minute read

With Peer Review Week 2022 now at an end, Nicola Nugent (Publishing Manager at the Royal Society of Chemistry and member of the Peer Review Week steering panel) provides us with some of her personal highlights from the week. These include webinars from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) on managing paper mills and from PLOS on building trust in science communication. Nicola also highlights some infographics and resources for improving peer review processes. You can catch up on many of last week’s events here!

Peer Review Week: UKRI to evaluate their peer review process via UK Research and Innovation | 6-minute read

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) provides funding for research institutes in the UK via taxpayers’ money. Therefore, their processes for peer reviewing grant proposals and funding research must be efficient, cost effective and fit for purpose. This article by Dame Ottoline Leyser (Chief Executive of UKRI) outlines UKRI’s mission to evaluate their current peer review processes, particularly focusing on efficiency, diversity and culture, and the potential risk of bias.

Peer Review Week: a new research integrity toolkit via Scholastica | 5-minute read

Research integrity is vital for maintaining trust in research publications. Ensuring that research is ethically and materially sound also allows future research to build upon previous findings. A critical tool for ensuring research integrity in submitted articles is peer review, but it can often be difficult for reviewers to spot instances of publication malpractice. To aid peer reviewers, Research Square and Scholastica have launched a ‘Research Integrity Toolkit’ infographic, which highlights the key takeaways from a blog series on research integrity provided during Peer Review Week 2022. You can find links to parts 1–3 of the blog series here.

Peer Review Week: interview with Simon Linacre via Inspired Selection | 6-minute read

As part of this year’s Peer Review Week theme of research integrity, Simon Linacre (Head of Content, Brand & Press at Digital Science) has provided his thoughts on the reproducibility crisis, the challenges in tackling research malpractice, and the current and future landscapes of peer review.

Peer Review Week: a scholar’s survey on open peer review via ScienceOpen | 5-minute read

Peer review is a fundamental process in scientific publishing, but there has been debate over whether the process should be made more open and transparent. To explore the viewpoints of a diverse group of scholars with experience in peer review, ScienceOpen have carried out a survey to understand the pros and cons of open peer review. The main finding of the survey was that “only half of the respondents are willing to publicly publish their name as well as their peer review report”. It is hoped that open peer review initiatives, such as the ‘Publish Your Reviews’ initiative, will help to increase this number over the coming years.

Sounding the paper mill alarm via Nature | 3-minute read

Paper mills are a serious problem in the world of research publishing. But a software tool called the ‘Papermill Alarm’ – developed by Adam Day from Clear Skies – has recently gained interest from publishers for being able to root out ‘red-flag’ articles that potentially come from fraudulent paper mill sources. The alarm uses deep-learning algorithms to flag articles that are worthy of further investigation by comparing the language used in the titles and abstracts with that used in papers that are known to come from paper mills. Worryingly, preliminary testing of the software flagged 1% of more than 34 million published articles listed on PubMed as potentially coming from paper mills.

Asian research powerhouses likely to implement open access mandates via Inside Higher Ed | 3-minute read

Asian countries comprise five of the top 15 research-producing countries in the world, namely China, India, Japan, South Korea and Iran. In the wake of the recent White House open access mandate on federally funded research, as well as the Plan S initiative in Europe, these Asian research powerhouses are now expected to take similar great strides towards open access.

PLOS doubles down on changing the APC model via STM Publishing News | 2-minute read

One of PLOS’s open science missions is to ensure that there are “equitable opportunities to publish” open access. To aid in this mission, all PLOS journals offer open access business models to institutional partners, which aim to overcome the often prohibitive article processing charge (APC) model. These APC-alternative models include flat free agreements, global equity partnerships and community action publishing. This movement is growing, and PLOS has announced that it has partnered with 181 institutions across 26 countries to enact change to the APC model. The number of institutions has almost doubled from 93 last year, and the number of countries represented has leaped to 26 countries from only six last year. You can see PLOS’s list of institutional partners here.

Have you seen our commentary about user perspectives on plain language summaries? Read it here in Current Medical Research and Opinion.