Weekly digest: preprints, research sharing and free medical textbooks

Luke Bratton

This week, we read about the expanded preprint services for authors submitting papers to PLOS journals, and the introduction of open access interdisciplinary medical textbooks. We consider the implication of a court case forcing the removal of content from ResearchGate, and we hear from the former editors of discontinued journals. Finally, we share a survey about academic publishing.

To read:

PLOS expands its list of journals offering preprint options via PLOS Blog | 3-minute read

In January this year, PLOS partnered with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to transfer authors’ prospective articles directly to the medicine-focused medRxiv preprint server. Initially available for PLOS Medicine, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases and PLOS ONE, this free service has now been expanded to include PLOS Global Public Health and PLOS Digital Health. PLOS have been offering a similar service with bioRxiv since 2018. In 2020, 14% of all papers published by PLOS had an associated preprint.

Court ruling forces the removal of articles hosted on ResearchGate via Nature | 6-minute read

The popular research-sharing platform ResearchGate has removed 50 articles from its website that were deemed to have breached publishers’ copyrights. The move follows a court ruling in Munich, Germany, in a lawsuit filed by Elsevier and the American Chemical Society. It is thought that the case could set a precedent for millions of articles on the ResearchGate website, uploaded by approximately 20 million users. ResearchGate argues that it would not be in the interest of authors for such platforms to become unavailable.

Open and free medical textbooks via Virginia Tech | 5-minute read

Virginia Tech’s Open Education Initiative plans to host a five-book series of free pre-clinical medical textbooks published by Virginia Tech Publishing. The effort is a direct response to the lack of interdisciplinary textbooks for topics related to the human body – an area that has traditionally been dominated by costly single-discipline tomes. The first two books in the series Cell Biology, Genetics, and Biochemistry for Pre-Clinical Students and Neuroscience for Pre-Clinical Students have already been published, with the remaining three scheduled for launch later this year.

Drivers of journal discontinuation in Australia via The Conversation | 5-minute read

Between 2011 and mid-2021, around 140 Australian journals permanently ceased publishing. An article published in Learned Publishing last month aimed to understand why by surveying 53 editors from the discontinued journals. Key factors included a lack of support and funding, heavy reliance on voluntary editorial work, academics having less time to review and edit submitted articles, and the pressure on authors to publish in highly ranked journals, driving them away from smaller, local journals.

To engage with:

A survey of trends in academic publishing via STM Publishing News | 1-minute read

Publishing solutions provider Deanta is hosting a survey to see how publishing practices and attitudes have changed during the COVID-19 crisis. The survey, open to those working in the publishing industry, takes around 10 minutes to complete and is live for the next 4 weeks. The previous survey, covering academic trends during 2020, reported that 20% of respondents predicted that the rise in open access publishing would cause a fall in publisher revenue, and 38% were in support of the article processing charge model for open access publishing.

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.