Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Caitlin Edgell

This week, we learn about a moon shoot for an intellectual property-free COVID-19 antiviral, Clarivate’s acquisition of ProQuest and the unfolding discoverability crisis. We also look at an announcement from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whether machines could replace peer reviewers and bioRxiv’s new discussion feature. Finally, we get an expert view on trust in science.

Moon shoot for open access antiviral via PR Newswire | 3-minute read

Biotechnology company PostEra has received a grant from independent medical charity LifeArc to support its COVID Moonshot initiative, a collaborative project that aims to develop a globally accessible, intellectual property-free oral antiviral against COVID-19. PostEra, which specializes in machine learning for drug discovery, is currently optimizing drug candidates and hopes to begin preclinical studies within 3 months. What’s more, it is freely sharing all of its research data so that the scientific community can be more prepared for future pandemics.

Clarivate to acquire ProQuest via Clarivate | 15-minute read

Analytics company Clarivate has announced its acquisition of educational technology company ProQuest for US$5.3 billion. This acquisition will add ProQuest’s online database of scholarly material to Clarivate’s large portfolio of technology services and software, which includes Web of Science and EndNote. Critics are concerned that this could give Clarivate more power to analyse user data to turn open access resources into private data sets. Read more commentary on this story here and here.

The discoverability crisis via Research Professional News | 4-minute read

To date, more than 200 000 papers on the COVID-19 pandemic have been published. But how can researchers – many of whom are new to the field – keep on top of this growing mountain of literature? In this opinion piece, Peter Kraker (Founder and Chairman of Open Knowledge Maps) argues that this issue goes beyond the pandemic and that traditional scholarly search engines – which usually present users with long, unstructured list of results – have failed to keep up with a publishing ecosystem that sees millions of papers published every year. Peter, therefore, calls for more sustainable funding for innovative not-for-profit search engines such as Base, Core and OpenAIRE.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joins Vivli via Vivli | 2-minute read

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has become a member of the global clinical data-sharing platform Vivli. This move will allow recipients of grants from the foundation to use the Vivli platform as an approved repository for their clinical trial data. The Vivli platform provides a searchable repository of participant-level data from completed clinical trials, in line with the foundation’s commitment to funding research that is “findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable”.

I, Reviewer: will machines replace peer reviewers? via The Publication Plan | 2-minute read

Research has indicated that artificial intelligence (AI) could speed up the peer review process. In a recent paper, researchers trained their AI tool on peer-reviewed conference proceedings with known peer review outcomes, then tested it on papers to see if the AI could predict how they would be scored by real peer reviewers. The AI performed well, particularly in judging the readability and quality of formatting of a paper, suggesting that AI could be used to perform initial screening checks on manuscripts. However, there are concerns that this could lead to bias against authors who are non-native English speakers. Read more coverage of the paper here.

bioRxiv incorporates scientific discussion via bioRxiv | 2-minute read

Life sciences preprint server bioRxiv has introduced a new feature: the dashboard launch bar displays different sources of discussion, including blogs, community reviews, comments and Twitter, and provides links to these discussions. This will allow users to discover scientific discussions about preprint manuscripts deposited on the server more easily.

Trust in science: the expert view via The Scholarly Kitchen | 10-minute read

How do we foster trust in science? In this article, Tracey Brown (Director of Sense about Science) Richard Sever (Assistant Director at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and Co-Founder of the bioRxiv and medRxiv servers) and Eefke Smit (Director of Standards and Technology of the International Association of STM Publishers) discuss what ‘trust in science’ means and how organizations like scholarly publishers can improve this trust. Ideas include making peer review more transparent, making it easier to publish negative findings, and developing better procedures regarding retractions.

We at Open Pharma would like to continue to encourage all our readers to look after themselves and their community and to continue to follow advice from their country’s government and health organizations.

Coronavirus mental health and well-being resources:

Mind UK

Mental Health Foundation UK

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention