Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Sarah Hewitt

This week, one of the world’s largest biorepositories for neurological disorders has become accessible to all, and CzechELib and Taylor & Francis have signed a transformative agreement. We also look at the progress made towards a transformative agreement between Elsevier and UK universities, and learn about a bot that detects citations of retracted articles. Finally, we examine the drawbacks of transformative agreements and the modern obsession with the peer review process.

C-BIG Repository biobank now fully open access via The Neuro | 5-minute read

The Neuro, a research institute and hospital in Canada, has launched the C-BIG Repository, the first open science biorepository for neurological disorders. The resource will grant researchers free access to anonymized patient data, including imaging data, genetic data, rare patient specimens and patient-derived cell lines. It is hoped that access to the repository will accelerate the development of effective treatments for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

CzechELib signs transformative agreement with Taylor & Francis via Taylor & Francis | 1-minute read

CzechELib and Taylor & Francis have signed a new transformative agreement that will allow 18 institutions in the Czech Republic to publish open access in over 2000 Taylor & Francis journals. Additionally, all previous publications will become open access by 2022. The agreement will also allow CzechELib member institutions to freely access subscription content by Taylor & Francis.

Elsevier: the UK’s last major transformative frontier? via Cambridge University Libraries | 4-minute read

Despite publishing at least 20% of the UK’s research output, Elsevier is yet to establish an open access agreement with UK universities. This piece, from Cambridge University Libraries, discusses the negotiations around the upcoming renewal of the contract between Elsevier’s ScienceDirect collection and Jisc. In line with the open access mandates of Plan S, the renewal of the UK’s largest subscription contract, due December 2021, will focus on establishing a transitional or transformative open access agreement. 

The retractions terminator: hasta la vista to retracted articles via The Publication Plan | 1-minute read

Approximately 0.04% of published articles are eventually retracted, but many are still cited, with the vast majority of citing articles failing to acknowledge the retraction, albeit unintentionally. The dissemination of retracted data poses a clear threat to the validity of scientific literature. Alongside initiatives such as Retraction Watch, the scite Reference Check bot flags instances in which a retracted article has been newly cited and publicizes these retractions on Twitter. For a fee, the bot can also check a reference list from an uploaded manuscript.

Transformative agreements: the Goliath of open access publishing? via PeerJ blog | 4-minute read

Open access journal PeerJ argues that transformative agreements are slow, anti-competitive and a hindrance to the global transition to open access publishing. They draw on a recent study that found that following the Projekt DEAL open access negotiations between German research institutes and publishing giants Springer Nature and Wiley, publication numbers in these journals increased at the expense of other journals. Following transformative agreements with large publishers, academic libraries may be left with fewer funds for smaller open access journals.

Time for a peer review of peer review? via Elemental | 7-minute read

Discussing the god-like status of peer review, Mark Humphries argues that the process is overhyped, time-consuming and often fails to guard against fraud, plagiarism or scientific errors. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider peer review as the ‘gold standard’. After all, the author argues, only one of Einstein’s 300 publications was ever peer reviewed.

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