Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Caitlin Edgell

This week, we learn how open science is good for the planet, how Latin America is leading the way in the development of nation-level research databases and about a new funding model for open access books. We also look at how a Dutch university is abandoning researcher impact factor as a measure of success and how Clarivate has released an alternative to its journal impact factor. Finally, we learn why preprint servers might never replace journals.

Open science is good for the planet via OSF Preprints | 20-minute read

Science is one of our most powerful tools for combatting the climate crisis. However, it also contributes to the problem, with the average PhD project releasing the equivalent of 21.5 tonnes of CO2 in emissions – 2.6 times more than the average EU citizen releases in a year. To make their research more sustainable, scientists should adopt open science principles, argue the authors of this opinion piece. They explain that preregistration of studies could reduce resource waste by encouraging researchers to plan their data collection carefully; that sharing code and data sets could save resources by avoiding replication; that open access to research could improve public understanding of the climate crisis; and that an open and collaborative research environment may be vital for tackling such a vast challenge as the climate crisis.

Latin America leads the way with nation-level research databases via The Conversation | 5-minute read

National systems for sharing scientific expertise that collect information from researchers, institutions, repositories, open data sets and citizen scientists are vital for an open future. Though many parts of the world still lack integration between existing databases, countries in Latin America have led the way in this area. This article describes Brazil’s BrCris – which aims to organize all Brazilian research information, including data generated overseas – and Peru’s PerúCRIS – which includes directories of the nation’s human talent, scientific production, projects, institutions and infrastructure, available to be used by scientists and society alike.

Cambridge University Press pilots new funding model for open books via Cambridge Core Blog | 3-minute read

Cambridge University Press has announced a pilot for a new funding model for open access books – Flip it Open. Currently, most open access books are published using the gold open access model, under which the author pays a book processing charge to make their work freely available on publication. Under the new model, books will first be published behind a paywall but will later become open to everyone if and when the book generates a certain amount of revenue for the publisher. This means that the most popular titles will be the first to become open access, which represents a paradigm shift for book publishers who have historically been highly protective over their most used books.

Dutch university abandons researcher impact factor in favour of open science commitments … via Nature | 4-minute read

Utrecht University in the Netherlands has announced that, from 2022, it will abandon the use of researcher impact factor for hiring and promotion decisions. Impact factors are used widely as an easy but imperfect measure of researcher success, but this university has decided to instead judge researchers by other standards, including their commitment to the principles of open science. The decision is part of Utrecht University’s Open Science Programme, which aims to put the university at the forefront of open science.

… while Clarivate releases alternative to JIF via Science | 4-minute read

Analytics company Clarivate has released an alternative to its journal impact factor (JIF) that it hopes will allow for more accurate comparisons of journals in different disciplines. The new metric, the Journal Citation Indicator, accounts for the different publication and citation rates in different fields. Conversely, the JIF merely reports the average number of citations per article in a particular journal. The Journal Citation Indicator also looks at citations over a longer time period than the JIF and covers a wider range of journals. However, critics of the new metric are concerned that, just like the JIF, the Journal Citation Indicator may be used inappropriately for the evaluation of research and researchers.

Preprint servers won’t replace journals via The Scholarly Kitchen | 6-minute read

Preprints are an important tool for open science, but they will never replace journal-published articles, argues the author of this opinion piece. First, because preprints do not undergo formal peer review, they are not subject to the same rigour as journal articles, and they cannot be considered as equivalent to them. Second, the trend towards open access publishing and the acceleration of journal submission processes may make preprint servers redundant. Finally, preprint servers, which are usually not for profit, may simply be financially unsustainable in the long run.

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