Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Sarah Hewitt

This week, we learn that all UKRI-funded research articles will be open access from next year and hear about a new collaborative research platform. We also learn that Frontiers has agreed a new open access deal in Asia, that analysis of Twitter conversations could serve as an early warning system for article retractions, and how high article processing charges could strike a blow to global equity in publishing. Finally, we hear how the removal of journal impact factor in university hiring assessments is causing a debate in the Netherlands and look at a proposal for a more open and transparent drug approval process.

UKRI commits to full open access via UKRI | 4-minute read

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has published a new Open Access Policy that will require immediate open access for all peer-reviewed research articles published from 1 April 2022. The new policy will apply to all research funded by UKRI, which encompasses Innovate UK, Research England and the UK’s seven disciplinary research councils, including the Medical Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council. UKRI will also be substantially increasing funding support for open access to help facilitate the new policy.

Funding for new collaborative research platform via Jisc | 3-minute read

Research England has awarded funding to Jisc and Octopus Publishing to develop a new platform for recording and appraising research. The platform, called Octopus, will report research in a unique format by breaking it down into eight elements: problem, hypothesis/rationale, methods/protocol, data/results, analysis, interpretation, real-world implementation and peer review. The platform, which aims to change the incentive structure for research communication, will be both free to publish and free to read.

Frontiers and Taiwan’s NHRI agree open access deal via Frontiers Announcements | 3-minute read

Research from Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) published by Frontiers will now be immediately accessible for free under a CC BY licence. Authors will also receive a 5% discount on article processing charges (APCs). NHRI is one of Asia’s leading medical research institutes, and the deal is the first of its kind for Frontiers in the region.

Tweets could speed up retraction of problematic articles via LSE Impact Blog | 6-minute read

Discussion between researchers and other experts on Twitter could help to identify problems with a publication before its retraction. A recent case study investigated the metadata of tweets relating to three retracted COVID-19 research papers. The researchers found that for two of these papers, problems with the study had been discussed on Twitter before the publications were formally retracted. Social media could serve as an early warning system for problematic studies.

APCs may leave researchers in some African countries unable to publish via Nature | 1-minute read

As publishers move away from subscription models, researchers in less affluent regions may be left unable to afford APCs. In an unpublished analysis, the authors of this article looked at 40 high-impact ecology journals and determined that the average APC was US$3 150. What’s more, only one-quarter of the journals surveyed in the study offered fee waivers to researchers in low-income countries. In Uganda, the APCs for just one article could pay for three master’s students, which could leave many institutions unable to justify the cost of open access.

Academics debate ban on impact factor-based hiring assessments via Nature Index | 5-minute read

A ban on using journal impact factors to decide researcher appointments and promotions is causing debate in a university in the Netherlands. Utrecht University now judges its scholars by activities such as teamwork, public engagement, leadership and engagement with open science rather than the impact factors of their publications. An open letter (in Dutch) opposing the new policy argues that it is unscientific and disconnected from international scoring systems. However, other researchers believe that the new policy will encourage comprehensive evaluation of candidates and move the focus of research evaluation away from journal impact factors.

A proposal for an open science drug approval process via PLOS Medicine | 8-minute read

In partnership with PLOS, the Health Research Alliance recently launched an essay challenge titled Reimagine biomedical research for a healthier future. Here, one of the two winning essays argues that current drug approval processes are not fit for purpose because they lack transparency, ask the wrong research questions and allow post hoc amendments. The authors propose an alternative open science pathway for drug marketing authorization. The new system would involve clinicians, researchers and patients from the start to ensure research value and clinical relevance.

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Coronavirus mental health and well-being resources:

Mind UK

Mental Health Foundation UK

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention