Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Sarah Hewitt

This week, we hear about researchers whose fellowship applications were rejected because they had cited preprint articles and we look at why we should challenge preprint citation restrictions in journals. Meanwhile, a recent report has assessed the extent of funder pressure to suppress results, and we hear from the co-founder of the open-source computing tool Jupyter. Finally, we learn about a series of peer review workshops aimed at breaking down research barriers in Africa.

Fellowship applications rejected for citing preprints via The Guardian | 7-minute read

The Australian Research Council (ARC) recently banned the citation of preprint material in its fellowship applications, a decision that has caused the applications of several early-career researchers to be automatically rejected. The new rules also mean that pieces of software and technical documents stored on preprint servers cannot be cited in fellowship applications. Critics have described the move as “out of keeping with modern scientific practices” and have called for a review of the decision. The Guardian speaks to six researchers who have been affected by the ban.

Requests to remove preprint citations from manuscripts should be challenged via ASAPbio | 4-minute read

Following on from ARC’s preprint ban, we learn about what can be done to challenge journals that discourage preprint citations. Although many journals explicitly allow the citation of preprints, some prohibit this practice to prevent the spread of citations of preprints that later may not pass peer review. However, not allowing preprint citation forces authors either to use information that informed their work without attributing the source or to withhold relevant information from their manuscript. This article suggests that authors should challenge editors who ask them to remove a preprint citation by explaining why the work needs to be referenced, emphasizing in the paper that the article is a preprint or requesting a change of journal policy.

One in five researchers report pressure to supress health behaviour intervention research findings via Nature | 4-minute read

A recent global survey has called into question the influence of funders on outcomes of health behaviour intervention research. Researchers were asked if they had encountered any form of results-reporting suppression, including pressure to change research methods, to alter a study’s conclusions or to delay publication. Overall, 18% of the 104 respondents reported pressure to suppress results. Moreover, this pressure largely came from government department funders rather than from industry funders, charities or public research funding agencies. Reluctance to publish because results were deemed unfavourable was the most common form of research suppression, followed by requests to alter conclusions.

Co-founder of Jupyter on the benefits of open science tools via University of California, Berkeley | 16-minute read

Twenty years since the inception of IPython, which later evolved into the open-source interactive computing platform Jupyter, co-founder Fernando Pérez discusses why he started the project, the importance of open-source software and what is next for Jupyter. Fernando, an Associate Professor in Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that sharing open science tools accelerates the scientific process and facilitates fair access, especially because the use of proprietary software is often prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, granting free global access to research tools allows input of diverse expertise to help people to collaborate to solve large and complex problems.

Peer review workshops attempt to address imbalance in Africa via The Scholarly Kitchen | 14-minute read

The peer review process has attracted increasing criticism owing to its intrinsic biases and the prevalence of low-quality feedback, and because it forms a barrier to publication. Researchers in Africa have historically faced several barriers to peer review participation. To try to address this, representatives from four community-driven organizations (AfricArXivEider AfricaTCC Africa and PREreview) developed a series of virtual peer review workshops for African scientists and non-African scientists working on topics relevant to Africa. This guest blog describes their approach to organizing these workshops, the topics covered and their future projects.

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