Weekly digest: what’s happening in open science?

Amy Williams

Featuring a space-age solution to data sharing in drug development, the digital maze for accessing papers online, and a spotlight on patient-oriented research.

Will open data lead to the next phase in drug development? via Datafloq

There are many concerns associated with sharing data from drug trials – especially in light of the recent incidents of data privacy abuse. It is essential that people whose data is contained within those studies are safeguarded or else they may not contintue to participate. Companies also worry that their data might be misused by competitors. This article claims that technology can overcome these hurdles and facilitate data sharing, thereby enabling a paradigm shift in the drug development process. The author points to the opportunities presented by blockchain technology to secure data privacy and artificial intelligence to cut back on research waste in order to utilize the phenomenal research power wielded by drug developers fully.

How I learned to stop worrying and love preprints via Spectrum

This article tracks a researcher’s journey towards accepting preprints from a place of initial scepticism. Worries of scooping and worries that journals would reject their preprinted papers stood at the forefront of their concerns. In practice, however, none of these fears came true when they actually came to submit for publication.

Why is accessing journal articles such a hassle? via The Guardian

Website design guidelines suggest that users should be able to get where they need to be within three clicks or fewer – so why does it take researchers an average of 15 to access the papers they want? An astonishing 75% of pirated paper downloads from Sci-Hub are used by researchers who already have institutional access as the process is just too fiddly. These stats are of clear concern – libraries are spending millions on underused subscriptions, while unsustainable pirate websites are growing in popularity. This article suggests that new software, such as Unpaywall and Kopernio, might be the answer to these problems.

Canadian Medical Association Journal to put the spotlight on patient-oriented research via CMAJ

The importance of patient-oriented research has been highlighted in a recent review of kidney dialysis studies, which has found that only one in five studies addressed any of the top 10 priorities reported by patients undergoing dialysis and their caregivers. In recognition of the importance of engaging patients in study design, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) has announced a plan to introduce a dedicated collection of patient-oriented research outputs. These will be available through their open access journal CMAJ Open in order to encourage this valuable new approach to conducting research.