STM Newsletter August 2016

STM Newsletter August 2016

As the STM publishing sector continues to digest the likely implications of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, news of a potentially significant further disruption came from the Wellcome Trust, with its announcement of a new publishing platform, Wellcome Open Research, in partnership with F1000 Research. Scheduled to launch this autumn, the open access platform will provide researchers funded by grants from the Trust with a place to publish all the outputs from their study, “from standard research articles and data sets, to case reports, protocols, and null and negative results”. There will be no editorial function: all submissions will be published provided they pass what are described as “a series of objective checks”, and in most cases, publication will be “within a week of submission”. Peer review will take place post-publication, after which articles will be indexed in bibliographical databases and deposited in PubMed Central and Europe PMC.

In a post on the Wellcome website, Head of Digital Services Robert Kiley explained the thinking behind the decision in terms of the Trust’s desire “to improve the way research is communicated”, to “make the process faster and more transparent, and make it easier for researchers to provide information that supports reproducibility”. Reiterating Wellcome’s “long-held view that researcher assessment should be based on actual outputs – supported by article-level metrics and transparent comments from referees – rather than using the journal’s name as a proxy of quality”, he expressed the hope that other funding bodies would follow the Trust’s lead, so that “over time, funder-specific platforms will merge into a single international platform that’s open to all researchers.”

Such ambitions might seem to pose an existential threat to journal publishers, and the announcement was correspondingly greeted with enthusiasm by those keen to move away from existing models, with Paul Ginsparg, founder of the ArXiv e-print archive, describing the move to Science as “a potential game changer”. Over at the Scholarly Kitchen, however, Kent Anderson raised questions over potential conflicts of interest in funder-sponsored journals, and expressed concerns at the plan for reviewers to be invited by authors, describing it as “an abdication of objective peer review practices and responsible editorial approaches”.

Wellcome’s collaboration with F1000 was far from the only partnership announced last month. Writing and publishing tool provider Overleaf, part of the Digital Science stable, announced partnerships with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the UK’s Royal Society. Authors for the ASCE’s thirty-five journals, and the Royal Society’s Proceedings of the Royal Society A, will have access to bespoke enhanced authoring templates, and a simplified submission process. A collaboration between two more Digital Science ventures sees the integration of Altmetric badges into the Dimensions database of global grants, providing funders and institutions consulting the platform with a quick overview of the level of online attention garnered by particular research outputs. Meanwhile, HighWire, the Stanford-founded digital publishing platform which earlier this year opened a new European office in Belfast, announced that its Open Platform will now support ReadCube Connect, the interactive PDF viewer that adds a range of enhanced functionality to PDFs, including annotations, advanced analytics, and altmetrics.

Dates have been announced for this year’s second Peer Review Week, which will run from September 19th to 25th. The theme will be ‘Recognition for review’, exploring how the contribution made by the various participants in the review process can best be recognised. Last year’s inaugural week, described by planning committee chair Alice Meadows as ‘a small, experimental, toe-in-the-water kind of event’, proved a great success in its aim of celebrating the important role played by peer review in maintaining scientific quality. This year’s committee comprises representatives from twenty organisations, including publishers Wiley, Springer Nature, and Taylor & Francis, and other players such as Publons, ORCiD, and COPE, the Committee on Publication Ethics. Activities planned as part of peer review week include webinars, interviews, and social media activities around the hashtags #PeerRevWk16 and #RecognizeReview; anyone wishing to add their own event to the listings should email the organisers with a brief description.

alastair-horne Alastair Horne writes our STM Newsletter.

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