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The next wave of Open Access? If you never try, you will never know!

Image credit: Umbrella movement, Alex, K.M. Yau, Flickr, CC BY
Image credit: Umbrella movement, Alex, K.M. Yau, Flickr, CC BY

One question that has always intrigued me is “what new activities are enabled when Open Access content from different publishers is available on the same platform and the community is given the tools to curate it”?

Now, thanks to the growth in Open Access content, our latest feature release which includes refined search and community tools for content curation (thanks Ed, Dave, Raj and Jeff from the Dev team), it could just be that I am one step closer to finding out.

To get back to basics, ScienceOpen offers three main services to researchers:

 

1. We aggregate OA content from other sources

2. We offer rapid publishing services

3. We facilitate expert peer review after publication

The new features that we just released on Friday last week, were built to help researchers find and curate content from nearly 1.4mm articles on our site (per 1. above). All the major OA providers have content here, PLOS, BMC, F1000Research, PeerJ etc. While we were working on this release, we also added new drill down search options including the ability to filter by content source: ScienceOpen, ArXiv and PubMed Central. This is an important add because the community said they wanted greater delineation between our own and mirrored content. The first step for us in response to this feedback was to offer visual markers and now we’ve added filtering to make this abundantly clear.

In terms of what to do with the articles once they have been located, we’ve developed a rather nifty Collection tool to help draw content together and customize it’s appearance, you can see two initial examples here using our own content: ScienceOpen Research and ScienceOpen Posters.  We’ve also developed a new role called “Community Editor” and our Editorial team will offer these positions to researchers (the role carries a modest stipend). These indiviudals can choose which existing content they want to feature in their Collection and if they wish, decide which articles need to be written in order to fill content gaps and call for more. Editors are also empowered to invite others at all career levels to assist them. It also seems likely that societies, disease organizations and other groups will be interested in customized channels and they are equally welcome to get involved.

So what’s motivating us to do this?

Image credit: justinc, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA
Image credit: justinc, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

It’s about democratizing publishing in the broadest possible sense of the phrase.

  • We believe that siloeing OA content on Publisher’s websites isn’t in the true spirit of Open Access and we’re proud to be first to break the mold in this regard. Which publisher brands research is irrelevant as long as the content is sound.
  • We believe that “journals”, whether “mega”, highly specialized or super selective are becoming outmoded. What we need are channels where OA content can be digitally spliced, diced or amassed in anyway the community prefers.
  • We believe in giving the power for content creation, curation and review fully back to the research community who have the discipline specific expertise to do the best possible job in these roles. Researchers, at all career levels, gain valuable roles (as Reviewers and Community Editors) and experience which raise their professional profile and give them some (DOI’s, modest stipends) recognition (more is required).
  • We believe that whether content is “worthy” is a matter for the community, which is why we only offer Expert Post-Publication Peer Review (Non Anonymous).
  • We believe that the conversation about research is never over, that’s why we don’t put a hard line under content and call it “approved” and why we offer versioining.

We recently hired Richard Gallagher, an esteemed alum of Nature, Science and The Scientist, to the ScienceOpen team in the role of Consulting Editor, to help us develop this vision.

We may be a tiny minnow, swimming with some big fish in an even larger pond, but we are relishing our role of moving with (and sometimes against) the tide to transform research communnication.