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The Time is Ripe for ScienceOpen Collections

Image Credit: Tsuji, Flickr CC BY NC-SA

With nearly 2 million scholarly articles published each year and very limited time (squeezed in between grant proposals, departmental reviews, teaching, writing and the occasional family dinner!), researchers have to pick and choose carefully which articles they read. Recommendation by trusted colleagues is one of the most important filters used by researchers to make decisions on where to focus their attention. This is where ScienceOpen Collections come in!

An academic journal provides topic-specific bundling, editorial selection, quality assurance and often a sense of community. But with shrinking library budgets, spiraling subscriptions prices and new digital tools, it may be time to look for an alternative. Why not facilitate experts themselves to create “virtual journals” after publication drawing from all available articles, regardless of publisher or journal? Readers will still enjoy the authority and selection of thought leaders, authors can enjoy the prestige of having their article “included” and the cost to the library – zero. Plus, shifting prestige to post-publication structures can also prevent “sky-is-the-limit” APCs for fancy brand journals as we move towards more Open Access.

The ScienceOpen Collections offer an expert selection of academic articles across all journals to bring out those hidden gems and undervalued new hypotheses. With post-publication peer review, rating tools and discussion forums, they also invite the reader to contribute – and on ScienceOpen every peer review report is treated as a citable published article with a CrossRef DOI.

This week we are launching several new collections. Professor Dr. Barry Marshall won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastric ulcers in 2005. In his collection “When did Helicobacter first colonise humans?” on ScienceOpen he explores the evolution and history of both the bacteria and its relationship with humans. “I appreciate the opportunity to pull together papers from different sources into a thematic collection and start a discussion around them,“ he commented.

Professor Gwyn Gould, at the Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology of the University of Glasgow has begun a collection “GLUT4 Biology” to open up a discussion on the regulation of fat and muscle cell glucose transport by insulin. With an estimated 387 million people suffering from diabetes, it is essential to understand the underlying biology. Professor Gould chose to create a ScienceOpen collection because “diabetes research draws upon work published in many different disciplines and distinct journals; keeping track of this can be tricky, especially for new graduate students. I plan to use this as a forum to initiate discussion with a community of scholars interested in this area, but with a particular desire to see graduate students join in and comment on articles of note, and to suggest their own contributions.”

Professor Bernd Fritzsch, Co-Director of the Aging Mind and Brain Initiative at the University of Iowa has created a collection on “Hearing Loss and Restoration“, a topic of increasing importance for our aging society. Hearing impairment is likely the most frequent ailment of the growing cohort of seniors worldwide.  While not immediately life-threatening, it cuts seniors off their established communication pattern with possibly serious consequences on mental health and social embedding.  Making an annually updated collection of relevant papers that help people see the gain in hearing loss prevention, repair and restoration will serve to align research goals with the needed community outreach of those suffering from this social impairment.

Dr. Johannes (Jan) Velterop has been involved in developing the concept of “Nanopublications” as a means to deal with information on a large scale, at least to construct an overview of the existing knowledge in a certain field and to find possible new connections or associations in the scientific literature that are implicit and have never been explicitly published as such. It is hoped that this approach will offer a way to ingest and digest the essential knowledge contained in large numbers of relevant scientific articles that are increasingly more of a burden and less of a possibility for researchers to read one by one.

“It is as simple as pick and choose,” says Alexander Grossmann, co-founder of ScienceOpen. “My own scholarly publishing collection has already attracted 25 000 researchers. It is terrific that I can now also track the aggregated social mentions.”

With many new collections soon to join these examples, we are excited about this expanding feature. To find out more about becoming a collection editor check out our information here or contact me (Stephanie.Dawson@ScienceOpen.com).

So pick and choose your apples and let’s make an apple pie for the holidays. Together we can change scientific communication to be faster, fairer, less expensive and more open!