‘Open research’ isn’t just about sharing resources like data, code, and papers, although this is a big part of it. One big, and often under-appreciated aspect of it is about making research accessible, inclusive, and participatory. A major principle driving this is leveraging transparency to bring processes and factors that are currently hidden into public view.
One area of research and scholarly communication where the debate is still very much ongoing for this is for peer review – our system of validation and gatekeeping to the vast archives of public knowledge.
OpenAIRE have released an important new survey and analysis on attitudes and experiences towards ‘Open Peer Review’ (OPR), based on more than 3000 respondents (full data available here to play with). This is important, as OPR is all about the principles above – making the process transparent, collaborative, inclusive, and in the end, better!
Below, we discuss some of the major findings of the survey, and how we at ScienceOpen fit into the bigger picture of Open Peer Review.
The future is Open
The main result of the survey is that the majority (60.3%) of respondents are in favour of OPR becoming a mainstream scholarly practice, particularly regarding open interaction, open reports and final-version commenting. Part of this is due to the relatively lower satisfaction scores reported, with just 56.4% of respondents being satisfied with traditional closed peer review, and 20.6% being dissatisfied – a much lower gap than all previous reports. From the survey, more than three quarters of respondents had previously engaged with OPR either as an author, reviewer, or editor. This suggests that OPR, in one form or another, is already probably more common practice than we might think.
Interestingly, this development is similar to what we saw with other aspects of ‘open science’ such as open access and open data – there is debate, experimentation, variable implementation, and finally they start to become accepted as the norm as policies, practices, and cultures adapt. The survey also showed that 88.2% of respondents were in favour of Open Access to publications, a much higher value than several years ago. It also found that support for OPR is correlated with support for Open Data and Open Access, which is perhaps not surprising, although conversations regarding OPR are still in their relative infancy.
This suggests that as debates around OPR mature, we are likely to see an increase in the uptake and support of it, as with other areas of ‘Open’. Indeed, the survey also found a difference in generational support for OPR, with younger generations favouring it more over more-established researchers. As it is these generations who will inherit and govern the system in the future, it is more likely to have the characteristics that they favour.
Recently, our colleagues at OpenAIRE have published a systematic review of ‘Open Peer Review’ (OPR). As part of this, they defined seven consistent traits of OPR, which we thought sounded like a remarkably good opportunity to help clarify how peer review works at ScienceOpen.
At ScienceOpen, we have over 31 million article records all available for public, post-publication peer review (PPPR), more than 3 million of which are full-text Open Access. This functionality is a response to increasing calls for continuous moderation of the published research literature, a consistent questioning of the functionality of the traditional peer review model (some examples in this post), and an increasing recognition that scientific discourse does not stop at the ‘event’ point of publication for any research article.
At ScienceOpen, we invite the whole scientific community to contribute to the review process, should they wish to. The only requirement is that the person has to be registered at ORCID and have at least five publications assigned to their ORCID account to write a review (Scientific Members and Experts). If you do not satisfy these requirements and wish to perform a peer review at ScienceOpen, please contact us and we will make an exception for you.
Users with at least one publication assigned to their ORCID account are able to comment on a paper (Members). Please refer to our User categories for further details.
Hi Jonathan! Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a bit about your research interests?
My research is focused on the neuroscience of language processing, and how sensory and cognitive systems interact to enable communication. We are interested in questions like:
How can we understand people we’ve never heard before?
Why is having a conversation in noise harder for some people than for others?
How similar is brain activity across a group of people?
My lab spends a lot of time studying people with hearing loss and cochlear implants because of the profound effects these have on sensory processing. We rely on converging evidence from behavioral studies, structural MRI, and functional neuroimaging.
We recognise that some times it’s not clear exactly what you’re supposed to do when joining a new research platform. What are the important features, what’s everybody else doing, how do I make my profile as strong as possible? Well, hopefully this will make it easier for you. If you’re still wondering ‘What’s that ScienceOpen thing all about?’, hopefully this will add a bit of clarity too!
Here are the main things you need to know about ScienceOpen:
Get an ORCID account
More than 3 million researchers already have an ORCID account, which acts as both a unique identifier and an integrated profile for them. Registration for it takes 30 seconds, and is now a core part of scholarly infrastructure, with many journals requiring an ORCID profile prior to article submission. Make sure it’s well-populated with all of your published papers, (drawn automatically from Web of Science, Scopus, or CrossRef). Easy!
At ScienceOpen, we have been pushing for greater transparency in peer review since our inception. We inject transparency at multiple levels, by identifying referees, publishing reports, providing formal recognition for contributions, and encouraging open interaction on our platform (more details here).
This is why we’re extremely stoked to see the theme for this year’s Peer Review Week to be all around the theme of transparency!
In 2017, we are helping to organise a session at the Peer Review Congress to help showcase what peer review should look like when it works. We look forward to working with the other partner organisations and the global scholarly community in helping to make peer review a fairer, more transparent process.
A core concept for our evolving understanding of open research and scholarship is that of equity and fairness within the global research community. At ScienceOpen, this is something we strongly believe in, and work together with a range of publishers and researchers to play our part in making this a reality for research.
As part of our mission, we therefore try to break down barriers in research, and prefer to build bridges over walls. Here are just some examples of how we do this, and in doing so contribute to building a platform that acts as a social community space for all researchers.
One of the main features of ScienceOpen is that we are a research aggregator. We don’t select what we index based on discipline, publisher, or geography, as that just creates another silo. Enough of those exist already. What we need, and what we do, is to bring together research articles from across publishers and other platforms and into one space, where it is all treated in exactly the same way.
When you have articles displayed in this way, factors such as journal brands and impact factors play less importance than the actual content itself. Users can make their own choices about what to read, review, share, and re-use based on their own expertise and evaluation, or the social context provided by our other users.
Last year, SciELO integrated more than 500,000 Open Access articles with us from across Latin America, for the first time putting all of this research on the same level as that from research contained within PubMed Central. There is no reason why there should be geographical segregation of research across platforms. We believe that all research deserves to be read and re-used by anyone, irrespective of where that research was conducted and who published it.
Open Access isn’t just about access to knowledge, but also principles of equality, and to achieve that we have to recognize the value of research from around the world.
This collection is focused on the wide field of research on ticks and tick-transmitted pathogens. It aims to include papers on a wide variety of disciplines related to ticks and the pathogens they transmit, focused (but not limited) to morphology and systematics of ticks, ecology, reports of pathogens in both ticks and their hosts. A secondary aim is to provide global view of the effects of climate and land use changes on the pattern of distribution of these arthropods.
Can you tell us why you tell us about your research interests in ticks and tick-borne diseases?
I am Agustín Estrada-Peña. I have several titles behind my name, but they do not have importance in this context. Let’s just say that I am Professor of Zoonoses and Parasitology in the University of Zaragoza (Spain). My work is focused on ticks and tick-transmitted organisms. I did work on systematics, physiology, life cycles, and the probable impact of environmental change on the pathogens they can transmit. I have been enrolled with FAO, WHO, and recently with the European Center for Disease Control in different aspects regarding human and animal health and ticks. My current interest is on the way the ecological relationships between ticks, microorganisms and vertebrates emerged and evolved. I am working on new ways to explore these relationships and on the molecular aspects behind them.
This week, on Saturday, April 22nd (Earth Day) the global science-interested community is uniting to march for science across the world. Many of our members will be joining the March for Science in Washington DC and other cities around the world.
The March for Science is about the role that science plays in our everyday lives, but also about political activism for researchers, celebrating the diversity of research cultures, and making sure that policy developments are grounded in strong evidence.
ScienceOpen will be part of the global march, and in five different locations! A more informed dialogue between scientists and citizens requires openness, transparency, and access to information – one of the key mission statements of ScienceOpen, and the reason we will be out marching in force.
CEO Stephanie Dawson will be marching in Berlin, Germany, with other members of our team there. Find her on Twitter and join them here!
Prof. Alexander Grossman, co-founder of ScienceOpen, will be taking to the streets in Leipzig, Germany. Get in touch here.
Tibor Tscheke, the other co-founder of ScienceOpen, will also be marching in Boston, USA! Contact him here.
How can something exclusive, secretive, and irreproducible be considered to be objective? How can something exclusive, secretive, and irreproducible be considered as a ‘gold standard’ of any sort?
Traditional, closed peer review has these traits, but yet for some reason held in esteem as the most rigorous and objective standard of research and knowledge generation that we have. Peer review fails peer review, and its own test of integrity and validation, and is one of the greatest ironies of the academic world.
What we need is a new standard of peer review that is suitable for a Web-based world of scholarly communication. This is to help accommodate the increasingly rapid communication of research and new sources of information, and bring peer review out of the dark (literally) ages and into one which makes sense in a world of fast, open, digital knowledge dissemination.
What should a standard for peer review look like in 2017?
The big test for peer review, and any future version of it, is how does the scientific community apply its stamp of approval?