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?
At ScienceOpen, we have over 28 million article records all available for public, post-publication peer review (PPPR), 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 point of publication for any research article.
In spite of this increasing demand, the uptake of PPPR across different platforms seems to be relatively low overall. So what are some of the main reasons why researchers might feel less motivated to do PPPR, and is there anything we can do to increase its usage and adoption as part of a more open research culture?
What even is ‘post-publication’ peer review?
There is a general mentality among researchers that once research has been published, it has already ‘passed’ peer review, so why should it need to be peer reviewed again?
ScienceOpen currently indexes more than 28 million article records, 3 million of which are Open Access, and is rapidly accruing new content from a range of publishers across the STEM and HSS fields.
These new filtering functions will assist researchers in identifying relevant Open Access content more easily, and in exploring the output of particular institutes and universities. Publishers will also be able to easily document the impact of their Open Access content.
CEO of ScienceOpen, Dr. Stephanie Dawson, said “Our pace of innovation makes ScienceOpen one of the most interesting and fast-moving players in the market. We are delighted to continue to add new features to the search and discovery interface. We work very closely with the research community and publishers to provide the services that they need.”
Additional new features being released also include being able to sort content by the affiliation of an author at the time of publication, as well as the date articles were indexed at ScienceOpen. This means that ScienceOpen is rapidly becoming the smartest and most precise way to discover relevant research.
A filter for Open Access articles on ScienceOpen has been in constant demand from researchers. Co-founder of ScienceOpen, Prof. Alexander Grossmann, said “In a scholarly publishing environment where Open Access is becoming more common, we have to find ways to maximize its potential. Being able to more easily discover Open Access content will greatly enhance the research process for users across the globe.”
Authors are undoubtedly the best positioned to promote their own research. They know it inside out, they know people who might be most interested in it, and they know the places to maximise the potential audience. But still, with an increasing number of publications every year, it is important that researchers know how to promote their research to maximum effect, whether it is Open Access or not.
Here are our top ten suggestions to help increase your reach and impact! Most of these fall under two categories: Networking and maintaining your digital identity, and sharing your research to enhance its impact. Both are important in a modern scholarly environment, and can help to give you that competitive edge while making sure your’re maximising the potential of your research.
The Pitt and Hill (2016) article was read and downloaded almost 100 times a day since its publication on ScienceOpen. More importantly, it now has 7 independent post-publication peer reviews and 5 comments. Although this is a single paper in ScienceOpen’s vast index of 28 million research articles (all open to post-publication peer review!), the story of how this article got so much attention is worth re-telling.
Prof. Stark runs a course on the theory and application of statistical models. In his course, groups of students replicate and critique the statistical analyses of published research articles using the article’s publicly available raw data. Obviously, for this course to work, Prof. Stark needs rigorous research articles and the raw data used in the article. In this sense, Pitt and Hill’s article on ScienceOpen was an ideal candidate..
The groups of students started their critical replication of the Hill and Pitt article in the Fall semester of 2016 and finished right before the new year. By getting students to actively engage with research, they gain the confidence and expertise to critically analyse published research.
The Post-Publication Peer Review function on ScienceOpen is usually only open to researchers with more than 5 published articles. This would have normally barred Stark’s groups from publishing their critical replications. However, upon hearing about his amazing initiative, ScienceOpen opened their review function to each of Prof. Stark’s vetted early career researchers. And importantly, since each peer review on ScienceOpen is assigned a CrossRef DOI along with a CC-BY license, after posting their reviews, each member of the group has officially shared their very own scientific publication.
All of the complete peer reviews from the groups of students can be found below. They all come with highly detailed statistical analyses of the research, and are thorough, constructive, and critical, as we expect an open peer review process to be.
Furthermore, unlike almost every other Post Publication Peer Review function out there, the peer reviews on ScienceOpen are integrated with graphics and plots. This awesome feature was added specifically for Prof. Stark’s course, but note that it is now available for any peer review on ScienceOpen.
Today, we’re happy to announce the integration of the Journal of Paleontological Techniques (JPT) onto our platform! This journal is all about sharing and opening up the methods that palaeontologists use in their day-to-day research.
So if you love Jurassic Park and dinosaurs, this collection is perfect for you! All articles are Open Access, which means they are free to read, share, and re-use by anyone.
Here are some of our absolute favourite new articles:
Dinosaur frauds, hoaxes, and “Frankensteins” – Dinosaurs and other fossils have been artificially enhanced, or totally forged, to increase their commercial value. Here, several techniques are suggested for detecting hoaxes.
On top of our search and discovery platform ScienceOpen has built a ‘social networking’ layer to allow researchers to interact with each other and with the content on our site.
We don’t see ourselves so much as a social platform like Facebook or ResearchGate, but more as a professional community space for researchers to exchange knowledge and progress their research field in the open, and receive credit for doing so.
But what are the key features needed for any modern research platform like this?
Unlike other platforms, we don’t expect you to manually upload your papers. We automate this via ORCID integration instead. I mean, it’s 2017, this just makes sense.
Platforms such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu rely on individuals to manually upload their research, often requiring a lot of effort and time. Furthermore, there is a total loss of legal certainty, as often it is copyrighted publisher versions which are uploaded onto the platforms, and integrated into their data systems.
Hi Ashley, and thanks for joining us here! Could you start off by letting us know a little bit about your background?
Certainly! I began college aiming for a Zoology degree while working at the University’s library. My love for information grew in proportion to my struggle for mastering Physics and Organic Chemistry. My senior year I transferred disciplines and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) focused on Library and Information Science. For the next decade, I worked in both public and academic libraries and began pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Sciences from the University of Washington (to be completed this summer. Yay!) Now I have found myself submersed in the realm of scientific knowledge and research dissemination. I find this to be a perfect way to combine all my passions – science, knowledge, and service to others.
When did you first hear about open access and open science? What were your initial thoughts?
The first time I heard about these topics was while interning at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the Knowledge and Research Services department. My initial thought was “How have I not heard of this before?!”. Having worked in libraries for many years I was familiar with the serials crisis and the importance of research, but I had not been introduced to the Open Access movement. Then I thought, “Of course Open Access should be the norm!”. Knowledge should be a public good.
“Of course Open Access should be the norm!”. Knowledge should be a public good.
What’s it like working for the Gates Foundation? How much of your time do you spend working on ‘open’ related things?
I really love working for the Gates Foundation – it’s providing me with the opportunity, each day, to work towards a greater good. A message that is posted throughout the foundation is “All Lives Have Equal Value” and I take this to heart. This is the first institution where I have been employed to embrace innovation and move initiatives forward fairly quickly. One of our tenets is that we will take risks that others can’t or won’t and I’m proud of this. Currently, I spend about 90% of my time on Open Access. This encompasses internal and external communications, advocacy of our policy, and working with our grantees to make their research open access. We’ve recently joined the newly launched Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) to work with other research funders worldwide to adopt mandates like ours. Together we can create a funding environment where Open Access or even Open Science is the norm. I am beginning to see the impact that my work has on the scientific community and it’s very exciting. We have other partnerships in the works that will be announced soon to continue to support the Open Access movement.