Peer review – the evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field – lies at the heart of scholarly communication.
At its best, Peer Review is a rigorous analysis with the aim of improving either the article itself or the science behind it and frequently both. At its worst, peer review is an obstacle course, that appears engineered to prevent publication or at best delay it by months, or even years!
This dichotomy of author experience plus the ever increasing publicity attached to retractions are both real issues in terms of faith in the process itself and public trust in science. It seems prudent then that we should act in a cohesive manner to see what improvements can be made whilst still acknowledging the important role that Peer Review plays.
Peer Review Week grew out of informal conversations between ORCID, ScienceOpen, and Wiley. Each organization has a different perspective on peer review, and has been working independently to better support its role in scholarly communications. Joining forces enables all three organizations to share their central message – that good peer review, whatever shape or form it might take, is critical to scholarly communications – more widely and powerfully. Sense About Science has joined the week to ensure the wider benefits of peer review – as a quality mark and tool for making sense of science claims – are shared with the public.
Our informal partnership will promote the first ever Peer Review Week, from Monday 9.28 thru Friday 10.2.
During this time we’ll be sharing stories, videos, participating in a Webinar on Trust and Transparency in Peer Review (Kent Anderson, Alexander Grossmann, Laure Haak, Andrew Preston and Verity Brown) and a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #peerrevwk15. We also invite other orgnanizations working in this space, such as The Winnower; PeerJ; F1000Research; BMC; Publons; PubPeer; and more to participate in this virtual campaign.
Here’s our position on peer review at ScienceOpen and we know that everyone doesn’t agree with us!
Our goal is to augment trust in the peer review process by making it entirely transparent. We facilitate Post-Publication Peer Review from named individual experts with 5 or more peer-reviewed publications listed on their ORCID to nearly 10 million open access articles and toll stubs currently available on the platform. We’re delighted to support this inaugural Peer Review Week.
Here’s some interesting news, Stephanie (our CEO) is in Shanghai, China. She went at the invitation of Shing Jiao Tong University Press in their organizing role for the Third International Academic Publishing Forum on August 19th, held during the Shanghai Book Fair (Aug. 19-25).
All I can say is lucky her! It’s a huge privilege and honor to attend such an event in such a historic city.
The forum is hosted by the Association of Chinese University Presses, Shanghai Press & Publication Administration, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Topics to be discussed include:
Trends of International Academic and Professional Publishing;
Strengthening Co-operation between Chinese and International Publishers;
New Governmental Support for “China Book International” Program;
Identifying Needs of Chinese Academic Community and Libraries
Those participating in the discussions include state administration officials, leaders from major Chinese publishing houses, libraries and top scholars. International publishers including Nature, Cambridge University Press, Sage and Routledge have also been invited.
Stephanie will be presenting a paper she wrote (hopefully to be published in the Journal of Chinese Editors) on rethinking scientific publishing in an era when “Sharing rather than ownership is the new normal for the upcoming generation of open researchers“.
We couldn’t resist using this photo to illustrate the news that we have just added the openly available content (which can be quite basic) from 2.5 million toll access articles to ScienceOpen. This number will rise over the next few days until we have a total of approx. 10 million articles on the platform.
The finger on the left represents the 1.6 million Open Access (OA) articles which were on the platform yesterday. It can be seen warmly embracing the skeptical subscription finger on the right!
For those of you who are wondering how we did this, we traced the references of the OA articles we already hosted back to their roots and added their title and author information plus the abstract if available. If you are contemplating how these two unlikely bedfellows are going to get along and why we would bother trying to force this relationship, let us explain.
The current situation is that despite huge efforts by publishers such as PLOS, BMC and many who have come after them, the percentage of Gold OA content is below 15% of the total published in a year. The reality of life as a researcher is that they need keep up with the latest work regardless of whether it is openly communicated or not. In the interests of utility, we wanted to unite the universe of research in one place, even if, sadly, it is not all yet fully available to read, re-use and mine.
Tracking the references of OA articles showed us which articles have been cited and how often, without needing to purchase access to expensive and proprietary databases! For each article, we are now able to show how many articles elsewhere refer to it. Moreover we can track real time social media coverage (Twitter, Google+, Mendeley and others). By searching ScienceOpen, users can now quickly find articles with the most citations or article impact in any discipline. A click on the number of citations shows all the citing articles and their own citations, and so on. We also provide all openly available author information.
Here’s what co-founder Alexander Grossmann said about this latest release:
When I first thought about the concept of ScienceOpen about 3 years ago, I had this exact vision in mind. It is terrific to see it come to life now and I hope that researchers will find it useful in their daily lives. As research steadily becomes more open, I believe that the significance of what we have built will become clearer.
This next iteration of ScienceOpen brings us closer to the goal of unlocking the true promise of knowledge in the following ways:
1. By juxtaposing open and closed content (and having previously added user tools such as the ability to curate article Collections), we hope to remind researchers how much value is lost when they choose to publish in a toll environment. Community Editors can combine any selection of articles together in a Collection but their audience can only read those that are open.
2. By providing Collections as an alternative to journals from large publishers with their associated Impact Factors, we hope to catalyze the change initiated by DORA and realign the balance of power towards the researcher.
3. By believing that the future of scholarly communication lies beyond the journal, even beyond the article and that research will gradually become more open, we hope to be one of the first sites that is positioned to encourage the adoption of text mining and other tools that help explore connections between the literature.
4. By adding metrics to every article, and allowing users to sort and filter content based on them (or other criteria that they pick), the different usage patterns of OA content will become more apparent and the benefits of picking it will be clearer.
These features are the first of many in what we hope will be an iterative process of improvements in response to user feedback. Please do tell us what you think via Twitter, Facebook or by commenting on this post.
In the field of publishing and open access, there’s a surplus of excellent reports to read and digest. One that I make time to read each year is from Outsell Inc and is entitled “Open Access: Market Size, Share, Forecast, and Trends”. You can find their 2015 report here.
It goes without saying that we were delighted to be featured in the “10 to watch” section of the report and the final paragraph of their write up was particularly pleasing:
ScienceOpen [It] is a creative and simple structure with impressive editorial and advisory boards, but marketing has been minimal, unlike with other OA-related publications or publishers. With increased press exposure and marketing by means other than social media, SO can be a top-tier publication.
Outsell’s inclusion criteria for this section are as follows: “We expect the actions of the following 10 companies and organizations, some already active participants and some emerging as a result of open access, to have an impact on the market going forward”.
Figure 1 of the report is also well worth examining since it shows that the early heady days of growth in OA revenue have disappeared to be replaced by a steadier rate of 15%. To set this performance in context, it’s worth knowing that the STM market generated $26.2 billion and the journals market $6.8 billion last year!
Here’s what Liz Allen, our VP of Marketing said about the analyst’s observations:
To be included in this top 10 list after just over a year in operation and with a small marketing budget is very gratifying. It really does demonstrate the power of social media to reach into certain communities but these are largely ones that have an inherent interest in all matters “open” and are responsive to our approach. The next step is to reach beyond this group and continue to show the benefits of a democratic approach to knowledge sharing and conversely to illustrate what is not possible when knowledge is closed.
And the good news will continue – watch this space for further announcements coming soon!
In a gesture of solidarity with the Greek research community, we’re announcing that authors funded by Greek Research Institutions can publish free on ScienceOpen until the end of 2015.
If we could wave a magic wand and eliminate the debt too, we would do so, but since that’s beyond our control, we are pleased to do what we can to assist.
These unprecedented financial constraints have also caused Greek researchers to lose access to newly published research. This is because the Hellenic Academic Libraries Link (HEAL-Link) has terminated all licenses after being unable to collect the remaining half of the subscription budget for the current year. Although not a like-for-like replacement, ScienceOpen offers a valuable Open Access aggregation service with over 1.5 million articles that are freely available for everyone to use. We urge the Greek community to make full use of it now and in the future.
For Greek (and all) researchers who wish to have their voices heard in the international research community, we provide opportunities for those with five or more peer-reviewed publications on their ORCID to participate in Post-Publication Peer Review (PPPR) and share their expertise with the world.
For Earlier Career Researchers (ECR) in Greece, stymied by the lack of jobs and mobility, we pledge to make a special effort to highlight any articles published on our platform through social media and blog posts to elevate their visibility within the global community. You may find some more thoughts about ScienceOpen, Open Access, and PPPR for ECR in our blog roll here.
We hope that this offer goes some small way to demonstrating to the Greek research community that they are not alone and that our offices in Berlin, Boston and San Francisco stand in unity with them. We welcome other publishers to join this initiative.
What’s not to love about this quintessentially San Francisco photo? As some of you know, ScienceOpen has offices in Berlin, Boston and San Francisco.
It has a “rainbow” feel, appropriate for the recent US legal ruling on marriage equality. Ben and Jerry’s carries a brand of ice-cream named Cherry Garcia after the late Jerry, lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead, founded in 1965 in California. And of course, the corner of Haight and Ashbury is the epicenter of the Summer of Love, a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people converged on this neighborhood in San Francisco. All these facts I have learned since living here and becoming a citizen (required knowledge to pass the test!).
For all you Earlier Career Researchers (and those who mentor them) who are currently on Summer Break but are almost certainly still working and have published a poster with us, here’s an opportunity to activate your social media networks and win yourself a $150 Amazon Gift Card!
Promote your poster on social media, ask your network to vote for your poster by giving it a +1
If you are active on Twitter, remember to include @Science_Open in your tweet
The poster with the most recommendations wins and each author receives a $150 Amazon giftcard
This competition will remain open from 11am PST July 6th until 11am PST August 31st and the winner will be announced on September 1st 2015.
For those of you who are new to the concept of digital posters, you can find out more here. At ScienceOpen we publish them for FREE – your entry receives a DOI so that it can be found and cited plus it lives on long after the conference is over.
Peer review itself however remains a central tenet of academic discourse but the integrity of science is being compromised and it is at risk of being forever tarnished by scandals with the result that public trust will decline further.
That this is not a desirable outcome goes without saying. The question then becomes “what are we prepared to do about it and will researchers ever embrace a different process?”
Other publishers also focus on reforming peer review, e.g. F1000 Research and The Winnower. Our observation is that despite vocally demanding reform, the scientific community is very resistant to change, though. Some commentators believe this is due to simple inertia and that probably plays a part – after all, scientific publishing remained unchanged for hundreds of years prior to these more turbulent times and people frequently acquiesce to a bad system because they are “used to it”.
More importantly, the system of promotion and tenure compels scientists to avoid “rocking the boat” since their published output remains a prime measure of their competence. Among the digital cognoscenti, the Impact Factor of the journal they choose to publish in is showing some signs of declining power but it still continues its vice-like grip in the minds of the majority.
The question that ScienceOpen is currently addressing is “how do we build more peer review choice and innovation into our publishing model without participating in (the increasingly problematic) anonymous pre-publication peer review as is practiced by the vast majority of publishers”?
Enter Jan Velterop, stage left (to audience applause!). For most of you, Jan needs no introduction. Originally a marine geophysicist, he became a science publisher and has worked at Elsevier, Academic Press, Nature and BioMedCentral. He participated in the Budapest Open Access Initiative. In 2005 he joined Springer, based in the UK as Director of Open Access. In 2008 he left to help further develop semantic approaches to accelerate scientific discovery.
Today we are delighted to announce that Jan is joining our Advisory Board. He will help us launch “Peer Review by Endorsement” which occurs, just as usual peer review, before publication, but is entirely open and transparent. Authors will be able to choose the “Peer Review by Endorsement” option. Articles published this way will also be available for Post-Publication Peer Review, as are all 1.5 million OA articles aggregated on our site. This option will go live on our site during the summer of 2015.
So what is Peer Review by Endorsement? Rather than publisher-mediated peer review before publication, the scientific community takes this role and the publisher verifies the results. As Jan puts it:
It is more efficient and cost effective to hand peer review entirely back to the scientific community, where it rightly belongs, than for publishers to find the right, appropriate, available, reliable, expert reviewers.
Authors would be expected to arrange (or ask their Scholarly Society to arrange) for at least two peers to check the scientific soundness of their work and, if they are satisfied, to openly endorse its publication by declaring that in their view the work is suitable for being published as part of the scientific discourse. The work’s ‘significance’ is not an issue here (as that can often only be established after some time in the open anyway, and it has the considerable drawback of preventing some articles, e.g. null-results, from being published). The rules are that peer-reviewers/endorsers must be active researchers, and not be, or for at least five years have been, at the same institution as, or a co-author of, any of the authors. Once two signed and open peer reviews/endorsements are available, the article will be immediately published and, as usual for all articles published on ScienceOpen, available for further Post-Publication Peer Review.
We hope by introducing a two stage peer review process (Peer Review by Endorsement and Post-Publication Peer Review) to improve this mechanism for all. In the unlikely event of manipulation (present on a near daily basis in the traditional system), it will be transparent for all to see, which is bound to be a powerful antidote. As ScienceOpen is integrated with ORCID and reviews/endorsements are signed and non-anonymous, there is very little danger of sub-standard articles being published, as endorsers/reviewers would not want to put their reputations at risk.
Improvements to the original manuscripts, we believe, should be among the aims of peer review. Author-arranged Peer Review by Endorsement is conducive to an iterative process between authors and reviewers/endorsers, delivering those improvements.
Since arranging traditional pre-publication peer-review can be difficult for publishers, and can be slowed down by the necessary research to find appropriate reviewers, it can be quite costly. Especially since the cost of reviewing all submissions is usually carried only by those articles that are accepted for publication (this applies to the open access as well as pay-walled publishing models). The Peer Review by Endorsement option avoids that and authors choosing that option will therefore have their APC’s reduced. The regular Article Processing Fee (APC) for publishing in ScienceOpen is $800 and over the coming months prior to launch we will be seeking community feedback on the most appropriate discount level.
According to Jan:
The Peer Review by Endorsement approach leaves peer review to the community (with safeguards in place) and lets the publisher focus strongly on the technical integrity of the article presentation, preservation, machine-readability and the like, which often leaves a lot to be desired in the current system. The cost to authors (and their funders) of open access publishing will be materially be lower as a result.
Jan will be speaking about Peer Review by Endorsement at The Future of Scholarly Scientific Communication Part 1 event at The Royal Society (London, 20-21 April 2015). These meetings are being held in recognition of the 350th anniversary of Philosophical Transactions, the world’s first science journal.
Here at ScienceOpen we’re a gold Open Access (OA) publisher, a peer review reformer and a content aggregator – our platform features 1.5 million articles sourced from PubMed Central, ArXiv and ScienceOpen.
In recognition of the London Book Fair 2015 and the associated spotlight this week on all matters publishing related, we’re highlighting two new Open Access (OA) article Collections. A top scientific union and a major medical publisher are using our platform to give their OA content increased visibility and facilitate Post-Publication Peer Review.
Building this Collection on our platform, allows the IUCr, a leading non-profit International Scientific Union, to show its broad ranging content which is of interest to researchers from different disciplines that use results obtained from diffraction methods.
Not only is this content open for additional discussion after publication it can also be combined with other articles to form new Collections.
Jonathan commented, “I was delighted to bring together a collection of our leading papers from our new fully open-access journal IUCrJ and showcase them in a collection on the ScienceOpen platform. The additional visibility and opportunity to interact with the content which comes with this new portal will be an important step forward for all chemists, biologists and physicists working in the area of structure determination.”
Here at ScienceOpen we wear a few different hats! We’re a gold Open Access (OA) publisher, a peer review reformer and a content aggregator.
This week, with the London Book Fair 2015 about to start, we are celebrating publishers and societies by profiling the innovative ways that they are using our platform!
It gives us great pleasure to report how a top scientific union and a major medical publisher (see below) are now using our platform to give their OA content increased visibility and facilitate scientific discussion.
With 1.5 million OA articles and a high performance search engine on ScienceOpen, users can slice and dice the content as they like. And often that selection criteria may be a trusted publisher or innovative journal. ScienceOpen is making that easy! With ScienceOpen Collections we’re able to highlight the articles of publishers and societies. Other innovative ways to use the Collection Tool are discussed in this blog post.
Previously I saw a headline that read “Search is so 2014”! I stopped and questioned whether I agreed with that statement. The article then went on to describe some of the more interesting developments in how to find the “right article in the rapidly growing information haystack” and some of them matched my own picks which include:
SNAP from Jstor Labs – a mobile app that allows you to take a picture of any page of text and get a list of research articles from JSTOR on the same topic.
Sparrho – a content recommendation engine that aggregates and distills information based on user preferences and makes personalised suggestions. We invited their team to post a guest blog.
However, I still believe that there is a role for Search in 2015, even as it is eventually replaced or enriched by more sophisticated tools.
The part Search plays here at ScienceOpen is particularly important given that we are just beginning our quest to aggregate the world’s Open Access content in all disciplines. The corpus here is growing (nearly 1.5 million articles from nearly 2.5 million authors). The pace of scientific literature growth is rapid, expanding at the rate of more than 2 articles per minute (Mark2Cure). Both are good reasons why we have been focusing our development efforts on improving the precision of our search results because to some extent “if you can’t find it, it doesn’t exist”.
For Search to qualify as “good” in my book it needs to be precise, fast and flexible. Here’s my mini review of ScienceOpen Search:
Search delivered rapid and accurate results, so two thumbs up here.
The results could be parsed using the aggregation source (PubMed Central, ArXiv and ScienceOpen) or the name of the originating journal/publisher.
For the geeks among you, our Search is powered by ElasticSearch.
When I forgot the exact spelling of an author name, this field offered me possible name options to pick from (nice).
As a publisher myself, I had to try searching by company name. I was surprised to find 1555 OA articles by the American Chemical Society(ACS) on our platform. I also found 2816 articles from Elsevier. This is a tiny fraction of their output but at least something is there.
In a nod to our belief that Journals will become increasingly less important (and hopefully the strangle hold of the IF will be released) as researchers aggregate content themselves (for example using our new Collection tool), users can search by Collection (which has it’s own tab).
Once you’ve found a relevant article, we provide the XML (and PDF) because let’s be honest, in the digital future, a static PDF probably won’t be of much use.
I want to acknowledge the ScienceOpen Dev team (Raj, Ed and X, led by Tibor) for their excellent work on this release.