Preprints, first draft research manuscripts, have existed almost as long as the Internet. Scientists have been taking advantage of online communication to speed up research for almost 3 decades. ScienceOpen understands the importance of allowing researchers to openly share their results with the scientific community at an early stage in their research. The advantage for researchers is that they get early feedback from peers but can still publish the final version in most peer-reviewed journals of their choosing. To support researchers in fully utilizing the benefits of preprint publishing, ScienceOpen is pleased to launch open and free preprint publishing on our platform! With this beta service, anyone can now upload, publish, and promote their preprint using a free and simple interface with access to a full suite of tools for peer review, constructive discussion through comments, and usage and impact tracking.
We have supported the essential role of preprints in speeding up science from the beginning by integrating arXiv preprints on the platform. Records for over 27,000 bioRxiv preprints in our discovery environment followed suit, along with the capacity to add records from other preprint serves such as Preprints.org, PeerJ Preprints, ChemRxiv, and Open Science Framework repositories. Given our belief in the benefits of preprints in advancing science, it seemed only logical to develop a new feature that will enable all researchers to take advantage of preprints in scholarly research and communications.
How can you publish a preprint on ScienceOpen?
Click on the “submit a manuscript” button on our ScienceOpen Preprints collection page. The simple upload form allows you to link your ORCID ID, add co-authors, declare funding, link to datasets, and more. When you hit “submit”, your preprint will undergo an editorial review to check for completeness and basic scholarly integrity, and will then be published on ScienceOpen with a Crossref DOI, a CC BY 4.0 attribution license, and a preprint flag. It is now open for commenting and review.
What can you do with preprints on ScienceOpen?
ScienceOpen has a preprint filter integrated into our search engine, technologically supporting the scholarly community and the role of preprints in research. That way you can easily discover preprints among our 45 million records. To find the preprints you need, simply click the ‘preprint’ box after selecting the filter to restrict your search to them. Preprints can then be sorted by:
Date of publication
You can bookmark your favorite preprints, add comments, share to social media, recommend them to your peers, and cite. You can export your search results up to 200 citations at a time in EndNote, BibTex, and Reference Manager (RIS) formats for easy integration with other reference management systems.
Peer Review Week is a global event celebrating the role of peer review in maintaining scientific quality. This year marks the event’s fourth anniversary of bringing together researchers, institutions, and organizations committed to the message that good peer review is crucial to scholarly communications. This year Peer Review Week on the topic of diversity aims:
To emphasize the central role peer review plays in scholarly communication
Although peer review itself is not as young as the week-long event organized in its celebration, it is still a relatively new invention. Albert Einstein published his original papers in non-peer-reviewed German journals through 1933, most famously in the Annalen der Physik. Max Planck, one of the journal’s editors of the time, described his editorial philosophy as:
To shun much more the reproach of having suppressed strange opinions than that of having been too gentle in evaluating them.
After moving to the US, Einstein was so shocked that his paper submitted to the Physical Review in 1936 was met with negative criticism that he decided not to publish with them at all. Ironically, the paper in question hypothesized that gravitational waves do not exist. In retrospect, peer review saved Einstein the controversy and the embarrassment that would have ensued if he had published his original article.
Einstein’s anecdotal experience with non-/peer review journals both points to the necessity of peer review in quality scholarly publishing and to the danger of excluding scientific arguments from the academic narrative. ScienceOpen bridges the gap between these two opposite approaches by making both preprints and peer-reviewed scholarly articles accessible through its discovery environment with a unified review framework for researchers to evaluate results.
Once a preprint has been published, ScienceOpen offers a full set of tools to peer-review and curate the content. Users can organize and manage the review entirely on their own. Found an interesting preprint, but want an expert opinion before using it in your research? Invite a reviewer! Researchers can either review an article themselves or invite an expert colleague to do so with one click of a button on every article page. Reviewers currently need a minimum of 5 records attached to their ORCID. ScienceOpen encourages everyone to openly participate in this process, thereby contributing to the diversification of expert opinions on a specific topic.
The fact that a paper has been published, and therefore peer-reviewed, does not mean that the research should stop. ScienceOpen enables post-publication peer review across 45 million article records, in the form of final-version comments. Article reviews, modeled after book reviews, are published with the author’s name and should provide orientation and an evaluation of the research for readers. Peer review as an open dialogue between experts actively contextualizes the research into ongoing scientific debates and helps researchers gain a deeper insight into a specific topic.
In order to fully recognize the contribution of reviewers and ensure maximal discoverability for authors, ScienceOpen integrates seamlessly with Crossref and ORCID. ScienceOpen has linked users with ORCID from the beginning. Recently, ScienceOpen has been actively participating in Crossref’s development of peer review content registration. In their recent press release, ‘Crossref facilitates the use of essential peer review information for scholarly communications‘, Crossref emphasized the importance of persistent records for peer review and commended ScienceOpen on successfully implementing metadata that enriches “scholarly discussion, reviewer accountability, transparency, and peer review analysis”. Stephanie Dawson, CEO of ScienceOpen, added that rich metadata is key to discoverability – for research articles, preprints, books, conference proceedings, and now for peer review reports. Crossref is making these reviews easier to identify and find, which translates into “more impact for researchers and publishers”. Anyone can retrieve the data necessary for their integration and analysis. As the Crossref press release concludes, rich metadata helps institutions and researchers build a better picture around the role of peer review in scholarly communications as a whole, not only in terms of identifying and assessing their own contributions.
Peer review is necessary to ensure quality scientific publishing, but it still needs to be honed to the greater benefit of the researcher, the scientific community, and ultimately the whole society. ScienceOpen contributes to this goal by integrating rich metadata, featuring preprints, and enabling post publication peer review. We look forward to hearing additional potential solutions to the diversification of the peer review process for a greater impact during #PeerReviewWeek18!
The “Preprint” allows researchers to openly share their results with peers at an early stage and still publish the final version in the peer-reviewed journal of their choice. From the start, ScienceOpen has supported preprints and their essential role in speeding up science by integrating arXiv preprints in the physical sciences on the platform. We now include over 1.4 million arXiv records on ScienceOpen. In our new release we have added even more preprints to the mix, with a focus on the biomedical sciences.
Preprints in the biological and medical sciences were kickstarted by the founding of bioRxiv in 2013, and by the advocacy organization ASAPBio in 2015 and have taken off rapidly since then. Now on ScienceOpen we have added records for over 20,000 bioRxiv preprints to our discovery environment, together with the capacity to include records from other preprint servers such as PeerJ Preprints, Preprints.org and ChemRxiv. Up next are all the great preprint servers on OSF Preprints. We are working hard!
Preprints have the advantage of being rapidly and freely accessible. However, they have not undergone a peer review process and must be read with a more critical eye. Preprints are, therefore, clearly flagged on ScienceOpen. During his physics PhD, ScienceOpen co-founder Alexander Grossmann and his colleagues went first to the arXiv for the newest results to build upon and shape their thinking. They knew it was unfiltered and not peer reviewed, but they were often already at the next step in their research by the time the final version was published. Many features on ScienceOpen were created with this kind of speed in mind.
Preprints in context on ScienceOpen
To help the researcher find preprints within the context of the published literature, searches on ScienceOpen can be filtered to view only preprints or may exclude preprints to concentrate only on peer-reviewed literature. Current sources for preprint records are directly from arXiv or from Crossref.
Further, ScienceOpen offers a full suite of tools to peer-review and curate preprints. Our peer review system was developed together with our extensive editorial board to ask broad but pertinent questions across all disciplines. Article reviews, after the model of book reviews, are published with the author’s ORCID and get a Crossref DOI to ensure discoverability. Found a preprint that you are interested in, but want an expert opinion? Invite a reviewer! On every article page researchers can either review an article themselves or invite an expert colleague to do so with the click of a button.
ScienceOpen Collections also allow editors to add preprints to their collections to stay right at the cutting edge and open up a discussion. Preprints can be exchanged for the full publication at a later date.
ScienceOpen Collections were conceived as topical selections of articles created by experts – by and for the researcher community with no costs involved. Adding preprints to the mix can increase the speed and lower the cost of the flow of information. Apply today!
If a preprint is missing from our platform, you can easily add it by uploading the DOI via the “Request article” function on your user dashboard. As author you are also welcome to add a lay summary, thumbnail image, keywords and disciplines to increase the discoverability of your work within the ScienceOpen environment and beyond.
At ScienceOpen we are committed to supporting the research community. For the past year we have had an increasing number of requests to add particular preprints from a range of services. We are happy that we could add this feature to our discovery environment. Your feedback is always welcome firstname.lastname@example.org!
This Spring, we are organising a little competition for all you researchers! Review an article on ScienceOpen before the end of April, and we will enter you into a prize drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.
Open Peer Review on ScienceOpen
ScienceOpen counts currently more than 40 million articles including 3.7 million open access articles as well as more than 1.4 million preprint articles. All these articles are open on ScienceOpen to a fully transparent review process: open identities, open reports, and open interaction on the platform (see our precedent blogpost here).
At ScienceOpen, we believe that “Open Science” is not just about sharing research data. For us, “Open Science” aims to make research and underlying data accessible in order toinform andallow researchers communities to take part in discussions regarding their field, increasingoverall participation and relevant inclusion of different perspectives.
Open peer reviews are also crucial in this current context of rapid development of open science and digital scientific communication. If the openness of scientific contents is a first victory for the advancement of research and innovation, open peer review still needs to be embodied in this practice to establish its full credibility and full benefit. (Picture: CC0 1.0)
What does reviewing on ScienceOpen bring concretely to reviewers?
→ Reviews are published under Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY (4.0) and will receive a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) from Crossref. This makes them fully equivalent to any Open Access publication, and they can be cited or integrated further into platforms like Publons, Impactstory, or ORCID.
→ As open access publications indexed on ScienceOpen, reviews are public and can be found easily on the platform using the filter “Content type”: “Review”. For a more precise search, this filter can be used for example in combination with the title of an article.
→ Reviewing articles on ScienceOpen is a great way to show the reviewer’s involvement in his/her research field and his/her appreciation for researchers who have dedicated their time to providing a research resource to their community.
Ready, set, go!
The only requirement to write a review on ScienceOpen is to be registered with ORCID (already done with a ScienceOpen profile) and have at least five publications assigned to the ORCID account (with which you reach ScienceOpen–Expert status). If you do not meet these requirements but would still like to review a paper, contact us.
The UCL Press announced ambitions for its megajournal project during a town hall event on January 16th 2018 with Dr. Paul Ayris, CEO of UCL Press and Pro-Vice-Provost (Library Services), and Prof. David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research), describing the wide-reaching goals and ideals that have moved the university in this undertaking. See the UCL news pages.
The town hall began the discussion by inviting Robert Kiley of the Wellcome Trust who gave some insight into their successful Wellcome Open Research megajournal, describing the rationale behind the move and how its researchers have taken to it.
UCL Press, having partnered with ScienceOpen to provide a hosting platform for its current eight academic journals, invited Stephanie Dawson, CEO of ScienceOpen, to discuss the further developments and vision toward providing researchers and publishers the infrastructure towards more open and transparent peer review and publication models, with increased search and discoverability.
Catriona MacCallum, previously with the Open Access publisher PLoS and consultant on the first megajournal PLoSONE, and now Director of Open Science with Hindawi, then painted a broad picture of the values, tools and advantages of an open science framework from an individual, institutional and societal perspective.
Ian Caswell, UCL Press Journals Manager, then outlined the aims and ambition of the UCL Press megajournal project to offer researchers and academics the opportunity to publish cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary work, characterized by openness.
The next step of the UCL Press megajournal is to begin a campus-wide consultation on the needs and expectations of the UCL community in terms of open peer review and versioning, editorial oversight, topical focus, and technicalities.
A megajournal is by definition of broad scope so as to encourage inter-/cross-disciplinarity and to provide a publishing outlet for content that is not easily categorized. The UCL Press megajournal will begin with a focus on environmental sciences, including contributions from earth sciences, geography, UCL’s medical school, population sciences and UCL Institute of Education. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a platform for the entire university and beyond. Interested UCL researchers outside of these fields should contact UCL Press Journals Manager Ian Caswell about expanding the scope of the platform.
Some topical selection, however, can be very useful for readers in discovering new and related articles in their field. Traditionally, enforcing a narrow definition of scope has been the role of the editor. With this in mind, the ScienceOpen platform opens up the possibility for researchers to create their own topical selection from the whole scholarly corpus. UCL researchers are invited to explore this possibility and create a ScienceOpen “Collection” with the top articles in their fields that can also include articles published in the megajournal or other UCL Press journals. To apply for Collection Editor status contact Stephanie Dawson at ScienceOpen.
The aim of the UCL Press megajournal is to publish sound research, rather than hyped-up results. It aims to welcome research of all kinds like negative or inconclusive results, descriptive papers, protocols, methods or data papers, literature reviews. The focus of the platform will not be on “impact factor”, but rather individual article and author metrics which can be tracked on the platform and used in individualized search and sort mechanisms within the ScienceOpen discovery environment. The consultation and development of the UCL Press megajournal is still on-going and further details will be announced as to its exact aims and scope and submission criteria.
Open and Post Publication Peer Review
By utilising open peer review, we can promote accountable, responsible, and high quality assessment and evaluation of publications. However, what is the purpose and character of “open” and “post-publication” peer review in an open access megajournal? One way to think of it is the tradition of publishing “book reviews” in the social sciences and humanities, which could provide a good model. Other platforms such as Copernicus, F1000 Research or newcomer SciPost have functional systems of review that are closer to the journal peer review model. UCL Press will be consulting with researchers on how the platform can provide the best quality feedback from peers in a constructive way within the technical scope of the platform.
The ScienceOpen platform infrastructure allows for any registered user with an ORCID and “expert” status (5 published articles) to review any paper. The author or any user can also invite reviewers via the platform. Potential reviewers who do not meet these basic criteria can still review an article if the editor decides to give them reviewer status. Because each review receives a DOI and is deposited with the publishing metadata hubs Crossref and ORCID, it is challenging to include anonymous and unaccountable reviews on the platform.
If peer review is conducted transparently and openly, authors must have the possibility of revising their articles and tracking those revisions on the platform. The ScienceOpen platform can provide the infrastructure for this versioning system, however, questions remain on how versioning will inform best publication practice, like should the first submission of an article be regarded as a “preprint” which can be taken down if the community review is very negative or published elsewhere? Alternatively, on the other hand, should it be regarded as a publication from the start with the first version only being retracted in extreme cases? Each policy has its advantages and disadvantages which requires careful discussion towards development into a working model.
The level of editorial oversight is another question that all megajournals must decide upon. In the first phase of the megajournal project, it is likely to have a focus to staff and students of UCL, but does not necessarily mean the megajournal will be limited to only UCL authors. As the journal expands its scope and audience to accept articles from beyond the university, it may become necessary to adjust and reassess the review process before publication to prevent poor or fraudulent research from being added to the corpus of published scholarly work.
The UCL Press megajournal will publish all articles open access with a Creative Commons CC BY license. The ScienceOpen platform will require ORCID IDs from all authors and Fundref IDs for funding bodies are encouraged. Open references through CrossRef as part of the I4OC initiative and open data summaries in manuscripts to link to or describe how to access the data underlying the publication, will be available for use for the UCL Press megajournal. All of these technicalities are still under consultation at UCL Press and further announcements will be made on the UCL Press website and social media.
Launching a megajournal for UCL is a project that requires vision and commitment from the university and the community. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let’s change the landscape of scholarly communication together!
Welcome to 2018! In December we highlighted our topical Collections on ScienceOpen and asked you to review any paper in a collection to enter a drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. Today we would like to thank everyone who shared their expertise on ScienceOpen over the last year and are happy to announce the winner: Agustín Estrada Peña of the University of Zaragoza, Spain.
Agustín is editor of the collection Ticks and Tick-Borne Pathogens, a comprehensive overview with over 11,000 articles covering the whole spectrum from biology and habitats to molecular mechanisms of disease and epidemiology. The ScienceOpen collection format allows researchers to search within these papers with a wide range of filters and quickly change the top view with sort by date, citations, Altmetric Score, usage and more to drill down and find interesting new work.
‘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.
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.
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?