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Speeding up Research with Preprints

Rolf Dietrich Brecher, Speeding up, Flickr, CC-BY SA

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 They knew it was unfiltered and not peer reviewed, but they were often already at the next step in their research by the time the final version was published.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

Search preprints 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.

Preprint in a ScienceOpen Collection

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 feedback@scienceopen.com!

Prof. Rolf Georg Beutel: “The established data base will continuously grow and extend, integrating an ever increasing number of open access studies.”

In line with the recent beetle boom on ScienceOpen, a researcher led collection on Coleoptera has been created on ScienceOpen.  In the following interview founder and editor of the collection, Rolf Georg Beutel (Professor of Zoology at the Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Jena) will share a little background and gives us an insight on how it works in practice, how such thematic collections serve research communities. And of course, he will also reveal why beetles are cool.

Hi Rolf, thank you for joining. Can you first tell us a bit about your research background, and how you originally got interested in Entomology? Why did you choose to study Coleoptera?

I must admit that in contrast to many other entomologists I was not interested in insects at all as a child or later as a student of Zoology at the University of Tübingen. I was clearly inspired by an eccentric but outstanding academic teacher, Dr. G. Mickoleit, who suggested I should investigate the head and mouthparts of a very small and very cryptic beetle larva. Even though I had a hard time with my first objects of study, I obviously got hooked and continued studying beetles and other insects for the rest of my scientific career.

Why did you decide to build a ScienceOpen Collection on Coleoptera?

Dr. Stephanie Dawson, whom I have known for more than 10 years, mainly in the context of the Handbook of Zoology series, suggested to me to establish this ScienceOpen collection on beetles. My positive previous experience with her expertise and also with ScienceOpen was confirmed by the impressively efficient process of building and presenting this collection.

Coleoptera is one of the first automatically synchronized collections on ScienceOpen. What were the main principles of building the collection and how it develops?

Coleoptera is an immensely diverse and popular group. The intention was to go beyond the traditional fields of taxonomy and morphology, even though these have certainly their merits and are still very important in different contexts. The established data base will continuously grow and extend, integrating an ever increasing number of open access studies.

Do you have favourite pieces or lines of research in the collection that you find especially relevant to this field? 

Primarily I consider myself as a systematist, and therefore I am interested in articles on phylogeny and classification in the first place. Even though many publications in these fields are older and not available as electronic files (or not covered by open access), the new collection already provides an impressive number of relevant studies and will grow with an accelerated rate in the future.

As an evolutionary biologist dealing with beetles among other groups of insects, I appreciate that the data base covers multiple lines of research, as for instance genetics or physiology. This has the potential for reciprocal stimulation of researchers of Coleoptera, beyond the basic disciplines like systematics and taxonomy. These are indispensable tools in biodiversity research and provide an essential reference system for studies in other fields. Connected with topics like for instance the physiological and genetic backgrounds of feeding habits or reproductive biology, evolutionary biology of Coleoptera is getting really exciting. The very rapidly growing molecular data in the “age on phylogenomics” open fascinating perspectives in the investigation of beetles and other organisms.

In which ways your research community benefits from the collection?

The easy accessibility of open access articles on beetles is an obvious advantage of this collection.

Finally, tell us about what is the coolest thing in studying entomology?

Beetles are often very beautiful insects and have attracted attention very early, for instance as religious symbol (Scarabaeus sacer) or material for jewellery, or also simply as food source.  Among amateur collectors, who made valuable contributions over the last centuries, only butterflies enjoy a comparable popularity. Talking about what is cool about Coleoptera, it is hard to avoid a statement made by the geneticist and evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane, who allegedly said that God had an “inordinate fondness of beetles”. This mainly refers to the incredible diversity of the group, which presently comprises approximately 380.000 described species, about one-third  of all known organisms. The question why Coleoptera was much more successful (in terms of species numbers) than other groups is an intriguing question in itself for evolutionary biologists. Aside from this, beetles are an integrative part of nearly all terrestrial and limnic habitats. Many species are important plant pests but others beneficial as natural enemies of harmful species.  What fascinates me most is that after centuries of research crucial phylogenetic issues are still unsolved, like for instance the interrelationships of the 4 extant suborders (“it is the glory of God to conceal things….”). Presently exponentially growing molecular data sets and improved analytical approaches (www.1KITE.org) provide new powerful tools to resolve these issues. This is definitely “cool” and exciting!

Thank you, Rolf, it’s been great getting your insight!

(Credit: U.Schmidt, Flickr. CC BY 2.0)

Got inspired? You can create your own thematic collection by following these steps.

 

Beetle boom on ScienceOpen: recent additions from the field of entomology

(Credit: Christopher Marley, Pinterest)

Insects are everywhere. The fact that their diversity surpasses any other group of organisms is an amazing evolutionary success story, and they have a significant impact on the environment and therefore upon our own lives. Our recent additions from the field of entomology open up new perspectives to the study of these colourful creatures. They help us to develop a better understanding on the role insects play within a range of environments, and the solutions they can provide to everyday  and global problems.

More specifically, they tell us about:

  • The significance of their contribution to biodiversity and its critical role in human culture
  • The role that insects play within a given environment
  • The kinds of ecological interactions with humans and other lifeforms on earth and the ways people benefit from sharing their life space with insects
  • Their positions in food webs
  • Their morphology, evolution, and biomechanics
  • The challenges in the description and classification of this diverse group of animals

Continue reading “Beetle boom on ScienceOpen: recent additions from the field of entomology”