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Give the pioneers a chance – Open Access and closing the reputational gap for young scientists.

25th ESC 2014 Berlin
Impressions of the 25th European Students’ Conference 2014 in Berlin

Over the last few months I’ve had the privilege of chatting to many young researchers from different areas of science. Last week, I was delighted to attend the 25th European Students’ Conference 2014 in Berlin where I had been invited to organize an afternoon workshop entitled Perspectives on Scientific Publishing with about 100 participants. It was terrific to spend almost three hours with so many students which were keen to find out more about the future of scholarly communication.

My interest in this topic was sparked by a previous panel discussion on scholarly publishing when I observed that a significant part of the audience were Ph.D. students or post-docs. When one of the speakers talked about new opportunities in Open Access publishing, a very intensive discussion began. Almost all the young scientists in the audience were excited and motivated by the principles and vision behind Open Access. They said they would like to change the current publishing system and participate in a more open conversation about their research with peers. I was thrilled because that is what we are trying to develop at ScienceOpen.

However, “If I publish my work Open Access, I will have difficulties in my future career, I am afraid, because I need the highest Impact Factor (IF) possible” said one of the young scholars, dampening the enthusiasm, and in the end most of his colleagues agreed.

If I publish my work Open Access, I will have difficulties in my future career, I am afraid, because I need the highest Impact Factor (IF) possible.”

But how real is this risk for junior faculty who will have the most important impact on the future of academia? To find out more about the perspectives of grad students and junior researchers at institutions or universities, I tried to find arguments against active participation in Open Access publishing. Although younger researchers would like to have a public discussion about their science with their peers, almost everyone I talked to stressed that they have been instructed by their academic senior advisor to aim for a high-IF journal to publish their work. And most young scientists had the impression that there are relatively few quality Open Access journals and even many of these have a low IF, if any. Therefore I next asked some of their supervisors and professors for their thoughts. Amazingly, many of them emphasized that their graduate students and junior researchers themselves insisted on publishing in a “Champions League” journal, or at least, in a “Premiere League” journal with a high IF.

Who was right? I believe that we don’t need to answer this question in order to understand why young researchers are wary of Open Access publishing opportunities.

Let’s summarize the major reasons that motivate a researcher to publish her/his work:

(A) To record and archive results.
(B) To share new findings with colleagues.
(C) To receive feedback from experts / peers.
(D) To get recognition by the scientific community.
(E) To report results to the public, funding bodies, and others.

Next, let us analyze which reasons for publishing are more relevant to young researchers in comparison with others. Reporting results (E) is a more formal reason which is required when one has received a financial contribution by funding organizations. As for archiving (A), it is not a particular motivation for junior scientists. By contrast, sharing with colleagues (B) may have more significance for those groups that have just started to build up their academic network. We all agree that younger scientists must not only actively promote themselves by sharing new results of their work, but also to intensify dialogue with their peers. They therefore also depend on feedback from experts and peers (C) much more than a senior researcher who has established his or her expertise across decades. Both (B) and (C) will hopefully result in recognition from the scientific community and (D) has long been considered the conditio sine qua non in academia for all junior researchers if they want a successful academic career. Everyone I talked to agreed and most of my scholarly colleagues confirmed that this list appeared to be consistent and complete in describing the relevance of publishing for young researchers.

But where are the Impact Factors in my list? Where are big journal brands?

But where are the Impact Factors in my list? Where are big journal brands?”

Until relatively recently, recognition has been largely measured by citations. Today, with more frequent usage of social networks, we should broaden our view and associate credit for scientific work also with mentions, likes, or retweets. The latter attributes of modern communication in social networks is an immediate and uniquely fast way to provide and earn credit  in scholarly publishing. There are an ever increasing number of examples where an excellent paper was recognized within minutes after it had been published Open Access. Citations are important, but it is the article and the individuals who authored that work which should get credited. And there is growing evidence that papers published Open Access are read and ultimately cited more often. Impact factor is a “toxic influence” on science, as Randy Shekman, Nobel laureate and founder of eLife recently stated,.

“Impact factor is a “toxic influence” on science.”

Finally, we do not need big journal brands or an Impact Factor to evaluate the relevance and quality of research. Neither for senior scientists, nor for young researchers. The latter group, however, has a significant intrinsic advantage: they are much more accustomed to communicating with social media tools. If they continue to use these when starting their academic career, they will strongly influence traditional, old-fashioned ways of crediting academic research.

My conclusion can therefore be considered as an invitation to the younger generation of researchers:

  1. Substitute pay-walled journals with new open science technologies to publicly publish your scientific results
  2. Continue to use social network tools to communicate about and discuss recent research with others
  3. Adopt alternative metrics to measure scientific relevance in addition to classical citation

Liz Allen, who works with me at ScienceOpen, also recently wrote this blog post to encourage younger researchers to be part of the open scientific conversation and suggested different ways for them to get involved.

It will be your generation in a decade from now that will craft the careers of other young researchers. Nobody else. Therefore you should not be afraid of publishing Open Access or submitting your next paper to an alternative open science platform. The more people like you who follow that path of modern scholarly publishing, the less emphasis will be put on classical incentives for academic evaluation. Open Access and active communication about new results in science by social media and open science platforms, such as ScienceOpen, can increase both usage and impact for your work.

“We do not need big journal brands or an Impact Factor to evaluate the relevance and quality of research.”

And my request to senior scientists who are presently judging the quality of the younger generation of researchers: challenge yourself to look at their social networking record and their willingness to shape the new measures of recognition. And do not forget: Access is not a sufficient condition for citation, but it is a necessary one. Open Access dramatically increases the number of potential users of any given article by adding those users who would otherwise have been unable to access it, as Stevan Harnad and Tim Brody demonstrated already 10 years ago. Give the pioneers a chance – they are the future of research!

“Give the pioneers a chance – they are the future of research.”

Alexander Grossmann

ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Daniel Graziotin

ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Daniel Graziotin

Today’s interview comes from another recent ScienceOpen author, Daniel Graziotin. In his ScienceOpen article, “Green open access in computer science – an exploratory study on author-based self-archiving awareness, practice, and inhibitors,” he analyses the results of an exploratory questionnaire given to Computer Scientists. It addressed issues around various forms of academic publishing, self-archiving of research, and copyright. In the following interview with ScienceOpen, Graziotin gives a unique perspective, as a young scientist and as a software and web developer coming to scientific publishing from the world of open software development. His ideas are bound to be interesting to emerging scientists in particular, as he represents a new globally engaged generation of scientific researchers making full use of open knowledge to further innovation. Continue reading “ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Daniel Graziotin”  

“All research should be OA”. We agree!

Today’s interview comes from Dr. Janis Vogt, a PhD in Biochemistry and a member of the Thomas J. Jentsch Research Group in the Department of Physiology and Pathology of Ion Transport at the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie in Berlin, Germany. Continue reading ““All research should be OA”. We agree!”  

In:  Announcements  

Review any of 1.3million+ OA articles on the ScienceOpen platform – receive a DOI so your contribution can be found and cited

Image credit: International Health Academy
Image credit: International Health Academy

At ScienceOpen, the research + publishing network, we’re enjoying some of the upsides of being the new kid on the Open Access (OA) block. Innovation and building on the experiments of others is easier when there’s less to lose but we are also the first to admit that life as a start-up is not for the faint hearted!

In the years since user generated comments and reviews were first introduced, those of us who strive to improve research communication have wrestled with questions such as: potential for career damage; content for peer and public audiences; comments from experts, everyone or a mix and lower than anticipated participation.

We want to acknowledge the many organizations who have done a tremendous job at showing different paths forward in this challenging space. Now it’s our turn to try.

Since launch, ScienceOpen has assigned members different user privileges based on their previous publishing history as verified by their ORCID ID. This seemed like a reasonable way to measure involvement in the field and provided the right level of publishing experience to understand the pitfalls of the process. This neat diagram encapsulates how it works.

Scientific and Expert Members of ScienceOpen can review all the content on the site which includes 1.3million+ OA articles and a very small number of our own articles (did we mention, we’re new!).

All reviews require a four point assessment (using five stars) of the level of: importance, validity, completeness and comprehensibility and there’s space to introduce and summarize the material. Inline annotation captures reviewer feedback during reading. Next up in the site release cycle, mechanisms to make it easy for authors to respond to in-line observations.

In a move sure to please busy researchers tired of participating without recognition, each review, including the subsequent dialogue, receives a Digital Object Identified (DOI) so that others can find and cite the analysis and the contribution becomes a registered part of the scientific debate.

Welcome to our wonderful world of Reviewing! Please share your feedback here or @Science_Open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In:  Other  

ScienceOpen Interview with David Black, Secretary General, International Council for Science.

David Black is Secretary General of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of New South Wales, Australia. An advocate of Open Access for scientific data in his role at ICSU, Professor Black is a proponent of the initiatives of ICSU and ICSU-affiliate groups, such as the Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science (CFRS), the ICSU-World Data System (ICSU-WDS), the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI), the ICSU’s Strategic Coordinating Committee on Information and Data (SCCID), Continue reading “ScienceOpen Interview with David Black, Secretary General, International Council for Science.”  

Interview with Advisory Board member Peter Suber

As a newcomer on the Open Access publishing scene, ScienceOpen relies on the support of a wide range of academics. With this interview we would like to profile Advisory Board member Peter Suber (http://bit.ly/petersuber ) and share the valuable perspective he brings to our organization.

One of the original founders of the Open Access movement, Peter Suber is currently director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication ( https://osc.hul.harvard.edu/ ) and the Harvard Open Access Project ( http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/hoap ). His latest book, Continue reading “Interview with Advisory Board member Peter Suber”  

ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Nikos Karamanos

Today’s interview continues both the Author and the Editorial Board Interview Series with a conversation between ScienceOpen and Nikos Karamanos, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Patras in Greece. Professor Karamanos is one of the authors of the recent ScienceOpen publication, “EGF/EGFR signaling axis is a significant regulator of the proteasome expression and activity in colon cancer cells” ( http://goo.gl/XD9R0L ), and an established scholar, Editorial Board member for various journals, and chair and organizer of numerous conferences. He is principal investigator Continue reading “ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Nikos Karamanos”  

ScienceOpen Editorial Board: Anthony Atala, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

The Editorial Board is at the heart of any publishing project. In this interview series, ScienceOpen would like to highlight some of the scientists who are supporting us as members of the editorial board and their reasons for getting involved in the Open Access movement. We’re delighted to welcome expert member Anthony Atala, M.D ( http://goo.gl/ynLgGq ) – Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the W. H. Boyce Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – to our Research + Publishing Network .
Anthony is an Continue reading “ScienceOpen Editorial Board: Anthony Atala, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine”  

ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Carol Perez-Iratxeta

Today’s author interview comes from Carol Perez-Iratxeta ( http://goo.gl/fwloa7 ), a bioinformatics researcher based at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) in Ottawa, Canada. Her research concerns data mining and computational genomic analysis applied to human disease.

Together with fellow OHRI researcher Caroline Louis-Jeune, as well as Dr. Miguel Andrade, based at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany, she has just published an article entitled, Continue reading “ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Carol Perez-Iratxeta”  

ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Lorenzo Iorio

ScienceOpen continues our series of interviews with our new authors with Professor Lorenzo Iorio (https://www.scienceopen.com/profile/lorenzo_iorio ), who has just published an article on ScienceOpen entitled „Orbital effects of a monochromatic plane gravitational wave with ultra-low frequency incident on a gravitationally bound two-body system.“ ( http://goo.gl/kCYgwd )

Professor Iorio is a physicist working in the field of general relativity and gravitation. He has published over 180 articles and holds a permanent position at the Continue reading “ScienceOpen Author Interview Series – Lorenzo Iorio”