‘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.
We recognise that some times it’s not clear exactly what you’re supposed to do when joining a new research platform. What are the important features, what’s everybody else doing, how do I make my profile as strong as possible? Well, hopefully this will make it easier for you. If you’re still wondering ‘What’s that ScienceOpen thing all about?’, hopefully this will add a bit of clarity too!
Here are the main things you need to know about ScienceOpen:
Get an ORCID account
More than 3 million researchers already have an ORCID account, which acts as both a unique identifier and an integrated profile for them. Registration for it takes 30 seconds, and is now a core part of scholarly infrastructure, with many journals requiring an ORCID profile prior to article submission. Make sure it’s well-populated with all of your published papers, (drawn automatically from Web of Science, Scopus, or CrossRef). Easy!
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?
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?
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.
Hi Gautam! Thanks for joining us here. Could you start off by letting us know a little bit about your background?
Hi Jon, thanks for having me here!
I’m a postdoc in Buzz Baum’s lab at UCL working on the evolution of cell division- all the way from Archaea to unicellular eukaryotes. I found myself in London in mid-2015 after a bit of continent-hopping that included a stint as a cell-biologist-in-training at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore and a PhD in Systems Biology at Stanford University.
When did you first hear about open access and open science? What were your initial thoughts?
Back in 2005, when I was an undergraduate in India without proper library access. PLOS and PMC came to the rescue! At the time paywalls were a very real and practical hindrance, but I must confess I didn’t think much about the actual ethics of publishing until well into my PhD.
As a postdoc in the UK, how do you feel about recent policy changes around Open Access?
I think the UK is making some positive moves, such as requiring Open Access for compliance with the Research Evaluation Framework. Funding agencies like the BBSRC and Wellcome Trust defray the costs of “gold” Open Access for published research supported by their grants. However, in the absence of accompanying reforms in the publishing industry or revised evaluation criteria for scientists, many of these policy changes will simply funnel more taxpayer money towards established scientific journals, providing more of a stopgap than a long-term solution.
I must confess I didn’t think much about the actual ethics of publishing until well into my PhD
A whole new year means a chance to start or continue building your profile as an Open Scientist! There are so many ways you can do this, from publishing Open Access and sharing your research data, to helping to teach students how to code or use GitHub. Every little bit helps.
Here are ten recommendations from us to kick-start the New Year with an Open Science bang!
At ScienceOpen, we are constantly upgrading and adapting our platform to meet the needs of the different stakeholders in scholarly publishing. We work with a huge range of publishers (e.g., Brill, Open Library of Humanities, Higher Education PressPeerJ, Cold Spring Harbor) and listen to the needs of researchers, together building solutions to help enhance the global research process.
With the re-launch of ScienceOpen, we really are pushing forward to create a multi-purpose, solution-oriented platform that aligns with ongoing trends in scholarly publishing.
ScienceOpen for publishers and editors
Our new platform provides an invaluable service for publishers and editors. We provide aggregate metrics for re-use, including the number of readers on our platform and the summed Altmetric score. As you can see in the example below for BioMed Central, these numbers can be used to look at how well you’re competing with other publishers, as well as how your content is being read and re-used by researchers. Content on the site is aggregated through PubMed Central, SciELO, ORCID and arXiv or added via reference analysis with a DOI metadata check with Crossref. Or publishers can work directly with us to add their content to the site for a fee. We now offer extra features like a “read” button link back to the publisher version of record. We are happy to index content of all license types.
The more of your content we have on our platform, the better the level of service we can provide for you.