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.
Did you know that we have more than 1.3 million preprints on ScienceOpen?
Preprints are first-draft research manuscripts, and have been around for as long as the Web has existed. Some researchers, like physicists, have been posting them online for almost 3 decades, taking advantage of the rapid communication capabilities that the internet enabled. Now, researchers in the Life Sciences and other fields are catching up, with platforms like bioRxiv, the Center for Open Science, as well as the ASAPbio initiative.
At ScienceOpen, we fully support research communities and their adoption of preprints. To make discovering them even easier, we have recently added a preprint filter to our search engine. ScienceOpen currently has 35 million article records as part of our expanding citation network. We are growing each day as new content is integrated from our publishing partners, and sources like PubMed, CrossRef, ORCID and arXiv.
ScienceOpen is pleased to announce a new hosting partnership with UCL Press, the first fully Open Access university press in the UK, based at University College London. With this, ScienceOpen extends its portfolio of dedicated features for publishers to enhance the visibility and context of their content by adding a suite of full-text hosting services.
All 8 scholarly journals published by UCL Press will be hosted on the ScienceOpen discovery platform and integrated into ScienceOpen’s research network. This will provide a dynamic, transparent and interactive Open Access channel that pushes the boundaries of how we create and communicate knowledge.
“ScienceOpen’s new hosting service is the logical extension of our commitment to putting research in context. With our advanced technology we can ensure that UCL Press articles are found by the right researchers and then give those readers the opportunity to interact with the content in a variety of ways. A range of aggregated journal- and article-level metrics then provide enriched usage statistics for the publisher to monitor impact,” said CEO of ScienceOpen, Dr. Stephanie Dawson.
Peer review at ScienceOpen is a little different to what you might be used to.
Does the fact that a paper has been published, and therefore peer reviewed, mean that it is flawless? Does it mean that the conversation around that research should stop? We do not think so. The only reason there would ever be no value in doing post-publication evaluation would be if all published work were completely infallible. Which is clearly not the case. This is, after all, why we continue to do research and build upon the work of those before us!
Therefore, we enable post-publication peer review across 34 million article records, as a form of final-version commenting. It can also be performed on preprints from the arXiv. These are essentially treated as open, pre-review manuscripts. Users can organise these into collections, and manage peer review entirely themselves as a community process.
We have now added a new feature that enables any of our users to invite another researcher to perform peer review on our platform. This is in the same way that an Editor does for a journal, as part of a fully transparent process – the theme for Peer Review Week this year! The difference to the traditional process of peer review is that this is more democratic as it is open to anyone.
All article pages now have an ‘Invite to Review’ button. Click it, and you have 2 options.
Search within the ScienceOpen userbase to see if the person you want to review already has a profile with us.
Add an email, or list of emails, of who you want to invite to review, if they don’t already have a ScienceOpen profile.
That’s it. It’s that easy. This combines the editorial management of peer review with open participation. We enable this to make sure that the process is fair, but efficient. This means that anyone within your research community can contribute to the research process, should they wish to.
Making an impact in a research discovery ecosystem
We designed these new features for you to make an increased impact, and keep track as your research progresses. All of this is provided to you within the context of a discovery environment of more than 31 million article records. It just makes sense to have these profile and article enhancement features integrated into an ecosystem where people are actually discovering and re-using research. And for free, of course.
‘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.
A core concept for our evolving understanding of open research and scholarship is that of equity and fairness within the global research community. At ScienceOpen, this is something we strongly believe in, and work together with a range of publishers and researchers to play our part in making this a reality for research.
As part of our mission, we therefore try to break down barriers in research, and prefer to build bridges over walls. Here are just some examples of how we do this, and in doing so contribute to building a platform that acts as a social community space for all researchers.
One of the main features of ScienceOpen is that we are a research aggregator. We don’t select what we index based on discipline, publisher, or geography, as that just creates another silo. Enough of those exist already. What we need, and what we do, is to bring together research articles from across publishers and other platforms and into one space, where it is all treated in exactly the same way.
When you have articles displayed in this way, factors such as journal brands and impact factors play less importance than the actual content itself. Users can make their own choices about what to read, review, share, and re-use based on their own expertise and evaluation, or the social context provided by our other users.
Last year, SciELO integrated more than 500,000 Open Access articles with us from across Latin America, for the first time putting all of this research on the same level as that from research contained within PubMed Central. There is no reason why there should be geographical segregation of research across platforms. We believe that all research deserves to be read and re-used by anyone, irrespective of where that research was conducted and who published it.
Open Access isn’t just about access to knowledge, but also principles of equality, and to achieve that we have to recognize the value of research from around the world.