Only by listening to and understanding truly diverse voices can we gain a deeper appreciation of the issues surrounding Open Science. By taking on board what others have to say and learning from them, we strengthen ourselves and the community, and understand how to put things into practice more easily.
A new year means a new chance for us all to do the best that we can for ourselves, for research, and for broader aspects of society. So we’re not stopping, and continuing to showcase some of the best researchers from around the world and how they’re working to make a difference. We’re starting the 2017 series with Mr. Wang Dapeng, an Assistant Researcher at the China Research Institute for Science Popularization.
When did you first realise you wanted to get into academia and the world of scholarly publishing? What was it that turned you?
8 years ago, I came to my present organisation, which is an institute dedicated to science communication research, and that was my first time to deal with science research. However, I worked at the administrative office, which is where I began to read some academic papers about science communication. However, according to the evaluation system, we need to write and publish papers, so I realized that I need not only be familiar with academia, but enter the field by doing research and publishing papers. Furthermore, publishing research papers was another way of being noticed by the peers in your field.
Kick off the new year with the new unified search on ScienceOpen! We have accomplished a lot over the last year and are looking forward to supporting the academic community in 2017.
In 2016 ScienceOpen brought you more context: Now your search comes with a new analytics bar that breaks down your search results by collections, journals, publishers, disciplines, and keywords for quicker filtering. Try a search for the pressing topics of 2016 like Zika or CRISPR and take the new features for a spin.
Researcher output, journal content, reference lists, citing articles can all be dynamically sorted and explored via Altmetric score, citations, date, activity. Statistics for journals, publishers and authors give overview of the content that we are indexing on ScienceOpen. Check out the most relevant journals on ScienceOpen, for example BMC Infectious Diseases or PloS Genetics for a new perspective. Or add your publications to your ORCID and get a dynamic view of your own output.
In 2016 ScienceOpen brought you more open: The ScienceOpen team participated in and helped organize numerous community events promoting Open Science. From Peer Review Week to OpenCon, talks at SSP in Vancouver and SpotOn in London, our team was on the road, debating hot issues in scholarly communication.
In order to bring more visibility to smaller community open access journals, very often with close to non-existent funding and run on a voluntary basis, we launched our platinum indexing competition. It was geared towards open access journals charging no APCs to their authors. Four successful rounds in, we have selected 18 journals to be indexed and awarded some of them with special featured collections on the ScienceOpen platform. This activity was particularly rewarding as we heard back from journals’ editors expressing their enthusiasm about the ScienceOpen project and enjoying bigger usage numbers on their content.
The ScienceOpen 2.017 version will continue to focus on context, content and open science. We are your starting point for academic discovery and networking. Together let’s explore new ways to support visibility for your publications, promote peer review, improve search and discovery and facilitate collection building. Here is to putting research in context! The year 2016 had some great moments – may 2017 bring many, many more!
At ScienceOpen, we’ve just upgraded our search and discovery platform to be faster, smarter, and more efficient. A new user interface and filtering capabilities provide a better discovery experience for users. ScienceOpen searches more than 27 million full text open access or article metadata records and puts them in context. We include peer-reviewed academic articles from all fields, including pre-prints that we draw from the arXiv and which are explicitly tagged as such.
The current scale of academic publishing around the world is enormous. According to a recent STM report, we currently publish around 2.5 million new peer reviewed articles every single year, and that’s just in English language journals.
The problem with this for researchers and more broadly is how to stay up to date with newly published research. And not just in our own fields, but in related fields too. Researchers are permanently inundated, and we need to find a way to sift the wheat from the chaff.
The solution is smart and enhanced search and discovery. Platforms like ResearchGate and Google Scholar (GS) have just a single layer of discovery, with additional functions such as sorting by date to help narrow things down a bit. GS is the de facto mode of discovery of primary research for most academics, but it also contains a whole slew of ‘grey literature’ (i.e., non-peer reviewed outputs), which often interferes with finding the best research.
As well as this, if you do a simple search with GS, say just for dinosaurs, you get 161,000 returned results. How on Earth are you supposed to find the most useful and most relevant research based on this if you want to move beyond Google’s page rank, especially if you’re entering this from outside the area of specialisation? Simply narrowing down by dates does very little to prevent being overwhelmed with an absolute deluge of maybe maybe-not relevant literature. We need to do better at research discovery.
Well, we’ve had some absolute stars recently in our ‘open science’ series! If you haven’t seen them yet, head over and check them out – such a diverse array of experiences and perspectives! Today we spoke with Josh King, the founder of Brevy. It’s an awesome new platform, and we’ll let Josh tell you more about it here, enjoy!
Hi Josh, thanks for joining us! Could you tell us a bit about why you started Brevy?
Brevy is an independent, volunteer group of a few stubborn individuals who work on the project during our off hours (read “nights and weekends”). While my own day job is in science outreach, I work with a couple of other partners (a fantastic computer science start-up owner and a behavioural psychologist make up our merry band) to help direct and maintain the site. We’re nothing special on our own, so the real stars here are those that pitch a hand adding summaries to Brevy or introducing it as class assignments to help grow the body of content!
When did you first hear about Open Access and Open Science? What did you first think?
That would likely be during my undergraduate years studying biochemistry and becoming hopelessly frustrated trying to write reports using papers I often had no access to (even with our university library!). At the time, I thought the concepts as fanciful dreams, but thankfully here we are with open access a growing paradigm and various open science platforms blossoming around the web.
What do you think the biggest problem with the current scholarly publishing system is?
Meaningful publishing. By reasonable estimates, at least more than a 1,000,000 academic papers are published each year. These works are published on platforms known largely only to academics, and then only to that specific subset of academia. Publications on these platforms are not always accessible even to this select group and generally do not well support further dialogue or dissemination, with a surprisingly significant number going uncited. Taken pessimistically, this is tantamount to ejecting hundreds of thousands of new pieces of knowledge into the void each year.
We can be optimistic about this however! Taken optimistically, there are hundreds of thousands of possibly exciting and ground-breaking new ideas all of the time that most of us don’t know about! But to see it this way, to truly believe it, we have to start caring about the meaningfulness of research. We have to start thinking about different types of impacts than citation count and means of prestige other than the journal name. And we have to care what our work means to the world outside academia.
We’re running a series to showcase some of the different perspectives in the scholarly publishing and communication world, and in particular regarding the theme of ‘Open Science’. We’ve already heard from Joanne Kamens about her work in making open data repositories and campaigning for greater diversity in STEM; Dan Shanahan discussed issues with the impact factor and assessment in academia; Gal Schkolnik let us know about her research into Shewanella and experiences with Open Access publishing; and Israel Bimpe described his story as a student from Rwanda and global health champion. So quite a mix, and it’s been great to get such a variety of thoughts, perspectives, and experiences.
But we’re not stopping there! We spoke to Iara Vidal who is working on her PhD in Information Science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and has plenty of experience with altmetrics and also in working as a librarian. Here’s her story!
Hi Iara! So can you tell us a bit about your background to get things rolling?
Sure! I had my first experience with scientific research in high school. I was in what we call a “technical school” here in Brazil, studying to be a meteorological technician. In 1998 me and some other students did a study correlating rain levels with the incidence of certain diseases whose transmission is somehow related to water. It was great fun to go looking for all the data we needed, and we actually got a poster accepted at the 10th Brazillian Meteorology Conference (pdf is available here, if you’re curious and can read Portuguese – there’s a short English abstract but that’s it). That was my first scientific event – and honestly, conferences are probably my favourite aspect of academia to this day. For college, I changed from Meteorology into Library Science. I joined a research group in my university and kept presenting papers in small scientific events and student meetings. It was an amazing experience, but when I graduated in early 2005 I decided to go work in libraries instead of staying in academia. I *love* being a librarian, but things became difficult when, through reasons that are too complicated to explain here, I ended up as the sole librarian in a federal agency. Much as I tried, I could not improve my situation. So, in 2012, I decided to leave and pursue an academic career. I got my master’s degree in Information Science in 2014, and have been working on my PhD since 2015.
When did you first hear about open access and open science? What was your initial reaction?
I think I first heard about open access in the early 2000s, maybe in one of the Library and Information Science student meetings I used to go to. But it was only in the past few years that I got more involved in the issue. In 2013 I attended a conference celebrating the 15th anniversary of the SciELO Network (http://www.scielo15.org/en/about/), which got me really excited not only about open access, but also about the role of Latin America and other peripheral regions in all this. As I researched more about open access I got to know about open science as well. My reaction to all this was of excitement (hell yeah let’s free knowledge!), but also questioning: how do we get people to change their behaviour? I think the answer lies in incentives, which increased my interest in research evaluation. I studied altmetrics in my master’s and am now moving to article-level metrics, but the end goal is improving evaluation.
How do we get people to change their behaviour? I think the answer lies in incentives, which increased my interest in research evaluation.
Last week, we kicked off a series interviewing some of the top ‘open scientists’ by interviewing Dr. Joanne Kamens of Addgene, and had a look at some of the great work she’d been doing in promoting a culture of data sharing, and equal opportunity for researchers. Today, we’re bringing you another open science star, Dr. Gal Schkolnik, who recently published a really cool Collection with us on the bacterium Shewanella. Here’s her story!
Hi Gal! So can you tell us a bit about your research background, and how you originally got interested in science?
I did my BSc in Chemistry at the Tel Aviv University and my MSc at the Weizmann Institute, analyzing the chemical composition of deforestation-fire smoke from the Amazon, where farmers and corporations yearly set hectares of rainforest on fire for agriculture and pasture. For my PhD at the Technische Universitaet Berlin I measured the electric fields at protein surfaces and self-assembled monolayers. Now I’m researching Shewanella, an electroactive bacterium that can transfer electrons across its outer membrane. As you can see, I always start on a completely new field, because my greatest passion in life is acquiring knowledge – so learning something new is my favorite kind of challenge. I’m basically just a kid who never got over the “why” stage, haha. Plus I had some very inspiring teachers at school – two wonderful women who nurtured my natural tendency to go deep in pursuit of answers to the hardest questions.
People who have no access to journal subscriptions can use ScienceOpen to gain more knowledge about electroactive bacteria and their possible applications.
The Zika virus is an international public health emergency, as declared early on in February by the World Health Organisation. As such, it is critical that the global research community help combat this threat as rapidly and efficiently as possible. This is a case when science can quite literally save lives.
Recently, an article on the host-vector ratio in the Zika virus was published on the arXiv, a platform for articles often called ‘preprints’. This means that the work has not yet been peer reviewed, and is also not available to comment on the arXiv itself due to functional constraints. The paper is stuck in the hidden, timeless limbo of peer review until its eventual emergence as a paper or ultimate rejection.
Hello there, and Happy New Year from the new Communications Director of ScienceOpen!
My name’s Jon, and I’m currently finishing up my PhD at Imperial College London, where I’m a palaeontologist! (think Ross from Friends..) This year, I’ve been fortunate enough to join the ScienceOpen team to help grow their communications and networking abilities, and continue to realise the benefits of their pretty cool open research networking platform.
Those of you who know me will be aware that open access and more broadly, open science and communications, is something that I’ve been quite active in over my short career as a researcher. Some of the more ‘open-related’ projects I’ve been involved with include the writing of the Open Research Glossary, as well as challenging the AAAS on non-optimal publishing practices. For those of you lucky enough not to have met me yet, I’m highly interested in a whole array of factors that influence scholarly communication, including:
Publishing and disruptive technologies and innovation
Access to raw data and reproducibility
Community building and the power of social networks
Social media for researchers
Science communication, public engagement and outreach
Academic assessment and altmetrics
I’ll be taking over the reins from Liz Allen, who will shortly announce her new non-profit role. Rest assured that she will continue to spread the word about the importance of open. On behalf of the ScienceOpen team, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Liz for helping to establish our brand and offering her personal support as I get up to speed with the nuances of the job. Over the next few months (and onwards), I hope to help to raise awareness of what ScienceOpen does, and why it should be part of the essential toolkit for researchers, along with a host of other innovative applications that are bringing research into the digital age.
Why ScienceOpen? Well, apart from the obvious name, I support their ideals that science deserves to be open, transparent, and equal in every way. This essentially is the inverse of the traditional method of scholarly communication of publishing via journals, which are closed, opaque, and beset by inequalities on all fronts, the foremost being financial. ScienceOpen offers a valuable service that doesn’t replace traditional publishing, but compliments it through having a community aspect of driving open peer review, which is still the golden standard of acceptability for published research. Combine this with a hefty archive of both open and non-open research articles, and you have a valuable platform for developing research networks and building upon the published literature in an open, transparent, and community-driven way. For me, this is just one of the many ways in which the way we conduct research and disseminate those results is changing for the better, by harnessing the power of the Web and the opportunities it gives us for greater inter-operability throughout academia.
Alongside my activities here, I’ll be continuing my research and finishing the dreaded thesis, as well my science communication activities, in particular for the PLOS Paleo network which is great fun! So essentially combining my three favourite things: research, science communication, and open science policy and communications. Yay!
You can contact me on Twitter, or drop me an email if you wish. I look forward to working with ScienceOpen, and with them the global research community!