Month: February 2015

New Cancer Immunotherapy Collection – features content from multiple OA publishers

Image credit: Shells by artvintage1800s, Flickr, CC BY
Image credit: Shells by artvintage1800s, Flickr, CC BY

Here’s something a bit different! A collection of articles on Cancer Immunotherapy from multiple OA publishers which features work from:

BioMed Central

  • Journal of Translational Medicine
  • Journal for the Immunotherapy of Cancer
  • Molecular Cancer
  • Systems Biology


  • The Scientific World Journal

Nature Publishing Group

  • Frontiers in Immunology
  • Frontiers in Pharmacology



Spandidos Publications

  • International Journal of Oncology
  • Oncology Reports

The largest number of articles come from PLOS ONE (not surprisingly, it’s the world’s largest journal) and BioMed Central. If you stop and think about it, it’s good to unite these publishers around content, that’s the true spirit of Open Access.

As some of you may have noticed, we have a different take on Collections here at ScienceOpen and don’t see why all the articles have to come from the same publisher as is usually the case. Since we’ve also aggregated nearly 1.5 million OA articles, we decided to build a little “collection widget”, establish a new role of “Community Editor” (comes with a modest stipend) and have researchers themselves curate a collection or “mini-journal” in their discipline.

In this way, we hope it will become more obvious which disciplines or niche sub-fields are still short on OA content, Community Editors are also empowered to call for more submissions. In topics where there is already an abundance of OA articles, the art form becomes finding ways to surface the best content and who better to curate it than an expert researcher (rather than a professional editor).

As always, getting a new concept off the ground is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. To demonstrate how Collections work, we asked our Consulting Editor Richard Gallagher to pick a topic, choose some articles (and comment on his top 10 as to why he chose them), write an editorial and finally use the widget to pull it all together.

The result of his endeavors is the ScienceOpen Collection on Cancer Immunotherapy. Then we decided to interview Richard so that he could share his experiences and encourage others to apply for the role of Community Editor themselves (to those who have already stepped up, thanks for participating):

Q. What’s your scientific/professional background and how did it help you select these articles

A. I am a mucosal immunologist if I go back far enough. I’ve been involved in scientific editing for over 20 years and always had a more than passing interest in immunotherapy for cancer: it presents a challenge on so many levels, but the potential is enormous.

Q. What were your criteria for article selection?

A. Simply put, I looked for research that could have a substantial impact on the treatment of cancer, however far from application it may currently be. The fact that among the articles there are new therapies, combinations of therapies, new techniques for cell preparation and better approaches to monitoring patient responses shows the breadth of progress in the field.

Q. What was the hardest part of curating this collection? 

A. Culling very good research! Like any list of “the most exciting research” is it subjective. I have provided notes as to why I selected each article for reference.

Q. What was the easiest part of curating this collection?

A. Since all of the papers have all undergone peer review of one sort or another, they were generally in very good shape

Q. What skills are required to successfully curate a collection?

A. Not so much a skill but an interest in the field in broad terms is a must. An ability to briefly summarize the significance of complex findings is required too.

Q. How long did it take you to curate this collection?

A. I did it over a six week period, spending maybe 10 hours per week. This is the first Collection that I had done (or in fact anyone had done!) for ScienceOpen so that time involved thinking about the criteria for selection and how the summaries should be handled, as well as selecting the articles.

Q. What types of people would be most suitable for the role of “Community Editor”?

A. Scientists who love to read and think widely about their subject. I remember always being drawn to journal clubs and departmental presentations, I got real enjoyment out of learning something new and digging around in a wide range topics. The ideal curators or community editors could be PhD students or post-docs that like this aspect of the work. Perhaps two or three of them from different labs working together would be an interesting way of organizing the community team, some mentorship might also be helpful.

Q. What would you like to see happen as a result of this collection?

A. The collections need to be updated on a regular basis by the curators. This will produce a valuable resource for little time investment: no-one can stay current across a broad swathe of the literature and this will draw attention to the most interesting OA research being published. It would be terrific if these collections became starting points for discussions of particular articles and where the field is (or should be) headed. On a purely practical level, I would like to see others taking part in Post-Publication Peer Review of these articles and giving feedback on my selection criteria which I have provided for every article.

To apply for the role of Community Editor yourself or to apply on behalf of a team, simply email Sebastian Alers with your resume and a cover note.

In:  Announcements  

Proud members of OASPA and DOAJ


Just a quick post to say that we are delighted to have been accepted as members of OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association) and the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals). You can see our listings here and here.

Both of these organizations have a rigorous application process and that’s all for the good given the proliferation of OA publishers. They offer important “white list” services to would be authors, allowing them to check the credentials and approach of publishers that may be unfamiliar to them. It makes sense to have these checks and balances in place and is preferable to alternatives such as naming and shaming which sometimes catches the good and the bad guys in the same net.

As anyone who has ever worked in start-up land will tell you, getting traction and recognition in the early days is quite the uphill battle (even for PLOS and PLOS ONE back in the day where I used to work). We are thrilled to have crossed this milestone!


In:  Guest Blog  

Drowning in information? Throw me a recommendation life ring!

Image credit: Peace by OC Always, Flickr. CC BY
Image credit: Peace by OC Always, Flickr. CC BY

Here at ScienceOpen, we like to showcase new technologies that may improve the efficiency of research, especially those that focus on speeding up access to information, preferably of the open kind!

We were alerted to the scientific recommendation engine called Sparrho, by a tweet from John Wilbanks (great admiration for this chap). We invited Qingzhi Fan, who has a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge and has worked in finance and as a consultant, to explain what Sparrho does and why it of benefit to researchers. Now over to Qingzhi…

Scientists, this is good news and bad news. Whether we like it or not, scientific information has been transformed by the digital age – this means quicker traffic to a greater volume of content than ever before. The challenge of sharing ideas with a broader audience used to be its dissemination; but today, it’s how to grab the right attention, in the right way.

From a scientist’s perspective and as a scientist myself, staying up-to-date with the latest research in my field is as important as working hard in the lab. The wealth of information available today helps speed up breakthroughs, but at the same time confuses, distracts and overwhelms us. There are two issues here: where to find the relevant information and how to do it quickly.

As Richard Van Noorden pointed out in Nature, scientists may be reaching a peak in reading habits. We are adapting: moving away from library and traditional paper prints to read online, moving away from verbose articles to prefer short succinct ones, moving away from reading articles in full and in detail to power-browsing. Yet, reading time itself is often not the real frustration, but the time wasted before finding any relevant information.

The recent emergence of various recommendation services that help researchers stem the rising tide of literature is well described by Elizabeth Gibney in Nature.  The idea of using these tools is to be presented with the relevant information without having to look for it, then our job becomes to read and interpret it, even to share it with others.

For example, our scientific discovery platform aggregates and distills information based on user preferences and makes personalised suggestions. The algorithms are designed to learn user needs and go beyond linear keyword search in what can be described as a three-pronged approach:

1) Data-data analysis: using techniques like natural language processing to pull the most relevant research based on the data users provide (keywords, subject area analysis, etc).

2) User-data analysis: every time users interact with the site by indicating what information is ‘relevant’ or ‘irrelevant’ to them, the engine can build up an article-to-field level of understanding in terms of users’ interests.

3) User-user interactions: users act as the intelligent curators of the recommendations; technology is merely the enabler. Individual user interactions not only improve their own recommendation profile, but also help the whole user community with similar interests.

A good recommendation tool can go beyond scientific articles and act as a one-stop shop for researchers. It will recommend relevant talks, seminars, conferences, posters, patents, grants etc and aggregate all categories of the latest news with filtering functionality. Users can set up automatic newsfeed and not worry about searching and missing the latest information; at the same time, these services often provides opportunity for serendipitous discoveries hidden in places users never normally look.

To every problem there is a solution. For content recommendation, the solution may not be initially perfect since it only gets better with more user interaction, but it may be the life ring you need to stay afloat.