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.
We harvest content from across platforms like PubMed Central, arXiv, SciELO and bring it all together in one place
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.
We also don’t just focus on the hard sciences or the humanities and social sciences. Too often are the main fields of research and disciplines segregated from each other, rather than being used together in inter-disciplinary harmony. This is why we integrate research from across fields and at different levels, such as with the fantastic Open Library of Humanities, and also more recently a whole range of new content to help emphasise this from Materials Science, Biomedical Science, Entomology, Archaeology, Medical and Health Research, and er, dinosaurs.
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.
We’ve created an enriched citation network to enhance author and article context
Researchers have a range of usage metrics attached to their profile, and we place their research in a broader context by looking at related articles in our database of 30 million records (and growing!).
We track the output from 16 million authors via our contextual metadata network, and not just those who have created a profile on our site. So if you want drill down on the researcher- and article-level data, this is the place to do it! You can sort a researcher’s papers by Altmetric score, usage, citations and more to better understand their work. But you can also create a profile, follow other users, share and connect. As more data are added through time, we are able to enhance and refine context at these different levels to provide an enriched user profile and experience.
This is important for us as it puts everyone on an equal footing. All you have to do is integrate your ORCID profile for us to unlock this context for you – we do the rest of the magic behind the scenes! If your papers are Open Access, it’s quite likely that we’ll have them already. If not, we can at least have the metadata records drawn from ORCID and Crossref and track usage activity and metrics on our platform.
By using ORCID in this way, we make sure that publication records are legal, ethical, and moderated, but most importantly integrated with other key parts of research infrastructure.
What this means practically at ScienceOpen is that any user can see the similar articles to any other on the platform based on our matching algorithms. The citation data of each article is also exposed, and you can see all articles which are referenced within a paper, as well as all those which cite it.
We provide all of our services for free
ScienceOpen is free. We always have been, and will always strive to be, for our members. You don’t even need to be a member to use our search and discovery functions across 30 million research articles. We don’t profit from your work or use it in any way except to put your research in context. We don’t sell it to anyone, and we don’t advertise from external sites to you. Rather, we work directly with publishers and researchers to provide a better and sustainable data-rich service for everyone!
It is our intention to never charge for our services to researchers, and not implement some sort of ‘freemium’ model like ResearchGate and other researcher networking platforms have done. Academia is financially burdened enough without having another paid service for researchers and their institutes to sign up to.
This is also a far cry from other indexing platforms like Web of Science and Scopus, where you often are forced to rely on institutional subscriptions to access and use their site.
We don’t want to cater to just the privileged or elite, but provide a service that is accessible to as wide an audience as possible, which means zero financial barriers.
We work with APC-free Open Access journals to enhance their content visibility
There are thousands of small Open Access journals and publishers out there who strive for recognition in a world dominated by a few giant publishing houses. Many of these do not charge fees for Open Access (around 70% of those indexed in the DOAJ do not), and we work with these to help support them. We have indexed Open Access journals from around the world for free to help their content be found more easily and raise their profile in a global research environment.
Our latest winners all come from across Europe, from Croatia, Slovakia, and Spain, to help them benefit from increased visibility, usage and branding for their published content through ScienceOpen. Simply being Open Access is not sufficient in the current scholarly publishing climate – you have to be promoted, shared, and recognised too!
This is crucial for publishers in terms of generating increased visibility and credibility for research, and ultimately creating a sustainable publishing venture.
We strive for transparency in peer review to eliminate bias
There are numerous documented biases against women, minorities, and other marginalised groups during the traditional peer review process. While at the present there is no single solution to overcoming these biases, we strongly promote post-publication peer review so that voices that are normally silenced or marginalised during peer review have a greater chance to be acknowledged as part of a continuous process.
This is one of the best parts of our platform, and we have more than 120 post-publication peer reviews to date to show it! Every single one is courteous, professional, and informative, and we strongly encourage more researchers to embrace these opportunities as open peer review becomes more commonplace.
These peer reviews are also moderated by ORCID to maintain some standard of quality control that goes beyond status or any sort of academic hierarchy.
Any sort of system like this requires a standard of moderation, and we believe that by integrating with ORCID this is the fairest and most robust way of doing so.
We provide a worldwide database for knowledge
We are growing at a global level, and each day adding new content to our platform. At the beginning of 2017, we added 12 new publishing clients, and are continuing to add Open Access and subscription content all the time.
ScienceOpen will analyse and contextualise this new content at the article-level, highlighting journals and publishers as essential context. Article-level metrics, including usage, citations, Altmetric score, and interaction, can be used to filter search results to find relevant research. All articles can be openly peer reviewed post-publication, shared and recommended by the research community. All of this contributes towards the continuous process of knowledge generation and refinement for the betterment of society.
So those are some of the reasons why we think ScienceOpen stands out as a community platform.
Our mission aligns with that of the wider research culture, to reduce the barriers and access threshold to knowledge, and leverage the power of Web technologies to create better services for research generators and users.
But, as always, we are seeking to provide new and better services for you all. What can we be doing better as a platform? Let us know in the comments or by email!