A Collaboration for #OAWeek2020
In the announcement of the theme for Open Access Week 2020, Nick Schockey wrote, “International Open Access Week is a time for the wider community to coordinate in taking action to make openness the default for research and to ensure that equity is at the center of this work.“ ScienceOpen strongly agrees with this statement and has been collaborating extensively with our partner Compuscript to work towards this goal. Our efforts also coincide with the general theme of the 2020 International Open Access Week: to be open with purpose – taking action to build structural equity and inclusion. In this article, we describe how ScienceOpen and Compuscript are taking steps to make science more open and the research community more inclusive to people from all over the world. We hope that by raising awareness around our efforts, we can reach out to more journals and smaller publishers who may be searching for additional support in scholarly publishing.
About the ScienceOpen and Compuscript Partnership
Through the years, ScienceOpen has worked closely with Compuscript to increase ScienceOpen’s services to the Chinese publishing and research community. Compuscript is an excellent partner in working with Chinese publishers and researchers. Through their own office and team in China, they have been dedicated to providing editorial and general publishing support to Chinese researchers and journals for nearly 20 years. In that time, Compuscript has been working with Chinese researchers to help them navigate the complex submission and peer review systems of English-language journals. Working with ScienceOpen, Compuscript has been able to help many Chinese open access journals improve their discoverability outside of China by enhancing their metadata and bringing their content to the ScienceOpen platform, including the likes of Tsinghua University Press and the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines.
Compuscript also has the infrastructure in place to run social media marketing channels for ScienceOpen in popular Chinese micro-blogging sites such as Sina Weibo. This is a crucial capacity for anyone trying to be inclusive to the Chinese market since China does not have access to certain Western social media platforms like Twitter. This collaboration is yielding excellent results. For instance, the ScienceOpen Sina Weibo account run through Compuscript has over 26,000 followers and the #ScienceOpen hashtag has accumulated over 175,000 views. Without Compuscript’s partnership, ScienceOpen would be less successful in bringing awareness to and promoting research in China. This is a crucial way to connect China to the Western research community and vice versa. ScienceOpen also collaborates with Compuscript for expert typesetting of XML and PDF data and provides promotional support to Compuscript’s open access journals.
How ScienceOpen and Compuscript Promote Open Access Publishing
ScienceOpen was founded in 2013 by Tibor Tscheke and Alexander Grossmann to shift scholarly communication towards more open models. Since then, ScienceOpen has evolved into an interactive search and discovery platform that puts research in context of millions of articles, books, and texts, and works with all types of publishers and researchers to further increase the dissemination of their work. We have consistently used our platform to promote Open Science whenever possible: by joining the Initiative for Open Citations and Open Abstracts, and Metadata 2020, dedicating our blog to the voices of the Open Science community in our Interview series ‘Open Science Stars,’ to making sure that Open Access research can easily stand out by including the Open Access license as a filtering option in our search platform.
We are equally passionate about transitioning the peer-review process to being more transparent. We have built a post-publication peer-review capability in the ScienceOpen platform which is quality-checked by making users connect their ORCID ID before being able to review. Moreover, one of our most extensive partnerships is with UCL Press, which is a completely open access university press, and with whom we collaborated with to create an open peer-review model for the journal UCL Open: Environment. ScienceOpen also manages a free preprint server which authors can use as a means to make their manuscripts open and accessible to all during the lengthy publication process. We also have a free server in which researchers can publish their scientific posters and get credit for them! Through all these ways, ScienceOpen works hard to make sure that we are supporting the open movement.
Compuscript promotes and supports open access from both the bottom up and the top down. Compuscript helps researchers and institutions choose the right journal for their work. They work with authors right through from submission, to replying to reviewer comments and executing revisions. Compuscript also works with international publishers such as the American Chemical Society to provide localised China-based editorial support to their editors, associate editors and authors. Likewise, Compuscript provides comprehensive publishing solutions and empower academics and researchers to start new open access publishing initiatives by leveraging their 30-year experience in the production of journals for leading publishers such as Elsevier, Walter deGruyter and UU open. Compuscript currently provides the full publishing infrastructure from journal development to submission management, editorial management, publishing platform selection and readership marketing for a number of Chinese-owned English-language open access titles, including BIO Integration and Cardiovascular Innovations and Applications. Working with the journal leadership, they help them to understand, develop, and implement their journal’s editorial and publishing policies to international best practice, deploying best guidance from the likes of COPE, ISMTE, and others.
Compuscript is keenly aware that a stigma continues to exist towards open access in China, sometimes justified by the actions of rogue predatory journals but most often not. This is a top-down problem—some high-ranking universities refuse to accept open access papers in performance evaluation, reflecting a scepticism that was not uncommon in the West 20 years ago. In a recent survey of 824 university students in China, over 50% had no knowledge of open access journals. Yet, in many respects, China is an open access pioneer. On May 2004, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. On May 16, 2014, the CAS and NSFC introduced a policy requiring papers funded by these two agencies to be uploaded to repositories and made publicly available after 12 months. Such initiatives reflect a desire for, and a slow advance towards, the acceptance of open access in China. Compuscript acts as an advocate for good open access in China, with the aim to reduce stigmatised attitudes via promoting best practice through discussion and the sharing of information.
Working towards Inclusion in the Publishing Industry
At ScienceOpen, we are constantly striving towards making our platform more inclusive because one of our goals is to facilitate collaboration among the global research community. We do this through several ways, one of which is reaching out to publishers, academic societies, and scholars from all backgrounds and means. We provide affordable solutions for any publisher because we value diversity in our content. This enables ScienceOpen to facilitate global collaboration, and it provides better context to the research on our platform. We therefore work hard to connect to a wide base of potential customers. In order for ScienceOpen to be capable of serving a diverse customer base, we need to have flexible and comprehensive services and solutions. This is especially true for technical support since publishers have vastly different states of journal and book metadata completeness. We thus work closely with our technical partners at Ovitasto come up with innovative solutions for all customers.
Another way in which ScienceOpen promotes inclusivity is by continually implementing new features as we listen to our customers’ needs. Just a few weeks ago we received a request for the option to add Arabic text to article records on ScienceOpen. This required the capability of users to write ‘right to left,’ which our technical team figured out and promptly incorporated into our website. Another example comes from our growing partnership with Chinese researchers, which prompted us to add the popular Chinese micro-blogging site, Sina Weibo, in our ‘Share’ feature. This enables Chinese researchers to share articles directly to Weibo from ScienceOpen. These are seemingly small changes, but we believe that they are important for making ScienceOpen user-friendly to all.
Compuscript provides extensive services to authors with English-as-a-second-language (ESL). ESL authors often struggle to navigate the complex submission and peer review system of English-language journals. This isn’t simply a matter of language—cultural norms and knowledge of how the system works play a huge role. Attitudes towards verbatim plagiarism, for example, differ culturally. The direct copying of text is a common method of learning in China and is seen as a form of respect to the original author. As well as this, “the collectivist orientation of Chinese culture may well encourage the view that written material belongs to a common pool of knowledge rather than to an individual writer” (see here), in distinct contrast to the individualistic orientation of Western culture, which encourages originality and the need to demarcate one’s own work. In English-language journals, concise, direct language is preferred; in Chinese writing, indirectness is the preferred option—”[t]o be indirect in … written discourse, to expect the audience to infer meanings rather than to have them spelled out is a defining characteristic of Chinese rhetoric” (see here). While many ESL scholars worldwide have come to understand such cultural differences and can adjust for them, they still must think in one language and write in another.
Having valid research rejected or held up on the grounds of language is very frustrating for ESL authors and runs counter to the theme of this year’s Open Access Week. Compuscript’s International Science Editing department offers English-language editing of scientific documents pre-submission, to help international research communities overcome cultural and language barriers. They also act as a support hub. Authors frequently contact their offices requesting information, e.g., the grammatical reasoning for making a particular edit, help understanding a reviewer’s comment, etc. They also contribute instructional blogs, videos, and infographics on the topic of academic publishing in the West on a regular basis. They regularly host talks and online webinars as part of their author outreach program, the benefits of which work both ways—ESL academics get updated on the latest and best practices in the West, and Compuscript get a feel for the main issues and challenges such academics are facing, usually via lively Q&A sessions. Compuscript later address these questions in more detail in their blogs and social media content. Last month, these blogs were visited by people from over 110 countries, highlighting the demand for information worldwide.
As well as authors, ESL journal editors, particularly those in developing countries, have their own unique set of obstacles to overcome. In support, Compuscript has partnered with the African Journal Partnership Program (AJPP). The AJPP partners 10 medical journals in 10 sub Saharan African countries with leading northern journals and other partners in the scholarly publishing community. A founding premise of the program is that valuable research being carried out in African countries is often not available to the wider international audience. Thus, in support of open science, AJPP’s mission is to promote wider dissemination of African health and medical research published in these journals, and published articles are free to read via public and open access. AJPP is funded by the US National Library of Medicine, with support from the Fogarty International Center, Council of Science Editors, Elsevier Foundation, and African Journals Online. Compuscript copyedits two of these journals pro bono: The Health Press – Zambia, a publication of the Zambia National Public Health Institute, and Malawi Medical Journal, working directly with the editors in Africa. Annette Flanigan, Executive Managing Editor, and Vice President of Editorial Operations for JAMA and the JAMA network introduced Compuscript to this initiative. Annette works closely with the AJPP, and other partners that share the goals of open science.
Both ScienceOpen and Compuscript see the benefits of scholarly publishing moving towards the open model. Through our respective platforms, we hope that we can keep promoting open access journals, initiatives, and science in general, with the ultimate goal of making scientific publishing more equitable and inclusive. If a piece of this article resonated with you, please do not hesitate to reach out to either Stephanie Dawson (firstname.lastname@example.org) of ScienceOpen or Morgan Lyons (email@example.com) of Compuscript. For more details on the services ScienceOpen and Compuscript provide, see below for some helpful links: