It’s true that it’s been a while since I was climbing the scientific career ladder! My path was somewhat different to many but diversifying is more common now than it was then, for many different reasons that I shall briefly explore below.
By most standards, I’ve had a good run and I am not done yet – these days I also enjoy my role as President of ScienceOpen working with a terrific team of enthusiastic colleagues in Berlin, Boston, and San Francisco. However, I remain mindful and respectful of my research roots and spend as much time as possible talking with young faculty, promoting their thinking and doing everything I can to support them because it seems to me that a scientific career got a lot harder than it was when I did it, and it wasn’t easy then.
To demonstrate my support of “Generation Open” and in honor of Open Access Week 2014, today I am personally announcing that we are waiving publication fees for Earlier Career Researchers until November 30th 2014 on ScienceOpen, the research + open access publishing network.
Far from being “riff-raff”, per Steven McKnight the President of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, who asserted that “the average scientist today is not of the quality of our predecessors” in this unfortunate essay, I believe, in contrast, that today’s scientists battle harder than ever to conduct quality science.
That young researchers continue to make progress with their hands tied is remarkable – reduced funding; cut throat commpetition for what money remains; intense pressure to reach tenureship; more pressure to publish; a glut of talent (good for science but makes it harder to stand out) and not enough job openings.
To take advantage of my free publishing offer, all you have to do is be able to demonstrate that you are an ECR, typically defined as graduate student or Post-Doc. As long as one of the corresponding authors on an article or poster is an ECR, then all authors qualify for free publication. You must submit before 12am CET on November 30th 2014 to be eligible.
For those of you who are unfamilar with ScienceOpen here’s a quick run down, with short videos, of our services:
When it comes to preparing a poster for presentation, there are some amazing poster resources on the web for researchers at all levels of poster proficiency.
For those starting out, I like How to create a research poster from the Bern Dibner Library (simple and basic). For a comprehensive primer, I like Designing Conference Posters from Colin Purrington (comprehensive advice delivered with a sharp wit). Finally, if you are artistic and proficient (see Benjamin Gorman’s “draft” poster pictured below, looks great already!), then Dr Zen’s Better Posters and his constructive critiques can help to make your posters even more powerful.
To quote Dr Zen, “academic conference posters are often ugly, with tiny text, confusing layouts and dubious color schemes”. They may be so bad they elicit this reaction (animated GIF), courtesy of #whatshouldwecallgradschool. If we step back and think about the reasons why, it is because posters fuse two skill sets, research communication and graphic design, and both are slightly removed from the primary competence of “doing science”.
However, curiously, in an article entitled Poster Perfect in The Scientist, Colin Purrington observed that “Although occasionally there would be visually pleasing posters that promoted less-than-stellar science”, he usually found that “the attractiveness of a poster was highly correlated with the quality of the science”. Graphic design and scientific inquiry require different skills, but oddly enough, it appeared that “the people who understood the beauty of fonts had a sense of pitching their science” he said.
One reason to invest effort in preparing and printing a poster, is to communicate the essence of your research in a relatively compact space with the opportunity to interact with your audience if your content catches their eye. This may be particularly appealing for earlier career researchers who aren’t ready to publish or those who would rather avoid public speaking.
Previously, the other slightly frustrating part of poster preparation was their relatively short conference shelf life, possibly followed by a (by then dog eared) display of the poster in the lab. However, as is the case with so much of life, the internet has transformed this space such that digital poster publishing is the new normal. Posters can now happily live online and attract attention to your work in perpetuity.
Here at ScienceOpen, publishing posters is simple and pretty much like publishing an article but cheaper. Posters are published as a PDF in in ScienceOpen Posters (eISSN: 2199-8442). There are two routes to get involved, either your conference organizer has an arrangement with ScienceOpen and they pay a reduced fee and you can publish for free, nice! Or you fly solo and pay $120. Naturally, your poster is available for Non-Anonymous Post-Publication Peer Review just like our articles. To submit a poster, simply email our Editorial Office.
UPDATE September 24th 2014 – Dan Morgan (UCP) is joining the organizing team, a warm OA welcome to him and the University of California Press crew! For a free ticket to the event, please see this Eventbrite.
8 mins – relax with a drink, a snack and “What is OA?” video by Jorge Cham (PhD Comics), Nick Shockey (Right to Research) and Jonathan Eisen (UCD)
10 minutes – un-conference OA topic selection by audience
20 minutes – topic discussion with moderation (your host for the evening, Lenny!)
10 minutes – grab another drink (alcoholic or non), stave off hunger with nibbles
40 minutes – lightning talks, “#OpenAccess – it’s up to all of us”
Last 30 minutes or so – greeting old friends and making some new ones
Slides for your lightning talk (5 image based slides) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Monday October 20th. We will be taping them for social media (you have been warned). We have created an Eventbrite so you can RSVP.
Finally, in the spirit of “the more the merrier” other OA Publishers and Academic Partners who want to participate are welcome to email Liz.
CEO Stephanie Dawson (ScienceOpen) has packed her bags and travelled from Berlin to Paris for the 6th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing (COASP) meeting from 17-19th September.
Although the 1959 stamp pictured above depicts the UNESCO headquarters in Paris (the conference location), we don’t suggest that Stephanie affix it to her postcard home to the rest of the ScienceOpen team (extolling them to work hard in her absence), since it is a rare collector’s item.
On Thursday 18th September, from 4.15-5.30pm, as part of the Late Breaking/Show and Tell Session, Stephanie will give a presentation entitled “OA Publishing 3.0: Beyond the journal, a redefined role in the research ecosystem“?
Stephanie’s presentation is under wraps for now but will be made available on the OASPA website as soon as possible after the conference. During her talk, Stephanie will explain how the term 3.0, which usually refers to self-publishing, also applies to the future of OA publishing and how ScienceOpen, the new research + publishing network, offers services to authors that enable this transition.
After this is done on Thursday, lucky Stephanie will have dinner at Le Grand Bistro de Breteuil! The rest of the ScienceOpen team are not jealous.
The ScienceOpen team are pleased to announce some changes to facilitate the spread of Open Access publishing beyond the sciences, its traditional strong-hold. To encourage those in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) to try OA we are:
Lowering our HSS publication fee until such time as more OA funds become available to this community. Needs based partial or full fee waivers are available.
Exploring different publication formats, not just articles
Actively recruiting members of the HSS community to our Editorial and Advisory Board
Seeking recommendations for existing OA HSS content to add to our platform
“It is very important in my opinion. I have been arguing since 2004 that OA brings the same benefits in every field, even if some fields present more obstacles or fewer opportunities. For example, the natural sciences are better funded than the humanities, which means they have more money to pay for OA. In particular, there is more public funding for the sciences than the humanities, which means that the compelling taxpayer argument for OA gets more traction in the sciences than the humanities. In addition, books are at least as important as journal articles for humanities scholars, if not more important, and OA for books, while growing quickly, is objectively harder than OA for journal articles. The good news is that OA in the humanities is growing – not faster than OA in the sciences, but faster than in the past. More humanities scholars understand the benefits and opportunities for OA, and are answering the objections and misunderstandings raised against it”.
This graph from a 2010 PLOS ONE article (mirrored here on the ScienceOpen platform) digs a little deeper into this story and shows the relative balance of Gold Open Access (publishing in an Open Access journal) in areas such as Medicine and the Lifesciences in contrast to Green OA (self-archiving of journal articles in an Open Access repository).
After over twenty years working in scientific and medical research communication at Nature/PLOS and then recently joining ScienceOpen, which welcomes submissions from all areas of the Sciences, Medicine, the Humanities and Social Sciences, I realized:
How little I understood about the publication needs of those who work outside the Sciences/Medicine
How important it was for my new role that I made an effort to get up to speed
The solution to my dilemma? Run my own mini-research project on Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences to answer the question “can one size of OA fit all?”
As Martin Eve so eloquently wrote: “Open Access could give the humanities fresh energy and public appeal through visibility. It could give us the chance to reach a broader audience and to fulfill the societal function of which we dream”.
After completing my initial desk research, the next step was to interview some digital, open and influential HSS thinkers for myself to see if they corroborated or disagreed with the opinions expressed in my reading material.
My interviews confirmed that, per my background reading, there appeared to be some hurdles to overcome if HSS is to fully embrace Open Access. As one interviewee said ““the knee jerk reaction to the notion that OA will work here, because it works there, is NO!”.
With that in mind, here’s what I learned during my research:
“The Article” is not a universally shared unit of communication. In HSS longer formats such as monographs and books are the norm although interest in and acceptance of online articles is growing partly because there are no space limitiations in this format. Additionally, Reviews and other added value content are common place and not many OA journals offer this service.
Similarly, “The Journal” doesn’t only carry the most important works and are less likely to be owned by huge for profit publishers but rather by socieites for whom they represent a valuable source of revenue. Profits from these journals can be slimmer with fewer longer articles without multiple authors to split the bill.
“The Article Publication Charge (APC)”, which is typically paid by an author’s institution or funder in the sciences, is not ideally-suited to the varied publication formats of HSS.
Also, “Article-Level Metrics” aren’t necessarily a natural fit in HSS although there’s clear interest in how to measure the impact of digital objects.
In terms of licensing, there’s concern over the suitability of the CC BY license given the prevalence of the use of third party materials from protective museums and archives. My solution, from a science perspective, would be to license the authors work CC-BY and to secure relevant permissions and credit them as such (admittedly a pain to undertake). However, during my reading I discovered that certain museums and archives charge more for permissions in an OA journal and that issues surrounding commercial re-use of painstakingly created materials and the historical requirement for accurate attribution abound. Life is never simple.
Finally but very importantly, Article Publication Charges (APC) as priced for the Sciences are not readily affordable to those working in HSS because of their low level of funding and inflexibility in terms of using grants to pay publication fees. Also, there seems no possibility of reserachers paying APC’s from their own pockets because of their frequently low salaries (and it wouldn’t be fair to expect this anyway).
These points are neatly summarized by K|N Consultants who observed “In HSS, articles are not the only publication type of value or even the most valued type of publication; external funding for research is minimal or non-existent; and societies often consider their publications to be the primary benefit they offer their members, and many find it difficult to imagine how they would support their society’s activities if their current publishing operations were to change”.
To conclude, we’re pleased to be able to offer full and partial fee waiver pricing flexibility to the HSS community, this is in addition to the following ScienceOpen features that are available to all:
We recognize that ScienceOpen can’t “solve” for Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences but we hope these overtures will be welcomed by this community. Please continue this conversation by commenting on this post, find us at @Science_Open or email me.
The topical issue of climate change and health is top priority at this year’s Summit. As Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director General said “the evidence is overwhelming: climate change endangers human health. Solutions exist and we need to act decisively to change this trajectory”. Other topics include Universal Health Coverage and Healthy Aging.
A clear signal that the global health community welcomes a more open conversation on these pivotal issues, has been the increase of OA to the scientific and medical literature as an ideal way of disseminating knowledge. Many of the speakers at the WHS 2014 are already publishing their findings in OA journals and are choosing to make research in this field freely available for everyone to read and re-use (with attribution) which:
Broadens the conversation with those in low income countries
Facilitates global research cooperation
Provides health policy makers with quality information
Helps clinicians and patients make better informed decisions
The new partners align around their shared vision that real and lasting change in global health is catalyzed through collaboration and open dialogue. “Only a global collaboration that unites academia, the private sector, politics and civil society can provide the key to solving the problems of health and health systems today and tomorrow “ explain the WHS Presidents 2014, Prof José Otávio Costa Auler Jr. and Prof Detlev Ganten.
The Summitt, which attracts 1200 participants and is to be held from October 19-22 at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, was initiated in 2009 on the occasion of the 300th year anniversary of the Charité –Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
ScienceOpen, headquartered in Berlin (with offices in Boston and San Francisco, USA), has aggregated over 1.3 million OA articles from leading publishers from over 2 million networked authors which allows users unfettered accesss to medical and health knowledge from a variety of sources. It welcomes submissions of all types of content (Research Articles, Reviews, Posters etc.) from all disciplines and offers
While I am sitting on the sofa composing this blog post, WordPress is seamlessly taking care of my corrections, proofs and versions at the touch of a button. I take this service completely for granted am grateful for it since I usually run through quite a few drafts before I am satisfied.
The time and accuracy necessary to compose a thoughtful research article, which should be replicable and on which others may choose to build, is far greater than the effort I am expending here.
Correcting the scientific literature is therefore rightly more complex and the changes more meaningful, but surely the services offered to scientists should at least match those that are available through this free blogging software?
Sadly, this is not always the case in scientific publishing, where some authors are expected to publish without a proof and making corrections to the PDF is not an option.
Although we all strive for perfection, we know that mistakes occur and that changes need to be made, before and sometimes after publication. When this happens, having a versioning process that readers can follow is reassuring.
Authors who publish with ScienceOpen can:
Submit any article type: research, reviews, opinions, clinical case reports, protocols, posters etc.
Submit from any discipline: all sciences, medicine, humanities and social sciences
Submit manuscripts posted at preprint servers such as BioRxiv and arXiv
Use a private pre-publication workspace to develop their manuscript with co-authors
Get a yes/no decision on their submission within about a week after an internal check
Have their original manuscript published as a Preview with DOI
Get copy-editing and language help when necessary as a courtesy benefit (please note, this is not a translation service!)
Make as many proof corrections as they wish
Sign off on final proofs
Have their Preview article replaced with a Final article in PDF, HTML and XML formats
Can respond to reviewer feedback by publishing a revised version, with either minor or major changes (Version 1 is the original publication, 2/3 can be minor or major in any combination and are included in the Publication Fee)
Each version has a different DOI that is semantically linked to the DOI of the original version for easy tracking. Versions are clearly visible online, the latest are presented first with prominent links to previous versions. We maintain & display information about which version of an article the reviews and comments refer to, this allows readers to follow a link to an earlier version of the content to see the article history.
ScienceOpen strives to offer services to researchers that are the best they can be, for a price ($800) that is significantly less than most OA journals. We welcome you to register today (takes about a minute) and consider publishing your next OA article with us.
At ScienceOpen, the research + publishing network, we’re enjoying some of the upsides of being the new kid on the Open Access (OA) block. Innovation and building on the experiments of others is easier when there’s less to lose but we are also the first to admit that life as a start-up is not for the faint hearted!
In the years since user generated comments and reviews were first introduced, those of us who strive to improve research communication have wrestled with questions such as: potential for career damage; content for peer and public audiences; comments from experts, everyone or a mix and lower than anticipated participation.
We want to acknowledge the many organizations who have done a tremendous job at showing different paths forward in this challenging space. Now it’s our turn to try.
Since launch, ScienceOpen has assigned members different user privileges based on their previous publishing history as verified by their ORCID ID. This seemed like a reasonable way to measure involvement in the field and provided the right level of publishing experience to understand the pitfalls of the process. This neat diagram encapsulates how it works.
Scientific and Expert Members of ScienceOpen can review all the content on the site which includes 1.3million+ OA articles and a very small number of our own articles (did we mention, we’re new!).
All reviews require a four point assessment (using five stars) of the level of: importance, validity, completeness and comprehensibility and there’s space to introduce and summarize the material. Inline annotation captures reviewer feedback during reading. Next up in the site release cycle, mechanisms to make it easy for authors to respond to in-line observations.
In a move sure to please busy researchers tired of participating without recognition, each review, including the subsequent dialogue, receives a Digital Object Identified (DOI) so that others can find and cite the analysis and the contribution becomes a registered part of the scientific debate.
Welcome to our wonderful world of Reviewing! Please share your feedback here or @Science_Open.