Johannes Boltze is an illustrious member of our Editorial Board. A translational scientist with a research focus on development of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for cerebrovascular ischemia, Dr. Boltze earned his MD in 2008 and Ph.D. degree in 2012 in Neurobiology at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Since 2010, Dr. Boltze has been leading the Department of Cell Therapy at Fraunhofer* Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig. Johannes Boltze is a member of Loop, Frontiers Research Network and an Associate Faculty Member at F1000 Prime. He also worked at the Stroke and Neurovascular Regulation Laboratory led by Professor Michael A. Moskowitz at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA from October 2012 to October 2013.
In October 2014, I attended 15th Fraunhofer Life Science Annual Meeting in Leipzig where I met many inspiring international colleagues, translational scientists, working on emerging technologies in stem cell research and regenerative medicine. The meeting took place at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (Fraunhofer IZI), a beautiful masterpiece of eco design. There I met Johannes Boltze and conducted a short interview on Open Access and the current state of scientific publishing. Here is the essence of our conversation, which I would like to see as an invitation for the ongoing open discussion.
Q. The current academic publishing system is in the midst of big changes. There are many concerns about the present publishing models as science essentially depends on communication of its results. The internet, emerging digital technologies, social networks and a need to get faster and free access to knowledge are transforming the global scientific community. Tell us a little bit about your interest in Open Access and your opinion on the current state of affairs in scientific publishing.
A. Open Access stands for full availability and unrestricted usability. This is an important point for scientific publications since it makes research output immediately and ultimately available. This helps to increase the visibility of your particular research and fosters scientific discussion.
Immediate access, however, also raises a number of critical points, especially in cases in which results are already publicly available before the review process has been completed. For instance, a biomedical research paper that still has some flaws or is not well thought out, will probably receive a numerous suggestions and comments on what one could do better. While such constructive feedback is valuable in principle, repeatedly publishing incomplete (or even untrusted) results will impact the author’s personal reputation. From the perspective of the journal, quality of individual contributions is something to consider. While Open Access and immediate publication is a good idea per se, the journal will probably wish to find ways by which the quality of individual contributions is guaranteed. This is the only way to stay competitive, given the sheer numbers of newly launched journals penetrating the scientific publication market. It also helps to receive good citation rates.
Another issue comes with the evaluation of research. I think that the Impact Factor is more important in the biomedical field than it is in other fields. For instance, in the field of physics, research results become publicly available first by posting them in arXiv in most cases. Publication in one of the “conventional” journals is a secondary option and a considerable part of the scientific exchange takes part via the arXiv.
Next to the Impact Factor, other “sciencometric” measures such as the H Factor have become established. While all come with certain advantages and disadvantages, such measures are in people’s mind and ultimately contribute to the value of a publication. I think this is something Open Access journals have to face and adapt to. Potentially, the number of citations an individual publication receives is more important than the overall impact factor of the hosting journal since citations rates indicate how well an individual publication is received by the scientific community.
Q: Do you think more transparency and free exchange of data could support academic freedom and foster a new scientific culture?
A.I think it clearly could. If it comes to the free exchange of data – of course – we have to consider things like intellectual property, responsible use of data, and other aspects all of which are hard to decide about from a general perspective. Nevertheless, I think that the complete exchange of data is very important. You often have conventional papers in which you have some results being presented, but it is hard at times to reconstruct how those have been generated in detail.
Giving the scientific community access to raw data sets and the complete spectrum of methodological protocols would really enhance transparency.
Scientific peers could try to reproduce the results to verify them or to identify potential room for improvement. I think this may accelerate the acquisition of knowledge, particularly in translational research areas. Moreover, it would also help to swiftly spread important information and breakthrough news throughout the community to implement it much faster.
I think most of my colleagues, especially at the Fraunhofer society, are very supportive of Open Access journals and Open Access approaches, as long as the quality is assured.
Q: How to steer an academic career? What would be your advice for early career researchers to navigate the science publishing landscape in the age of Open Science and Open Access.
A. I think the key point is to present high-quality work. For young scientists, it’s really important to publish with a good Impact Factor and to have a strong publication track record as this is the current mind set in most fields. Nevertheless, Open Access journals are coming into the field in increasing numbers, with many featuring high quality standards. So, I think Open Access provides you with an option to communicate your results earlier and with higher visibility. But aside from that, I think you still have to be aware of the “conventional” standards for measuring the impact of a particular publication. Finding a way of combining both would be of significant value to biomedical science.
One should also keep in mind that science originally developed by the falsification of hypotheses – and only the best hypotheses could survive the approach. Nowadays, scientific results are mainly presented as success stories, presenting positive results and approved hypotheses. That produces a certain pressure to have such results, and fosters the neglect of neutral or negative results.
An Open Access environment may be a very valuable database for such results which are often rejected by more conventional journals, but nevertheless are invaluable for the thorough progress in a given field.
Also, ScienceOpen could be used for publishing not only original results, but also well-thought out theories, suggestions, and hypotheses.
So, having a forum where you could present your ideas and concepts to a broad range of colleagues and a wide spectrum of experts would probably help to develop them further, and would represent a gain of knowledge apart from publishing original results.
* The Fraunhofer Society is Europe’s largest applied science organization, includes more than 60 research institutes in Germany and a large number of centres and representative offices in the USA, Asia and the Middle East with more than 23k employees (scientists and engineers), and an annual research budget of more than two billion Euro.
The Leipzig-based Fraunhofer IZI is a part of the Fraunhofer Life Science Branch working on development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic technologies for oncology, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as well as regenerative medicine approaches for a broad variety of diseases.
It’s true to say that all our Board Members have a first-rate academic pedigree and this is the case for Guido Guidotti (ORCID/0000-0002-0499-3412). He obtained an MD at Washington University School of Medicine and was a resident in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital. He received a PhD in Biochemistry from The Rockefeller Institute. He then joined the Committee on Higher Degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University, where he is now the Higgins Professor of Biochemistry.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your current research and the article that you published with ScienceOpen?
A. Nearly all the research done in my laboratory is concerned with the properties of protein molecules. During the past 20 years, we have studied enzymes that are attached to the lipid membrane by transmembrane domains and have the active site on the extracellular domain, so-called ecto-enzymes. The central question for the ecto-ATPase of interest, CD39 or E-NTPDase 1, is why is the enzyme attached to the membrane by two transmembrane domains rather than by one, as most other ecto-enzymes are. A possible answer is presented in this article, which describes a mutational analysis of the residues in the transmembrane domains, suggesting that the domain movements of the extracellular part of the protein during catalysis are coupled to rotational movement of the transmembrane domains.
Q. What are your thoughts on Open Access scientific publishing and the likely changes to the future publishing landscape?
A. Since the results of investigations financed by public money should be open to all interested parties, the evolution towards Open Access is inevitable. The only consideration is whether the fee for publication paid by the investigators is sufficient to pay for the cost of publication
Q. In particular, what do you think about the possibility of changing or replacing the traditional model of pre-publication anonymous peer review?
A. In my opinion, reviews should not be anonymous because a reviewer should be prepared to support the remarks made about the paper in a straightforward and candid fashion, and not hide behind the shield of anonymity. However, there is the view that a paper should be vetted for accuracy before publication and it will take time to convince authors that transparent discussion after publication is preferable to anonymous pre-publication review. The experiment being done by ScienceOpen is essential in this endeavor
Q. What about evaluation systems for the work of younger scientists? Is Impact Factor adequate, in your opinion, to evaluate the importance of scientific results?
A. Evaluation of the work of scientists, young and old, should be based on direct knowledge of the work. Abdicating personal judgment of the science in favor of using the opinion of journal editors, i.e. Impact Factor, to find out the quality and originality of a paper is not a good practice. Furthermore, assigning importance to a result is a dubious enterprise, as the definition of important is personal and variable
Q. Why did you choose ScienceOpen as a venue for your recent publication?
A. I am in favor of post-publication review by identified scientists as a more transparent way to achieve dissemination of information and support the effort of ScienceOpen in this regard. Disclaimer : approximately 220 articles describing work done in my laboratory have been published, 110 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and 30 in Biochemistry which are publications of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the American Chemical Society, respectively. The process of publication in these journals has been straightforward and in general problems were resolved rationally. I have a high opinion of these journals.
ScienceOpen Editor, Nana Bit-Avragim, interviewed new Editorial Board Member Professor Thoralf Niendorf, a physicist who holds the chair of Experimental Ultrahigh Field Magnetic Resonance (MR) at Charité, University Hospital in Berlin, Germany and who is head of the Berlin Ultrahigh Field Facility at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC).
The research interests of Prof. Niendorf include the development of novel magnetic resonance methodology and technology to advance the diagnostic capabilities of (bio)medical imaging. The technology developed in his laboratory is dedicated to shedding light on the underlying (patho)physiological processes and biophysical mechanisms of cardio- and neurovascular diseases. This demonstrates a fully translational approach to personalized medicine capable of fostering innovation and knowledge transfer between basic research and (pre)clinical applications.
Q1. Tell us a little bit about your interest in Open Access science and your opinion about the current state of affairs in science publishing. What has been your experience?
TN: Due to many different commitments, I can read just a few publications per week. That means that I do carefully select what papers and in which journals I read. I prefer to basically work with the journal that appears to be “working” with me. I think there is massive information waste happening in traditional scientific publishing. You know, during scientific conferences every participant can openly and actively ask or comment on data presented in talks or posters. The presenter and his/her co-workers are looking for an inspiring discussion in order to advance their research. This is a beneficial process for everyone, including the general audience, the presenter and the project collaborators. Yet, the process of open information exchange has mainly disappeared from the traditional peer review system. The readers cannot recognize or follow any changes to a manuscript in the scientific discourse. However, I believe that transparent discussion of scientific results while peer review is in process, as practiced by ScienceOpen and other journals, should be offered to readers. This system highlights the very important role of scientific discourse. The vast majority of peer review recommendations and critical comments are quite helpful. In my opinion, making the information exchange between the authors of the manuscript and referees open to the public – even retrospectively – enormously improves the quality of research work, and furthermore helps to streamline the review process.
SO: That is why we decided to implement a completely open peer review process. Due to the transparence of this model, it is possible to judge whether the comments and critiques are correct, and whether or not the data presented in the manuscript is understandable.
TN: I invite my PhD students to be patient in writing peer reviews and to try to deeply understand the author’s ideas. Unfortunately, not every early career scientist always recognizes the process required for writing a good peer review. By contrast, an experienced researcher should be able to appreciate the presented data and the author’s work. It’s very important to support authors in their efforts to propel discovery as early as possible. I can give you an example. We were the first to propose a novel MRI technology and had to wait for a year to receive peer reviewer comments. In the end, the referees of our manuscript were simply asking why we used a scanner made by General Electrics and not by Siemens to test our technology, which is now used in thousands of hospitals around the world to save lives on a daily basis. If the peer review process had been transparent, our referees would have behaved differently. This shows of course that there is a cultural aspect, as well. If my manuscript goes through an excessively long or delayed peer review process, then I would be less motivated to review any articles for this journal in the future. Strategically speaking, as a referee I do not have to prove that I have been working in this particular area of research over 20 years. But I would like to support authors and emphasize the novelty, originality and applicability of their work (to clinical diagnostics, for example).
Q2: Do you think an Open Access platform like ScienceOpen has a particular usefulness for translational research?
TN: Well, let me give you an example. Recently, we designed a study on MRI induced localized hyperthermia. This was an innovative physical approach, which would require additional biochemical analysis for the proof-of-principle studies. Unfortunately, we were not able to apply that particular chemical expertise on our own. So, we decided to present our preliminary results via Open Access. And it was a big win-win situation, as we surprisingly received a lot of interest and professional support from chemists working in Australia and in the United States. This helped us tremendously to advance our initial study. Without the opportunity to publish our data Open Access, we would never have had the chance to prove and empower our novel research approach and build up new collaborations. In recent years, we have actually published about a quarter to a third of all our research results in high impact Open Access journals.
Q3: Do you think more transparency and free exchange of data could support academic freedom and foster a new scientific culture?
TN: This is a question about how we define academic freedom. As a scientist by heart, I am attracted by any research that pushes the envelope of technology and advances science. Here is a little example. In 2002-2004, I was working in Boston at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as a senior scientist of GE’s applied science lab. There was a DAAD-organized research network composed mostly of medical doctors from Germany. One of participants in that network was a first class ophthalmologist curious about the possibility of performing MRI of the eye and orbit. We discussed this topic over and over again. Unfortunately, at that time I was not able to implement the idea because of other pressing commitments. Back in Germany I used the inspiring environment at Max Delbrück Center in Berlin to establish a collaboration with ophthalmologists and radiologists from the Universities of Rostock and Greifswald. Eventually, I did create an early diagnostic imaging tool for the assessment of subtle ocular masses and other diseases of the eye and orbit. At the moment, one of my PhD students is successfully completing her thesis on high resolution MR imaging of the eye and I am very much delighted to be part of a multi-faceted team that eventually turned an idea developed in Boston in 2002 into clinical reality.
As a principal investigator, I can choose any research area that lives up to the strategic mission of the center where I am currently working. I would say, Open Access offers academic freedom, but it also supports publicly-funded science. I appreciate that my research is supported by both internal and public funding. Obviously, more transparency in publicly-funded research will lead to higher standards in science.
Q4: Lastly, as an established researcher, what would be your advice for young scientists trying to navigate the science publishing landscape?
TN: In my research group, I normally ask my students to prepare and manage their manuscripts. Initially, to demonstrate and teach the communication culture of publishing, I monitor peer review as a corresponding author in their first publications. In their following publications, I prefer to observe how the junior scientists manage the publishing process. I believe that it helps them to learn responsibility and to develop their leadership skills. Once the work has been published, for example, in PLOS ONE, you can’t imagine how excited my students are about the publication metrics. They follow the statistics very frequently to understand the resonance of their work within the research community and to foster open exchange.
Thank you so much for the interview. You are an inspiring advocate for Open Access publishing. We wish you great success in your future research and thank you again for your support in helping to make science open.
One of the trickiest parts about launching anything new, also true for PLOS ONE too back in the day (hard to believe now!), is that the best way to explain what you do is to show it in action. Since we only officially launched in May, we’ve been watching some interesting use-cases develop, by which we mean ScienceOpen articles with Non-Anonymous Post-Publication Peer Review (PPPR). Even though we publish with DOI in about a week, it’s taken a little longer for the reviewers to have their say (reviews also receive a DOI), but we’re finding that what they say is well worth reading.
These articles and their associated reviews reassure us that PPPR, which some feel is still pretty radical, is a nascent but potentially healthy way to improve the way we review research. They also start to show that PPPR can benefit all sorts of research. If it can work for less spectacular, negative or contradictory research, then perhaps it will shine for once in a lifetime findings (which are of course far more rare).
What do these use-cases tell us? Mostly that its early days, so meaningful observations are perhaps premature! However, here are some thoughts:
The reviewers that are being invited to the scientific conversation are participating and broadening the debate
The reviews are respectfully delivered with a straightforward tone, even when critical (probably because they are Non-Anon)
It’s good to see papers from the medical community, arguably the quintessential OA use-case for researchers, patients, their families and friends
The reviewers are appropriately matched to the content, authors can suggest up to 10 and anyone with 5 or more publications on their ORCID iD can review any content on the platform
The authors are largely, but not exclusively, from our Editorial Boards (no surprises here since they are usually the first to support a new publishing venture and are more senior so are freer to experiment)
Reading Non-Anon PPPR is a new skill requiring balancing a scholars background with their reviews and comparing/contrasting them with those of the others
None of these authors have yet used Versioning to revise their original articles in the light of reviewer feedback received (although this article is now on version 2)
Anyways, we hope you enjoy watching how PPPR at ScienceOpen evolves as much as we do! Feel free to leave a comment on this post to continue the conversation.
ScienceOpen Editor, Nana Bit-Avragim, interviewed Editorial Board Member Michael Bader, a Professor at Charité and a Group Leader at Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Berlin, Germany and his 20 year collaborative research partner (and friend) Joao Bosco Pesquero, a Professor from the Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil.
Their lasting connection is a great example of open, cross-border research originating from a shared passion for science that surpasses language barriers. Before we dive into the interview, here’s some background on their research interests:
Michael Bader (MB). Prof. Bader is interested in understanding the molecular and genetic mechanisms that regulate angiotensin, bradykinin and serotonin hormones and their role in the regulation of the cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems. In addition to the molecular and cellular aspects of hormone regulation, Prof. Bader’s research group is focused on the development and characterization of new transgenic techniques, e.g. the “knockout” technology for rats, the widely used animal model for cardiovascular diseases
João Bosco Pesquero (JBP). Prof. Pesquero’s research areas include molecular and cellular biology and physiology of the kinin–kallikrein system. Joao Bosco Pesquero has contributed enormously to research on kinin receptors and was the first to generate a transgenic model for kinin B1 receptor insufficiency in mammals in collaboration with Michael Bader. Prof. Pesquero’s recent project is dedicated to the idea of applying cutting-edge technologies underlying modern genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics to sports medicine. This unique project, Atletas do Futuro, is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to predict and modify a person’s ability and capacity for sport.
Q1. What is the “secret” behind your 20-year successful collaboration?
JBP + MB: We believe that the similarity of our empathy and character are the bedrock of our successful collaboration.
MB: We are fair and open and therefore trust each other. My advice would be: do not be selfish and tricky, but rather build up trust. Interestingly, having different points of view supports our collaboration.
JBP: We enjoy what we are doing together and always have fun at work. We are interested in more or less the same research topics and we trust each other.
JBP + MB: However, one of the essential aspects of our long-term and fruitful partnership relies on the PROBRAL initiative, a funding program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Thanks to DAAD support, we were able to keep our research work running effectively and for the long term.
NB/ScienceOpen: I believe that the next generation of young scientists growing up in your labs will ‘inherit’ your genes of ‘empathy’ and ‘affinity’ and will keep up your good work.
Q2. As established researchers, what would be your advice for young scientists trying to navigate the scientific publishing landscape?
MB: We are living in a time of change, with lots of movement within the existing scientific system. To completely change that system might take several years or a decade. Unfortunately, at this very moment young academics who desire a position at a research institute still have to publish their results in journals that are measured by Impact Factors. To be realistic, I cannot completely advise my PhD-students or postdocs to publish all of their manuscripts ony with PLOS or ScienceOpen. In the evolving scholarly publishing environment, it is good to have new game-changers to contradict the existing rules and foster further development.
JBP: My advice to young scientists will be – try to do good science. Publishing is a consequence of doing research. No matter what scientific system exists and where the researchers live. The most important element to me is to perform high quality science that facilitates global discovery.
MB: The Hirsch-index is still not perfect but initially it shows the individual impact of each publication. It shows the individual scientist’s contribution.
Q3. Tell us about your interest in Open Access science and your opinion about the current state of affairs in science publishing. What has been your experience?
MB: Closed journals are somehow old fashioned. Those closed journals like Nature, Science and Cell, which do select papers and consider themselves sexy and premium, don’t represent good science anymore. The closed journals also do not publish critical science. Some good work never appears in closed journals due to the hidden peer review process which sometimes also leads to bad quality reviews. This should have been overcome by now. In contrast, a better system would use a completely open peer review process. The novel open system is not yet established and sometimes presents weak reviews. So, both systems have many problems. But, I think it is good to have new alternatives. This is why I am participating in and staying with the new system of open science.
JBP: We are currently changing the way in which we view scientific communication. There is now some free access to information. And, we are getting more and more access. We are on the edge of changing our minds about how results should be published and evaluated. I like Open Access science and Open Evaluation of scientific results. Some journals have started offering Open Review. I think it is fair to know who is evaluating your work. We are at the beginning of new era, and I really embrace these changes. I believe that the current system will be improved and the quality of the science that it produces will be elevated too. It is heading in a good direction. The more openly we produce science and expose our work to criticism, the more it helps to improve what we do. I am confident about that – it is all for the good! By the way, last month I submitted a manuscript for BMC Medical Genetics and received the reviews signed with the full names of reviewers shortly thereafter. I was nicely surprised and pleased to read those comments and suggestions. That was my first experience of open peer review, and I am happy about that experience.
Q4. Do you think an Open Access platform like ScienceOpen has a particular usefulness for translational research?
MB: I think that a quick and transparent way of publishing research will result in faster implementation of scientific discoveries.
JBP: This is a very important point. Quick publishing will foster technological innovations implementation, especially in patient-oriented research, that should speed up all translational research at the end. Interestingly, almost 75% of scientific knowledge is not published yet but rather is accumulating in patents. If we could apply Open Access to the patent system, that would accelerate knowledge translation and its implementation.
MB + JBP: There is another argument for Open Access which is to prevent and predict earlier failures and pitfalls in conducting translational research. As an example, there is the history of Omapatrilat, a novel antihypertensive drug invented by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which was not approved by the food and drug administration due to some serious safety concerns at the end. If the data from the clinical studies had been freely available and published transparently, it would have clearly lead to a faster and better evaluation of this medication.
Q5. Do you think more transparency and free exchange of data could support academic freedom and foster a new scientific culture?
MB + JBP: Basically, we have already commented on this point through the interview. However, there are some other aspects we would like to bring up.
MB: In terms of building up a new scientific culture of communication, it is just about a different kind of behaviour. We cannot just ‘kill’ and hate people if they do not like our ideas. Indeed, we have to become more altruistic and loyal.
JBP: We have to start learning criticism. Criticism is important for us to improve our research and ourselves. We grow up by learning from failures. The same should be applied to science. Sometimes, a research project goes in the wrong direction and we do not initially realize it. We should not hesitate to speak out about negative results – it is really important. It will help to save intellectual energy, money and time and prevent others from repeating the errors.
MB + JBP: Our impression is that due to Open Access life sciences will become more transparent and faster at overcoming ineffective practices. Every scientist can access the research results of his/her fields of interest more quickly and review them. It is a great practice!
Thank you very much for this interview and your excellent insights on Open Access and Scientific Publishing. Wishing you further success and many new successful Open projects to collaborate on.
Today, we’re featuring a video clip by one of our newest Editorial Board members, Robson Santos:
Professor Santos is Full Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil at the Institute of Biological Sciences. He is secretary of the Inter-American Society of Hypertension and president of the Brazilian Society of Hypertension Scientific Committee. He has been coordinator of the Laboratory of Hypertension at the Federnal University of Minas Gerais since 1985, has supervised more than 30 MSc and more than 25 doctoral students, and published over 150 articles in international publications. Continue reading “ScienceOpen Editorial Board: Robson Santos, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil”
As a newcomer on the Open Access publishing scene, ScienceOpen relies on the support of a wide range of academics. With this interview we would like to profile Advisory Board member Peter Suber (http://bit.ly/petersuber ) and share the valuable perspective he brings to our organization.
The Editorial Board is at the heart of any publishing project. In this interview series, ScienceOpen would like to highlight some of the scientists who are supporting us as members of the editorial board and their reasons for getting involved in the Open Access movement. We’re delighted to welcome expert member Anthony Atala, M.D ( http://goo.gl/ynLgGq ) – Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the W. H. Boyce Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – to our Research + Publishing Network . Anthony is an Continue reading “ScienceOpen Editorial Board: Anthony Atala, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine”