Bullied Into Bad Science: Leading individuals and institutions in adopting open practices to improve research rigour

“We are postdocs and a reader in the humanities and sciences at the University of Cambridge. We are concerned about the desperate need for publishing reform to increase transparency, reproducibility, timeliness, and academic rigour of the production and dissemination of scholarly outputs (see Young et al. 2016Smaldino & McElreath 2016).

We have identified actions that institutions and managers can take to better support ECRs (below). These actions are crucial for our success because we are eager to publish openly and at places that keep profits inside academia in accordance with many modern online publication venues (Logan 2017). However, ECRs are often pressured into publishing against their ethicsthrough threats that we would not get a job/grant unless we publish in particular journals (Carter et al. 2014Who is going to make change happen?Kent 2016; usually these journals are older and more familiar, have a print version, a high impact factor, and are not 100% open access). These out of date practices and ideas hinder ECRs rather than help us: evidence shows that publishing open access results in increased citations, media attention, and job/funding opportunities (McKiernan et al. 2016). Open dissemination of all research outputs is also a fundamental principle on which ECRs rely to fight the ongoing reproducibility crisis in science and thus improve the quality of their research.

To support ECRs in this changing publishing landscape, we encourage funders, universities, departments, and politicians to take the following actions (below) and to announce these actions in public statements….”

Europe set to miss flagship open access target | THE News

“The European Union is set to miss its target of having all scientific research freely available by 2020, as progress towards open access hits a “plateau” because of deeper problems in how research is assessed. Sixty to 70 per cent of universities reported that less than a fifth of their researchers’ peer-reviewed publications are freely available, depending on the type of open access, according to a survey of more than 300 members of the European University Association. 

Only one in 10 universities said that more than 40 per cent of their research was published as “gold” open access, where there is no delay making it public. In 2016, EU member states’ science and industry ministers, supported by the European Commission, backed a move to full open access in just four years. This latest survey asks members about papers published in 2013, 2014 and 2015, so may not capture all progress made to date. But it still concludes that to hit the 2020 target “will require greater engagement by all of the relevant stakeholders”.

This chimes with an EU progress report released at the end of February which concludes that “100 per cent full open access in 2020 is realistically not achievable in the majority of European countries participating in this exercise in the foreseeable future”. Lidia Borrell-Damian, the EUA’s director for research and innovation, said that “unfortunately [full open access] is very difficult to achieve” and that “we have reached a plateau in which it’s very difficult to move forward”.

Open access had taken off in some subjects – like physics, where the open access arXiv pre-print platform is widely used – in which “traditional indicators” of journal prestige such as impact factors and other measures of citations were “less relevant”, she explained. But in most disciplines, these measures were still crucial for burnishing researchers’ career prospects, she added, making it difficult for authors to switch to less prestigious, lower impact factor open access journals. “As long as it [research assessment] is based on these proxy indicators, it’s impossible to change the game,” Dr Borrell-Damian said. Search our database of more than 3,000 global university jobs

This is backed up by the survey findings. The biggest barrier to publishing in an open access repository was the “high priority given to publishing in conventional journals”, a hindrance cited by more than eight in 10 universities. “Concerns about the quality of open access publications” were also mentioned by nearly 70 per cent of respondents. In some disciplines, to publish open access, “you have to be a believer or activist” and it comes “at the risk of damaging your own career”, Dr Borrell-Damian said.

Echoing a long-standing concern in science, she argued that “we need a whole new system” of research assessment that does not rely so heavily on citations and impact factors. The EU’s flagship Horizon 2020 funding scheme requires grant recipients to publish their findings openly, but this was a far from universal policy for national funding bodies, she added. A spokesman for the EU Council acknowledged that “more efforts will be needed overall to accelerate progress towards full open access for all scientific publications”.”

Authorial and institutional stratification in open access publishing: the case of global health research [PeerJ]

Abstract:  Using a database of recent articles published in the field of Global Health research, we examine institutional sources of stratification in publishing access outcomes. Traditionally, the focus on inequality in scientific publishing has focused on prestige hierarchies in established print journals. This project examines stratification in contemporary publishing with a particular focus on subscription vs. various Open Access (OA) publishing options. Findings show that authors working at lower-ranked universities are more likely to publish in closed/paywalled outlets, and less likely to choose outlets that involve some sort of Article Processing Charge (APCs; gold or hybrid OA). We also analyze institutional differences and stratification in the APC costs paid in various journals. Authors affiliated with higher-ranked institutions, as well as hospitals and non-profit organizations pay relatively higher APCs for gold and hybrid OA publications. Results suggest that authors affiliated with high-ranked universities and well-funded institutions tend to have more resources to choose pay options with publishing. Our research suggests new professional hierarchies developing in contemporary publishing, where various OA publishing options are becoming increasingly prominent. Just as there is stratification in institutional representation between different types of publishing access, there is also inequality within access types.

Chance discovery of forgotten 1960s ‘preprint’ experiment

“For years, scientists have complained that it can take months or even years for a scientific discovery to be published, because of the slowness of peer review. To cut through this problem, researchers in physics and mathematics have long used “preprints” – preliminary versions of their scientific findings published on internet servers for anyone to read. In 2013, similar services were launched for biology, and many scientists now use them. This is traditionally viewed as an example of biology finally catching up with physics, but following a chance discovery in the archives of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Matthew Cobb, a scientist and historian at the University of Manchester, has unearthed a long-forgotten experiment in biology preprints that took place in the 1960s, and has written about them in a study publishing 16 November in the open access journal PLOS Biology.”

New white paper asks, “How can we reform promotion and tenure practices to promote open access?” – Digital Science

“George Mason University Press and the Open Scholarship Initiative (OSI) have just published the OSI 2017 Promotion & Tenure Reform Workgroup Report, which explores how professional advancement scenarios–promotion and tenure, grant applications, and so on–might be reimagined to better incentivize open access, open data, and other “open” scholarly practices. My coauthors and I explored current systemic barriers to change, and propose concrete steps that OSI organizers can take to further study those challenges and find solutions.”

Understanding Open Science: Definitions and framework

Understanding Open Science: Definitions and framework

  1. 1. Understanding Open Science: Definitions and framework Dr. Nancy Pontika Open Access Aggregation Officer CORE Twitter: @nancypontika
  2. 2. What is Open Science
  3. 3. Research Lifecycle: as simple as it gets Idea Methodology Data Collection Analysis Publish
  4. 4. Idea Methodology Data Collection Analysis Publish Journal article, Dissertation, Book, Source Code, etc. Experiments, Interviews, Observations, etc. Numbers, Code, Text, Images, sound records, etc. Statistics, processes, analysis, documentation, etc. Research Lifecycle: focus on the steps”

What drives the relevance and reputation of economics journals? An update from a survey among economists | SpringerLink

Abstract:  This paper analyses the interrelationship between perceived journal reputation and its relevance for academics’ work. Based on a survey of 705 members of the German Economic Association (GEA), we find a strong interrelationship between perceived journal reputation and relevance where a journal’s perceived relevance has a stronger effect on its reputation than vice versa. Moreover, past journal ratings conducted by the Handelsblatt and the GEA directly affect journals’ reputation among German economists and indirectly also their perceived relevance, but the effect on reputation is more than twice as large as the effect on perceived relevance. In general, citations have a non-linear impact on perceived journal reputation and relevance. While the number of landmark articles published in a journal (as measured by the so-called H-index) increases the journal’s reputation, an increase in the H-index even tends to decrease a journal’s perceived relevance, as long as this is not simultaneously reflected in a higher Handelsblatt and/or GEA rating. This suggests that a journal’s relevance is driven by average article quality, while reputation depends more on truly exceptional articles. We also identify significant differences in the views on journal relevance and reputation between different age groups.

Impact of Social Sciences – Empirical analysis reveals significant discrepancy between journal reputation and perceived relevance in economics.

“Using survey data on the evaluations of 150 economics journals, a recent study explored the relationship between economics journals’ reputation and perceived relevance amongst economists working in the field. Justus Haucap shares some of the headline findings from the analysis based on the survey data. The findings suggest that a journal’s relevance is driven by average article quality, while reputation depends more on truly exceptional articles….”

A reputation economy: how individual reward considerations trump systemic arguments for open access to data : Palgrave Communications

Abstract:  Open access to research data has been described as a driver of innovation and a potential cure for the reproducibility crisis in many academic fields. Against this backdrop, policy makers are increasingly advocating for making research data and supporting material openly available online. Despite its potential to further scientific progress, widespread data sharing in small science is still an ideal practised in moderation. In this article, we explore the question of what drives open access to research data using a survey among 1564 mainly German researchers across all disciplines. We show that, regardless of their disciplinary background, researchers recognize the benefits of open access to research data for both their own research and scientific progress as a whole. Nonetheless, most researchers share their data only selectively. We show that individual reward considerations conflict with widespread data sharing. Based on our results, we present policy implications that are in line with both individual reward considerations and scientific progress.

Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research | Zenodo

“In 2013, the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council funded a 4-year project on the editorial and commercial history of the world’s oldest-surviving scholarly journal (‘Publishing the Philosophical Transactions: a social, cultural and economic history of a learned journal, 1665-2015’, AH/K001841). The project is led by Dr Aileen Fyfe at the University of St Andrews in partnership with the Royal Society.

The project team convened a workshop at the Royal Society, 22 April 2016, on ‘The Politics of Academic Publishing, 1950-2016’. This briefing paper is informed by the contributions of those who attended that day, and we thank them for their insights. The authors of this briefing paper are a sub-group of those who attended the April 2016 workshop.

This report is based upon the primary (historical) research of the Philosophical Transactions project team, combined with a literature review, and the expertise of the other authors (principally in higher education research, and in scholarly communication)….”