The Future of FAIR, as Told by the Past – The Scholarly Kitchen

“The scholarly record is evolving to incorporate a widening range of research outputs, with stakeholders, systems, practices, and norms both adapting to and shaping this evolution. Stewardship of research data has received particular attention, evidenced by an ever-thickening network of services, resources, and consensus- or standards-building activities dedicated to making data sets accessible and reusable. One prominent initiative is FAIR: a set of principles that describe how to make data sets Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. It is still early days for FAIR – the principles were introduced in a 2016 article in Scientific Data. The future of FAIR is therefore very much to be determined; however, publishers, funders, researchers, and other stakeholders can draw some helpful lessons from history….

Changing data management practices is just as much about changing mindset and culture as it is about technical solutions – perhaps more. FAIR is a valuable tool for advocacy, in the sense of communicating the high-level goals of open, reusable data. FAIR is a valuable resource for education, by providing a shared framework within which new perspectives on responsible data management can be formed – even if those perspectives are not uniform, or easily operationalized. And FAIR is a valuable marker for how seriously the community is taking up the issue of open data: even if repositories declare their data FAIR without formal compliance or certification protocols, at least they are gesturing to the importance of the issue, and maybe even doing something substantive about it.

So the experience of OAIS tells us we should not place all our emphasis on formal implementation of FAIR as the final yardstick of its value to the community. FAIR can be, and I expect will be, a powerful catalyst in moving the research data community as a whole in the right direction….”

Frontiers and Robert-Jan Smits emails reveal how Plan S was conceived – For Better Science

Guess what. After pestering the EU Commission and the European Ombudsman for exactly NINE months (since November 2018) the baby is born and I got the emails between the former EU Special Envoy for Open Access (OA), Robert-Jan Smits, and the Swiss, Lausanne-based, OA publisher Frontiers, namely its CEO Kamila Markram, who founded Frontiers together with her husband, the EPFL professor and brain simulator Henry Markram.

I previously published an analysis of same emails where, aside of addressee, sender and date only the subject line was made available. That was enough to establish the influence of Frontiers over Plan S conception. The finally released emails are still heavily censored yet even more revealing. We learn that the Frontiers vision of the OA future mediated to Smits neatly translated into what became on 4 September 2018 his Plan S, with one initial exception: The caps for Article Processing Charges (APC) were put in place, though not specified. Much of the email exchange between Smits and Markram was about APC caps, which the latter protested against, so the free market and innovation are not impeded. Frontiers highest APC is currently at €2440 or $2950, and Markram conceded to Smits to accept a cap of €3000. Soon after Plan S was announced, Smits turned to speaking of caps as not being necessary; at the revised Plan S, all talk of capping APC ended.Plan S was designed to flip scholarly publishing first in Europe, then in the world, to full OA, by banning all scientists from publishing in subscription journals and even by punishing them for attempting to do so. That is, all scientists who receive funding from Plan S-subscribing cOAition S members of national and EU funders as well as charities. Learned societies were ordered to flip their journals to OA and to cease using the publishing revenue for any outreach, training and community activities not directly related to publishing….”

Libraries in a computational age | Feral Librarian

Openness is a also a very important part of our culture and widely-shared value at MIT. We are one of the few private universities in the US with an open campus, including libraries that are open to all visitors. We are also committed to openly sharing our educational and research materials with the world.

MIT created Open Courseware in 2000, “a simple but bold idea that MIT should publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.” To date Open Courseware has over 2 million visitors/month, and hosts 2400 courses.

In 2009, MIT passed one of the first campus-wide open access policies in the US, passed by a unanimous vote of the faculty. MIT turned to the libraries to implement the policy, and because of a commitment to provide adequate staffing and resources to collecting faculty research, we now share 45% of MIT faculty journal articles written since 2009 openly with the world through our OA repository….

The first conclusion was that although the initial digital turn in libraries was not yet complete, we were already on the cusp of a second, potentially  more profound one. The first, original digital shift in libraries was print to digital plus print, and was brought about by the internet, google, and e-books/journals….

Although this was a HUGE shift, it did not open up access to scholarly content the way many of us hoped it would. In large part because of the market power of many large commercial publishers, the advent of online journals did not democratize access to knowledge, and the potential for the rise of the internet and of online information and scholarship to create information equality has been stunted. None the less, the first digital turn in libraries and scholarly communication did make research and reading arguably more efficient for those who had access….

In describing the next evolution of libraries, the MIT future of libraries task force emphasized not only the technological shift, but also the importance of combining this shift with a renewed commitment to open science and open scholarship. What is the next shift? It is an evolution of libraries from service to platform, and is from not just digital and physical; but also to computational….”

Spotlight on Serials: Open Access: Current and future trends in OA in Latin America

Ivonne Lujano, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) Ambassador in Latin America, will discuss the history of open access in Latin America, best practice publishing and standards, and how DOAJ helps to improve scholarly research journals globally. 

Solange Santos, Publishing Coordinator for Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), will address why Latin America is advanced in the use of the open access publishing model as a strategy to increase the visibility of the scientific output in the region. SciELO promoted and developed a network of 16 national collections of open access journals, focusing on each country’s conditions and priorities. She will also explain SciELO’s advocacy for a global and inclusive scholarly communication. …”

The open access wars: How to free science from academic paywalls – Vox

“This is a story about more than subscription fees. It’s about how a private industry has come to dominate the institutions of science, and how librarians, academics, and even pirates are trying to regain control.

The University of California is not the only institution fighting back. “There are thousands of Davids in this story,” says University of California Davis librarian MacKenzie Smith, who, like so many other librarians around the world, has been pushing for more open access to science. “But only a few big Goliaths.”

Will the Davids prevail?…”

Preprints: recall Nature’s nasty past

I read with pleasure that Nature is now actively promoting the use of preprints, having backed their dissemination since 1997 (see Nature 569, 307; 2019). It is worth remembering that when the first preprints were distributed 50 or so years ago, you frowned on the practice.

Several times in 1966, you railed against preprints, pioneered at the time by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). In July that year, you described them as “offensive” (Nature 211, 333–334; 1966). Preprints, you claimed the following month, were characterized by “inaccessibility, impermanence, illiteracy, uneven quality, and lack of considered judgment” (Nature 211, 897–898; 1966). By November, they were “an offence against scholarship” (Nature 212, 865–866; 1966). The following year, this first iteration of preprints was killed off because journals were boycotting them (see

Your motivation was presumably to protect your financial position, because you felt that the NIH preprint service — and its proposed extension into physics — threatened your status and profits. As you now realize, this is not the case.”

The Rise of Open Science in Psychology, a Preliminary Report

Open science is on the rise. Across disciplines, there are increasing rates of sharing data, making available underlying materials and protocols, and preregistering studies and analysis plans.  Hundreds of services have emerged to support open science behaviors at every stage of the research lifecycle.  But, what proportion of the research community is practicing open science? Where is penetration of these behaviors strongest and weakest?  Answers to these questions are important for evaluating progress in culture reform and for strategic planning of where to invest resources next.  


The hardest part of getting meaningful answers to these questions is quantifying the population that is NOT doing the behaviors.  For example, in a recent post, Nici Pfeiffer summarized the accelerating growth of OSF users on the occasion of hitting 150,000 registered users.  That number and non-linear growth suggests cultural movement associated with this one service, but how much movement?…”

New preprint server for medical research | The BMJ

This debate is not new for The BMJ: over 20 years ago Tony Delamothe, the journal’s deputy editor, asked The BMJ’sreadership what we should do about electronic preprints,8 and the responses9 were similar to discussions now. The headline conclusion reached by Delamothe was that clear labelling of preprints might allow them to be used safely.8 As a result, BMJ launched the first clinical preprint server,, in 1999. The server operated until 2008 and received around 80 submissions before it was closed because of lack of use.

But times have changed, and we believe the need for an independent clinical preprint server remains. Clinical research can currently be found scattered on various preprint servers, ranging from bioRxiv and arXiv to servers established by publishers to link to their journals.10 We believe that the community will be served best by a preprint server that is specific to clinical research so that suitable safeguards can operate and by one that is not linked to specific journals or publishers but provides a central freely accessible archive.

BMJ (publisher of The BMJ) is therefore announcing its partnership with colleagues at Yale University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to launch medRxiv. Harlan Krumholz and Joseph Ross, clinician-researchers at Yale, have long been advocates of preprints,4 while Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory operates the bioRxiv life sciences preprint server. BMJ brings its long experience of publishing and review of clinical research, researching the effects of changes in publishing,11 and publication ethics.12

In working to launch medRxiv we have focused on light-touch processes and workflows that we believe will reduce the potential for harm while retaining the advantages of speed and openness. A first step will be for authors to make various declarations about the work: how it has been conducted and reported, any conflicts of interest, and details of ethical approval. Then, all manuscripts will undergo several rapid rounds of screening before they are posted. The first will ensure that a manuscript is a research article (medRxiv will not accept case reports or opinion pieces, for example) and will cover obvious legal problems such as plagiarism and defamation. Then, a researcher in a relevant field will check the basic content and organisation of the article—but medRxiv does not endorse a manuscript’s methods, assumptions, conclusions, or scientific quality. And finally, a key screening question will be whether a preprint, if posted, has the potential to do harm to individual patients or the public. If in doubt medRxiv will not post the preprint; the authors will be encouraged instead to publish only after peer review.

By posting preprints, authors can help promote openness and transparency and reduce research waste from duplicated efforts and non-reporting. By helping ensure a balance of safety and speed, we believe medRxiv can provide a valuable service to the clinical research community. We will regularly report on any research that we do on the effect of preprints, and we encourage third parties to contact us for research opportunities. We also urge all readers of The BMJ and its sibling journals to read and deposit preprints in medRxiv. We look forward to reporting on its progress over the coming months….”

What the history of copyright in academic publishing tells us about Open Research | Impact of Social Sciences

“It has become a fact of academic life, that when researchers publish papers in academic journals, they sign away the copyright to their research, or licence it for distribution. However, from a historical perspective this practice is a relatively recent phenomenon. In this post Aileen Fyfe, explores how copyright has become intertwined with scholarly publishing and presents three insights from the history of the Royal Society that inform ongoing debates around openness in research and scholarly communication….”

Meet Mike Eisen | Podcasts | Naked Scientists

In 2019, eLife appointed UC Berkeley geneticist Mike Eisen as the new Editor-in-Chief. His role is to drive the on-going development of eLife and steer the journal through the evolving landscape of science publishing. Ever since his institutional library thwarted his efforts, over 20 years ago, to download papers for his research project, Eisen has been a powerful proponent of the value of the open access movement. Chris Smith went to see him to hear his views on how science publishing needs to change, what he has planned for eLife, and how he almost became a radio sports commentator….”