What Is the Price of Science? | mBio

Abstract:  The peer-reviewed scientific literature is the bedrock of science. However, scientific publishing is undergoing dramatic changes, which include the expansion of open access, an increased number of for-profit publication houses, and ready availability of preprint manuscripts that have not been peer reviewed. In this opinion article, we discuss the inequities and concerns that these changes have wrought.

 

How the world is adapting to preprints

“A certain trend emerged from the preprint discussions. Praise for preprints and their virtues was reliably bracketed by an acknowledgement that the medium was a bit green and a bit untamed: the Wild West of scientific publishing, where anything can happen.

Similar analogies from the publishing community have been abundant. At a talk organized by the Society for Scholarly Publishing, Shirley Decker-Lucke, Content Director at SSRN, likened preprints to raw oysters: They’re generally safe, but sometimes you get a bad one. On the same panel, Lyle Ostrow, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins, compared the adoption of preprints to the shift from horse-drawn buggies to automobiles: They’re faster, they’re better, but they will require education to use safely. The following week, a Scholarly Kitchen article about preprints drew a parallel with unruly teenagers: “tremendous promise, but in need of more adult supervision to achieve their potential”….

As it is, most preprint servers have not been agnostic about the papers they post. Generally, they restrict passage of content that is clearly unscientific, unethical, potentially harmful or not representative of a novel, empirically derived finding. That is, they already impose some editorial standards.

Preprint platforms offer authors a legitimate place to host their work with unprecedented speed, for free. In time, they could be in a position to enforce, or at least strongly incentivize, standards that are widely acknowledged to support research integrity, like data and code availability, details of randomization and blinding, study limitations and lay summaries for findings that are consequential to human health….”

How the world is adapting to preprints

“A certain trend emerged from the preprint discussions. Praise for preprints and their virtues was reliably bracketed by an acknowledgement that the medium was a bit green and a bit untamed: the Wild West of scientific publishing, where anything can happen.

Similar analogies from the publishing community have been abundant. At a talk organized by the Society for Scholarly Publishing, Shirley Decker-Lucke, Content Director at SSRN, likened preprints to raw oysters: They’re generally safe, but sometimes you get a bad one. On the same panel, Lyle Ostrow, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins, compared the adoption of preprints to the shift from horse-drawn buggies to automobiles: They’re faster, they’re better, but they will require education to use safely. The following week, a Scholarly Kitchen article about preprints drew a parallel with unruly teenagers: “tremendous promise, but in need of more adult supervision to achieve their potential”….

As it is, most preprint servers have not been agnostic about the papers they post. Generally, they restrict passage of content that is clearly unscientific, unethical, potentially harmful or not representative of a novel, empirically derived finding. That is, they already impose some editorial standards.

Preprint platforms offer authors a legitimate place to host their work with unprecedented speed, for free. In time, they could be in a position to enforce, or at least strongly incentivize, standards that are widely acknowledged to support research integrity, like data and code availability, details of randomization and blinding, study limitations and lay summaries for findings that are consequential to human health….”

Meta-Research: Citation needed? Wikipedia and the COVID-19 pandemic | bioRxiv

Abstract:  With the COVID-19 pandemic’s outbreak at the beginning of 2020, millions across the world flocked to Wikipedia to read about the virus. Our study offers an in-depth analysis of the scientific backbone supporting Wikipedia’s COVID-19 articles. Using references as a readout, we asked which sources informed Wikipedia’s growing pool of COVID-19-related articles during the pandemic’s first wave (January-May 2020). We found that coronavirus-related articles referenced trusted media sources and cited high-quality academic research. Moreover, despite a surge in preprints, Wikipedia’s COVID-19 articles had a clear preference for open-access studies published in respected journals and made little use of non-peer-reviewed research uploaded independently to academic servers. Building a timeline of COVID-19 articles on Wikipedia from 2001-2020 revealed a nuanced trade-off between quality and timeliness, with a growth in COVID-19 article creation and citations, from both academic research and popular media. It further revealed how preexisting articles on key topics related to the virus created a framework on Wikipedia for integrating new knowledge. This “scientific infrastructure” helped provide context, and regulated the influx of new information into Wikipedia. Lastly, we constructed a network of DOI-Wikipedia articles, which showed the landscape of pandemic-related knowledge on Wikipedia and revealed how citations create a web of scientific knowledge to support coverage of scientific topics like COVID-19 vaccine development. Understanding how scientific research interacts with the digital knowledge-sphere during the pandemic provides insight into how Wikipedia can facilitate access to science. It also sheds light on how Wikipedia successfully fended of disinformation on the COVID-19 and may provide insight into how its unique model may be deployed in other contexts.

The Evolution of Preprints as an Open Access Format for Scholarly Publishing: Market Forces and Recent Developments | Open Research Community

Whereas a comprehensive overview of the history of preprint servers indicates their explosive growth over recent decades, empirical findings also show that, in the almost frictionless market of preprint publishing, concentration and convergence dynamics are at play.

Case study: Disseminating early research findings to influence decision-makers | UCL Open@UCL Blog

“Recently a researcher asked for our advice on the best way to disseminate her preliminary findings from a cross-disciplinary research project on COVID-19. She wanted to ensure policy makers in East Africa had immediate access to the findings so that they could make informed decisions. The researcher was aware that traditional models of publishing were not appropriate, not simply because of the length of time it generally takes for an article to be peer-reviewed and published, but because the findings would, most likely, be inaccessible to her intended audience in a subscription-based journal.

The Research Support and Open Access team advised the researcher to take a two-pronged approach which would require her to: (1) upload the working paper with the preliminary findings in a subject-specific open-access preprint service; and (2) to publicise the research findings in an online platform that is both credible and open access. We suggested she use SocArXiv and publish a summary of her findings in The Conversation Africa, which has a special section on COVID-19. The Conversation has several country-specific editions for Australia, Canada English, Canada French, France, Global Perspectives, Indonesia, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States, and is a useful vehicle to get academic research read by decision makers and the members of the public. We also suggested that the researcher publicise the research on the IOE London Blog….”

How to start your own preprint review community on PubPub · PubPub Help

“Since we launched the Connections feature last year, we’ve been thrilled to see communities on PubPub using it for everything from supplementary material to editorial commentary and beyond. One of the most exciting uses of the feature has been publishing reviews of preprints, most prominently demonstrated by the MIT Press’s groundbreaking Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 (RR:C19) journal, published in collaboration with UC Berkeley.undefined

We’re particularly excited about this use-case because we think the “Publish, Review, Curate”undefined models being pioneered by Rapid Reviews and other innovative groups like PREReview, Peer Community In…, Review Commons, and eLife’s Sciety could fundamentally change scientific publishing — making it more open, more transparent, more efficient, and, crucially, more equitable by recognizing evaluation as an essential part of scientific careers.

The community is still working on the processes, workflows, standards, and values that will support this emergent form of publishing. But that shouldn’t stop anyone who wants to explore these models from starting now.

With PubPub, anyone can publish and distribute meaningful, impactful reviews with appropriate metadata that can be picked up by aggregators in about an hour — at no cost and with no technical expertise required….”

Open Access surpasses subscription publication globally for the first time | Dimensions

“In the vein of keeping things moving, the Dimensions team has introduced many new features over the last few years. Most recently, they have updated the Open Access classifications in Dimensions and introduced some additional fields that some of you may find helpful.

The Open Access data in Dimensions is sourced from our colleagues at Unpaywall.  When we first launched Dimensions, Unpaywall was almost as new as we were, but in the meanwhile, both Unpaywall and Dimensions have moved on. The new release of Dimensions now tracks the Unpaywall OA classifications.  This means that the filters in Dimensions should be more consistent and easier to understand – we now have: Green, Bronze, Gold, Hybrid, All OA and Closed.  Of course, all the Open Access filters are available in the free version of Dimensions as well.

While we have seen the percentage of OA increasing rapidly in recent years, especially in countries like China, Germany and the UK, it was not until 2020 that more outputs were published through Open Access channels than traditional subscription channels globally….”

Preprints: Their Evolving Role in Science Communication

Abstract:  The use of preprints for the dissemination of research in some life sciences branches has increased substantially over the last few years. In this document, we discuss preprint publishing and use in the life sciences, from initial experiments back in the 1960s to the current landscape. We explore the perspectives, advantages and perceived concerns that different stakeholders associate with preprints, and where preprints stand in the context of research assessment frameworks. We also discuss the role of preprints in the publishing ecosystem and within open science more broadly, before outlining some remaining open questions and considerations for the future evolution of preprints.

Preprints in motion: tracking changes between posting and journal publication | bioRxiv

Abstract:  Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, preprints in the biomedical sciences are being posted and accessed at unprecedented rates, drawing widespread attention from the general public, press and policymakers for the first time. This phenomenon has sharpened longstanding questions about the reliability of information shared prior to journal peer review. Does the information shared in preprints typically withstand the scrutiny of peer review, or are conclusions likely to change in the version of record? We assessed preprints that had been posted and subsequently published in a journal between 1st January and 30th April 2020, representing the initial phase of the pandemic response. We utilised a combination of automatic and manual annotations to quantify how an article changed between the preprinted and published version. We found that the total number of figure panels and tables changed little between preprint and published articles. Moreover, the conclusions of 6% of non-COVID-19-related and 15% of COVID-19-related abstracts undergo a discrete change by the time of publication, but the majority of these changes do not reverse the main message of the paper.