Lancet editor-in-chief calls for ‘activist’ journals | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Academic journals must become more “activist” if they are to survive, seeking to “change the direction of society” rather than “passively waiting” for manuscripts, according to the editor-in-chief of The Lancet.

The medical journal is one of a number of titles now explicitly committed to helping pursue the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which range from eradicating hunger to reducing inequalities, as titles try to carve out a new role in a world where publishing has moved online….

Instead of “sitting in our office passively waiting for manuscripts to be submitted to the journal”, Dr Horton said, The Lancet, founded in 1823, now had a mission to “gather the very best scientific evidence, [and] to then think strategically about how that evidence fits within the overall trajectory of scientific and political policy in the world”.

For example, last year the journal published a report setting out how to eradicate malaria by 2050, backed by research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This was one of dozens of “commissions” initiated by the journal, which bring together experts to formulate proposals on subjects ranging from defeating Alzheimer’s disease to reforming medical education for the 21st century….

Still, some journals have faced long-standing criticism that their subscription costs mean they are unaffordable for readers in developing countries – or conversely, that the price of publishing an open-access article excludes scholars from poorer university systems.

Some publishers offer discounts to academics in poorer countries. The Lancet, for example, waives open-access publishing fees for scholars whose main funder is based in a state with a low human development index….”

How open data and tools can save lives during a disaster |

“If you’ve lived through a major, natural disaster, you know that during the first few days you’ll probably have to rely on a mental map, instead of using a smartphone as an extension of your brain. Where’s the closest hospital with disaster care? What about shelters? Gas stations? And how many soft story buildings—with their propensity to collapse—will you have to zig-zag around to get there?

Trying to answer these questions after moving back to earthquake-prone San Francisco is why I started the Resiliency Maps project. The idea is to store information about assets, resources, and hazards in a given geographical area in a map that you can download and print out. The project contributes to and is powered by OpenStreetMap (OSM), and the project’s entire toolkit is open source, ensuring that the maps will be available to anyone who wants to use them….”

Having a Social Impact: Supporting Social Justice and Open Access through Digital Initiative Projects

Abstract: Digital infrastructures and tools allow organizations and institutions to create opportunities for projects, information transfer, learning, and platforms for a range of voices. It also creates opportunities that promote open access, social justice, and social impact. Panelists who are directly involved in digital initiative projects that specifically seek to impact society, either by opening up information resources to everyone, or by giving people the digital resources they need to be self-supportive, will talk about their projects and the beliefs that underpin their efforts. From libraries, to online content providers, to digital skills educators, the panel represents a wide range of organizations that are employing digital initiatives for social good. Organizations participating in this panel discussion include three nonprofit organizations: the Catholic Research Resources Alliance, Digital Divide Data, and the Center for Bibliographical and Research Studies, UC-Riverside. 

How Shared, Open Data Can Help Us Better Overcome Disasters | WIRED

“Hopefully, interest in data about air quality and the difficulty in getting a comprehensive view will drive more people to consider an open data and approach over proprietary ones. Right now, big companies and governments are the largest users of data that we’ve handed to them—mostly for free—to lock up in their vaults. Pharmaceutical firms, for instance, use the data to develop drugs that save lives, but they could save more lives if their data were shared. We need to start using data for more than commercial exploitation, deploying it to understand the long-term effects of policy, and create transparency around those in power—not of private citizens. We need to flip the model from short-term commercial use to long-term societal benefit….”

Making Scientific Research More Open and More Effective

A Mozilla Fellow and a team of open-science advocates have been awarded two major grants to make scientific research more open and effective.

Daniela Saderi and the rest of the PREreview leadership team will use a £50,000 grant from the Wellcome Trust’s Open Research Fund and $66,780 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to carry out the work.

PREreview is a community and a platform for the crowd-sourcing of preprint peer reviews in scientific research. Preprints are early versions of scientific manuscripts that are published online before undergoing journal peer review. They allow researchers to share early scientific findings more openly and collaboratively….

PREreview will partner with the nonprofit Outbreak Science and use the Wellcome funds to develop “Rapid PREreview,” an interoperable and open-source extension for the PREreview platform. Rapid PREreview will allow scientists to share preprints swiftly during public health crises, and also to generate aggregated data visualizations based on feedback….”

Ebola Information Center

“Welcome to Elsevier’s Ebola Information Center

Ebola Information CenterThis page will provide continually updated resources from Elsevier’s content and experts. We developed it to give our readers – medical professionals, health researchers, and members of the public interested in Ebola – one place where they can access the depth and breadth of Elsevier’s resources on the Ebola virus.

Elsevier’s resources span scientific and medical journals and textbooks, educational products, and a variety of other content. We have also asked our clinicians to provide original commentary. Our goal is to provide these resources for free for the next several months as the Ebola crisis continues….”

Wellcome mandates publication before peer review in health crises | Times Higher Education (THE)

One of the world’s biggest research funders is to require research that could help to tackle disease outbreaks or other health emergencies to be published before peer review as part of a further step towards open science.

Releasing details of its new open-access policy, which comes into force in January 2020, the Wellcome Trust said that, “where there was a significant public health benefit to preprints being shared widely and rapidly”, the research must be placed “on an approved platform that supports immediate publication of the complete manuscript” prior to peer review.

Robert Kiley, head of open research at Wellcome, told Times Higher Education that it was “clearly necessary” to bypass traditional journal publication processes if that allowed potentially life-saving research to be shared more quickly….”

DFG awards prize for two alternatives to animal experiments – BIOENGINEER.ORG

“Noori is now making the data from what currently amounts to nearly 150,000 rats available in two open access databases, which researchers all over the world can use to address research questions relating to neuroanatomy and neuropharmacology. The databases will help scientists to answer research questions in silico – by analysing existing data – or to plan new experiments more stringently. The use of big data in preclinical neuroscience offers considerable potential for animal welfare in research….”

APHA unlocks free public access to articles on firearms issues and research

“The American Public Health Association (APHA) is offering free access to peer-reviewed research articles and commentaries on firearms and public health published in the American Journal of Public Health. Available articles cover topics such as firearm storage practices in the United States, public opinion on the issue of carrying guns in public places, and state firearm laws. In a statement, the APHA says it hopes this action will “lead to smarter evidence-based policies that enhance firearm safety and violence prevention.” Going forward, the journal will continue free public access to all research on the topic.”

Global Food Policy Report 2018, International Food Policy Research Institute

From Chapter 6:


? Open data can improve the performance of food systems and help achieve global food and nutrition security. 

? Accessible data are critical for decision making, from the farm to the retail level of food systems. 

? Open data increase both the visibility and utility of research, allowing researchers to create more knowledge products and support decision making. 

? Open data allow governments to make evidence-based policy decisions and push governments toward increased accountability. 

? Data quality and ease of use are essential for putting data to use, but datasets are often too large or complex to be easily handled. 

? Inequality in access to knowledge is increasing. Data policies, commitments, and investments can improve access to and use of knowledge, but current commitment and action on open data are uneven. 


? Democratize data access and improve livelihoods by putting data tools, such as mobile-phone apps, into farmers’ hands. 

? Increase the efficiency of knowledge transfers to prevent loss of information and ensure uptake in the field. 

? Make government “big data” public to drive high-quality analysis of food systems and better policy and decision making. 

? Build open data initiatives, including to reduce inequality and address issues of data quality, use, storage, and dissemination. 

? Increase data quality and ease of use through better data collection, new tools, working groups, capacity building, and improvements in big data platforms. 

? Empower citizen stakeholders to demand open data through capacity building and access to data tools.”