“The University of Oxford has announced grants totaling nearly $8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and others in support of efforts to speed up diagnosis of drug-resistant tuberculosis….The grants will enable Oxford researchers to expand that library [of genomce sequences] by collecting and analyzing a hundred thousand additional samples from around the world….The Oxford team will then assemble the results into a single open-access database….”
“Science should not, and need not, be shackled by journal publication. Three sensible reforms would ensure that researchers’ results could be communicated to more people more quickly, without any compromise on quality. Step one is for the organisations that finance research to demand that scientists put their academic papers, along with their experimental data, in publicly accessible ‘repositories’ before they are sent to a journal. That would allow other researchers to make use of the findings without delay. Those opposed to such ‘preprints’ argue that they allow shoddy work to proliferate because it has not yet been peer-reviewed. That may surprise physicists and mathematicians, who have been posting work to arXiv, a preprint repository, for more than 25 years with no ill effects. After peer review, research should also be freely available for all to read. Too much science, much of it paid for from the public purse, languishes behind paywalls.
Step two is to improve the process of peer review itself. Journals currently administer a system of organising anonymous peer reviewers to pass judgment on new research—a fact they use, in part, to justify their hefty subscription prices. But this murky process is prone to abuse. At its worst, cabals of researchers are suspected of guaranteeing favourable reviews for each other’s work. Better that reviewers are named and that the reviews themselves are published. The Gates foundation has announced its support for an online repository where such open peer review of papers takes place. The repository was launched last year by the Wellcome Trust, meaning that the world’s two largest medical charities have thrown their weight behind it. Others should follow (see article).
Fight for your right
Finally, science needs to stop relying so much on journal publication as the only recognised credential for researchers and the only path to career progression. Tools exist that report how often a preprint has been viewed, for example, or whether a clinical data set has been cited in guidelines for doctors. A handful of firms are using artificial intelligence to assess the scientific importance of research, irrespective of how it has been disseminated. Such approaches need encouragement. Journals may lose out, but science itself will benefit.”
“One of the world’s biggest funders of scientific research is to establish an open access platform that will allow its grant winners to publish their findings, in a move that could be swiftly followed by the European Commission….Initiative will emulate Wellcome Trust’s publishing model, with European Commission set to follow”
“The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have formed a partnership to advance scientific communication and open access publishing. The partnership will also ensure open access to research funded by the Gates Foundation and published in the Science family of journals….As a result of this partnership, AAAS will allow authors funded by the Gates Foundation to publish their research under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) in Science, Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, Science Advances, Science Immunology or Science Robotics. This means that the final published version of any article from a Foundation-funded author submitted to one of the AAAS journals after January 1, 2017 will be immediately available to read, download and reuse….”
“What is Chronos?
Chronos is a new service for Gates-funded researchers co-developed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Chronos simplifies and manages the process of publishing under the Gates Foundation’s Open Access Policy terms. Watch this video overview of what you’ll experience using Chronos.
How does it work?
Gates-funded researchers and Gates employees will use this service to help manage the open access publishing process. They can search for journals offering open access options and submit their articles directly to the publisher. Chronos takes care of publisher payment processing, the foundation’s compliancy checks, and tracking publishing activity along with its impact. We want our grantees and employees to focus on the research – not the process of publishing research.
Why are we doing this?
Open access to research accelerates our impact and means more lives saved and improved. The Gates Foundation adopted its Open Access Policy because broad and rapid dissemination of the research we fund is crucial for accelerating innovations as we work to reduce inequity and empower the poorest people to transform their lives.
Why is this service only available to Gates grantees and employees?
While Chronos is currently available to Gates grantees and employees, we’ve built the service to scale to other funders and institutions. We anticipate making Chronos available to a wider audience in the next year….”
“Background: The 2014 Gates Foundation OA policy put publishers on notice that in 2017 it would require immediate or unembargoed OA under CC-BY for articles arising from Gates-funded research. Some top journals don’t allow that today. Will the foundation back down in order to let its grantees publish in those journals, will publishers back down in order to publish Gates-funded research, or neither? …
I predict that the Gates Foundation won’t compromise….
Something similar happened when the NIH policy became mandatory in 2008. It allowed embargoes up to 12 months, and didn’t require open licenses. By Gates standards, the NIH policy is weak. But if you recall, many publishers at the time were very unwilling to accommodate it, and very vocal in their opposition. However, the NIH allowed no exceptions, and told grantees that if the publisher they had in mind wouldn’t allow OA on the NIH’s terms, then they must look for another publisher. Before long, all publishers came around.
Essentially, the NIH forced publishers to choose between accommodating the new policy and refusing to publish the large volume of high-quality research by NIH-funded authors. Not a single surveyed publisher has chosen to refuse to publish NIH-funded authors.
Nor have any of the accommodating publishers gone out of business as a result. Some have continued to make obscene profits. In 2011, three years after the NIH policy became mandatory, the Nature Publishing Group said it detected no harm to its bottom line and positively encouraged compliance, just as it had positively encouraged green OA since 2005.
Before publishers began accommodating the NIH policy, I don’t recall researchers protesting that it would bar them from publishing in the journals of their choice. Even if they thought it would, they evidently preferred to be funded.
The Gates Foundation will put publishers to the same choice between accommodating the policy and refusing to publish Gates-funded researchers. In 2008, some publishers might have taken the second course, but I doubt that any will do so today. Even if some do, I believe that their resistance won’t last long, if only because researchers will prefer to be funded.
Publishers might want to resist OA, or unembargoed libre OA, but in the end they must go where the authors are. Authors might want to publish in journals that are high in both quality and prestige, but in the end they must go where the funding is. Authors will find that path easier to take when they realize that many high-quality journals, OA and non-OA, are accommodating the Gates policy. They’ll find it easier still –again, in due time– when promotion and tenure committees catch up with history and stop creating the perverse incentive to choose journal brand over quality and access.
Research funders are in a key position to change the behavior of authors and publishers, and the Gates Foundation is one funder that really wants to create change.
Moreover, it’s a charity that funds research it finds useful or beneficial. Its interest is to make the results available as widely and easily as possible. It has no reason to compromise, and every reason not to.
That’s the outcome I predict. But I can add that it’s also the most desirable outcome. In 2008, the NIH did the right thing to force publisher accommodation, and in 2017 the time has (long since) come for funders to force publishers to the next level.”
“We need to change the culture of knowledge management and data sharing. This means ensuring that scientists around the world have open access to published research and incentivizing scientists to share data on major causes of human disease and emerging threats to public health. To that end, I’m excited to announce that this week the Gates Foundation joined other major organizations in launching the Open Research Funders Group to promote unfettered access to scientific research….”
“The Gates Foundation is on the brink of implementing an Open Access policy that is the purest in the world. Under the Gates Foundation policy, “information sharing and transparency is promoted by unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded, in whole or in part, by the foundation, including any underlying data sets.” The radical aspect of the Gates Foundation Open Access policy is that no embargoes, no waivers and no exceptions are allowed. This is not a sudden policy implementation. Three years ago, the Gates Foundation announced and implemented a modified form of this policy. The date of rigorous implementation without embargoes, waivers or exceptions was explicitly detailed as taking effect on January 1, 2017….”
“Despite this success story, most scientific research today is not published openly — meaning freely, to everyone, without delay from the time of publication. Instead, it lives behind time embargoes and paywalls, costing as much as $35 per article to access. Even when scientific information is free to read, it is subject to copyright restrictions that prevent it from being recast quickly in new ways.”