Science as a Public Good: Public Use and Funding of Science

Abstract:  Knowledge of how science is consumed in public domains is essential for a deeper understanding of the role of science in human society. While science is heavily supported by public funding, common depictions suggest that scientific research remains an isolated or ‘ivory tower’ activity, with weak connectivity to public use, little relationship between the quality of research and its public use, and little correspondence between the funding of science and its public use. This paper introduces a measurement framework to examine public good features of science, allowing us to study public uses of science, the public funding of science, and how use and funding relate. Specifically, we integrate five large-scale datasets that link scientific publications from all scientific fields to their upstream funding support and downstream public uses across three public domains – government documents, the news media, and marketplace invention. We find that the public uses of science are extremely diverse, with different public domains drawing distinctively across scientific fields. Yet amidst these differences, we find key forms of alignment in the interface between science and society. First, despite concerns that the public does not engage high-quality science, we find universal alignment, in each scientific field and public domain, between what the public consumes and what is highly impactful within science. Second, despite myriad factors underpinning the public funding of science, the resulting allocation across fields presents a striking alignment with the field’s collective public use. Overall, public uses of science present a rich landscape of specialized consumption, yet collectively science and society interface with remarkable, quantifiable alignment between scientific use, public use, and funding.

 

Open access publishing is the ethical choice | Wonkhe

“I had a stroke half a decade ago and found I couldn’t access the medical literature on my extremely rare vascular condition.

I’m a capable reader, but I couldn’t get past the paywalls – which seemed absurd, given most research is publicly funded. While I had, already, long been an open access advocate by that point, this strengthened my resolve.

The public is often underestimated. Keeping research locked behind paywalls under the assumption that most people won’t be interested in, or capable of, reading academic research is patronising….

While this moral quandary should not be passed to young researchers, there may be benefits to them in taking a firm stance. Early career researchers are less likely to have grants to pay for article processing charges to make their work open access compared to their senior colleagues. Early career researchers are also the ones who are inadvertently paying the extortionate subscription fees to publishers. According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the amount of money UK universities fork out each year to access paywalled content from Elsevier – the largest academic publisher in the world – could pay 1,028 academic researchers a salary of £45,000 per year.

We know for-profit publishers, such as Elsevier, hold all the cards with respect to those prestigious titles. What we need are systematic “read and publish” deals that allow people to publish where they want without having to find funding for open access….

The current outlook for prospective researchers to secure an academic position at a university is compromised because so much money is spent propping up for-profit, commercial publishers. Rather than focusing on career damage to those who can’t publish with an Elsevier title, we should focus on the opportunity cost in hundreds of lost careers in academia….”

Training researchers in dissemination of study results to research participants and communities | Translational Behavioral Medicine | Oxford Academic

Abstract:  Dissemination of research beyond the academic community is an ethical responsibility of researchers and necessary in translational research to help ensure the uptake of research findings to improve health outcomes. Often, partnerships between community and academicians do not include research dissemination plans, possibly reflecting researchers not knowing how to create these plans. This manuscript details the development process of a research dissemination training module for academicians and researchers. This training was conceptualized and developed by Core faculty and staff. Development steps were: (a) identifying researchers’ dissemination needs using the Core Investigator Survey; (b) identifying communities dissemination needs/preferences using feedback from our community advisory board; (c) conducting a literature search to identify dissemination concepts from researchers and community perspectives; (d) developing the training module; (e) conducting a cognitive review with one basic science researcher and one community-based participatory researcher; (f) evaluating the training; and (g) finalizing the training module. Training attendees included 1 clinical and 3 basic science clinical researchers, a biomedical postdoctoral fellow, and 10 research staff. Of those completing the feedback survey, 60% had some experience with research dissemination. As a result of training, more than 50% of respondents strongly agreed that as researchers they have a clear understanding of dissemination, a greater understanding of the dissemination process, how to identify stakeholders and successfully develop a dissemination plan. While disseminating research findings beyond academic publications may be new to some researchers, this training provided the tools to implement dissemination practices in their current and future research.

 

Canadian Health Geographers Share Virus Risk Maps with Public Before Publishers – SPARC

“As Valorie Crooks and her research team were developing maps to show COVID-19 risks in neighborhoods across British Columbia, she knew the information was too urgent to wait on an academic journal to disseminate.

Instead, the geography professor from Simon Fraser University in Canada took the data she and her research colleagues, which included patient partners, gathered to create an interactive website with the maps that they shared publicly.

“The need for information right now is so critical, that it just does not align with the timelines of scientific publishing,” Crooks says. “So, we went for a public leap of faith and shared our maps.”

The response has been substantial from both the media and the public. The open access strategy has prompted feedback from the public that’s helped researchers refine their work and provided useful information to policymakers as they respond to the crisis….”

Open Notes: New Federal Rules Promoting Open and Transparent Communication – ScienceDirect

“While health systems and clinicians are increasingly aware of new federal rules1 that mandate offering patients access to the notes clinicians write in electronic health records (open notes), for many, and certainly for patients and their families, they come as a surprise. Taking effect April 5, 2021, the rules enact the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act and aim to increase interoperability and ensure greater transparency in health care. Many health professionals support these goals but are anxious about how their practice and clinician-patient relationships may be affected. Stimulated in part by the OpenNotes movement,2 considerable anecdotal and research evidence is accumulating from the more than 250 health systems3 already sharing clinical notes with 55 million Americans registered on their electronic patient portals. More than 100 papers have been published dissecting the effects on care of this fundamental change in practice.2 What is being learned?”

Plain?language summaries: An essential component to promote knowledge translation – Gudi – – International Journal of Clinical Practice – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  In this era of evidence?based practice, scholarly work such as peer?reviewed scientific publications plays a vital role in policy and decision?making at an individual, organisation and country?level. Alongside being considered an essential means of communicating scholarly work, scientific publications also investigate the specific domains that lack well?established literature and thereby inform scientists and researchers to thrive for the betterment of the publics’ well?being. Thus, the main purpose of articulating the scientific, scholarly work should be to make it understandable and accessible to everyone, including the lay audience. However, oftentimes, researchers overlook the lay summaries while publishing the research findings.

 

 

Introducing the Open Pharma recommendations for multi-stakeholder plain language summaries of publications: now inviting public consultation – Open Pharma – Innovations in medical publishing

“Over the last few months, the Open Pharma Accessibility workstream has been hard at work, drafting our recommendations for the ‘minimum standard’ for multi-stakeholder plain language summaries of publications. These recommendations were the focus of the January 2021 Roundtable, during which we heard feedback on the recommendations from Open Pharma Members, Supporters and key Advisers.

Now, we’re asking for your input! The one-page recommendations document is available to read on our figshare page. If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, or if you just want your voice to be heard, you can email us at OxfordProject@pharmagenesis.com or join the conversation on Twitter. Please make sure to share your insights before the end of the consultation period on 31 March 2021!…”

A bridge to access research: Reflections on the Community Scholars Program developmental evaluation – Scholarly Communications Lab | ScholCommLab

“Simon Fraser University (SFU)’s Community Scholars Program (CSP) is a unique initiative that aims to do just that. Established in 2016 in collaboration with the United Way of the Lower Mainland and Mindset Social Innovation Foundation, the program connects more than 500 people working in nonprofits and community organizations across BC with the latest scholarly literature, providing free access as well as research training and support. …

Finally, my research revealed that the CSP acts as a bridge between disconnected worlds, bringing together traditional, for-profit scholarly publishing models with a more “public good”-oriented approach to knowledge access. As the success of the program depends on the willingness of scholarly publishers to allow community access to scholarship, its very existence is a living compromise within a publishing ecosystem where access to research has become a hotly contested topic. During my evaluation, I encountered countless compelling examples of the research impact made possible by bringing these seemingly conflicting realities together. …”

Attracting new users or business as usual? A case study of converting academic subscription based journals to open access | Quantitative Science Studies | MIT Press Journals

Abstract:  This paper studies a selection of eleven Norwegian journals in the humanities and social sciences and their conversion from subscription to open access, a move heavily incentivized by governmental mandates and open access policies. By investigating the journals’ visiting logs in the period 2014-2019, the study finds that a conversion to open access induces higher visiting numbers; all journals in the study had a significant increase which can be attributed to the conversion. Converting a journal had no spillover in terms of increased visits to previously published articles still behind the paywall in the same journals. Visits from previously subscribing Norwegian higher education institutions did not account for the increase in visits, indicating that the increase must be accounted for by visitors from other sectors. The results could be relevant for policymakers concerning the effects of strict polices targeting economically vulnerable national journals, and could further inform journal owners and editors on the effects of converting to open access.

 

Patient involvement in medical publications – PharmaTimes

“A main finding from resurveyed editors was that a combined 89% said there is no suitable formal role for patients as reviewers of medical literature. Asked to interpret prior results, 26% said that a lack of patient involvement may reflect a lag in acceptance and/or implementation of such processes overall, but more telling was that almost two-thirds (64%) maintained that drives to include patients in peer-reviewed journals’ editorial processes – unlike in drug development and/or clinical trial design – may need re-evaluation. That said, a number of editors did suggest that patients could serve valuable roles reviewing specific types of articles, for example, those dealing with adherence or quality of life….”