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Open science round-up: January 2023

Jenice Goveas provides an overview of Open Science news from January 2023 - the 'year of open science'. On this and more - in our regular monthly round-up.

With preprints gaining more prominence in the scientific community, Jessica Polka and Iratxe Puebla of ASAPbio summarize the latest achievements in preprint advocacy and explain what lies ahead:

Preprint usage has flourished in the life sciences, growing from a relatively unknown practice to being relatively commonplace in some disciplines in the course of 10 years. In addition to providing quicker access to new findings, preprints offer an opportunity to reimagine the peer review process with greater openness and transparency. 

Public feedback and peer review of preprints offers important information to readers of preprints, who are often looking for expert reaction to articles that are otherwise unreviewed and uncurated. This is especially urgent in the time of COVID-19, and review projects such as Rapid Reviews: Infectious Diseases have risen to the occasion.  Various journal-agnostic review projects (such as Review Commons and Peer Community In) have focused on providing constructive feedback to improve the scientific content of a paper, instead of judging its suitability for a particular journal. New platforms such as preLights and PREreview have enabled a broader participation of early career researchers and others often underrepresented in traditional peer review.  

As with all forms of peer review, recognition from institutions, funders, and journals will be critical in supporting engagement. This has already begun: in 2022, EMBO announced that refereed preprints meet postdoctoral fellowship eligibility requirements. cOAlition S released a statement about recognition for peer review outside of journals, and nine funders expressed support for eLife’s new editorial model. Building on this momentum, we collaborated with EMBO and HHMI to organize a workshop on Recognizing Preprint Peer Review in December of 2022. At the meeting, researchers, funders, and representatives from publishers, preprint review projects, and other infrastructure providers found common ground for recognition of preprint review. Attendees identified features (inclusion of discussions about scientific rigor, author identity, competing interests, etc.) necessary for considering preprint feedback as “review,” and agreed upon areas in which it can most readily be integrated into editorial and assessment practices. 

ASAPbio promotes constructive engagement with preprints and preprint review in our community – the centerpiece of which is an 8-month Fellows program that provides training and practical experience in preprint advocacy. We are happy to announce the 2023 Fellows program and invite all interested to bring diverse perspectives into this year’s cohort. 

Jessica Polka

As Executive Director of ASAPbio, Jessica leads initiatives related to peer review and oversees the organization’s general administrative and strategic needs. Background: Jessica performed postdoctoral research in the department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School (2013-2016) following a PhD in Biochemistry from UCSF (2012). She lives and works in Somerville, MA.  

Iratxe Puebla

Iratxe is Director of Strategic Initiatives & Community for ASAPbio. In her role Iratxe works to foster awareness of preprints and drive community engagement, Iratxe also coordinates the ASAPbio Fellows program. Prior to ASAPbio, Iratxe worked in publishing for 16 years, she held editorial roles with Open Access publishers, initially at BioMed Central and then PLOS, where she was Deputy Editor-in-Chief at the journal PLOS ONE. 

Big stories in Open Science

2023 – The Federal Year of Open Science 

  • The US White House along with 10 federal agencies, a coalition of more than 85 universities, and other organizations has declared 2023 to be the Year of Open Science. This to spark change and inspire open science engagement. Higher Education Leadership Initiative for Open Scholarship (HELIOS) and NASA also announced collaboration in this regard. Under this initiative, NASA is hosting free in-person and virtual workshops to teach basic open-science skills. It has also announced collaboration in this regard.

Open Science gaining prominence in the Middle East and North Africa 

  • Increasing number of universities and higher education institutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are recognizing the role of open science in enhancing accessibility, inclusivity and sustainability of higher education systems and research communities. Although out of 22 Arab states, only 12 have open access publishers, the focus is shifting towards openness. A recent event organized by the Forum for Open Research in MENA (FORM) witnessed participation of more than 1,000 delegates – in person and virtually. 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation extend support to Open Knowledge Maps 

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently joined Open Knowledge Maps (OKM) as a supporting member. OKM is a charitable non-profit organization that aims to increase the accessibility   visibility of scientific knowledge for science and society. They offer free services for users to create knowledge maps of research topics in any discipline based on 150 million scientific outputs. 

Romania’s Framework for Development of Open Science 

  • A White paper on the Transition to Open Science (2023-2030) that represents the Strategic Document on the Framework for the Development of Open Science in Romania has been published. It details the implementation of the principles, challenges and actions contained in the National Strategy for Research, Innovation and Intelligent Specialization 2022-2027, and aims to ensure the transition to open science while facilitating the path to excellence in scientific research. 

Framework for Strengthening Federal Scientific Integrity Policies and Practices 

  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently released A Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice, as a roadmap to strengthen scientific integrity policies and practices across the federal government. It builds on the assessment of previous federal scientific integrity policies and practices and draws from inputs of several federal agencies and sectors, including academia, the scientific community, public interest groups, and industry.  

Canada Preparing for a Research Data Management Policy 

  • Canadian research institutions are gearing up for a new research data management policy expected to come into effect this March. The policy is developed by the Tri-Agency Council comprising the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). It asserts that “research data collected through the use of public funds should be responsibly and securely managed and be, where ethical, legal and commercial obligations allow, available for reuse by others.”  

Georgia taking big strides in Open Access 

  • The Georgian Open Access landscape is abuzz with 30 new Open Access journals from 20 institutions going online on– which is the largest multidisciplinary publishing platform for open access journals in Georgia. This development was supported by EIFL for redesign and development of an open access publishing platform for academic journals. 

Nature Expands its Open Access Waiver Policies for Global South 

  • Nature has announced expansion of its open access waiver policies to include its flagship titles.  Researchers from 70 low- and lower-middle-income countries will now be able to publish for free in Nature and 36 other Nature research journals. Among the journals included in the initiative are Nature Biotechnology, Nature Climate, Nature Medicine, Nature Sustainability and Nature Water.  

eLife’s New Model is now live 

  • In an attempt to make the publishing process more transparent, faster and fairer, eLife announced a new model in October 2022, which is now open for submissions. The new model eliminates the traditional accept/reject decisions since all papers reviewed by eLife will be published as Reviewed Preprints and include an eLife assessment, public reviews and a response from the authors (if available). 

Ukrainian Awarded for Innovation in Scholarly Communication 

  • Ukrainian Vsevolod Solovyov was awarded the inaugural APE award for Innovation in Scholarly Communication at the 18th Academic Publishing in Europe (APE) Conference in Berlin. He received the award for his work on Prophy.Science – an online platform for recommending reviewers used by the European Research Council in their grant reviewing process. 

Horizon Europe’s Scientific Lake Kicks off:  

  • The SciLake- a Horizon Europe project that aims to introduce and establish a research ecosystem modelled as a scientific lake, kicked off with a meeting on January 23rd and 24th in Athens, Greece. SciLake is where scientific knowledge is contextualized, connected, interoperable, and accessible in a manner that can overcome challenges related to heterogeneity and large interconnectivity of the underlying data. The project aims to extend the technical work in the field of Science Knowledge Graphs (SKGs) by offering a comprehensive, open, transparent, and customizable scientific data-lake as a service.  

A New Preprint server for Optics and Photonics 

  • Optica Publishing Group recently launched a new preprint server called Optica Open. This server provides free access to the latest discoveries in optics and photonics. The posted preprints will receive a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), are citable and will be indexed by Google Scholar and Crossref. Through a collaboration optics-related preprints that have been posted to arXiv are also discoverable in Optica Open.  

Joint strategy for strengthening European Repository Network 

  • OpenAIRE, LIBER, SPARC Europe and COAR have launched a joint strategy that aims to develop and execute an action plan that will reinforce and enhance repositories in Europe. The first step includes a survey to be launched in February for understanding the current repository landscape and identifying priority areas of action.  

Open science events and opportunities

  • Training Centre in Communication (TCC Africa) and CABI Agriculture & Bioscience have announced a ‘New Editor Training and Mentoring Program’. Last date for applications: 15 February 2023. Sign Up here
  • High level multi-sectoral national open science dialogue for academic and research institutions in Tanzania 
  • The ISC, in collaboration with the Forum for Open Research in MENA (FORM), is hosting a workshop- “Open Science and the Dissemination of Scholarly Knowledge; Normalising Pre-prints: The MENA Dialogue” on 28 February 2023. Register here
  • Applications are now open for the 2023 ASAPbio Fellows program– an eight-month program that provides participants with tools and skills to drive discussions about the productive use of preprints in the life sciences. Deadline: 24 March 2023
  • Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN) is providing A teaching and training handbook for higher education institutions titled- “How to be FAIR with your data”. Download your copy here 

Job opportunities

Our top ten open science reads

  1. Aaron Swartz and His Legacy of Internet Activism 
  2. Breaking down barriers to data sharing 
  3. Intellectual Property Policy at The Neuro, an Open Science Institute 
  4. DORA at 10: Looking back at the history and forward to the future of research assessment 
  5. India’s Fumbled Chance For Sharing Knowledge 
  6. Blow Away the January Blues! 10 Takeaways from four European Commission Studies on Research and Copyright 
  7. The ‘OA market’ – what is healthy? 
  8. How and Why to Share Scientific Code 
  9. Mapping the Swiss Landscape of Diamond Open Access Journals 
  10. Preprint review should form part of PhD programmes and postdoc training 

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