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Open science round-up: April 2024

Welcome to the latest edition of our Open Science Round-up, curated by Moumita Koley. Join us as she brings you the key reads and news in the world of Open Science.

In this issue, we feature an editorial by Ludo Waltman, scientific director and professor at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University. Following the release of the Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information in April, he invites all science and research organizations committed to make openness the default, to support and ratify the document.

Join the transition toward openness of research information 

 “To be promoted to full professor, I need to have at least X publications with a citation impact of at least Y. I am studying rare diseases. For publications in my field, it is almost impossible to have a citation impact of Y or higher. So, I will never be promoted, and the rare diseases I study will never get the attention they deserve. What should I do?” 

A few weeks ago, a researcher at a prestigious US university sent me an email sharing the above problem. This problem illustrates the situation in which many academics find themselves. Decisions about the careers of researchers and the resources allocated to different research topics are made based largely on bibliometric statistics, and these statistics are usually calculated based on non-transparent data from proprietary publication and citation databases.  

These statistics largely function as black boxes, with the methodologies for calculating indicators undisclosed to both the researchers being evaluated and the evaluators. Decisions made based on these statistics lack transparency and are likely to suffer from biases in the underlying data. 

The Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information, launched on April 16, 2024, argues that openness should be the norm for information about the conduct and communication of research, including information used in research assessments. Signatories of the Declaration commit to making openness the default for the research information they use and produce. The Declaration has already been signed by 60 research organizations from 19 countries worldwide. Signatories include universities and other research organizations, research funders, governments, and libraries. The Declaration is also supported by over 20 infrastructure organizations. 

The Barcelona Declaration builds on several related initiatives. For instance, the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science highlights the need for “open bibliometrics and scientometrics systems for assessing and analyzing scientific domains”. The Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment emphasizes the importance of ensuring “independence and transparency of the data, infrastructure and criteria necessary for research assessment”. The International Science Council report The Case for Reform of Scientific Publishing argues that “a full international index of scientific publications should be created” and that this index should be “controlled by agents of the scientific community”. 

At my organization, the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University, we have made the commitment that within the next few years all our work will be based on open research information. I invite all research organizations to join the journey toward full openness of research information and to sign the Barcelona Declaration. 

About the author:

Ludo Waltman is scientific director and professor of Quantitative Science Studies at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University. He is also open science ambassador at Leiden University and co-chair of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI). Ludo is one of the initiators of the Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information.

Big stories in Open Science

Barcelona Declaration Promotes Openness to Research Information 

  • More than 40 organizations, including prominent funders and educational institutions, have committed to enhancing transparency in how they share information about their research processes and outputs through the Barcelona Declaration. Released on April 16, the declaration advocates for making open research information or metadata a standard practice. The declaration represents a crucial step towards diminishing reliance on proprietary data sources in the research community. 

Yale Law School Launches “Law Archive” to Enhance Open Legal Scholarship 

  • Yale Law School has introduced “Law Archive,” a new service for sharing preprints of legal research developed on the Open Science Framework (OSF). This initiative aims to improve the accessibility and dissemination of legal knowledge, reflecting a broader commitment to open scholarship. “Law Archive” aims to serve as a resource for legal scholars worldwide, fostering a collaborative and inclusive academic environment. 

The Future of Publishing: Center for Open Science Launches Lifecycle Journals Project 

  • The Center for Open Science (COS) is embarking on a three-year research and development project to explore a new model known as Lifecycle Journals. This initiative aims to align the academic reward system with core values of equity, rigor, transparency, and integrity, utilizing innovative practices such as Diamond Open Access and Transparent Peer Review. Lifecycle Journals will feature dynamic credibility assessments and treat research outputs like data and code as primary focus areas, promoting continuous evaluation and adaptation. With its community-driven approach, the project seeks to transform how knowledge is produced and shared, ensuring it meets the evolving needs of the scholarly community. 

PLOS and Eurodoc Form Strategic Partnership to Promote Open Science 

  • The Public Library of Science (PLOS) and the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc) have announced a new partnership to promote Open Science and its integration into research practices. This is important to support early-career researchers. PLOS emphasized that the partnership will enhance Open Science participation among emerging researchers worldwide. This collaboration marks a significant step towards advancing the global research landscape through shared knowledge and accessible science. 

F1000 and Gates Foundation Launch VeriXiv, a Verified Preprint Platform for Open Science 

  • F1000 and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are set to launch VeriXiv, a preprint platform that ensures the integrity and rapid dissemination of research. Starting in January 2025, the platform will align with the Gates Foundation’s open access policy, demanding preprints from funded research. VeriXiv will differentiate itself by conducting extensive pre-publication checks to ensure research accuracy and reliability. This initiative is poised to set new standards in sharing and verifying academic research, providing a trusted resource for the global research community. 

Major Chemistry Journal Disappears Online, Highlighting Digital Preservation Challenges 

  • The renowned chemistry journal Heterocycles unexpectedly vanished from the web, raising concerns about the preservation of digital academic content. Despite the journal’s historical contributions, its abrupt disappearance highlights the vulnerability of online resources. It was reported that the journal suspended publication in December 2023 due to ‘various circumstances’. Investigations revealed that Heterocycles had subscribed to a service called CLOCKSS, a dark archive aiming to preserve scholarly literature digitally. However, CLOCKSS policy does not clarify when the content will be made available online. This incident underscores the ongoing challenges in securing the longevity and availability of scholarly literature. 

Study Reveals Over Two Million Scholarly Articles Lack Proper Archiving 

  • A recent study in the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication reveals that more than two million scholarly articles are not being adequately archived. Analysing over seven million documents, the research found that 28% of articles with digital object identifiers (DOIs) are missing from necessary archives. The study highlights the urgent need for improved digital preservation strategies and clearer responsibilities between libraries and publishers. The study pointed out resources like the Public Knowledge Project’s Private LOCKSS Network and national preservation networks that can be used to ensure the longevity and accessibility of scholarly works. 

Global Enthusiasm for Open Scholarship Highlighted by Seed Award Applications 

  • The Open Research Funders Group (ORFG) recently highlighted the global interest in open scholarship through their Open Scholarship Seed Award program, which received nearly 150 applications from 50 countries. The program awarded 23 microgrants to individuals across 15 countries to enhance open science practices. Recipients from diverse regions, including Africa, Asia, and the Americas, received grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, supporting projects that build awareness and capacity in open science. This initiative highlights the potential for innovative, equitable practices worldwide in the open scholarship community. 

Harvard Library Launches Open Access Journals Initiative 

  • Harvard Library is rolling out the Harvard Open Journals Program (HOJP), a new initiative aimed at fostering sustainable and equitable open-access publishing. The program will provide publishing services, resources, and seed funding to help Harvard researchers create new academic journals or transition existing ones to open access, making them free for both authors and readers. This initiative is a crucial step in promoting the free flow of information, aligned with the original ethos of open access, by eliminating barriers to publishing and accessing scholarly work. 

Open Library of Humanities Promotes More Open Access Initiatives 

  • The Open Library of Humanities (OLH) has significantly expanded its efforts to support open access, having recently made considerable investments in its infrastructure and team. These enhancements include improving the OLH’s open-source platform, upgrading website accessibility, expanding the journal portfolio, and launching a new publisher website to better communicate the organization’s mission. As part of its expansion, OLH has welcomed several high-profile journals into its fold, transitioning them from commercial publishers to OLH’s diamond open access model.  

Open Science events and opportunities 

Our top ten Open Science reads


The information, opinions and recommendations presented by our guests are those of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the values and beliefs of the International Science Council.

Image by Scott Webb on Unsplash.

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