Open science round-up: January 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 insightful editorial by Ross Mounce on diamond open access and the imperative to reassess academic policies, specifically concerning indexation in proprietary indexes as a criterion for quality.

Unfair Discrimination Against Diamond Open Access Stifles Progress

Recently I have been trying to dispel misunderstandings about diamond open access – the mode of open access whereby there are no author-side or reader-side charges. Some out there would have you believe that diamond open access cannot ‘scale’. Some also say that diamond open access journals don’t innovate. I have an example that runs counter to both of those assertions. In a recent OASPA webinar, I talked about a tale of two open access journals catering for the same authors, one of which has author-side article processing charges (APCs): SoftwareX, and the other: Journal of Open Source Software  (JOSS), which does not charge APCs.  

Both journals, SoftwareX (established in 2015) and JOSS (established in 2016), are open access and have published highly cited papers, with citations reaching 15,000 for SoftwareX and 10,000 for JOSS. In addition, they publish a high volume of papers, with over 300 in SoftwareX and over 400 in JOSS in 2023, challenging the notion that “diamond open access can’t scale”. However, that is where their similarities end.  

SoftwareX is otherwise a fairly typical APC journal with black box peer review and no transparency offered on its process. Readers are left to simply ‘trust’ that each article has been adequately peer-reviewed. Whereas JOSS provides readers access to the entire thread of editorial handling, including peer-review reports and author responses. At JOSS we don’t just have to trust that peer-review has taken place – we can see it! The way in which JOSS leverages the GitHub platform for manuscript tracking, editorial work, and peer-review is highly innovative and adds great value to submitted manuscripts. So much for assertions about diamond not innovating! JOSS is also remarkably financially efficient with very low running costs.  

However, the story of these two software journals is not complete without addressing how they are regarded by journal indexers. The Directory of Open Access Journals, recognising its quality, indexed JOSS about a year after its launch in 2017.  Previously, SoftwareX had received the same treatment with an indexation about a year after its launch in 2016.

Yet two proprietary journal indexers have not given these journals equal treatment. Scopus (Elsevier) and Web of Science (Clarivate) have accepted SoftwareX into their indexes but have refused to index JOSS, despite multiple applications from the JOSS team. At the time of writing, despite being, in my opinion, a superb, first-class journal for publishing research software, Scopus and Web of Science have not yet agreed to index JOSS. 

This decision carries consequences.  Unfortunately, some institutions and departments use inclusion of a journal in Scopus or Web of Science as a filter when appraising candidates in hiring, promotion, salary review, and tenure processes. Thus, knowing that JOSS is not indexed in Scopus or Web of Science might deter some researchers from publishing in it, as they may be disadvantaged by doing so. I suspect Elsevier and Clarivate to take advantage of this fact, as the exclusion of a journal from Scopus/Web of Science can act as a means of suppressing competition, thus hindering innovation. 

The best solution here is not to beg for JOSS to be included in these proprietary indexes, but rather to call institutions and departments relying on Scopus and Web of Science to review and change their policies.

In Norway, the Norwegian Register for scientific journals does not rely on Scopus or Web of Science to inform decisions. The Register has also approved JOSS. Instead of asking ourselves “why does Scopus not index JOSS?” we should rather consider: “why do we give so much weight to Scopus selection?” We should refrain from drawing conclusions based on the somewhat arbitrary inclusion or exclusion of journals in Scopus and Web of Science. Policies that engage in such practices are detrimental to innovation in scholarly communication, and pose a particularly negative impact on multilingualism, bibliodiversity, and diamond open access.

Ross Mounce, Director of Open Access Programmes, Arcadia

Ross is the director of Open Access Programmes, managing open access grants, at Arcadia – a charitable foundation that works to protect nature, preserve cultural heritage and promote open access to knowledge.

He was previously a postdoc in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, a Software Sustainability Fellow, and a Panton Fellow for open data in science. Ross gained his doctorate at the University of Bath, where his thesis focused on the role of morphology in analyses of evolutionary relationships that include fossil species. 

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Big stories in Open Science

CWTS Leiden Ranking 2023 Unveils the Open Edition 

  • The Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) Leiden Ranking’s Open Edition, leveraging OpenAlex open data, has revolutionized how over 1400 major universities are evaluated worldwide, offering unprecedented scientific performance transparency. This unique ranking system allows for a customized approach, enabling users to select, generate, and explore university performances through sophisticated bibliometric indicators across list, chart, and map views. Unlike other rankings, the Leiden Ranking offers a richly documented methodology and a multidimensional perspective on university research, emphasizing the importance of both size-dependent and size-independent indicators for a comprehensive analysis. 

CNRS Embraces Open Science: Moves Away from Commercial Databases Scopus 

  • In a significant move towards open science, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) is unsubscribing from the Scopus bibliographic database, shifting away from commercial databases. This decision aligns with the CNRS’s open science policy, which emphasizes making scientific results widely accessible and supports the use of free, sustainable bibliographic tools. The funds saved from the Scopus subscription will be reinvested in these open solutions. While the Web of Science subscription remains for now due to its higher usage among CNRS researchers, alternative open resources like OpenAlex, Crossref, Dimensions, and the HAL open archive are being promoted. This strategy is part of a broader international trend towards transparency and accessibility in scientific research, as seen in initiatives like the Leiden Centre for Science and Technology Studies’ upcoming university ranking based on open data and NASA’s launch of the NASA Science Explorer bibliographic portal, adhering to FAIR principles for data accessibility and reusability. 

DFG Announces Initiative to Enhance Diamond Open Access in Germany 

  • The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has launched a new initiative to boost the Diamond Open Access publishing model in Germany. This model, which allows free-of-charge publishing for authors and readers, is seen as a crucial step in aligning with evolving European and international research policies. The DFG’s latest call for proposals focuses on establishing a Service Centre dedicated to improving Diamond Open Access infrastructures across Germany. This Centre will provide essential services, advice, and coordination for decentralized services, promoting innovation and international networking in the field. The DFG is organizing an informational event on February 7, 2024, for interested institutions, with a final proposal submission deadline set for August 1, 2024. 

Dutch Research Council Commits as Platinum Member Support for Open Library of Humanities 

  • The Open Library of Humanities celebrates extended support from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) for an additional three years, reinforcing NWO’s commitment to open-access initiatives since its initial partnership in 2020. NWO has also become the inaugural platinum-tier supporter, marking a significant milestone and enhancing OLH’s capacity to increase its diamond open-access journal portfolio. This move aligns with NWO’s strategic push towards a more open, accessible, and equitable academic publishing landscape. 

PNAS Updates Data Availability Policy for Enhanced Research Transparency 

  • PNAS has announced a significant update to its data availability and retention policy, effective January 1, 2024. The new policy mandates that authors must make all original data, including raw visual data, fully available upon request during peer review or after publication. Emphasizing the importance of transparency and reproducibility in research, PNAS strongly recommends permanently retaining all research data and moving beyond traditional practices to adapt to the evolving landscape of scientific research and publishing. 

American Physical Society Partners with Research4Life for Equitable Access to Scientific Publishing 

  • The American Physical Society (APS) has announced a landmark partnership with Research4Life, offering free journal access and covering publication fees for nonprofit institutions in lower and middle-income countries that are registered with Research4Life, effective January 1, 2024. This initiative is part of APS’s dedication to removing barriers to scientific publishing and increasing access to global research. The partnership will provide subscription access to APS journals and automate the coverage of article processing charges for eligible researchers, simplifying the publication process. 

IOP Publishing Strikes First Open Access Agreement in Taiwan 

  • IOP Publishing (IOPP) secured its first ‘Read and Publish’ transformative agreement in Taiwan. This three-year agreement with the Physics Research Promotion Centre, part of Taiwan’s National Science and Technology Council, will enable 20 Taiwanese universities to offer their researchers unlimited OA publishing at no extra cost while granting them copyright retention and access to a decade of IOPP research. The agreement marks IOPP’s sixth transformative deal in the Asia-Pacific.  

Pioneering Initiative by Nature Human Behaviour and Institute for Replication Aims to Enhance Open Science Practices 

  • In collaboration with the Institute for Replication, Nature Human Behavior (NHB) has launched an initiative to reproduce and replicate research from the journal, a significant step towards embedding reproducibility and replication in social sciences. This partnership seeks to address the scientific community’s concerns about misinformation and aims to bolster trust in science by making research more transparent and rigorous. The project, which will include studies published in NHB from 2023, highlights Springer Nature’s commitment to fostering an open research ecosystem, with results expected to be shared in 2025. 

UKRN and Forge Strategic Partnerships to Revolutionize Open Research Practices 

  • UKRN‘s seed funding and support have been instrumental for, a novel publishing platform aimed at encouraging best research practices through its unique approach to scientific communication. By breaking down traditional research papers into smaller, linked units like datasets and analyses, facilitates rapid sharing, precise peer review, and clearer recognition of individual contributions. This collaboration highlights the importance of broadening researcher engagement and shifting policy incentives to acknowledge new forms of research outputs. 

Open Science events and opportunities 

  • 💻 Webinar: The Knowledge Equity Network will hold a webinar entitled “Unlocking Knowledge Equity: Embracing Access and Inclusivity” on 7 February from  15:00 – 16:00 GMT. Register.  
  • 💻 Webinar: DIAMAS Project Results will organize a webinar entitled “Navigating Europe’s Institutional Publishing Landscape”on 7 February at 10:00 CET. Register
  • 🤝 Online Seminar: The 68th Helmholtz Open Science Online Seminar will take place on Thursday, 8 February from 14:00 – 15:00 CET. The event will be conducted via Zoom. The event’s language is English. To participate in the free event, please register.
  • 💻 Webinar: The First 2024 Diamond OA Community Webinar will be held on 26 February at 16:00 CET. Register.  
  • 🗣️ Conference: The first National Diamond Open Access Conference in Switzerland seeks to raise awareness for scholar-led and community-owned scholarly publishing and to bring together the Swiss Diamond Open Access community around issues of sustainability. This event will take place in Bern on 8 March from 9:30-5:30 AM. Registration is free of charge.  
  • 🗣️ Conference: The Center for Open Science (COS), in collaboration with NASA, is hosting a no-cost, online culminating conference Year of Open Science Culminating Conference on 21 and 22 March to showcase the outcomes, coalition-building efforts, and ongoing work stemming from the 2023 Year of Open Science (YOS). Register.  
  • 📚 Knowledge resource: Want to learn about Open Science? Open Science 101 from NASA is a good resource. Interested to know more about open data? Check out the ‘Open Data Cafe‘ podcast. 

Job opportunities

  • The University of Sussex is looking for an Open Press Editorial Manager to help shape a new open access University Press from scratch. Closing date for application is 9 March 2024. Apply

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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.

Photo by Rene Böhmer on Unsplash.

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