Open science round-up: February 2023

As we march into the third month of the year there is a lot to catch up in the open science world. In this issue Jenice Goveas summarises the past month’s top events, opportunities and readings. Ismail Serageldin has an important message for all of us living in a transformative world.

Our Transformative Moment: We Want Science to be Open, Transparent and Accessible Now! 

“Scientific discovery and new technologies are both moving at lightning speed, and interacting as they create an unprecedented revolution. Artificial intelligence is transforming our world in profound ways we are barely beginning to perceive, and whose end-state or steady-state we cannot even imagine. For me, this is an exhilarating time to be alive, and we must embrace this transformative moment and ensure that humanity is the better for it, both today and tomorrow. 

We live in the era of science. There are more practicing scientists today than have ever lived through all recorded time. But the institutions and the domains in which science is practiced are inhibited by a legacy of inherited biases and obstacles that require our attention. The vast majority of humanity is deprived of equal access to the expanding scientific body of information and knowledge. 

As the ISC states: “There should be universal, prompt open access to the record of science, both for authors and readers, with no barriers to participation, in particular those based on ability to pay, institutional privilege, language or geography”. 

Peer scrutiny remains fundamental in validating scientific claims, and access to the data and analysis on which such claims are based is as important as access to the conclusions. Open science is the movement championed by the scientific community to respond to these challenges. The governance of the scientific enterprise must be the responsibility of the scientific community. And while no topic should be off-limits for scientific research, research as an enterprise is part of society. As we forge science-based policies and evidence-based regulations, we need broad discussions as to the ethical and safety limits that need to be articulated on the practice of research and the deployment of new technologies. 

But the current institutional arrangements are also lengthening the time between submission and publication of papers, thereby slowing down the pace of scientific discovery, even as the new technologies allow its unprecedented acceleration. Here, preprints and the internet allow hitherto unimagined transparency and speed. In our digital world, the posting of preprints is not only feasible, it is becoming essential to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and bring transparency to peer review, corrections and retractions in real-time. 

The scientific record, where every new insight and discovery is meticulously recorded and constantly updated, should be maintained in such a way as to ensure open access by future generations. Our new technologies enable us to guarantee this to one and all, now and in the future. All this is part of this transformative moment we are living in. It can be done. It must be done. It will be done.

Ismail Serageldin is the Emeritus Librarian of Alexandria, and was the Founding Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the New Library of Alexandria in Egypt (2001-2017). Before that he was the Vice-President of the World Bank (1993-2000) in charge of Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD), whose mandate included oversight over the World Bank financed projects in Agriculture, Infrastructure, and Environment. He was also Chairman of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Founding Chairman of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest: A micro-finance program (CGAP), a co-founding member of the World Water Council (WWC) and the Chair of the UN Commission on Water in the 21st Century (1999-2000). He was also distinguished professor at Wageningen University and the College de France, and is a member of many Academies. He has received many awards and he has lectured widely, published more than 100 books and 500 articles, and has received more than 40 honorary doctorates from all over the world. He is currently Co-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center and serves on many boards and advisory committees for academic, research and NGO institutions. 

Big stories in Open Science 

Read & Publish Open Access initiatives gain popularity 

  • The Company of Biologists a not-for-profit publishing organisation that has Read & Publish agreements with ten library consortia has announced a 45% increase in the number of institutions participating in its cost-neutral Read & Publish Open Access (OA) initiative. Currently over 600 institutions from 39 countries are part of their initiative. AIP also signed an agreement with the FCCN / b-on Consortium that offers researchers at 60 institutions across Portugal unlimited access to 15 journals in the AIP Publishing portfolio. In Asia, the Tokyo Institute of Technology partnered With Taylor & Francis in a New Read and Publish Agreement.  

Frontiers to join hands with World Economic Forum partners to promote open science  

  • Though a new agreement, Frontiers will join the WEF’s Centre for New Society and Economy to champion open science across the network. As a platform partner, Frontiers will work with WEF partners to share and promote the evidence-based benefits of open science, and to influence global thinking on its positive impact on society through dialogues and summits. 

Partnership for promotion of open data awareness and participation in Africa 

  • Figshare – an online open access repository has partnered with the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA), for promoting open data and information sharing across Africa by improving access to and use of open data across the continent. Figshare and AfLIA are building an open access repository portal to host and disseminate AfLIA’s conference proceedings – including papers, presentations, posters, and videos. It will provide authors, researchers and presenters improved archiving, and increased access to resources and outputs, and also includes features, such as altmetrics and citation data.  

Open Books Initiative Launched across UK 

  • The Publishers Association, Bookseller’s Association and Association of Author’s Agents collaborative initiative towards the development of OpenBooks – a series of free, accessible online events primarily targeting young talent from underrepresented backgrounds was launched across the UK on 22nd February 2023 with a series of virtual live events, panels and short videos aimed at inspiring and connecting to the interests, creative skills and passions of young people.  

EIFL project to strengthen open access Repositories in Ghana 

Fair Use week marks its 10th Anniversary  

  • This year marked the 10th Anniversary of Fair Use/ Fair Dealing week– an annual celebration of the important doctrines of fair use and fair dealing. It was celebrated during 20-24 February 2023. The week is designed to highlight and promote the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, celebrate successful stories, and explain these doctrines. It was marked by several events aimed at promoting opportunities, celebrating successful stories and explaining the doctrine of fair use.  

Second round of the Open Science Fund is now open to proposals 

  • The Open Science Fund launched by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) has called for proposals for its second round.  A total of €3 million is available, with a maximum of €50,000 per projects to support projects designed to advance the application and advancement of open science practices in fields or disciplines where it is not yet the norm, or projects that promote open science among a large group or community while promoting collaboration between various organizations and disciplines, and between academic and support staff. 

NIH’s efforts to Advance the Promise of Open Science 

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued its Public Access Plan that highlights it commitment to open science in response to the OSTP memo. The plan is available for public review and comments till 24 April 2023, and builds upon the 2008 NIH Public Access Policy . It ultimately aims to institute a zero-embargo period on publications so that research results are freely available to the public without delay. The Plan is not a proposed policy, but a roadmap of the steps NIH will take to enhance access to research products 

Library Futures announces its policy paper on digital ownership   

  • Library Futures’ has launched a policy paper on digital ownership  for libraries which recommends adoption of a digital ownership approach that allows libraries to both maintain the benefits of print collections and innovate further toward providing new methods of access, preservation, and education. The paper outlines some structural, community-based, and technical means for creating new lending models, equitizing access for underserved communities, and contributing to a more democratic balance.   

Leeds takes a Lead in Rights Retention  

UNESCO’S Open Science Capacity Building Index 

  • The index for Open Science capacity building launched by UNESCO is designed to connect stakeholders to existing resources that foster open science learning as well as to support teaching open science. The content was collected by means of a 2022 open survey and inputs from UNESCO’s working Group on Open Science Capacity Building 

United Nations Open Science Conference highlights equity and inclusion 

  • The United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library hosted the third Open Science Conference in New York from 8-10 February under the theme “Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals, Democratising the Record of Science”. The conference highlighted the need for measures to achieve equity and inclusion, reform academic publishing and strengthen the science-policy-society interface to promote open science and accelerate progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Open science events and opportunities 

Job opportunities 

Our top ten open science reads 

  1. Closing the gap between questionable and open research practices using a metacognitive tool
  2. The benefits of journal-independent open peer review 
  3. Twenty years of Creative Commons licences: key legal considerations and best practice 
  4. Escaping ‘bibliometric coloniality’, ‘epistemic inequality’ 
  5. Conisering Evidence-Based Open Access Policies 
  6. Tackling overpublishing by moving to open-ended papers 
  7. Adoption of a rights retention policy by academic and research institutions in India 
  8. Will Humanities and Social Sciences Publishing Consolidate? 
  9. The preprint revolution – Implications for bibliographic databases 
  10. How publishers lobbied to abolish VAT on ebooks, but kept the benefit for themselves 

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Image by Jeff WANG on Unsplash.


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