Open science round-up: February 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.

Open science round-up: February 2024

In this issue, we feature an editorial by Dr. Haseeb Irfanullah, who shares his impressions of the recent Researcher to Reader Conference (R2R) and the increasing significance of Open Access (OA) and Open Science (OS) in the discussions.

Where do We Stand on Open Access? A Reflection on the R2R Conference 2024

The 2024 edition of the Researcher to Reader Conference (R2R)—an annual gathering of researchers, editors, publishers, publishing service providers, and librarians—was held in London, UK, on 20 and 21 February. As I reflect on drafting this article for the ISC while awaiting my flights to Dhaka, Bangladesh, after attending this conference, I am fascinated, yet not surprised, by how open access (OA) has influenced the discussions at the event. 

Let me provide you with some examples. Five parallel workshops were held in three slots—a distinctive format practiced uniquely at the R2R conference. All workshops touched upon open access (OA) and open science (OS) in some capacity. However, those focusing on OA book usage data, on sharing and reusing of research data, and innovations in peer review,  delved deeper into discussions on OA/OS. 

In total, 16 lightning talks were delivered by a wide range of organizations, with many addressing OA. For instance, De Gruyter, a 275-year Berlin-based publisher, recently announced its five-year plan to transition its journals to OA using the Subscribe to Open (S2O) model (or DG2O).  

Similary, the Bloomsbury Open Collections also follows a collective-action S2O-type OA model for books and has been running a pilot project for a year now. Expanding on open access books, the Mellon Foundation supports the OA Book Data Usage Trust, while the OAPEN Foundation explores diversity in bibliography of OA books. The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) shared their new community-based, financially sustainable OA model (RSC Platinum consortia model), which is currently being piloted in Germany, as an alternative to the read-and-publish model

The plenary sessions at R2R showcased the significance of Open Access (OA) – it was as big as it could be. Dr. Kamran Naim, Head of Open Science at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), shared insights into the decade-long journey of SCOAP3 (Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics), a collaborative effort involving over 3000 entities.  On the other side of the Atlantic, two deans from US universities emphasized the value of transformative agreements (TAs) and other OA strategies within the American scholarly landscape. Their presentations encouraged us to consider whether TAs represent the best path towards an open future. 

Dr. Ana Heredia, joining us online from Brazil, highlighted the remarkable progress of Latin America in publishing a significant volume of diamond OA journals (around 90% of total journals) by developing the necessary regional infrastructure. She also noted the heterogeneity in the funding and policy space, and the varying acceptance of diamond OA journals across the scholarly ecosystem. In another session, experts from China, India, and Japan virtually connected with the R2R audience at the BMA House in London, sharing insights into the evolving research and publishing landscape and culture in their respective countries, including discussions on OA/OS.  

These presentations from Asia and Latin America underscored the importance of looking beyond the Global North when exploring challenges and opportunities in the OA enterprise. 

R2R 2024 provided a snapshot of the current state of OA conversations, highlighting recent successes, failures, and challenges. As we take our OA actions forward, I urge you to see ‘beyond OA’ too, through the lenses of sustainability, justice, and resilience. Watching the recording of a session held at the annual conference of OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association) in last September may offer a humble start in that journey. 

Dr. Haseeb Irfanullah, Independent Consultant on Environment, Climate Change, and Research System

Dr. Haseeb Irfanullah is a biologist-turned-development facilitator, who describes himself as a research enthusiast. Over the past 24 years, Haseeb has worked with various international environmental and development organizations, academic/research institutions, development partners, and government agencies in various capacities. Currently, he serves as an independent consultant in environment, climate change, and research systems. Additionally, Haseeb holds the position of Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) of the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) in Dhaka.

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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.

Image by Christopher Burns on Unsplash.


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