The evolving preprint landscape: Introductory report for the Knowledge Exchange working group on preprints

Authors : Jonathan Tennant, Serge Bauin, Sarah James, Juliane Kant

In 1961, the USA National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a program called Information Exchange Groups, designed for the circulation of biological preprints, but this shut down in 1967 (Confrey, 1996; Cobb, 2017).

In 1991, the arXiv repository was launched for physics, computer science, and mathematics, which is when preprints (or ‘e-prints’) began to increase in popularity and attention (Wikipedia ArXiv#History; Jackson, 2002). The Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) was launched in 1994, and in 1997 Research Papers in Economics (Wikipedia RePEc) was launched.

In 2008, the research network platforms Academia.edu and ResearchGate were both launched and allowed sharing of research papers at any stage. In 2013, two new biological preprint servers were launched, bioRxiv (by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) and PeerJ Preprints (by PeerJ) (Wikipedia BioRxiv; Wikipedia PeerJ).

Between these major ongoing initiatives were various, somewhat less-successful attempts to launch preprint servers, including Nature Precedings (folded in April 2012) and Netprints from the British Medical Journal (Wikipedia Nature Precedings; BMJ, 1999).

Now, a range of innovative services, organisations, and platforms are rapidly developing around preprints, prompting this overview of the present ecosystem on behalf of Knowledge Exchange.

URL : The evolving preprint landscape: Introductory report for the Knowledge Exchange working group on preprints

DOI : https://dx.doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/796TU

The once and future library: the role of the (national) library in supporting research

Author: Torsten Reimer

The global research environment is changing rapidly and with it the role of libraries in facilitating research. Taking the British Library as an example, this article provides a situational analysis of the challenges research libraries face in this context.

It outlines a new, or at least modified, role for research libraries, taking the emerging research services strategy of the British Library and its ‘Everything Available’ change management portfolio as an example.

It argues that if libraries want to keep adding value to the research process, they need to shift their thinking from focusing on local collections to contributing to a global knowledge environment – in a persistent and open fashion.

URL : The once and future library: the role of the (national) library in supporting research

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.409

Five principles to navigate a bumpy golden road towards open access

Authors : Matthijs van Otegem, Sofie Wennström, Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen

The publishing ecosystem of the future will be built on several models such as offsetting agreements as well as various open access publishing channels. The LIBER Open Access Working Group has issued five principles to support libraries in their efforts to negotiate offsetting deals as they move towards full open access to research information.

This article describes why the five principles were created and the underlying considerations and limitations encountered while working on them.

URL : Five principles to navigate a bumpy golden road towards open access

DOI : http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.403

Are funder Open Access platforms a good idea?

Authors : Tony Ross-Hellauer​, Birgit Schmidt, Bianca Kramer

As open access to publications continues to gather momentum we should continuously question whether it is moving in the right direction. A novel intervention in this space is the creation of open access publishing platforms commissioned by funding organisations. Examples include those of the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation, as well as recently announced initiatives from public funders like the European Commission and the Irish Health Research Board.

As the number of such platforms increases, it becomes urgently necessary to assess in which ways, for better or worse, this emergent phenomenon complements or disrupts the scholarly communications landscape.

This article examines ethical, organisational and economic strengths and weaknesses of such platforms, as well as usage and uptake to date, to scope the opportunities and threats presented by funder open access platforms in the ongoing transition to open access.

The article is broadly supportive of the aims and current implementations of such platforms, finding them a novel intervention which stand to help increase OA uptake, control costs of OA, lower administrative burden on researchers, and demonstrate funders’ commitment to fostering open practices.

However, the article identifies key areas of concern about the potential for unintended consequences, including the appearance of conflicts of interest, difficulties of scale, potential lock-in and issues of the branding of research.

The article ends with key recommendations for future consideration which include a focus on open scholarly infrastructure.

URL : Are funder Open Access platforms a good idea?

DOI : https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.26954v1

Peer-review under review – A statistical study on proposal ranking at ESO. Part I: the pre-meeting phase

Author : Ferdinando Patat

Peer review is the most common mechanism in place for assessing requests for resources in a large variety of scientific disciplines. One of the strongest criticisms to this paradigm is the limited reproducibility of the process, especially at largely oversubscribed facilities. In this and in a subsequent paper we address this specific aspect in a quantitative way, through a statistical study on proposal ranking at the European Southern Observatory.

For this purpose we analysed a sample of about 15000 proposals, submitted by more than 3000 Principal Investigators over 8 years. The proposals were reviewed by more than 500 referees, who assigned over 140000 grades in about 200 panel sessions.

After providing a detailed analysis of the statistical properties of the sample, the paper presents an heuristic model based on these findings, which is then used to provide quantitative estimates of the reproducibility of the pre-meeting process.

On average, about one third of the proposals ranked in the top quartile by one referee are ranked in the same quartile by any other referee of the panel. A similar value is observed for the bottom quartile.

In the central quartiles, the agreement fractions are very marginally above the value expected for a fully aleatory process (25%). The agreement fraction between two panels composed by 6 referees is 55+/-5% (50% confidence level) for the top and bottom quartiles.

The corresponding fraction for the central quartiles is 33+/-5%. The model predictions are confirmed by the results obtained from boot-strapping the data for sub-panels composed by 3 referees, and fully consistent with the NIPS experiment. The post-meeting phase will be presented and discussed in a forthcoming paper.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.06981

Shadow Libraries : Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education

Author : Joe Karaganis

Examining the new ecosystems of access that are emerging in middle- and low-income countries as opportunities for higher education expand but funding for materials shrinks.

Even as middle- and low-income countries expand their higher education systems, their governments are retreating from responsibility for funding and managing this expansion. The public provision of educational materials in these contexts is rare; instead, libraries, faculty, and students are on their own to get what they need.

Shadow Libraries explores the new ecosystem of access, charting the flow of educational and research materials from authors to publishers to libraries to students, and from comparatively rich universities to poorer ones. In countries from Russia to Brazil, the weakness of formal models of access was countered by the growth of informal ones.

By the early 2000s, the principal form of access to materials was informal copying and sharing. Since then, such unauthorized archives as Libgen, Gigapedia, and Sci-Hub have become global “shadow libraries,” with massive aggregations of downloadable scholarly materials.

The chapters consider experiments with access in a range of middle- and low-income countries, describing, among other things, the Russian samizdat tradition and the connection of illicit copying to resistance to oppression; BiblioFyL, an online archive built by students at the University of Buenos Aires; education policy and the daily practices of students in post-Apartheid South Africa; the politics of access in India; and copy culture in Brazil.

URL : Shadow Libraries : Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education

Alternative location : https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/shadow-libraries

Enhancing Institutional Publication Data Using Emergent Open Science Services

Authors : David Walters, Christopher Daley

The UK open access (OA) policy landscape simultaneously preferences Gold publishing models (Finch Report, RCUK, COAF) and Green OA through repository usage (HEFCE), creating the possibility of confusion and duplication of effort for academics and support staff.

Alongside these policy developments, there has been an increase in open science services that aim to provide global data on OA. These services often exist separately to locally managed institutional systems for recording OA engagement and policy compliance.

The aim of this study is to enhance Brunel University London’s local publication data using software which retrieves and processes information from the global open science services of Sherpa REF, CORE, and Unpaywall.

The study draws on two classification schemes; a ‘best location’ hierarchy, which enables us to measure publishing trends and whether open access dissemination has taken place, and a relational ‘all locations’ dataset to examine whether individual publications appear across multiple OA dissemination models.

Sherpa REF data is also used to indicate possible OA locations from serial policies. Our results find that there is an average of 4.767 permissible open access options available to the authors in our sample each time they publish and that Gold OA publications are replicated, on average, in 3 separate locations.

A total of 40% of OA works in the sample are available in both Gold and Green locations. The study considers whether this tendency for duplication is a result of localised manual workflows which are necessarily focused on institutional compliance to meet the Research Excellence Framework 2021 requirements, and suggests that greater interoperability between OA systems and services would facilitate a more efficient transformation to open scholarship.

URL : Enhancing Institutional Publication Data Using Emergent Open Science Services

Alternative location : http://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/6/2/23