How significant are the public dimensions of faculty work in review, promotion, and tenure documents?

Authors : Juan Pablo Alperin, Gustavo E. Fischman, Erin C. McKiernan, Carol Muñoz Nieves, Meredith T. Niles, Lesley Schimanski

Much of the work of universities, even private institutions, has significant public dimensions. Faculty work in particular is often funded by public funds, is aimed at serving the public good, and is subject to public evaluation.

To understand how the public dimensions of faculty work are valued, we analyzed review, tenure and promotion documents from a representative sample of 129 Canadian and American universities.

We found terms and concepts related to public and community are mentioned in a large portion of documents, but mostly in ways that relate to service—an undervalued aspect of academic careers.

Moreover, we find significant mentions of traditional research outputs and citation-based metrics. Such outputs and metrics reward faculty work targeted to academics, and mostly disregard the public dimensions.

We conclude that institutions that want to live up to their public mission need to work towards systemic change in how faculty work is assessed and incentivized.

URL : How significant are the public dimensions of faculty work in review, promotion, and tenure documents?


Is It Such a Big Deal? On the Cost of Journal Use in the Digital Era

Authors : Fei Shu, Philippe Mongeon, Stefanie Haustein, Kyle Siler, Juan Pablo Alperin, Vincent Larivière

Commercial scholarly publishers promote and sell bundles of journals—known as big deals—that provide access to entire collections rather than individual journals. Following this new model, size of serial collections in academic libraries increased almost fivefold from 1986 to 2011.

Using data on library subscriptions and references made for a sample of North American universities, this study provides evidence that, while big deal bundles do decrease the mean price per subscribed journal, academic libraries receive less value for their investment.

We find that university researchers cite only a fraction of journals purchased by their libraries, that this fraction is decreasing, and that the cost per cited journal has increased.

These findings reveal how academic publishers use product differentiation and price strategies to increase sales and profits in the digital era, often at the expense of university and scientific stakeholders.

URL : Is It Such a Big Deal? On the Cost of Journal Use in the Digital Era


Gender and international diversity improves equity in peer review

Authors : Dakota Murray, Kyle Siler, Vincent Lariviére, Wei Mun Chan, Andrew M. Collings, Jennifer Raymond, Cassidy R Sugimoto

The robustness of scholarly peer review has been challenged by evidence of disparities in publication outcomes based on author’s gender and nationality. To address this, we examine the peer review outcomes of 23,873 initial submissions and 7,192 full submissions that were submitted to the biosciences journal eLife between 2012 and 2017.

Women and authors from nations outside of North America and Europe were underrepresented both as gatekeepers (editors and peer reviewers) and last authors. We found a homophilic interaction between the demographics of the gatekeepers and authors in determining the outcome of peer review; that is, gatekeepers favor manuscripts from authors of the same gender and from the same country.

The acceptance rate for manuscripts with male last authors was significantly higher than for female last authors, and this gender inequity was greatest when the team of reviewers was all male; mixed-gender gatekeeper teams lead to more equitable peer review outcomes.

Similarly, manuscripts were more likely to be accepted when reviewed by at least one gatekeeper with the same national affiliation as the corresponding author. Our results indicated that homogeneity between author and gatekeeper gender and nationality is associated with the outcomes of scientific peer review.

We conclude with a discussion of mechanisms that could contribute to this effect, directions for future research, and policy implications. Code and anonymized data have been made available at

URL : Gender and international diversity improves equity in peer review


Facilitating and Improving Environmental Research Data Repository Interoperability

Authors : Corinna Gries, Amber Budden, Christine Laney, Margaret O’Brien, Mark Servilla, Wade Sheldon, Kristin Vanderbilt, David Vieglais

Environmental research data repositories provide much needed services for data preservation and data dissemination to diverse communities with domain specific or programmatic data needs and standards.

Due to independent development these repositories serve their communities well, but were developed with different technologies, data models and using different ontologies. Hence, the effectiveness and efficiency of these services can be vastly improved if repositories work together adhering to a shared community platform that focuses on the implementation of agreed upon standards and best practices for curation and dissemination of data.

Such a community platform drives forward the convergence of technologies and practices that will advance cross-domain interoperability. It will also facilitate contributions from investigators through standardized and streamlined workflows and provide increased visibility for the role of data managers and the curation services provided by data repositories, beyond preservation infrastructure.

Ten specific suggestions for such standardizations are outlined without any suggestions for priority or technical implementation. Although the recommendations are for repositories to implement, they have been chosen specifically with the data provider/data curator and synthesis scientist in mind.

URL : Facilitating and Improving Environmental Research Data Repository Interoperability


What increases (social) media attention: Research impact, author prominence or title attractiveness?

Authors : Olga Zagovora, Katrin Weller, Milan Janosov, Claudia Wagner, Isabella Peters

Do only major scientific breakthroughs hit the news and social media, or does a ‘catchy’ title help to attract public attention? How strong is the connection between the importance of a scientific paper and the (social) media attention it receives?

In this study we investigate these questions by analysing the relationship between the observed attention and certain characteristics of scientific papers from two major multidisciplinary journals: Nature Communication (NC) and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

We describe papers by features based on the linguistic properties of their titles and centrality measures of their authors in their co-authorship network.

We identify linguistic features and collaboration patterns that might be indicators for future attention, and are characteristic to different journals, research disciplines, and media sources.


Do all citations value the same? Valuing citations by the value of the citing items

Authors : Cristiano Giuffrida, Giovanni Abramo, Ciriaco Andrea D’Angelo

Bibliometricians have long recurred to citation counts to measure the impact of publications on the advancement of science. However, since the earliest days of the field, some scholars have questioned whether all citations should value the same, and have gone on to weight them by a variety of factors.

However sophisticated the operationalization of the measures, the methodologies used in weighting citations still present limits in their underlying assumptions. This work takes an alternate approach to resolving the underlying problem: the proposal is to value citations by the impact of the citing articles.

As well as conceptualizing a new indicator of impact, the work illustrates its application to the 2004-2012 Italian scientific production indexed in the WoS.

The new indicator appears highly correlated to traditional field normalized citations, however the shifts observed between the two measures are frequent and the number of outliers not at all negligible. Moreover, the new indicator seems to show greater « sensitivity » when used in identification of the top-cited papers.


Nanopublications: A Growing Resource of Provenance-Centric Scientific Linked Data

Authors : Tobias Kuhn, Albert Meroño-Peñuela, Alexander Malic, Jorrit H. Poelen, Allen H. Hurlbert, Emilio Centeno Ortiz, Laura I. Furlong, Núria Queralt-Rosinach, Christine Chichester, Juan M. Banda, Egon Willighagen, Friederike Ehrhart, Chris Evelo, Tareq B. Malas, Michel Dumontier

Nanopublications are a Linked Data format for scholarly data publishing that has received considerable uptake in the last few years. In contrast to the common Linked Data publishing practice, nanopublications work at the granular level of atomic information snippets and provide a consistent container format to attach provenance and metadata at this atomic level.

While the nanopublications format is domain-independent, the datasets that have become available in this format are mostly from Life Science domains, including data about diseases, genes, proteins, drugs, biological pathways, and biotic interactions.

More than 10 million such nanopublications have been published, which now form a valuable resource for studies on the domain level of the given Life Science domains as well as on the more technical levels of provenance modeling and heterogeneous Linked Data.

We provide here an overview of this combined nanopublication dataset, show the results of some overarching analyses, and describe how it can be accessed and queried.