The extent and drivers of gender imbalance in neuroscience reference lists

Authors : Jordan D. Dworkin, Kristin A. Linn, Erin G. Teich, Perry Zurn, Russell T. Shinohara, Danielle S. Bassett

Like many scientific disciplines, neuroscience has increasingly attempted to confront pervasive gender imbalances within the field. While much of the conversation has centered around publishing and conference participation, recent research in other fields has called attention to the prevalence of gender bias in citation practices.

Because of the downstream effects that citations can have on visibility and career advancement, understanding and eliminating gender bias in citation practices is vital for addressing inequity in a scientific community. In this study, we sought to determine whether there is evidence of gender bias in the citation practices of neuroscientists.

Utilizing data from five top neuroscience journals, we indeed find that reference lists tend to include more papers with men as first and last author than would be expected if gender was not a factor in referencing. Importantly, we show that this overcitation of men and undercitation of women is driven largely by the citation practices of men, and is increasing with time despite greater diversity in the academy.

We develop a co-authorship network to determine the degree to which homophily in researchers’ social networks explains gendered citation practices and we find that men tend to overcite other men even when their social networks are representative of the field.

We discuss possible mechanisms and consider how individual researchers might incorporate these findings into their own referencing practices.


Change in Format, Register and Narration Style in the Biomedical Literature: A 1948 Example

Authors : Carlo Galli, Stefano Guizzardi

Scientific communication has evolved over time and the formats of scientific writing, including its stylistic modules, have changed accordingly.

Research articles from the past fit a research world that had not been taken over by the internet, electronic searches, the new media and even the science mass production of today and reflect a reality where scientific publications were designed to be read and appreciated by actual readers.

It is therefore useful to have a look back to what science looked like in the past and examine the biomedical literature from older archives because several features of those publications may actually harbor vital insights for today’s communication.

Maintaining a vivid awareness of the evolution of science language and modalities of communication may ensure a better and steadfast progression and ameliorate academic writing in the years to come.

With this goal in mind, the present commentary set out to review a 1948 scientific report by I.L. Bennett Jr, entitled “A study on the relationship between the fevers caused by bacterial pyrogens and by the intravenous injection of the sterile exudates of acute inflammation”, which appeared in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in September 1948.

URL : Change in Format, Register and Narration Style in the Biomedical Literature: A 1948 Example


Envisioning the scientific paper of the future

Authors : Natalie M. Sopinka, Laura E. Coristine, Maria C. DeRosa, Chelsea M. Rochman, Brian L. Owens, Steven J. Cooke

Consider for a moment the rate of advancement in the scientific understanding of DNA. It is formidable; from Fredrich Miescher’s nuclein extraction in the 1860s to Rosalind Franklin’s double helix X-ray in the 1950s to revolutionary next-generation sequencing in the late 2000s.

Now consider the scientific paper, the medium used to describe and publish these advances. How is the scientific paper advancing to meet the needs of those who generate and use scientific information?

We review four essential qualities for the scientific paper of the future: (i) a robust source of trustworthy information that remains peer reviewed and is (ii) communicated to diverse users in diverse ways, (iii) open access, and (iv) has a measurable impact beyond Impact Factor.

Since its inception, scientific literature has proliferated. We discuss the continuation and expansion of practices already in place including: freely accessible data and analytical code, living research and reviews, changes to peer review to improve representation of under-represented groups, plain language summaries, preprint servers, evidence-informed decision-making, and altmetrics.

URL : Envisioning the scientific paper of the future


Towards a Research Integrity Culture at Universities: From Recommendations to Implementation

Authors : Inge Lerouge, Ton Hol

This advice paper identifies ways in which universities can develop a research integrity culture within their institutions. At a time when public trust in information is increasingly challenged by misinformation, the need for sound and trustworthy research has never been so important.

Universities have a key role in supporting research integrity as this maintains and strengthens confidence in their researchers’ work. This paper shows how this could be achieved.

The paper first examines how universities can tackle the issues of ‘sloppy science’ or ‘questionable research practices’ by improving research design, conduct and reporting, then identifies how researchers could be educated about research integrity.

It then gives ideas on the internal structures that could be put in place to deal with research integrity and incidents of research misconduct. It highlights the benefits of transparency and accountability at universities, and what universities can do to instil a culture of research integrity within their institutions.

The paper includes a section giving examples of how LERU universities are developing research integrity policies which may act as inspiration for other universities wishing to develop or further strengthen their own research integrity practices.

A summary of recommendations is included, this can be used by readers to identify elements of the paper which they may be particularly interested in, or act as a quick check list by which an individual university’s research integrity strategy can be assessed.

The paper’s key message is that research integrity is a vital issue for universities and that there are a number of ways in which this could be realised. The options employed by universities will differ based on their individual circumstances.

URL : Towards a Research Integrity Culture at Universities: From Recommendations to Implementation

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Enhancing Content Discovery of Open Repositories: An Analytics-Based Evaluation of Repository

Author : George Macgregor

Ensuring open repositories fulfil the discovery needs of both human and machine users is of growing importance and essential to validate the continued relevance of open repositories to users, and as nodes within open scholarly communication infrastructure.

Following positive preliminary results reported elsewhere, this submission analyses the longer-term impact of a series of discovery optimization approaches deployed on an open repository.

These approaches were designed to enhance content discovery and user engagement, thereby improving content usage. Using Strathprints, the University of Strathclyde repository as a case study, this article will briefly review the techniques and technical changes implemented and evaluate the impact of these changes by studying analytics relating to web impact, COUNTER usage and web traffic over a 4-year period.

The principal contribution of the article is to report on the insights this longitudinal dataset provides about repository visibility and discoverability, and to deliver robust conclusions which can inform similar strategies at other institutions. Analysis of the unique longitudinal dataset provides persuasive evidence that specific enhancements to the technical configuration of a repository can generate substantial improvements in its content discovery potential and ergo its content usage, especially over several years.

In this case study, COUNTER usage grew by 62%. Increases in Google ‘impressions’ (266%) and ‘clicks’ (104%) were a notable finding too, with high levels of statistical significance found in the correlation between clicks and usage ( t=14.30,df=11,p<0.0005 ).

Web traffic to Strathprints from Google and Google Scholar (GS) was found to increase significantly with growth on some metrics exceeding 1300%. Although some of these results warrant further research, the article nevertheless demonstrates the link between repository optimization and the need for open repositories to assume a proactive development path, especially one that prioritises web impact and discovery.

URL : Enhancing Content Discovery of Open Repositories: An Analytics-Based Evaluation of Repository

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Keeping out the Masses: Understanding the Popularity and Implications of Internet Paywalls

Authors : Panagiotis Papadopoulos, Peter Snyder, Benjamin Livshits

Funding the production of quality online content is a pressing problem for content producers. The most common funding method, online advertising, is rife with well-known performance and privacy harms, and an intractable subject-agent conflict: many users do not want to see advertisements, depriving the site of needed funding.

Because of these negative aspects of advertisement-based funding, paywalls are an increasingly popular alternative for websites. This shift to a “pay-for-access” web is one that has potentially huge implications for the web and society. Instead of a system where information (nominally) flows freely, paywalls create a web where high quality information is available to fewer and fewer people, leaving the rest of the web users with less information, that might be also less accurate and of lower quality. Despite the potential significance of a move from an “advertising-but-open” web to a “paywalled” web, we find this issue understudied.

This work addresses this gap in our understanding by measuring how widely paywalls have been adopted, what kinds of sites use paywalls, and the distribution of policies enforced by paywalls.

A partial list of our findings include that (i) paywall use is accelerating (2x more paywalls every 6 months), (ii) paywall adoption differs by country (e.g. 18.75% in US, 12.69% in Australia), (iii) paywalls change how users interact with sites (e.g. higher bounce rates, less incoming links), (iv) the median cost of an annual paywall access is $108 per site, and (v) paywalls are in general trivial to circumvent.

Finally, we present the design of a novel, automated system for detecting whether a site uses a paywall, through the combination of runtime browser instrumentation and repeated programmatic interactions with the site. We intend this classifier to augment future, longitudinal measurements of paywall use and behavior.


Towards Trusted Identities for Swiss Researchers and their Data

Authors : Julien A. Raemy, René Martin Schneider

In this paper we report on efforts to enhance the Swiss persistent identifier (PID) ecosystem. We will firstly describe the current situation and the need for improvement in order to describe in full detail the steps undertaken to create a Swiss-wide model.

A case study was undertaken by using several data sets from the domains of art and design in the context of the ICOPAD project. We will provide a set of recommendations to enable a PID service that could mint Archival Resource Key (ARK) identifiers or a flavour of Research Resource Identifiers (RRIDs) as complement to Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs).

We will conclude with some remarks concerning the transferability of this approach to other areas and the requirements for a national hub for PID management in Switzerland.

URL : Towards Trusted Identities for Swiss Researchers and their Data