Beyond borders: Examining the role of national learned societies in the social sciences and humanities

Authors : Elina LateRaf GunsJanne PölönenJadranka StojanovskiMimi UrbancMichael Ochsner

The aim of this paper is to examine the status of national learned societies in social sciences and humanities (SSH) in Europe. Previous research shows that learned societies serve diverse roles in higher education and suggests that national societies come under pressure given different developments, such as internationalization or open science adoption.

We investigate a comprehensive range of aspects within national learned societies: primary goals, activities, internationalization, organization, funding, membership, and recent changes, addressing potential pressures arising from them. Using a cross-national survey involving 194 learned societies across eight European countries, we study: (a) do the previous findings from individual countries or small selections of national societies hold for a broad range of learned societies in SSH across Europe, and (b) are national learned societies coming under pressure due to internationalization and commercialization processes?

Our findings confirm previous results from single countries and single disciplines and expand them as our results show that national learned societies in SSH play an important role in Europe in promoting multilingualism in science, collaborating with many stakeholders, and fostering interdisciplinarity. Contrary to previous research, most SSH societies in our study have not undergone significant changes in the past 5 years, challenging expectations of their declining role.

URL : Beyond borders: Examining the role of national learned societies in the social sciences and humanities


Adoption of Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines across Journals

Authors : Inga Patarčić, Jadranka Stojanovski

Journal policies continuously evolve to enable knowledge sharing and support reproducible science. However, that change happens within a certain framework. Eight modular standards with three levels of increasing stringency make Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines which can be used to evaluate to what extent and with which stringency journals promote open science.

Guidelines define standards for data citation, transparency of data, material, code and design and analysis, replication, plan and study pre-registration, and two effective interventions: “Registered reports” and “Open science badges”, and levels of adoption summed up across standards define journal’s TOP Factor. In this paper, we analysed the status of adoption of TOP guidelines across two thousand journals reported in the TOP Factor metrics.

We show that the majority of the journals’ policies align with at least one of the TOP’s standards, most likely “Data citation” (70%) followed by “Data transparency” (19%). Two-thirds of adoptions of TOP standard are of the stringency Level 1 (less stringent), whereas only 9% is of the stringency Level 3.

Adoption of TOP standards differs across science disciplines and multidisciplinary journals (N = 1505) and journals from social sciences (N = 1077) show the greatest number of adoptions. Improvement of the measures that journals take to implement open science practices could be done: (1) discipline-specific, (2) journals that have not yet adopted TOP guidelines could do so, (3) the stringency of adoptions could be increased.

URL : Adoption of Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines across Journals


Peer Review in Law Journals

Authors : Jadranka Stojanovski, Elías Sanz-Casado, Tommaso Agnoloni, Ginevra Peruginelli

The field of law has retained its distinctiveness regarding peer review to this day, and reviews are often conducted without following standardized rules and principles. External and independent evaluation of submissions has recently become adopted by European law journals, and peer review procedures are still poorly defined, investigated, and attuned to the legal science publishing landscape.

The aim of our study was to gain a better insight into current editorial policies on peer review in law journals by exploring editorial documents (instructions, guidelines, policies) issued by 119 Croatian, Italian, and Spanish law journals.

We relied on automatic content analysis of 135 publicly available documents collected from the journal websites to analyze the basic features of the peer review processes, manuscript evaluation criteria, and related ethical issues using WordStat.

Differences in covered topics between the countries were compared using the chi-square test. Our findings reveal that most law journals have adopted a traditional approach, in which the editorial board manages mostly anonymized peer review (104, 77%) engaging independent/external reviewers (65, 48%).

Submissions are evaluated according to their originality and relevance (113, 84%), quality of writing and presentation (94, 70%), comprehensiveness of literature references (93, 69%), and adequacy of methods (57, 42%).

The main ethical issues related to peer review addressed by these journals are reviewer’s competing interests (42, 31%), plagiarism (35, 26%), and biases (30, 22%). We observed statistically significant differences between countries in mentioning key concepts such as “Peer review ethics”, “Reviewer”, “Transparency of identities”, “Publication type”, and “Research misconduct”.

Spanish journals favor reviewers’ “Independence” and “Competence” and “Anonymized” peer review process. Also, some manuscript types popular in one country are rarely mentioned in other countries.

Even though peer review is equally conventional in all three countries, high transparency in Croatian law journals, respect for research integrity in Spanish ones, and diversity and inclusion in Italian are promising indicators of future development.

URL : Peer Review in Law Journals


A tale of two ‘opens’: intersections between Free and Open Source Software and Open Scholarship

Authors : Jonathan Tennant, Ritwik Agarwal, Ksenija Baždarić, David Brassard, Tom Crick, Daniel Dunleavy, Thomas Evans, Nicholas Gardner, Monica Gonzalez-Marquez, Daniel Graziotin, Bastian Greshake Tzovaras, Daniel Gunnarsson, Johanna Havemann, Mohammad Hosseini, Daniel Katz, Marcel Knöchelmann, Christopher Madan, Paolo Manghi, Alberto Marocchino, Paola Masuzzo, Peter Murray-Rust, Sanjay Narayanaswamy, Gustav Nilsonne, Josmel Pacheco-Mendoza, Bart Penders, Olivier Pourret, Michael Rera, John Samuel, Tobias Steiner, Jadranka Stojanovski, Alejandro Uribe-Tirado, Rutger Vos, Simon Worthington, Tal Yarkoni

There is no clear-cut boundary between Free and Open Source Software and Open Scholarship, and the histories, practices, and fundamental principles between the two remain complex.

In this study, we critically appraise the intersections and differences between the two movements. Based on our thematic comparison here, we conclude several key things.

First, there is substantial scope for new communities of practice to form within scholarly communities that place sharing and collaboration/open participation at their focus.

Second, Both the principles and practices of FOSS can be more deeply ingrained within scholarship, asserting a balance between pragmatism and social ideology.

Third, at the present, Open Scholarship risks being subverted and compromised by commercial players.

Fourth, the shift and acceleration towards a system of Open Scholarship will be greatly enhanced by a concurrent shift in recognising a broader range of practices and outputs beyond traditional peer review and research articles.

In order to achieve this, we propose the formulation of a new type of institutional mandate. We believe that there is substantial need for research funders to invest in sustainable open scholarly infrastructure, and the communities that support them, to avoid the capture and enclosure of key research services that would prevent optimal researcher behaviours.

Such a shift could ultimately lead to a healthier scientific culture, and a system where competition is replaced by collaboration, resources (including time and people) are shared and acknowledged more efficiently, and the research becomes inherently more rigorous, verified, and reproducible.

URL : A tale of two ‘opens’: intersections between Free and Open Source Software and Open Scholarship