The future for academic publishers lies in navigating research, not distributing it

The world of scholarly publishing is in upheaval. As the open science and open research movements rapidly gain momentum, the access restrictions and paywalls of many publishers put them at odds with growing parts of the research community. Mattias Björnmalm suggests there is one way for publishers to once again become central, valued members of the research community: by pivoting from a focus on research distribution to processing and interpretation. A key challenge today is making sense of the enormous amount of new information constantly being generated. Publishers are in a unique position to develop algorithm-assisted approaches that can address this challenge; understanding and establishing networks and connections within the research literature and identifying new trends and patterns.

All journals should have a policy defining authorship – here’s what to include

Scientific research papers with large numbers of authors have become more commonplace, increasing the likelihood of authorship disputes. Danielle PadulaTheresa Somerville and Ben Mudrak emphasise the importance of journals clearly defining and communicating authorship criteria to researchers. As well as having a policy for inclusion, journals should also indicate unethical authorship practices, clarify the order of authors at an early stage, consider recognising “contributorship”, and refer any disputes that do arise to the authors’ institutions.

“Publishing is not just about technology, it is foremost about the academic communities it supports.” The evolution of the megajournal as PeerJ turns five

As the “megajournal” has become more familiar as a concept, the term itself has come to feel more nebulous and limiting. Digital technology has enabled a shift both in the scope of published research and also in who can access it. But publishing is not just about the technology, it is foremost about the academic communities it supports. Jason Hoyt reflects on the evolution of the megajournal and, as PeerJ turns five, announces a change to its editorial model that will incorporate the power of communities into the megajournal format. PeerJ will introduce section editors to take community leadership roles, working with existing academic editors to create greater consensus in publishing decisions and helping to curate and highlight important new research findings. Also, to celebrate this fifth anniversary, PeerJ and PeerJ Computer Science will waive the article processing charge (APC) for all manuscripts submitted in February.

Announcing LSE Press – a new open access publishing platform for the social sciences

LSE Press launches today, the latest in a succession of new university press initiatives and one that will support the development of high-quality, academic-led, open access publications in the social sciences. Kieran Booluck provides details of the first LSE Press journal and outlines plans for the press to pursue more innovative publications and experiment with new types of content.

Predatory publishers threaten to consume public research funds and undermine national academic systems – the case of Brazil

An unintended consequence of the open access movement, predatory publishers have appeared in many countries, offering authors a quick and easy route to publication in exchange for a fee and usually without any apparent peer review or quality control. Using a large database of publications, Marcelo S. PerlinTakeyoshi Imasato and Denis Borenstein analyse the extent of this problem throughout the entire Brazilian academic system. While predatory publications remain a small proportion of the overall literature, this proportion has grown exponentially in recent years, with both early-career and established scholars found to have authored papers published in predatory venues. The inclusion of predatory publications in national journal quality rankings has been a key factor in this increase.

Knowledge Unlatched, failed transparency, and the commercialisation of open access book publishing

Over recent years, Knowledge Unlatched has harnessed the effectiveness of its consortial funding model to become the largest gatekeeper to open access for scholarly books. But as Marcel Knöchelmann describes, the changing of its status from that of a community interest company to a German GmbH or public limited company, and that it is now fully owned by the consultancy fullstopp, has gone largely uncommunicated. This information has assumed greater pertinence and urgency following the decision to appoint fullstopp to collect and analyse data that will be used to inform future policy decisions on open access. The researchers, publishers, and librarians inevitably impacted by the outcomes of this consultation should be afforded the transparency to know that the parent company of the commercial entity which stands to profit from a future of open access book publishing is advising on what the future of open access book publishing in the UK should be.

The growing, high-stakes audit culture within the academy has brought about a different kind of publishing crisis

The spate of high-profile cases of fraudulent publications has revealed a widening replication, or outright deception, crisis in the social sciences. To Marc Spooner, researchers “cooking up” findings and the deliberate faking of science is a result of extreme pressures to publish, brought about by an increasingly pervasive audit culture within the academy.

A librarian perspective on Sci-Hub: the true solution to the scholarly communication crisis is in the hands of the academic community, not librarians

Sci-Hub is a pirate website that provides free access to millions of research papers otherwise locked behind paywalls. Widespread dissatisfaction with scholarly communications has led many to overlook or dismiss concerns over the site’s legality, praising its disruptive technology and seeing justification in the free access it affords people all over the world. Ruth HarrisonYvonne Nobis and Charles Oppenheim discuss the challenges Sci-Hub presents to librarians advocating for open access to scholarly content. Sci-Hub perversely enhances the status of prestige publication and its narrow view of what constitutes value in scholarly communications, its users risk causing their libraries to be in breach of licensing agreements, and the site operates with an utter contempt for copyright law that should not be ignored.

Three propositions to help to cultivate a culture of care and broad-mindedness in academic publishing

Academic publishing has been transformed by digitisation over recent decades, with the review process now able to be comprehensively tracked and transparent. But despite such progress, is our publication infrastructure actually more transparent, inclusive, and with less conflict? Or are practices of exclusion and gatekeeping merely now being hidden? Diane-Laure ArjalièsSanti FurnariAlbane GrandazziMarie HasbiMaximilian HeimstädtThomas Roulet and François-Xavier de Vaujany put forward three propositions that, while not fundamentally new, may be helpful in strengthening and promoting a culture of care and broad-mindedness in academic publishing.

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