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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Kinder Peer Review – Scientists Are Humans (Dr Rebecca Kirk | November 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 24, 2018

Every day, thousands of scientists around the world donate their spare hours as peer reviewers to help colleagues (and competitors!) improve their work. But unkindness does exist too (as you can see from the emergence of Facebook groups such as Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped…) and we all have a role to play in making it a kinder, more-productive process. As an editor, I have seen the full gamut of reviews, from unhelpful one-liners, through useful assessment of the work that highlights deficits and provides solutions to help the authors transform their paper, to unrealistic demands that go far beyond the scope of the paper under scrutiny.

There is a lot of comment out there on what makes a good scientific review, but what basic tenets of peer review could we agree to sign up to if we all wanted to make science a kinder place? Importantly, all parties involved in peer review need to remember that there are people behind the science. A publication is the outcome of hard work and time away from loved ones or much-loved leisure pursuits; for some, there are hopes, dreams and grants at stake. Fair, fast, thorough and impartial assessment is needed to ensure the wheels of research keep spinning.

Firstly, what can editors do? We can be transparent in our processes and keep authors informed. We can ensure we contact the best people to review a paper, and we can endeavour to provide a fast, fair decision, with guidance regarding the peer review reports and how authors might address the comments. We should ensure that we invite reviewers who represent the full spectrum of researchers. We should look for ways to support authors and referees in a continuously changing publishing landscape and to improve the peer review process by trialling new approaches that could help speed up peer review.

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Publish AND perish: how the commodification of scientific publishing is undermining both science and the public good – Learning for Sustainability (Arjen Wals | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 19, 2018

“Everybody is writing, nobody is reading, everybody is writing for nobody.”

Academics are spending hundreds of hours a year, getting their work published, in peer-reviewed journals, providing free labor to commercial publishing companies.

The pressure to ‘produce’ and grow is huge, both in academia and in the publishing industry; this undermines quality and the university’s ability to serve the public good and, indeed, public trust in science.

Open access journal Sustainability publishes over 4000 contributions in its current Volume 10 – where most contributors will have to pay 1400 US Dollars* to have their work published. Its publisher MDPI has close to 200 journals working in a similar vein.’

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Oh, What A Tangled Web! Citation Network Underscores Editorial Conflicts of Interest – Scholarly Kitchen (Phil Davis | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 18, 2018

The separation of powers is as important in academic publishing as it is in government.

If readers are to trust the integrity of the editorial and peer review process, editors need to be insulated from the business of publishing, which often means keeping them away from their colleagues in marketing, sales, and advertising.

So important is the separation of powers that some publishers physically separate editorial offices from business operations and place them in different cities. If they can’t separate these divisions physically, they will often develop strong internal policies to minimize influence. For example, PLOS does not disclose to the editor whether a submitting author has applied for article processing fee assistance when reviewing a manuscript.

Similarly, many publishers have explicit rules that prevent editors from handling their own paper or the papers of authors very closely associated with them. None of these separations of roles and powers guarantee that the decision to publish is entirely free of bias, but they do demonstrate a seriousness in building an institution, a process, and a product that can be trusted.

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Funder open access platforms – a welcome innovation? – LSE Impact Blog (Tony Ross-Hellauer, et al | July 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 15, 2018

Funding organisations commissioning their own open access publishing platforms is a relatively recent development in the OA environment, with the European Commission following the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation in financing such an initiative. But in what ways, for better or worse, do these new platforms disrupt or complement the scholarly communications landscape? Tony Ross-Hellauer, Birgit Schmidt and Bianca Kramer examine the ethical, organisational, and economic strengths and weaknesses of funder OA platforms to scope the opportunities and threats they present in the transition to OA. While they may help to increase OA uptake, control costs, and lower the administrative burden on researchers, possible unintended consequences include conflicts of interest, difficulties of scale, or potential vendor lock-in.

The link here to research integrity may not be obvious, but we are fans of open access, believe publically funded research should be accessible to the public not locked behind a paywall and the Plan S talk is a bit of hot topic globally in academia (albeit less so than CRISPR and the birth of modified babies).

In the age of open access (OA), research funding organisations have taken a more active interest in academic publishing. They are increasingly mandating their beneficiaries to publish OA, supporting infrastructures and directly funding publishing (via article processing charges).

A step-change in this engagement is the recent phenomenon of OA 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 Irish Health Research Board and the European Commission. As the number of such platforms increases, it becomes critical to assess in which ways, for better or worse, this emergent phenomenon complements or disrupts the scholarly communication landscape.


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