Confused by open-access policies? These tools can help

Read the full story in Nature.

Funding-agency policies mandating that scientific papers and data are made publicly available have helped to drive the adoption of preprints, open-access publishing and data repositories. But agencies often struggle to measure how closely grant recipients comply with the funding policies. Awardees, and the institutes that employ them, can struggle to ensure they are following the rules. Now, digital tools are cropping up to help both sides of the funding equation stick to the regulations.

NASA Science Directorate wants help prioritizing what digital resources it should open-source first

Read the full story at NextGov.

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate plans to give the broader research community access to its data, software, computing resources and collaboration tools. But that effort will take time and its own resources, prompting the agency to ask the open-source science community for its opinions on where to start.

Technological progress in cloud computing and network infrastructure has gotten to the point where remote users can access huge troves of data and tap into faraway computing resources, like those owned and operated by NASA. The potential for limitless input and innovation from unexpected—or underrepresented—corners of the research community can supercharge scientific discovery, SMD officials said in a request for information posted Thursday.

Why we need open-source science innovation — not patents and paywalls

A virology lab researcher works to develop a test that will detect the P.1 variant of the coronavirus, in São Paulo, Brazil, in March 2021. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

by Joshua M. Pearce, Western University

As we prepare to invest money to prevent the next global pandemic and find solutions to many other problems, science funders have a large opportunity to move towards open science and more research collaboration by offering open-source endowed chairs.

In these research positions, professors agree to ensure all of their writing is distributed via open access — and they release all of their intellectual property in the public domain or under appropriate open-source licences.

The global scholarly publishing market has grown steadily and is now worth over US$28 billion. Researchers estimate universities are also able to capture billions through patent licensing, although most technology transfer offices at universities actually lose money.

But many academics want to see their research fully accessible — free for everyone. My research with colleagues has found the majority of American and Canadian academics want to see universities establish open-source endowed chairs.

How academics use intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) refers to mind creations like patents and copyrights. Academics use all kind of IP. For example, professors publish their work as articles in peer-reviewed journals, the majority of which are under copyright.

If you have ever tried to read an academic paper, you probably couldn’t. Most academic papers are behind paywalls.

A red journal seen tipping off a shelf.
Most academic papers are behind paywalls. (Shutterstock)

To gain access through the paywalls costs an enormous amount of money for a library (even Harvard’s library balked at having to pay more than US$1 million per year to access articles from a single publisher).

At the beginning of the pandemic, when fast innovation was needed, most major publishers made their COVID-19 collections “open access,” which means everyone could read them for free. They did this to speed up innovation because it is obvious that paywalls slow science.

Accessible research in science matters because the more scientists that can read the relevant literature, the more scientists can help push innovations forward and the faster we are able to find solutions.

The open access movement is growing quickly. Authors must pay to make their work available in some open-access journals. Now, however, there are many respected peer-reviewed open-access journals that are free to publish in and free to read.

Patents hamper innovation

Many universities brag about the number of patents their professors write. Patents are supposed to encourage innovation because they give the inventor a 20-year monopoly to profit from an invention and this provides a financial incentive.

The basic idea is a professor would patent an invention that could be mass manufactured and then reap licence revenue for 20 years.

This does happen. However, a tidal wave of academic study after study, have shown that patents actively hamper innovation.

This is because most innovation builds on other ideas and there is no “fair use” for patents.

It is illegal to even experiment on a patented idea without a licence. If you need to wait 20 years to build on a good idea, it obviously takes a lot of time to innovate. Historically innovation moved rather slowly, now the rate of innovation is fast. Consider now how ancient a 20-year-old phone would be in your pocket.

Some academics like science and engineering professors do make money on patents for their universities. But the patent revenue they keep tends to be meager, because the costs to get the patent must first be recovered before the inventors get anything.

People stand next to fake coffins with signs that say 'drop the patents.'
Advocacy to drop patents grew in the pandemic, seen in the work of global justice campaigners standing by fake coffins to highlight COVID-19 deaths globally, in October 2021, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Open source is a better way

Open source is the answer to speeding up innovation. Open source originally was developed in the software industry as inventors would share the source code of computer programs to innovate faster.

Open source works amazingly well because having a lot of people work on a problem together tends to get a much better solution than a few.

Today open source is dominant in all supercomputers, 90 per cent of cloud servers, 82 per cent of smartphones and most artificial intelligence. Ninety per cent of the Fortune Global 500 use open-source software.

Study on university professors

The results of a survey study of university professors in Canada found 81.1 per cent of Canadian faculty would trade all IP for an open-source endowed chair and 34.4 per cent of these faculty would require no additional compensation. Surprisingly, even more American faculty (86.7 per cent) are willing to accept an open-source endowed professorship.

In both these studies, we presented participants with information about open-source endowed professorships to provide context and clarity for the subsequent multiple-choice and open-ended questions.

We looked at professors in every stage of their career (assistant to emeritus), tenured and non-tenured, at all types of universities (colleges to institutions with very high research activity), and in all disciplines including professional programs.

We analyzed results for three core disciplines of engineering/technology, natural sciences and social sciences to assess if there are differences in preferred compensation types among scholars of various disciplines.

The will to share was robust across all variables. Professors as a whole would be willing to make all of their IP freely available in exchange for the open-source endowed chair.

Accelerating innovation

I currently hold the John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation, and am one of the first endowed chairs to make an open-source commitment.

It is clear, even from my own work that has been sped along by many others freely contributing to my open-source projects, that science will move faster with open-source methods.

There is a clear willingness of academics to leave behind antiquated IP models for the good of science and society. It is time to provide incentives to accelerate innovation using open science to hasten scientific progress while also making science more just and inclusive.

All research funders — governments, foundations, private companies, donors and universities — should start funding open-source endowed chairs to maximize the impact of their resources.

Joshua M. Pearce, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Western University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Earth and Space Science Open Archive takes a big step forward

Read the full story from EOS.

Over the past four years, the Earth and Space Science (ESS) Open Archive has preserved over 10,000 early research outputs – preprints, posters, and presentations – contributed by nearly 37,000 authors across 25 subject areas. Now, ESS Open Archive is moving to a different platform supported by Authorea. Nick Violette, AGU Senior Program Manager for Publications and ESS Open Archive, spoke with the Editor in Chief, Jonathan Jiang, about how these new features will serve the community.

FAIRsharing.org

Read the full story at Inside Science Resources.

FAIRsharing.org is a curated, searchable registry of metadata standards; databases and repositories; and funder and journal policies that are relevant to specific domains or types of data…

FAIRsharing.org is a registry developed to help researchers and those who support them fulfill the FAIR principles by enabling them to readily locate the recommended metadata and reporting standards for particular domains or types of data, identify appropriate repositories for data storage and access, and reference journal and funder policies. As of this writing the site contains over 1600 records for standards, nearly 2000 records for databases/repositories, and over 150 records for policies. 

Royal Society of Chemistry will make all its journals open access

Read the full story in Chemistry World.

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has committed to making all of its journals open access within the next five years. It is the first chemistry publisher to commit to a 100% open access model and hopes to fund the move in a way that will avoid individual authors having to pay article processing charges (APCs).

Taking the pain out of data sharing

Read the full story in Nature.

Despite agreeing to make raw data available, some authors fail to comply. The right strategies and platforms can ease the task.

The Data Liberation Project

The Data Liberation Project is an initiative to identify, obtain, reformat, clean, document, publish, and disseminate government datasets of public interest.

It launched in September, so there isn’t a lot to explore yet, but this is worth keeping an eye on. You can view their current record requests here.

The possibilities of open science

Research Information spoke to four experts in the field about the ongoing move to open science, and the challenges that have emerged in an increasingly complex open-science ecosystem.

Open science is facing headwinds

Read the full story at Phys.org.

Within the scientific community, the words “open science” have been on everyone’s lips in recent years. Open science entails a great promise of a democracy of knowledge, and it is considered to be a universally good thing. In the words of the UN Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”

So, how could anyone disagree with the beautiful principles of open access to knowledge? Who could object to the openness of research articles, research data and research methods?