Open Science: materials and tools

Tools

This section, which is a work in progress, provides some insights on open science issues. It is intended to offer updated tools and materials on the new frontiers in open knowledge.

For advice and screening on any journals approaching you

riviste@unimi.it

Where not to publish in open access: predatory publishing

Predatory publishing is an exploitive publishing model that has emerged in recent years. It lures researchers who need to publish quickly with the false promise of fast peer-review and publication, and of wide-ranging dissemination. The goal of predatory publishing is not to disseminate the results of scientific research through open access, though it exploits its logic, but to earn by deceiving academics, offering no or poor-quality services and hiding behind open access as an ethical way of doing research.

More information

Learn more about the world of scientific publishing and how to publish in safety and quality.

Predatory publishing exploits the logic of open access, as it does not charge readers but authors (or their institutions), who are attracted by the promise of fast publication with a view to meeting funding or career development requirements. The victims of predatory publishing are often young researchers with few publications, who need to publish quickly.

Predatory publishing promises rapid publication through fast but inaccurate peer review, or no review at all. On the contrary, accurate peer review is a process that takes time and ensures the validity of scientific research.

The contributions published in predatory journals with no peer review cannot be deemed valid.

Furthermore, predatory publishers do not have archiving policies that ensure the conservation of published works, precisely because their only interest is in profit.

It can also happen that the sites on which your articles have been published disappear at any moment without a trace.

It is not easy to recognize predatory publishers, because they create websites containing completely realistic e-journals. They may also state Impact Factors (or similar indicators) that turn out to be fake, or falsely declare to be indexed in recognized databases, such as Scopus, Web of Science, Pubmed.

Often the declared scientific committee members are not professionals, or they are professionals indicated unbeknownst to them, or the published articles are plagiarisms.

Typically, predatory publishers contact researchers by e-mail and flatter them into contributing to their journals, described in an enthusiastic and unprofessional manner. Publishing fees are not clear and are often increased once the article is published.

Researchers who realize that they fell into a trap before publication may not be able to withdraw their contributions, which may be published without the author's consent.

When submitting your contribution to a scientific journal, please consider the following:

  • Email invitation: is the email invitation to publish well written or does it have typos, spelling and grammatical errors? Does it use unprofessional language? Was it sent from an institutional or general account (e.g. gmail, yahoo, etc.)?
  • Journal title: is it similar to that of a leading journal in the field? Predatory journals often use titles that remind of prestigious and internationally recognized journals.
  • Geographical information in the title: a title may suggest that the journal is based in the US or the UK, while actually being based elsewhere.
  • "About" section: is the information accurate? Is the research area specific or too vast for the journal to be reliable? Predatory journals often state broad areas of research to attract more submissions.
  • Contact details: is there a physical address, phone number, institutional email (as opposed to a general one, such as gmail, yahoo ...)?
  • Editorial board: is it possible to contact its members? Are these wellknown professionals in the research field? Even if they are, be careful, as predatory journals often report well-known. professionals as members of the scientific committee without them knowing. You may write to the contact persons to dispel any doubts.
  • Published articles: consult the published articles and check the professionalism of the authors. Predatory journals often publish plagiarisms, or unscientific contributions; sometimes they have no content at all.
  • False indexing: predatory journals often declare that they are indexed in wellknown databases, such as Web of Science, Scopus, Pubmed, DOAJ. You can fact-check these statements by querying the databases.

Impact Factor: predatory journals often indicate that they have an impact factor which proves to be fake. You can check it on Journal Citation Reports.

  • Invented metrics: predatory journals often state metrics that prove nonexistent. It is important to check whether they are used by other accredited journals.
  • Author charges: are article processing charges (APC) or article submission charges stated clearly? Are they comparable to other open access journals in the same field? Are payment times clear?
  • Instructions for authors: are there any submission instructions? Is it clear how submissions will be treated?
  • Peer review: is the type of peer review specified? Be wary of journals promising quick peer review, as it means that there will be no peer review or that it will be inaccurate, thus affecting the validity of the publication.
  • Digital archiving: is information about digital archiving available? Predatory journals provide no archiving guarantee.
  • Copyright:  is copyright information clear?
  • ISSN: does the journal have an ISSN?

The phenomenon of predatory publishing can also concern those who intend to publish books or book chapters.

Here are some things to consider when publishing a book or chapter:    

  • Publisher: Is the publisher known in the industry? Is it easy to contact them by phone, email, post?
  • Searchability: Is it easy to find the publisher's latest books?
  • Editors: Are editors wellknown in your field? Is it easy to contact them by phone, e-mail, post?
  • Peer-review: Is the type of peer-review clearly stated?
  • Indexing: Are the publisher's books indexed in the databases for your field?
  • Archiving: Does the publisher provide longterm archiving services?
  • Author charges: Are these clearly stated?
  • Author guidelines: Are author guidelines published?
  • License: Does the publisher use a clear license for Open Access books and state whether exceptions are allowed based on the author's needs?
  • Copyright: Are the authors' rights clearly expressed? For instance, is it allowed to publish the electronic version of a book or chapter on an OA website, such as an institutional repository?
  • Recognized organizations: Is the publisher a member of a recognized organization? For example, does it comply with the guidelines of the   Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), or are its OA  books listed in the  Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)?
Pre-print

A preprint is a complete scientific manuscript that is uploaded by authors on a public server.  A preprint contains data and methods; it is often the same manuscript that is submitted to a journal.  After a quick quality check to ensure that the work is scientific in nature, the author's manuscript is published on the web without peer review, and can be viewed for free by anyone in the world. Based on feedback and/or new data, new versions of a preprint may be uploaded. However, previous versions will also be retained.  Preprint servers allow scientists to directly control the dissemination of their work in the global scientific community. In most cases, the same paper published as a preprint is peer reviewed for publication in a journal.  Therefore, the preprint (published quickly, but with no peer review) and the publication in a journal (which is slower, but with peer-review validation) work in parallel and contribute to the scientific communication system.

(source ASAPbio)

The office is available to hold training events on the subject of pre-print air@unimi.it

Until a few years ago, there was only Arxiv. However, over the past few years preprint archives have increased in multiple areas, including philosophy, literature, history, social sciences, agricultural sciences, and psychology.

Dissemination through a preprint server offers the following advantages to authors and readers:

  1. It allows to certify priority on a new idea;
  2. Preprints on some servers are open to comments and feedback that can help the author;
  3. improve the manuscript before or when submitting it to a journal;
  4. It ensures rapid dissemination and timely sharing of research results;
  5. There are no costs for the author or reader;
  6. Following peer comments, preprint servers archive subsequent versions, while retaining all previous versions;
  7. Some funding institutions (e.g. ERC) support the use of preprint servers;
  8. 7Most journals accept manuscripts that have previously been distributed on preprint servers (usually not for profit), therefore, it is important to always review a journal's pre-print policies;
  9. Authors usually retain copyright on papers published on preprint servers.

OSF: this engine searches numerous preprint servers

Google scholar: also includes pre-print servers in searches but with no distinction from other types of papers. Pre-prints can be identified by the URL in example.

ASAPbio (Accelerating Science and Publication in biology) is an initiative promoted by researchers that deals with the possibility of a rapid dissemination of research work in the biological sciences.

At this link you can check the policies of the research funding bodies with respect to the publication of pre-prints

ASAPbio and EMBO have started a peer review project for pre-prints that can be found on Review Commons, where one or more reviewers will evaluate the preprint when it is submitted to a magazine.

Open Access search engines

Below is a list of the main search engines in the Open Access academic world.

OpenAIRE: provides access to Open Access scientific literature funded by the EU, by indexing metadata or full-text contributions filed in institutional or thematic repositories, Open Access journals and publishers, dataset archives, service aggregators such as DataCite, BASE, DOAJ.

CORE - COnnecting REpositories: is the leading aggregator of Open Access scientific publications from all over the world.

Science open: is a platform providing access to Open Access publications as well as a range of services (e.g. user metrics).

DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals: indexes Open Access Gold scientific journals subject to peer-review.

DOAB - Directory of Open Access Books: indexes almost 30,000 Open Access peer-reviewed academic books by approx. 380 publishers.

Lens: is an Open Access platform collecting patent data from multiple repositories worldwide, and integrating it with bibliographies and research data (from PubMed, CrossRef, Microsoft Academic).

Dimensions: searches different contexts, including clinical trials, grants, patents, datasets, cross-checking and relating data; for instance, it is possible to trace  the sponsors behind a publication, or a publication which resulted in a patent.

Focus
Tools

Please find below two tools that will help you find the free version of articles of which you only know the paid version.

Unpaywall: available for Chrome and Firefox, it is an extension that allows you to search the web for the free version of a contribution, of which only the paid version has been identified.

 

Once you have downloaded the extension, when you find a paid item, a padlock icon on the right side of the browser will signal any versions available for free; by clicking on the padlock you can directly access the Open Access version.


OAbutton: available both as a website and a Firefox extension, it allows you to locate the Open Access version of a contribution of which you only know the paid version or, if not available for free, to submit a request to the author to make a copy available. OAbutton is supported by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), whose goal is to promote Open Access as a form of dissemination of scientific research.

 

 

Altmetrics (Alternative Metrics) are alternative scientific research impact indicators, as opposed to traditional ones (e.g. Impact Factor, H-Index).

Altmetrics have spread in recent years. Compared to traditional metrics, they find scientific contributions more rapidly, as they also consider citations outside the academic field, e.g. social media, downloads, how many times an article is visited online, and how often it is mentioned in social media and other channels such as blogs, websites and preprint servers.

It may take years before a scientific work is first cited in other works. As opposed to traditional metrics, Altmetrics will detect the dissemination of a work on the web, through citation tools such as Mendeley, CiteULike, Zotero. They also consider the relevance of the article itself, not the journal in which it is published.

Altmetrics are fast because they take into consideration significant scientific works with no citations yet, as well as works that have not been peer-reviewed (which takes a long time before publication). Moreover, they use public APIs to collect data, and the scripts and algorithms that collect and interpret the data are also open.

Altmetrics don't just consider the citation count, they also examine semantic content (detecting data such as username, timestamp, tag). They differ from citations and webmetrics, which take a long time, are not structured and are closed.

Altmetrics' fast registration times allow you to create timely research suggestions, for example by offering an overview of the week's most significant contributions in a specific research area.

Altmetrics (Alternative Metrics) are alternative scientific research impact indicators, as opposed to traditional ones (e.g. Impact Factor, H-Index).

Altmetrics have spread in recent years. Compared to traditional metrics, they find scientific contributions more rapidly, as they also consider citations outside the academic field, e.g. social media, downloads, how many times an article is visited online, and how often it is mentioned in social media and other channels such as blogs, websites and preprint servers.

It may take years before a scientific work is first cited in other works. As opposed to traditional metrics, Altmetrics will detect the dissemination of a work on the web, through citation tools such as Mendeley, CiteULike, Zotero. They also consider the relevance of the article itself, not the journal in which it is published.

Altmetrics are fast because they take into consideration significant scientific works with no citations yet, as well as works that have not been peer-reviewed (which takes a long time before publication). Moreover, they use public APIs to collect data, and the scripts and algorithms that collect and interpret the data are also open.

Altmetrics don't just consider the citation count, they also examine semantic content (detecting data such as username, timestamp, tag). They differ from citations and webmetrics, which take a long time, are not structured and are closed.

Altmetrics' fast registration times allow you to create timely research suggestions, for example by offering an overview of the week's most significant contributions in a specific research area.

Transformative agreements

Transformative agreements cover hybrid journals, i.e. subscription journals where authors can make their papers available open access for a fee. With increasing pressures for research publicity from both research funders and society as a whole, the hybrid model has become unsustainable for institutions. Some publishers are double dipping, as they charge readers, in the form of a subscription, as well as authors, through article processing charges (APC). Transformative agreements are negotiated between publishers and institutions (libraries and consortia) with the aim of moving from a subscription-based model to a model in which publishers are paid for open-access publishing services. Ideally, subscription costs should be replaced by the costs for reading and publishing, with no extra charge. As a matter of fact, there are always extra charges. 

These are temporary and transitional agreements, with an ideal duration of two to three years. Upon expiry, the agreement should be re-negotiated. Publishers are currently not required to switch from hybrid to gold open access. The agreements will have to be revised from time to time based on new scenarios. Transformative agreements are mostly available on the ESAC website (Efficiency and Standards for Article Charges) according to a principle of publicity and transparency.

These are copyright licenses allowing authors to inform users how they can (re)use their work.

There are four conditions of use, each marked by a graphic symbol:

Image removed. BY – attribution: it is always granted

Image removed. NC - non commercial

Image removed. SA – share alike

Image removed.  ND - no derivative works

Six combinations can be obtained by combining these four clauses.

Image removed.

Image removed. 

CC0 is the public domain license indicating waiver of copyright on the work worldwide. It is one of the licenses that can be associated, for example, with research data.

Licenses come in three different forms:

Legal code – the actual license.

Commons deed – the simplified and abbreviated version (a sort of license summary, though with no legal effect).

Digital code – set of machine-readable metadata allowing for automated cataloguing.

CC licenses do not provide (greater) protection for the work that is protected by copyright law.