bims-skolko Biomed News
on Scholarly communication
Issue of 2020‒10‒25
twenty papers selected by
Thomas Krichel
Open Library Society

  1. PLoS One. 2020 ;15(10): e0239518
    Klebel T, Reichmann S, Polka J, McDowell G, Penfold N, Hindle S, Ross-Hellauer T.
      Clear and findable publishing policies are important for authors to choose appropriate journals for publication. We investigated the clarity of policies of 171 major academic journals across disciplines regarding peer review and preprinting. 31.6% of journals surveyed do not provide information on the type of peer review they use. Information on whether preprints can be posted or not is unclear in 39.2% of journals. 58.5% of journals offer no clear information on whether reviewer identities are revealed to authors. Around 75% of journals have no clear policy on co-reviewing, citation of preprints, and publication of reviewer identities. Information regarding practices of open peer review is even more scarce, with <20% of journals providing clear information. Having found a lack of clear information, we conclude by examining the implications this has for researchers (especially early career) and the spread of open research practices.
  2. Front Med (Lausanne). 2020 ;7 579100
    Bonnechère B.
    Keywords:  data repository; preprint; public; publication science; publications
  3. J Eval Clin Pract. 2020 Oct 23.
    Nabavi Nouri S, Cohen YA, Madhavan MV, Slomka PJ, Iskandrian AE, Einstein AJ.
      RATIONALE, AIMS, AND OBJECTIVES: To both examine the impact of preprint publishing on health sciences research and survey popular preprint servers amidst the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.METHODS: The authors queried three biomedical databases (MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Google Scholar) and two preprint servers (MedRxiv and SSRN) to identify literature pertaining to preprints. Additionally, they evaluated 12 preprint servers featuring COVID-19 research through sample submission of six manuscripts.
    RESULTS: The realm of health sciences research has seen a dramatic increase in the presence and importance of preprint publications. By posting manuscripts on preprint servers, researchers are able to immediately communicate their findings, thereby facilitating prompt feedback and promoting collaboration. In doing so, they may also reduce publication bias and improve methodological transparency. However, by circumventing the peer-review process, academia incurs the risk of disseminating erroneous or misinterpreted data and suffering the downstream consequences. Never have these issues been better highlighted than during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers have flooded the literature with preprint publications as stopgaps to meet the desperate need for knowledge about the disease. These unreviewed articles initially outnumbered those published in conventional journals and helped steer the mainstream scientific community at the start of the pandemic. In surveying select preprint servers, the authors discovered varying usability, review practices, and acceptance polices.
    CONCLUSION: While vital in the rapid dispensation of science, preprint manuscripts promulgate their conclusions without peer review and possess the capacity to misinform. Undoubtedly part of the future of science, conscientious consumers will need to appreciate not only their utility, but also their limitations.
    Keywords:  COVID-19; peer-review; preprint manuscript; preprint server
  4. EMBO Rep. 2020 Oct 21. e51773
    Minari J, Yoshizawa G, Shinomiya N.
      The COVID-19 crisis has further highlighted the challenges for open science and data sharing in biomedical research and the need for more traceability and transparency.
  5. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2020 Oct/Dec;34(4):34(4): 287-288
    Cylkowski K.
  6. PeerJ. 2020 ;8 e9924
    Kim J, Kim S, Cho HM, Chang JH, Kim SY.
      Background: Many scholarly journals have established their own data-related policies, which specify their enforcement of data sharing, the types of data to be submitted, and their procedures for making data available. However, except for the journal impact factor and the subject area, the factors associated with the overall strength of the data sharing policies of scholarly journals remain unknown. This study examines how factors, including impact factor, subject area, type of journal publisher, and geographical location of the publisher are related to the strength of the data sharing policy.Methods: From each of the 178 categories of the Web of Science's 2017 edition of Journal Citation Reports, the top journals in each quartile (Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4) were selected in December 2018. Of the resulting 709 journals (5%), 700 in the fields of life, health, and physical sciences were selected for analysis. Four of the authors independently reviewed the results of the journal website searches, categorized the journals' data sharing policies, and extracted the characteristics of individual journals. Univariable multinomial logistic regression analyses were initially conducted to determine whether there was a relationship between each factor and the strength of the data sharing policy. Based on the univariable analyses, a multivariable model was performed to further investigate the factors related to the presence and/or strength of the policy.
    Results: Of the 700 journals, 308 (44.0%) had no data sharing policy, 125 (17.9%) had a weak policy, and 267 (38.1%) had a strong policy (expecting or mandating data sharing). The impact factor quartile was positively associated with the strength of the data sharing policies. Physical science journals were less likely to have a strong policy relative to a weak policy than Life science journals (relative risk ratio [RRR], 0.36; 95% CI [0.17-0.78]). Life science journals had a greater probability of having a weak policy relative to no policy than health science journals (RRR, 2.73; 95% CI [1.05-7.14]). Commercial publishers were more likely to have a weak policy relative to no policy than non-commercial publishers (RRR, 7.87; 95% CI, [3.98-15.57]). Journals by publishers in Europe, including the majority of those located in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, were more likely to have a strong data sharing policy than a weak policy (RRR, 2.99; 95% CI [1.85-4.81]).
    Conclusions: These findings may account for the increase in commercial publishers' engagement in data sharing and indicate that European national initiatives that encourage and mandate data sharing may influence the presence of a strong policy in the associated journals. Future research needs to explore the factors associated with varied degrees in the strength of a data sharing policy as well as more diverse characteristics of journals related to the policy strength.
    Keywords:  Data policy; Data sharing; Journal Citation Reports; Research data
  7. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2020 Oct 19.
    Barnsteiner J, Shawn Kennedy M, Flanagin A, Sietmann C.
      PURPOSE: Concerns about conflicts of interest (COIs) in research and health care are well known, but recent reports of authors failing to disclose potential COIs in journal articles threatens the integrity of the scholarly literature. While many nursing journals have published editorials on this topic, review of nursing journal policies on and experiences with COIs has not been reported. The purposes of this study were to examine the extent to which nursing journals have COI policies and require disclosures by authors, peer reviewers, editorial board members, and editors who have a role in journal content decisions.DESIGN: This cohort study addressed top-ranked nursing journal policies about and experiences with COIs in scholarly publications.
    METHODS: An analysis of COI policies in the instructions for authors of 118 journals listed in the nursing category of Clarivate Analytics Journal Citation Reports was completed in 2019. An electronic survey of the editors was also conducted to determine their awareness and experience with COI policies for their journals. Characteristics of the journals and policies were assessed. Information on polices about COIs for editors and peer reviewers were also reviewed. A content analysis of the policies included assessment of best practices and gaps in requirements.
    FINDINGS: For the journal policy assessment, 116 journals that publish only in the English language were eligible. The majority (n = 113; 97.4%) of journals had a statement on COI policies for authors, but only 42 (36.2%) had statements for peer reviewers and only 37 (31.9%) had statements for editors. A total of 117 journal editors were sent the survey. One declined to participate, leaving a total of 116 eligible editors; 82 (70.6%) responded and 34 did not respond. Sixty-seven (81.7%) of the 82 editors indicated that their journal had a policy about COIs for authors. Seventy-four editors (63.7%) responded to the question about their journal having a policy about COIs for peer reviewers and editors. Thirty-three (44.5%) of the respondents indicated their journal had a COI policy for peer reviewers, and 29 (39.1%) stated they had a policy for editors. Few editors (n = 7; 9%) indicated that they had encountered problems pertaining to author COIs.
    CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study may help promote ethical publication practices through comprehensive policies on disclosure and management of nursing journal authors, peer reviewers, and editors.
    CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Declarations of potential conflicts of interest promote transparency and allows the consumer of research to take that into consideration when considering the findings of a study.
    Keywords:  Competing interests; conflicts of interest; disclosure and conflicts of interest; financial conflicts of interest
  8. Scientometrics. 2020 Oct 14. 1-7
    Zhang T.
      In the wake of the unprecedented global scientific output boom, are top-tier journals such as the FT50 journals following suit? If these prestigious journals consistently increase their publication volumes, will their impact factors be affected? Drawing on the Mann-Kendall trend test method, this study analysed time series trends of the FT50 journals' annual publication volumes and impact factor ratios (IFR) over a 15 year period. The results indicate that half of the FT50 journals have consistently increased their publication volumes over the years. Although to increase publication volumes is riskier than to stay put, it has a significantly higher probability of increasing the IFR, and therefore keeping pace with other top journals. However, the expanding of publication volumes must be carried out cautiously, as the study also finds that growing too fast may lead to opposite effects.
    Keywords:  Impact factor; Mann–Kendall test; Prestigious journals; Publication volume; Trend analysis
  9. J Clin Epidemiol. 2020 Oct 20. pii: S0895-4356(20)31153-7. [Epub ahead of print]
    Ghannad M, Yang B, Leeflang M, Aldcroft A, Bossuyt PM, Schroter S, Boutron I.
      OBJECTIVE: To estimate the effect of an intervention compared to the usual peer-review process on reducing spin in the abstract's conclusion of biomedical study reports.STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We conducted a two-arm, parallel-group RCT in a sample of primary research manuscripts submitted to BMJ Open. Authors received short instructions alongside the peer reviewers' comments in the intervention group. We assessed presence of spin (primary outcome), types of spin, and wording change in the revised abstract's conclusion. Outcome assessors were blinded to the intervention assignment.
    RESULTS: Of the 184 manuscripts randomised, 108 (54 intervention, 54 control) were selected for revision and could be evaluated for the presence of spin. The proportion of manuscripts with spin was 6% lower (95% CI: 24% lower to 13% higher) in the intervention group (57%, 31/54) than in the control group (63%, 34/54). Wording of the revised abstract's conclusion was changed in 34/54 (63%) manuscripts in the intervention group and 26/54 (48%) in the control group. The four pre-specified types of spin involved: (i) selective reporting (12 in the intervention group versus 8 in the control group); (ii) including information not supported by evidence (9 versus 9); and (iii) interpretation not consistent with study results (14 versus 18); and (iv) unjustified recommendations for practice (5 versus 11).
    CONCLUSION: These short instructions to authors did not have a statistically significant effect on reducing spin in revised abstract conclusions and, based on the confidence interval, the existence of a large effect can be excluded. Other interventions to reduce spin in reports of original research should be evaluated.
    Keywords:  Editors; Inappropriate extrapolation of results; Meta-research; Misrepresentation; Over-interpretation; Peer review; Publication; RCT; Spin
  10. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2020 ;pii: S0001-37652020000400723. [Epub ahead of print]92(suppl 2): e20181263
    Abad JCS, Alencar RM, Marimon BH, Marimon B, Silva ACC, Jancoski H, Rezende RS, Alves-Silva E.
      English is the lingua franca for scientific communication, but some journals, especially in developing countries, still publish non-English studies. A shift towards publishing in English may promote internationalization and more visibility of scientific journals. Here we compared quality indexes between Brazilian journals that have always published in English and journals that have published in languages other than English. We also investigated whether a temporal shift towards publishing in English led to elevated quality measures. Our analyses covered 16 Brazilian biodiversity journals and accounted for 12640 papers published since 2007. The mean impact factor was on average 55% higher in journals that have published consistently in English, compared to the so-called multilanguage journals. The proportion of publications in English increased to nearly three times the original value in multilanguage journals between 2007 and 2016, and the impact factor tripled during this period. At the same time, the Qualis-Capes classifications (B1-B2-B3) tended to fall. Publishing in English can be a first step to increased visibility, and this is particularly important for biodiversity journals, since Brazilian ecosystems are considered of interest to the international scientific community and nature conservation.
  11. Iran J Public Health. 2020 Aug;49(8): 1520-1529
    Shaghaghian S, Astaneh B.
      Background: Although much medical knowledge comes from observational research, such studies are more prone to confounding and bias than others. This study was conducted to evaluate the adherence of the observational studies published in Iranian medical journals to the STROBE (strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology) statement.Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we selected 150 articles of Iranian medical journals, using multistage sampling from Aug 2016 to Jun 2017. The reported items of the STROBE statement in the articles was determined and considered as the adherence of the articles to the statement. The adherence of the articles with different characteristics was compared.
    Results: The adherence of the articles to the statement varied from 24% to 68% with a mean score of 48%±9%. The lowest mean scores were found in the Result (36%) and Method (49%) sections. The adherence was significantly better in the articles published in the journals indexed in PubMed or Web of Knowledge (ISI) databases (P<0.001) and those written by cooperation of the authors from other countries (P=0.044).
    Conclusion: The evaluated articles in our study had not adequately reported the items recommended by the STROBE statement. This indicates deficiency in key elements for readers to assess the validity and applicability of a study.
    Keywords:  Iran; Journal; Observational study; Quality; Strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology (STROBE)
  12. J Engl Acad Purp. 2020 Sep;pii: 100895. [Epub ahead of print]47
    Politzer-Ahles S, Girolamo T, Ghali S.
      Recent years have seen a spirited debate over whether there is linguistic injustice in academic publishing. One way that linguistic injustice might occur is if gatekeepers (e.g., peer reviewers and editors) judge the scholarly quality of academic writing more harshly if the writing does not meet expectations for international academic English, even if the content is good. We tested this with a randomized control study in which scholars judged the scientific quality of several scientific abstracts. Each abstract had two versions with identical scientific content, such that the language in one version conformed to standards for international academic English, and the language in the other version did not (but was still comprehensible). While the data are preliminary and the effects statistically inconclusive, both pre-registered and exploratory analyses of the data suggest that scholars may give abstracts lower ratings of scientific quality when the writing does not conform to standards of international academic English. These results suggest that linguistic bias may occur in academic peer reviewing and motivate further study to better understand and address this phenomenon.
    Keywords:  Academic publishing; Implicit bias; Linguistic injustice; Peer review
  13. Med Phys. 2020 Oct 23.
    Baldock C, Basran PS, Zaidi H.
      Medical physics can be one of the most rewarding applications of physics in day-to-day society's life. Hence, translational research in this particular field attracts a lot of interest given its potential impact on the delivery of patient care. The credibility of scientific discoveries and research outcomes reported in the scientific literature is driven by confidence in the integrity of scientists performing this research. However, scientific misconduct often blackens the image of scientific research and negatively impacts the faith society has in science.
  14. Curr Protoc Essent Lab Tech. 2020 Jun;pii: e40. [Epub ahead of print]20(1):
    Hutchins JA.
      For success in research careers, scientists must be able to communicate their research questions, findings, and significance to both expert and nonexpert audiences. Scientists commonly disseminate their research using specialized communication products such as research articles, grant proposals, poster presentations, and scientific talks. The style and content of these communication products differ from language usage of the general public and can be difficult for nonexperts to follow and access. For this reason, it is important to tailor scientific communications to the intended audience to ensure that the communication product achieves its goals, especially when communicating with nonexpert audiences. This article presents a framework to increase access to research and science literacy. The protocol addresses aspects of communication that scientists should consider when producing a scientific communication product: audience, purpose, format, and significance (research narrative). The factors are essential for understanding the communication scenario and goals, which provide guidance when tailoring research communications to different audiences.
    Keywords:  Audience; Communication; Narrative; Public; Writing
  15. Clin Biochem. 2020 Oct 15. pii: S0009-9120(20)30861-4. [Epub ahead of print]
    Sanders DA.
  16. Soc Stud Sci. 2020 Oct 17. 306312720966649
    Delfanti A.
      Millions of scholars use academic social media to share their work and construct themselves as legitimate and productive workers. An analysis of updates ideas about science as a 'marketplace of ideas'. Scholarly communication via social media is best conceptualized as a 'financial market of ideas' through which academic value is assigned to publications and researchers. Academic social media allow for the inclusion of scholarly objects such as preprint articles, which exceed traditional accounting systems in scholarly communication. Their functioning is based on a valorization of derived qualities, as their algorithms analyze social interactions on the platform rather than the content of scholarship. They are also oriented toward the future in their use of data analytics to predict research outcomes.
    Keywords:  academic labor; algorithms; scholarly communication; social media; social studies of finance
  17. Phys Rev E. 2020 Sep;102(3-1): 032303
    Nanumyan V, Gote C, Schweitzer F.
      We provide a general framework to model the growth of networks consisting of different coupled layers. Our aim is to estimate the impact of one such layer on the dynamics of the others. As an application, we study a scientometric network, where one layer consists of publications as nodes and citations as links, whereas the second layer represents the authors. This allows us to address the question of how characteristics of authors, such as their number of publications or number of previous coauthors, impacts the citation dynamics of a new publication. To test different hypotheses about this impact, our model combines citation constituents and social constituents in different ways. We then evaluate their performance in reproducing the citation dynamics in nine different physics journals. For this, we develop a general method for statistical parameter estimation and model selection that is applicable to growing multilayer networks. It takes both the parameter errors and the model complexity into account and is computationally efficient and scalable to large networks.