bims-skolko Biomed News
on Scholarly communication
Issue of 2021‒03‒21
nineteen papers selected by
Thomas Krichel
Open Library Society

  1. Sci Context. 2020 Jun;33(2): 101-119
      Most social scientists today think of data sharing as an ethical imperative essential to making social science more transparent, verifiable, and replicable. But what moved the architects of some of the U.S.'s first university-based social scientific research institutions, the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research (ISR), and its spin-off, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), to share their data? Relying primarily on archived records, unpublished personal papers, and oral histories, I show that Angus Campbell, Warren Miller, Philip Converse, and others understood sharing data not as an ethical imperative intrinsic to social science but as a useful means to the diverse ends of financial stability, scholarly and institutional autonomy, and epistemological reproduction. I conclude that data sharing must be evaluated not only on the basis of the scientific ideals its supporters affirm, but also on the professional objectives it serves.
    Keywords:  Angus Campbell; Data sharing; Institute for Social Research (ISR); Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR); University of Michigan; Warren Miller; political science; social science history
  2. Br J Dermatol. 2021 Mar 19.
      The use of preprints, manuscripts that can be uploaded to a public server and made almost immediately available for public dissemination without peer review, is becoming increasingly common.1 Preprint servers are not typically associated with established peer-reviewed journals and often operate independently. Proponents of preprints point toward improved rapid dissemination of results and opportunities for crowdsourced feedback before submission to peer-reviewed journals.1 Conversely, inconsistent upload criteria among preprint servers (such as lack of guidance for reporting conflict of interest or image manipulation),1 and the risk for widespread discourse of non-peer reviewed results by news media may impinge on research integrity.2 As members of the public may not understand the difference between preprints and traditionally peer-reviewed articles, preprints have the potential to cause widespread confusion and mistrust.2 Use of preprints may also make publication of results in traditional journals more difficult, as the results may be perceived to be less novel. Despite controversy, the number of preprints continue to rise.3 There is limited understanding of how dermatology journals view and consider preprints. In this study, we explore dermatology journal policies toward the submission of preprint articles for publication, and corresponding publication outcomes of dermatology articles previously uploaded to a large clinically oriented preprint server.
  3. PeerJ. 2021 ;9 e10927
      Background: Preprints are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. In December 2019, a novel coronavirus appeared in China, and since then, scientific production, including preprints, has drastically increased. In this study, we intend to evaluate how often preprints about COVID-19 were published in scholarly journals and cited.Methods: We searched the iSearch COVID-19 portfolio to identify all preprints related to COVID-19 posted on bioRxiv, medRxiv, and Research Square from January 1, 2020, to May 31, 2020. We used a custom-designed program to obtain metadata using the Crossref public API. After that, we determined the publication rate and made comparisons based on citation counts using non-parametric methods. Also, we compared the publication rate, citation counts, and time interval from posting on a preprint server to publication in a scholarly journal among the three different preprint servers.
    Results: Our sample included 5,061 preprints, out of which 288 were published in scholarly journals and 4,773 remained unpublished (publication rate of 5.7%). We found that articles published in scholarly journals had a significantly higher total citation count than unpublished preprints within our sample (p < 0.001), and that preprints that were eventually published had a higher citation count as preprints when compared to unpublished preprints (p < 0.001). As well, we found that published preprints had a significantly higher citation count after publication in a scholarly journal compared to as a preprint (p < 0.001). Our results also show that medRxiv had the highest publication rate, while bioRxiv had the highest citation count and shortest time interval from posting on a preprint server to publication in a scholarly journal.
    Conclusions: We found a remarkably low publication rate for preprints within our sample, despite accelerated time to publication by multiple scholarly journals. These findings could be partially attributed to the unprecedented surge in scientific production observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which might saturate reviewing and editing processes in scholarly journals. However, our findings show that preprints had a significantly lower scientific impact, which might suggest that some preprints have lower quality and will not be able to endure peer-reviewing processes to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
    Keywords:  COVID-19; Crossref; Preprints; Preprints servers; iSearch COVID-19 portfolio
  4. Hist Sci. 2021 Mar 18. 73275321999901
      In the decades after the Second World War, learned society publishers struggled to cope with the expanding output of scientific research and the increased involvement of commercial publishers in the business of publishing research journals. Could learned society journals survive economically in the postwar world, against this competition? Or was the emergence of a sales-based commercial model of publishing - in contrast to the traditional model of subsidized journal publishing - an opportunity to transform the often-fragile finances of learned societies? But there was also an existential threat: if commercial firms could successfully publish scientific journals, were learned society publishers no longer needed? This paper investigates how British learned society publishers adjusted to the new economic realities of the postwar world, through an investigation of the activities organized by the Royal Society of London and the Nuffield Foundation, culminating in the 1963 report Self-Help for Learned Journals. It reveals the postwar decades as the time when scientific research became something to be commodified and sold to libraries, rather than circulated as part of a scholarly mission. It will be essential reading for all those campaigning to transition academic publishing - including learned society publishing - away from the sales-based model once again.
    Keywords:  Britain; Scientific journals; academic publishing; commerce; open access; scholarly communication; scientific societies; twentieth century
  5. Mol Biol Cell. 2021 03 15. 32(6): 461-466
      Early career researchers are frequent and valuable contributors to peer review. Systemic changes that acknowledge this fact would result in ethical co-reviewing, peer reviews of greater quality, and a reduction in peer reviewer burden.
  6. Qual Health Res. 2021 Apr;31(5): 819-821
      Using checklists in manuscripts are perceived to indicate quality, transparency, and rigor. Generally, these checklists consist of a list of all of the strategies that may be used to ensure rigor and transparency. Beside each item, there is usually a box to check (or tick) to indicate whether a component is present, and a space on which to note the page each item is listed in the manuscript. Some of these forms also include space for the author to make brief comments to the reviewer. The intent is that the checklist guides the review process to ensure that all components are present in the article, and therefore, that the article is solid enough to publish.However, these checklists consist only of technical/mechanical management of the creation and sorting of data. These lists ignore the value of the product of the research: They do not address the originality, the substance, the contribution, and the potential results to the actual topic-which is after all the purpose of the project itself.Paradoxically, these checklist reviews are undermining the quality of qualitative inquiry. In seeking quality, the criteria for systematic reviews, clinical trials, and evidence have spilled over to represent quality criteria for all qualitative research. They are becoming commonplace for evaluating qualitative research by journal editors, directing the review process, and subsequent evaluation of the research. Of greatest concern is that checklists items are being used by authors themselves to represent their actual text (e.g., "data were saturated"), and the items for completing these forms are read by the reviewers and editors in lieu of reading the article itself (e.g., for signs of "saturation"). Furthermore, the use of these criteria by authors/researchers to guide the conduct of their research, yet meeting all these criteria, whether relevant or pertinent or necessary for their project, and may even invalidate the findings. In this way, these criteria are redefining processes of qualitative inquiry.
    Keywords:  methodology; practice guidelines; qualitative; research design
  7. East Econ J. 2021 Mar 08. 1-24
      This study examines survey data on the views of editors of economics journals on common critiques of the discipline, ethics and editorial practices, and the role of prestige and status in publishing. We utilize an ordered probit model to investigate whether editors or journal characteristics are systematically related to editors' views, controlling for gender and editorial position. Regression results show that editors from top-ranked journals are less likely to agree with common disciplinary critiques, more likely to support market solutions and less likely to agree with concerns about editorial practices.
    Keywords:  Higher education; Research institutions; Sociology of economics
  8. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2021 Mar 12.
      Background: Female scientists, who are more likely than their male counterparts to study women and report findings by sex/gender, fare worse in the article peer review process. It is unknown whether the gender of research participants influences the recommendation to publish an article describing the study. Materials and Methods: Reviewers were randomly assigned to evaluate one of three versions of an article abstract describing a clinical study conducted in men, women, or individuals. Reviewers assessed the study's scientific rigor, its level of contribution to medical science, and whether they would recommend publishing the full article. Responses were analyzed with logistic regression controlling for reviewer background variables, including sex and experience level. Results: There was no significant difference in perceived research rigor by abstract condition; contribution to medical science was perceived to be greater for research conducted in women than men (odds ratio = 1.7; p = 0.030). Nevertheless, reviewers were almost twice as likely to recommend publication for research conducted in men than the same research conducted in women (predicted probability 0.606 vs. 0.322; p = 0.000). Conclusions: These results are consistent with abundant data from multiple sources showing a lower societal value placed on women than men. Because female investigators are more likely than male investigators to study women, our findings suggest a previously unrecognized bias that could contribute to gender asymmetries in the publication outcomes of peer review. This pro-male publication bias could be an additional barrier to leadership attainment for women in academic medicine and the advancement of women's health.
    Keywords:  academic medicine; equity; gender; peer review
  9. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Mar 14.
      BACKGROUND: Gender imbalances in academia have been evident historically and persist today. For the past 60 years, we have witnessed the increase of participation of women in biomedical disciplines, showing that the gender gap is shrinking. However, preliminary evidence suggests that women, including female researchers, are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of unequal distribution of childcare, elderly care and other kinds of domestic and emotional labor. Sudden lockdowns and abrupt shifts in daily routines have disproportionate consequences on their productivity, which is reflected by a sudden drop in research output in biomedical research, consequently affecting the number of female authors of scientific publications.OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that the COVID-19 pandemic has a disproportionate adverse effect on the productivity of female researchers in biomedical field in terms of authorship of scientific publications.
    METHODS: This is a retrospective observational bibliometric study. We investigate the proportion of male and female researchers who published scientific papers during the COVID-19 pandemic, using bibliometric data from biomedical preprint servers and selected Springer-Nature journals. We use the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression model to estimate the expected proportions over time by correcting for temporal trends. We also use a set of statistical methods such as Kolmogorov-Smirnov (KS) test and Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD) to test the validity of results.
    RESULTS: A total of 78,950 papers from bioRxiv, medRxiv and 62 selected Springer-Nature journals by 346,354 unique authors were analyzed. The acquired dataset consisted of papers that were published between January 1, 2019, and August 2, 2020. The proportion of women first authors publishing in biomedical fields during the pandemic drops on average 9.1% across disciplines (expected arithmetic mean y_est=0.39; observed arithmetic mean y=0.35; standard error of the estimate, S_est=0.007; standard error of the observation, σ_x =0.004). The impact is particularly pronounced for papers related to COVID-19 research, where the proportion of female scientists in the first author position drops by 28% (y_est=0.39; y=0.28;S_est=0.007;σ_x =0.007). When looking at the last authors, the proportion of women drops in average 7.9% (y_est=0.25; y=0.23;S_est=0.005;σ_x =0.003), while the proportion of women writing about COVID-19 as the last author decreased by 18.8% (y_est=0.25; y=0.21;S_est=0.005;σ_x =0.007). Further, by geocoding authors' affiliations, we show that the gender disparities become even more apparent when disaggregated by the country, up to 35% in some cases.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings document a decrease in the number of publications by female authors in biomedical field during the global pandemic. This effect is particularly pronounced for papers related to COVID-19, indicating that women are producing fewer publications related to COVID-19 research. This sudden increase in the gender gap is persistent across the ten countries with the highest number of researchers. These results should be used to inform the scientific community of the worrying trend in COVID-19 research and the disproportionate effect that the pandemic has on female academics.
  10. J Appl Behav Anal. 2021 Mar 19.
      Researchers have examined factors of authors such as sex of author, gender identity, and seniority within the field of behavior analysis to determine if any biases towards a certain group existed. Most recently, Kranak et al. (2020) found that women and new authors are well-represented in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA). However, that analysis included only published manuscripts. Thus, the degree to which these subpopulations are proportionally represented is unknown, because that analysis was unable to determine how often these subpopulations are submitting manuscripts. Therefore, the purpose of the current investigation was to extend Kranak et al. and analyze all accepted and rejected manuscripts submitted to JABA from 2015 - 2019. Results indicated that women and men had nearly identical acceptance rates during this time period, whereas veteran authors' acceptance rate was nearly 2.5 times greater than that of new authors. Implications for publishing, reviewing, and research mentorship practices are discussed.
    Keywords:  bias; mentorship; publication; seniority; women and men
  11. J Psychosom Res. 2021 Mar 02. pii: S0022-3999(21)00057-X. [Epub ahead of print]144 110412
      OBJECTIVE: The journal received a request to retract a paper reporting the results of a triple-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. The present and immmediate past editors expand on the journal's decision not to retract this paper in spite of undisputable evidence of scientific misconduct on behalf of one of the investigators.METHODS: The editors present an ethical reflection on the request to retract this randomized clinical trial with consideration of relevant guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) applied to the unique contextual issues of this case.
    RESULTS: In this case, scientific misconduct by a blinded provider of a homeopathy intervention attempted to undermine the study blind. As part of the study, the integrity of the study blind was assessed. Neither participants nor homeopaths were able to identify whether the participant was assigned to homeopathic medicine or placebo. Central to the decision not to retract the paper was the fact that the rigorous scientific design provided evidence that the outcome of the study was not affected by the misconduct. The misconduct itself was thought to be insufficient reason to retract the paper.
    CONCLUSION: Retracting a paper of which the outcome is still valid was in itself considered unethical, as it takes away the opportunity to benefit from its results, rendering the whole study useless. In such cases, scientific misconduct is better handled through other professional channels.
    Keywords:  Blinding; Ethical reflection; Homeopathy; Randomized control trial; Retraction; Scientific Misconduct
  12. Scientometrics. 2021 Mar 07. 1-17
      The aim of the present study is to identify retracted articles in the biomedical literature (co) authored by Indian authors and to examine the features of retracted articles. The PubMed database was searched to find the retracted articles in order to reach the goal. The search yielded 508 records and retrieved for the detailed analysis of: authorships and collaboration type, funding information, who retracts? journals and impact factors, and reasons for retraction. The results show that most of the biomedical articles retracted were published after 2010 and common reasons are plagiarism and fake data for retraction. More than half of the retracted articles were co-authored within the institutions and there is no repeat offender. 25% of retracted articles were published in the top 15 journals and 33% were published in the non-impact factor journals. Average time from publication to retraction is calculated to 2.86 years and retractions due to fake data takes longest period among the reasons. Majority of the funded research was retracted due to fake data whereas it is plagiarism for non-funded.
    Keywords:  Bibliometrics; Biomedicine; India; Misconduct; PubMed; Publication ethics; Retractions
  13. Curr Protoc. 2021 Mar;1(3): e87
      Researchers must conduct research responsibly for it to have an impact and to safeguard trust in science. Essential responsibilities of researchers include using rigorous, reproducible research methods, reporting findings in a trustworthy manner, and giving the researchers who contributed appropriate authorship credit. This "how-to" guide covers strategies and practices for doing reproducible research and being a responsible author. The article also covers how to utilize decision-making strategies when uncertain about the best way to proceed in a challenging situation. The advice focuses especially on graduate students, but is appropriate for undergraduates and experienced researchers. It begins with an overview of responsible conduct of research, research misconduct, and ethical behavior in the scientific workplace. The takeaway message is that responsible conduct of research requires a thoughtful approach to doing research in order to ensure trustworthy results and conclusions, and that researchers receive fair credit. © 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.
    Keywords:  authorship; graduate students; publication; reproducibility; research ethics; research integrity; responsible conduct of research; rigor; scientific integrity
  14. Asian Bioeth Rev. 2019 Sep;11(3): 255-273
      There is a growing expectation, or even requirement, for researchers to deposit a variety of research data in data repositories as a condition of funding or publication. This expectation recognizes the enormous benefits of data collected and created for research purposes being made available for secondary uses, as open science gains increasing support. This is particularly so in the context of big data, especially where health data is involved. There are, however, also challenges relating to the collection, storage, and re-use of research data. This paper gives a brief overview of the landscape of data sharing via data repositories and discusses some of the key ethical issues raised by the sharing of health-related research data, including expectations of privacy and confidentiality, the transparency of repository governance structures, access restrictions, as well as data ownership and the fair attribution of credit. To consider these issues and the values that are pertinent, the paper applies the deliberative balancing approach articulated in the Ethics Framework for Big Data in Health and Research (Xafis et al. 2019) to the domain of Openness in Big Data and Data Repositories. Please refer to that article for more information on how this framework is to be used, including a full explanation of the key values involved and the balancing approach used in the case study at the end.
    Keywords:  Big data; Data repository; Decision-making framework; Health data; Open data; Open science
  15. Sci Eng Ethics. 2021 Mar 17. 27(2): 18
      The primary goal of the peer review of research grant proposals is to evaluate their quality for the funding agency. An important secondary goal is to provide constructive feedback to applicants for their resubmissions. However, little is known about whether review feedback achieves this goal. In this paper, we present a multi-methods analysis of responses from grant applicants regarding their perceptions of the effectiveness and appropriateness of peer review feedback they received from grant submissions. Overall, 56-60% of applicants determined the feedback to be appropriate (fair, well-written, and well-informed), although their judgments were more favorable if their recent application was funded. Importantly, independent of funding success, women found the feedback better written than men, and more white applicants found the feedback to be fair than non-white applicants. Also, perceptions of a variety of biases were specifically reported in respondents' feedback. Less than 40% of applicants found the feedback to be very useful in informing their research and improving grantsmanship and future submissions. Further, negative perceptions of the appropriateness of review feedback were positively correlated with more negative perceptions of feedback usefulness. Importantly, respondents suggested that highly competitive funding pay-lines and poor inter-panel reliability limited the usefulness of review feedback. Overall, these results suggest that more effort is needed to ensure that appropriate and useful feedback is provided to all applicants, bolstering the equity of the review process and likely improving the quality of resubmitted proposals.
    Keywords:  Bias; Feedback; Gender; Grant funding; Peer review; Race; Resubmission
  16. World J Cardiol. 2021 Feb 26. 13(2): 38-41
      On behalf of the Editorial Office of World Journal of Cardiology (WJC), we extend our sincere gratitude to our authors, readers, Editorial Board members, and peer reviewers, thanking each and every one for their contributions to WJC in 2020 and with wishes for a Happy New Year. It was the collective support of all authors, Editorial Board members, peer reviewers and staff of the Editorial Office that allowed the Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. to carry out successfully the complete peer review, editing and publishing processes for WJC in 2020. We have now analyzed the metric data of WJC's manuscripts that were submitted and published in 2020, the peer review of manuscripts in 2020, the invited manuscripts for 2021 and the Editorial Board members' composition and activities. As a global academic journal in cardiology, the findings from such will facilitate greater productivity and more efficient collaborative efforts to raise the academic rank of WJC in 2021. We enthusiastically anticipate WJC's contributions to promote further cardiology research sharing and exchange in 2021.
    Keywords:  Academic rank; Baishideng; Cardiology; Editorial board members; New Year's message; World Journal of Cardiology