bims-skolko Biomed News
on Scholarly communication
Issue of 2021‒08‒01
twenty-two papers selected by
Thomas Krichel
Open Library Society

  1. F1000Res. 2021 ;10 20
      For decades, the supra-inflation increase of subscription prices for scholarly journals has concerned scholarly institutions. After years of fruitless efforts to solve this "serials crisis", open access has been proposed as the latest potential solution. However, the prices for open access publishing are also high and are rising well beyond inflation. What has been missing from the public discussion so far is a quantitative approach to determine the actual costs of efficiently publishing a scholarly article using state-of-the-art technologies, such that informed decisions can be made as to appropriate price levels. Here we provide a granular, step-by-step calculation of the costs associated with publishing primary research articles, from submission, through peer-review, to publication, indexing and archiving. We find that these costs range from less than US$200 per article in modern, large-scale publishing platforms using post-publication peer-review, to about US$1,000 per article in prestigious journals with rejection rates exceeding 90%. The publication costs for a representative scholarly article today come to lie at around US$400. We discuss the additional non-publication items that make up the difference between publication costs and final price.
    Keywords:  costs; journals; prices; publisher; publishing; scholarly communication; scholarly publishing
  2. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2021 Jul 29. pii: jnccn20459. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Editorials accompanying the publication of trials in major oncology journals can have a substantial influence on clinical practice. We describe the prevalence of financial conflicts of interest (FCOIs) of authors writing such editorials and the extent to which FCOIs may shape the interpretation of clinical trials.METHODS: We examined editorials published in 2018 alongside trial reports in the top 5 journals that publish cancer drug trials (New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Lancet Oncology, JAMA Oncology, and Journal of Clinical Oncology). An editorial was considered to have an FCOI if at least one of the editorialists had any disclosed FCOI. An FCOI with the same company whose drug was being discussed in the editorial was classified as a direct FCOI. Editorials were reviewed for their content and classified as being unduly favorable (defined as the presence of a positive spin without discussion of limitations) or not. Association of an FCOI and a direct FCOI with writing an unduly favorable editorial was assessed.
    RESULTS: Of the 90 editorials assessed, 74% (n=67) were classified as having an FCOI with the pharmaceutical industry, and 39% (n=35) had an FCOI with the same company whose product was being discussed in the editorial (direct FCOI). Editorials were classified as being unduly favorable toward the study drug in 12% (8 of 67) and 13% (3 of 23) (P=1.0) of those with and without FCOIs, respectively; corresponding rates with and without direct FCOI were 23% (8 of 35) and 5% (3 of 55), respectively (P=.009).
    CONCLUSIONS: Editorials in top oncology journals were frequently authored by experts with FCOIs, including direct FCOIs. Authoring an unduly favorable editorial for a new cancer drug was significantly associated with the author having a direct FCOI with the same company. These findings support the call for journals to ensure that authors of editorials have no direct FCOIs.
  3. Sci Data. 2021 Jul 27. 8(1): 192
      Data sharing is one of the cornerstones of modern science that enables large-scale analyses and reproducibility. We evaluated data availability in research articles across nine disciplines in Nature and Science magazines and recorded corresponding authors' concerns, requests and reasons for declining data sharing. Although data sharing has improved in the last decade and particularly in recent years, data availability and willingness to share data still differ greatly among disciplines. We observed that statements of data availability upon (reasonable) request are inefficient and should not be allowed by journals. To improve data sharing at the time of manuscript acceptance, researchers should be better motivated to release their data with real benefits such as recognition, or bonus points in grant and job applications. We recommend that data management costs should be covered by funding agencies; publicly available research data ought to be included in the evaluation of applications; and surveillance of data sharing should be enforced by both academic publishers and funders. These cross-discipline survey data are available from the plutoF repository.
  4. Account Res. 2021 Jul 27. 1-5
      The commentary touches upon the topic which is relevant to hundreds of thousands of researchers in the world. When trying to publish in English, they are often advised to ask the native speakers of the language for their opinion. However, as English has become the international, cross-border language of science, it may have ceased to be the property of the native speaker researchers, who constitute a small minority in the community. In addition, when English is used as a lingua franca, it is the message which counts, not the particular style or spelling. The commentary finishes with an appeal not to hinder the development of science by slowing down the editing process, and thus not to close the door for diversity and new perspectives.
    Keywords:  Peer review; publication; science communication
  5. Account Res. 2021 Jul 28. 1-2
      Many journals publish the names of reviewers in annual acknowledgement lists. For prestigious outlets, being named on such lists can constitute legitimation of expertise. Although designed to motivate service, this practice can be leveraged to address an important problem in the study of peer review-reliance on tightly held proprietary data. While certainly not without limitations, analysis of reviewer acknowledgement lists can help answer broad questions in the sociology of science concerning intra- and inter-disciplinary stratification. Results from a pilot study of publications in criminology and sociology are discussed.
    Keywords:  Content analysis; Data management; Open data; Peer review; Publication; Social science research ethics
  6. J Vasc Surg. 2021 Aug;pii: S0741-5214(21)00180-4. [Epub ahead of print]74(2): 625
  7. J Patient Cent Res Rev. 2021 ;8(3): 248-254
      Purpose: Detrimental effects of using non-patient-centered language (nPCL) have been reported for diabetes, mental illness, and obesity, and both the American Medical Association (AMA) and International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommend using patient-centered language in medical literature. Heart failure is a common yet stigmatized disease, and nPCL may further propagate stigma. This study analyzed current use of nPCL in journals focused on heart failure research and also examined whether the journals steer authors to adhere to AMA or ICMJE guidelines regarding nPCL.Methods: Following systematic search of PubMed for heart failure-related articles published from May 1, 2018, to April 30, 2020, cross-sectional analysis was performed. Each selected article was inspected for an array of nPCL terms and frequency of nPCL usage. Chi-squared tests and multivariable logistic regressions were used to assess relationships between study characteristics and nPCL use.
    Results: Of the 195 articles fully analyzed, 108 (55.4%) contained a nPCL term, the most frequently used being "heart failure patient" (78.7%), "burden" (23.1%), and "suffer" (15.7%). Use of nPCL was disproportionately more common in original research articles (63.5%) and less common in case reports (18.2%). Articles that did not detail any treatment or intervention used the most nPCL (71.1%). No statistically significant association was found between a journal's impact factor and its adherence to AMA or ICMJE recommendations.
    Conclusions: nPCL is widely used in publications reporting on heart failure. We encourage authors and journals to reduce nPCL to help decrease the stigma patients with this disease often encounter.
    Keywords:  health research; heart failure; patient-centered language; publishing; stigma
  8. BMC Med Ethics. 2021 Jul 28. 22(1): 106
      Over recent years, the research community has been increasingly using preprint servers to share manuscripts that are not yet peer-reviewed. Even if it enables quick dissemination of research findings, this practice raises several challenges in publication ethics and integrity. In particular, preprints have become an important source of information for stakeholders interested in COVID19 research developments, including traditional media, social media, and policy makers. Despite caveats about their nature, many users can still confuse pre-prints with peer-reviewed manuscripts. If unconfirmed but already widely shared first-draft results later prove wrong or misinterpreted, it can be very difficult to "unlearn" what we thought was true. Complexity further increases if unconfirmed findings have been used to inform guidelines. To help achieve a balance between early access to research findings and its negative consequences, we formulated five recommendations: (a) consensus should be sought on a term clearer than 'pre-print', such as 'Unrefereed manuscript', "Manuscript awaiting peer review" or ''Non-reviewed manuscript"; (b) Caveats about unrefereed manuscripts should be prominent on their first page, and each page should include a red watermark stating 'Caution-Not Peer Reviewed'; (c) pre-print authors should certify that their manuscript will be submitted to a peer-review journal, and should regularly update the manuscript status; (d) high level consultations should be convened, to formulate clear principles and policies for the publication and dissemination of non-peer reviewed research results; (e) in the longer term, an international initiative to certify servers that comply with good practices could be envisaged.
  9. Account Res. 2021 Jul 26.
      In China, master's students in humanities and social sciences (HSS) are becoming the main target of Chinese-language predatory journals. Existing research has not paid enough attention to why these students publish papers in Chinese-language predatory journals. This research interviewed 30 HSS master's students with different majors using semi-structured interviews and Grounded Theory to analyze the data; it found that research discrimination, research context, self-awareness, and individual demand are the main reasons why students publish papers in Chinese-language predatory journals. This study provides the following suggestions in an effort to solve the problem of Chinese-language predatory journals. First, the Chinese government should draw up a blacklist of Chinese-language predatory journals. Second, the research evaluation departments of Chinese universities and research institutions should evaluate the research results of HSS master's students based on this list. Third, Chinese universities or scientific research institutions should strengthen the training of HSS master tutors and increase their awareness of Chinese-language predatory journals. And finally, Chinese HSS master's students should be taught about the hazards of Chinese-language predatory journals in research integrity and ethics courses, and refuse to publish papers in Chinese-language predatory journals.
    Keywords:  Chinese-language predatory journals; Grounded Theory; HSS master’s students; academic journals; research integrity; scholarly publishing
  10. JACC Case Rep. 2020 Feb;2(2): 333-334
    Keywords:  Altmetrics; impact factor; journals; social media
  11. Int J STEM Educ. 2021 ;8(1): 47
      Background: Seminal reports, based on recommendations by educators, scientists, and in collaboration with students, have called for undergraduate curricula to engage students in some of the same practices as scientists-one of which is communicating science with a general, non-scientific audience (SciComm). Unfortunately, very little research has focused on helping students develop these skills. An important early step in creating effective and efficient curricula is understanding what baseline skills students have prior to instruction. Here, we used the Essential Elements for Effective Science Communication (EEES) framework to survey the SciComm skills of students in an environmental science course in which they had little SciComm training.Results: Our analyses revealed that, despite not being given the framework, students included several of the 13 elements, especially those which were explicitly asked for in the assignment instructions. Students commonly targeted broad audiences composed of interested adults, aimed to increase the knowledge and awareness of their audience, and planned and executed remote projects using print on social media. Additionally, students demonstrated flexibility in their skills by slightly differing their choices depending on the context of the assignment, such as creating more engaging content than they had planned for.
    Conclusions: The students exhibited several key baseline skills, even though they had minimal training on the best practices of SciComm; however, more support is required to help students become better communicators, and more work in different contexts may be beneficial to acquire additional perspectives on SciComm skills among a variety of science students. The few elements that were not well highlighted in the students' projects may not have been as intuitive to novice communicators. Thus, we provide recommendations for how educators can help their undergraduate science students develop valuable, prescribed SciComm skills. Some of these recommendations include helping students determine the right audience for their communication project, providing opportunities for students to try multiple media types, determining the type of language that is appropriate for the audience, and encouraging students to aim for a mix of communication objectives. With this guidance, educators can better prepare their students to become a more open and communicative generation of scientists and citizens.
    Supplementary Information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s40594-021-00304-0.
    Keywords:  Baseline skills; Content analysis; Environmental science; Science communication; Undergraduate
  12. Am J Obstet Gynecol MFM. 2021 Jul 26. pii: S2589-9333(21)00145-2. [Epub ahead of print] 100450
      BACKGROUND: Randomized controlled trials are considered the highest level of evidence but fewer than half are reproducible. Rigorous methodology improves trial quality but reproducibility may be limited by lack of transparency in reporting. The Consolidated Standard of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines define reporting standards, and pre-trial registration requires pre-defined methodology and outcomes.OBJECTIVE: We evaluated obstetrics and gynecology trials in six journals for adherence to CONSORT guidelines. Secondarily, we evaluated pre-trial registration compliance and concordance between registry and publication. Further, we evaluated differences in trial characteristics of randomized controlled trials with highest versus lower compliance, and adherence to guidelines by journal type.
    STUDY DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional study of obstetrics and gynecology trials published between 2017 and 2019 in six journals (AJOG, BJOG, Obstetrics and Gynecology, JAMA, The Lancet, NEJM). Randomized controlled trials were identified via PubMed and manual journal archive search. The primary outcome was adequate compliance with CONSORT guidelines defined as ≥ 80% of checklist items present. Secondary outcomes included completion of pre-trial registration, and concordance between pre-trial registration and publication for outcomes and sample size. We compared characteristics of trials with adequate versus inadequate compliance. Secondary analyses included comparisons of characteristics of trials in the top quartile of CONSORT compliance with those in lower quartiles, and compliance with guidelines in OBGyn versus non-OBGyn journals. In exploratory analysis, trends in CONSORT compliance across the study period were assessed. A post-hoc sensitivity analysis evaluated outcomes with exclusion of two retracted trials.
    RESULTS: Of 170 trials included, 80% (95% CI 74-86%) were adequately compliant with CONSORT manuscript guidelines and 66% (95% CI 59-73%) with abstract guidelines. Nearly all (98%) trials reported pre-trial registration. Concordance between pre-trial registration and publication was identified for 77% of primary outcomes, 32% of secondary outcomes, and 60% of sample sizes. Trials with adequate compliance were more likely to be pre-registered, include an a priori power calculation, and use intent to treat analysis. Trials in the top quartile of CONSORT compliance were more likely to be multicenter, international, and government funded. More trials were in the top quartile of CONSORT compliance from non-OBGyn compared to OBGyn journals (64.9% vs 25.7%, p<0.001). No significant trends in adequate compliance were identified. Results did not differ significantly in sensitivity analysis.
    CONCLUSIONS: Twenty percent of OBGyn trials, in 6 high-impact journals, were not compliant with CONSORT guidelines, and there were major discrepancies between pre-trial registration and publication. Transparency, reproducibility, and scientific rigor in obstetrics and gynecology trial reporting needs to be improved.
    Keywords:  accountability; methodology; obstetrics & gynecology trials; reporting guidelines; reproducibility crisis; research design
  13. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2021 Jul 30.
      OBJECTIVE: Previous research indicated that the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors guidelines of prospective trial registration with clearly identified primary and secondary outcome measures are only adhered to in 14.4% of studies published in the top five psychiatry journals between 1 January 2009 and 31 July 2013. This study examined if adherence has improved.METHODS: The registration information, article information, primary outcome measures (POMs), participant numbers, and funding source were extracted from studies published in the same five psychiatry journals between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2019. Discrepancies between POMs in the articles and registry were tracked.
    RESULTS: Of the 7268 publications, 268 studies required registration. Three (1.1%) were unregistered, 107 (39.9%) were retrospectively registered, and 158 ( 58.9%) were prospectively registered. Of the 158 prospectively registered studies, 16 (10.1%) had unclear POMs in the article or registration, 22 (13.9%) had discrepancies between registered and published POMs, and 33 (20.9%) had no POM discrepancies but had retrospectively updated POMs in the registry. Of the 22 studies with discrepancies, nine (40.9%) were determined to favour statistically significant results. Overall, 87 (32.5%) of the 268 studies were prospectively registered with no discrepancies between registered and published POMs and no changes to registered POMs or timeframes.
    CONCLUSION: Although this rate of one third of published articles fully adhering to the guidelines is an improvement compared to previous research, further efforts still need to be made by both authors and journals to ensure full transparency in the reporting of studies in psychiatry.
    Keywords:  outcome assessment; psychiatry; publications; registration
  14. J Burn Care Res. 2021 Jul 28. pii: irab136. [Epub ahead of print]
      This study aims to systematically review the accuracy of the self-reporting of conflicts of interest (COI) among studies related to the use of dermal substitute products in burn management and evaluate factors associated with increased discrepancies. To do so, a literature search was done to identify studies investigating the use of dermal substitutes in burn management published between 2015 - 2019. Industry payments were collected using the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Open Payments database. Declared COI were then compared with the listed payments. Studies and authors were considered to have a COI if they received payments totaling >$100 for each company. A total of 51 studies (322 authors) were included for analysis. Thirty-eight studies (75%) had at least one author received an undisclosed payment from industry. From 2015 to 2019, 1391 general payments (totaling $1,696,848) and 108 research payments (totaling $1,849,537) were made by 82 companies. When increasing the threshold on what would be considered an undisclosed payment, the proportion of authors with discrepancies gradually decreased, from 88% of authors with undisclosed payments >$100 to 27% of authors with undisclosed payments >$10,000. Author order, journal impact factor, and study type were not significantly associated with increased risk of discrepancy. We found that the majority of studies investigating the use of dermal substitute products for burn management did not accurately declare COI, highlighting the need for a uniform declaration process and greater transparency of industry sponsorship by authors when publishing peer-reviewed burn surgery research papers.
    Keywords:  burns; conflicts of interest; dermal substitutes; transparency
  15. Int J Pharm Pract. 2021 Jul 28. pii: riab048. [Epub ahead of print]
  16. J Vasc Surg. 2021 Aug;pii: S0741-5214(21)00646-7. [Epub ahead of print]74(2S): 111S-117S
      Publication bias has been shown to exist in research across medical and surgical specialties. Bias can occur at any stage of the publication process and can be related to race, ethnicity, age, religion, sex, gender, or sexual orientation. Although some improvements have been made toward addressing this issue, bias still spans the publication process from authors and peer reviewers, to editorial board members and editors, with poor inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities throughout. The result of bias remaining unchecked is the publication of research that leaves out certain groups, is not applicable to all people, and can result in harm to some populations. We have highlighted the current landscape of publication bias and strived to demonstrate the importance of addressing it. We have also provided solutions for reducing bias at multiple stages throughout the publication process. Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout all aspects of the publication process, requiring diversity, equity, and inclusion statements in reports, and providing specific education and guidelines will ensure the identification and eradication of publication bias. By following these measures, we hope that publication bias will be eliminated, which will reduce further harm to certain populations and promote better, more effective research pertinent to all people.
    Keywords:  Diversity; Equity; Inclusion; Publication bias