bims-skolko Biomed News
on Scholarly communication
Issue of 2022‒02‒06
fifteen papers selected by
Thomas Krichel
Open Library Society

  1. PLoS Biol. 2022 02;20(2): e3001285
      Amid the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, preprints in the biomedical sciences are being posted and accessed at unprecedented rates, drawing widespread attention from the general public, press, and policymakers for the first time. This phenomenon has sharpened long-standing questions about the reliability of information shared prior to journal peer review. Does the information shared in preprints typically withstand the scrutiny of peer review, or are conclusions likely to change in the version of record? We assessed preprints from bioRxiv and medRxiv that had been posted and subsequently published in a journal through April 30, 2020, representing the initial phase of the pandemic response. We utilised a combination of automatic and manual annotations to quantify how an article changed between the preprinted and published version. We found that the total number of figure panels and tables changed little between preprint and published articles. Moreover, the conclusions of 7.2% of non-COVID-19-related and 17.2% of COVID-19-related abstracts undergo a discrete change by the time of publication, but the majority of these changes do not qualitatively change the conclusions of the paper.
  2. PLoS Biol. 2022 Feb;20(2): e3001470
      Preprints allow researchers to make their findings available to the scientific community before they have undergone peer review. Studies on preprints within bioRxiv have been largely focused on article metadata and how often these preprints are downloaded, cited, published, and discussed online. A missing element that has yet to be examined is the language contained within the bioRxiv preprint repository. We sought to compare and contrast linguistic features within bioRxiv preprints to published biomedical text as a whole as this is an excellent opportunity to examine how peer review changes these documents. The most prevalent features that changed appear to be associated with typesetting and mentions of supporting information sections or additional files. In addition to text comparison, we created document embeddings derived from a preprint-trained word2vec model. We found that these embeddings are able to parse out different scientific approaches and concepts, link unannotated preprint-peer-reviewed article pairs, and identify journals that publish linguistically similar papers to a given preprint. We also used these embeddings to examine factors associated with the time elapsed between the posting of a first preprint and the appearance of a peer-reviewed publication. We found that preprints with more versions posted and more textual changes took longer to publish. Lastly, we constructed a web application ( that allows users to identify which journals and articles that are most linguistically similar to a bioRxiv or medRxiv preprint as well as observe where the preprint would be positioned within a published article landscape.
  3. PLoS One. 2022 ;17(2): e0263410
      The number of scholarly journal articles published each year is growing, but little is known about the relationship between journal article growth and other forms of scholarly dissemination (e.g., books and monographs). Journal articles are the de facto currency of evaluation and prestige in STEM fields, but social scientists routinely publish books as well as articles, representing a unique opportunity to study increased article publications in disciplines with other dissemination options. We studied the publishing activity of social science faculty members in 12 disciplines at 290 Ph.D. granting institutions in the United States between 2011 and 2019, asking: 1) have publication practices changed such that more or fewer books and articles are written now than in the recent past?; 2) has the percentage of scholars actively participating in a particular publishing type changed over time?; and 3) do different age cohorts evince different publication strategies? In all disciplines, journal articles per person increased between 3% and 64% between 2011 and 2019, while books per person decreased by at least 31% and as much as 54%. All age cohorts show increased article authorship over the study period, and early career scholars author more articles per person than the other cohorts in eight disciplines. The article-dominated literatures of the social sciences are becoming increasingly similar to those of STEM disciplines.
  4. Front Res Metr Anal. 2021 ;6 748171
      Scholarly publishing lives on traditioned terminology that gives meaning to subjects such as authors, inhouse editors and external guest editors, artifacts such as articles, journals, special issues, and collected editions, or practices of acquisition, selection, and review. These subjects, artifacts, and practices ground the constitution of scholarly discourse. And yet, the meaning ascribed to each of these terms shifts, blurs, or is disguised as publishing culture shifts, which becomes manifest in new digital publishing technology, new forms of publishing management, and new forms of scholarly knowledge production. As a result, we may come to over- or underestimate changes in scholarly communication based on traditioned but shifting terminology. In this article, we discuss instances of scholarly publishing whose meaning shifted. We showcase the cultural shift that becomes manifest in the new, prolific guest editor. Though the term suggests an established subject, this editorial role crystallizes a new cultural setting of loosened discourse communities and temporal structures, a blurring of publishing genres and, ultimately, the foundations of academic knowledge production.
    Keywords:  editorship; guest editor; knowledge production; open access; publishing platforms; scholarly communities; scholarly publishing
  5. Forensic Sci Res. 2021 ;6(4): 303-309
      The emergence of the Internet has transformed all areas of society. This includes the universe of scientific publications, with several publishers now exclusively focusing on the electronic format and open access model while expanding to a megajournal scope. In this context, the pandemic of predatory open access journals (POAJs) and meetings are of grave concern to the academic and research community. This new shift within academia produces a variety of new victims; namely, the authors themselves. In turn, scientific knowledge is often discredited, with the public placing less trust in science. Now more than ever, performing research with integrity and selecting a journal in which to publish requires close attention and expertise. The "predatory movement" has developed increasingly sophisticated techniques for misleading people into believing what seem to be credible professional layouts and legitimate invitations. Initiatives such as the Jeffrey Beall's list, the Cabell's Scholarly Analytics and Think.Check.Submit offer some guidance to uncover the "parasitic" intervention of predatory journals and meetings, but specific education in this field is sorely needed. This work aims to review the main characteristics of predatory journals and meetings and to analyze this topic in the context of forensic and legal medicine research.
    Keywords:  Forensic sciences; predatory open access journals; Jeffrey Beall’s list; peer review; predatory meetings; research integrity; scientific publishing
  6. Stud Hist Philos Sci. 2022 Jan 29. pii: S0039-3681(22)00012-7. [Epub ahead of print]92 20-26
      In response to increasing fatigue with the failings of the peer review system, granting agencies are beginning to consider lotteries as an alternative. I argue that citizen review, in which non-scientists determine funding allocations, has advantages over both. This is particularly true when it comes to identifying which research is most pursuitworthy.
    Keywords:  Crowdfunding science; Epistemic diversity; Grant lotteries; Peer review; Social structure of science
  7. Alzheimers Dement. 2021 Dec;17 Suppl 7 e054352
      BACKGROUND: Research shows that including the voices of people with lived experience (PWLE) in the full research process ensures that the research is both relevant and meaningful in real-life contexts. However, operationalizing this in a meaningful way can be challenging, particularly in the context of dementia. Since 2014, the Alzheimer Society of Canada (ASC) has included PWLE in the Alzheimer Society Research Program's (ASRP) peer review process through the role of the citizen reviewer, however, this has been limited in scope. In 2019, a pilot study expanded this role to a broader panel of citizen reviewers who are equal participants in the peer review process, scoring applications and providing valuable contextual feedback. In 2020, this process was further formalized, allowing greater participation and enhanced engagement.METHOD: Qualitative feedback was collected from panelists following the 2019 pilot which demonstrated a collective desire to improve overall engagement while formalizing a systematic process. The data was thematically assessed and used to create several resources to recruit, maintain, and train citizen reviewers as equal and valued participants in the peer review process. This was conducted within the context of the pandemic, in which the full process was adapted to a virtual peer review process.
    RESULT: Data from the 2019 pilot resulted in a four-step process for recruitment, orientation, and training of citizen reviewers. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with potential candidates, followed by a comprehensive orientation package, and a virtual orientation session designed for PWLE that included role playing and case studies. Lastly, technical support meetings were created to support the virtual nature of the process. Twenty-five citizen reviewers were recruited, an increase of 44% participation from the previous year. This, in turn, has led to the creation of a new resource guide for engaging PWLE in peer review, which demonstrates how to operationalize meaningfully engaging and valuing the experiences of people living with dementia.
    CONCLUSION: The pilot and subsequent expansion of the citizen reviewer role has created a new way to operationalize lived experiences within the research funding process. While requiring significant upfront work, the value of real-life experience in prioritizing research is unparalleled.
  8. Nature. 2022 Feb;602(7895): 169-171
    Keywords:  Authorship; Careers; Peer review
  9. Nat Cancer. 2021 Oct;2(10): 995
  10. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2022 Feb 01. 288 201-212
      Donald A.B. Lindberg M.D., Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) from August 1984-March 2015, had a remarkable vision for NLM's scope, goals, and function. This vision resulted in many external partnerships and initiatives with the publishing industry, commercial and non-profit, journal editors, and professional organizations. These partnerships ranged from ongoing collaboration and dialogue, such as the NLM Publisher's Committee and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). to the more practical, such as the creation of HINARI and the Emergency Access Initiative (EAI). Dr. Lindberg fostered partnerships outside the NLM to expand the use and reach of Library resources, including MEDLINE and to support innovations in the processes that build them, and improve the quality of biomedical journals. Dr. Lindberg also encouraged the use of technology to enhance medical information and supported the early development of fully interactive publications. Attitudes that contained a measure of skepticism and distrust faded as collaborators came to have a better understanding of both NLM and their partners. This chapter discusses these relationships and accomplishments that NLM achieved working with publishers and other creators and disseminators of medical information under Dr. Lindberg's leadership.
    Keywords:; Donald A.B. Lindberg M.D.; MEDLINE; Publishing; Scholarly Communication; U.S. National Library of Medicine
  11. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2022 Feb 01. pii: S0002-9378(22)00068-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      OBJECTIVE: Gender-based bias during journal peer review can lead to publication biases and perpetuate gender inequality in science. Double-blind peer review, in which the names of authors and reviewers are masked, may present an opportunity for the scientific literature to increase equity and reduce gender-based biases. This systematic review of studies evaluates the impact of double-blind versus single-blind peer review on publication rates by perceived author gender.DATA SOURCES: The PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Scopus electronic databases were searched using the terms "blind," "peer review," "gender," "woman," and "author." All published literature in the English language from database inception through 2020 was queried.
    STUDY ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Prospective experimental and observational studies comparing double-blind to single-blind peer review strategies examining impact on publication decisions by author gender were included.
    STUDY APPRAISAL AND SYNTHESIS METHODS: Extracted data were primarily descriptive and included information on study design, sample size, primary outcome, major findings, and scientific discipline. Studies were characterized based on design and whether results demonstrated an impact of double-blind peer review on review scores and publication decision by perceived author gender. This study was registered with the PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews.
    RESULTS: In total, 1,717 articles were identified, 123 were reviewed, and eight were included, encompassing five prospective experimental studies and three observational studies. Four studies demonstrated a difference in acceptance rate or review score based on perceived author gender, while the other four studies demonstrated no differences when author gender was anonymized.
    CONCLUSIONS: Studies evaluating the impact of double-blind peer review on author gender demonstrate mixed results, but there is reasonable evidence that gender bias may exist in scientific publishing and that double-blinding can mitigate its impact. Further evaluation of the processes in place to create the body of evidence that clinicians and researchers rely upon is essential to reduce bias, particularly in female-majority fields such as obstetrics and gynecology.
    Keywords:  Gender; bias; double blind; peer review
  12. Nat Cancer. 2021 May;2(5): 475
  13. Nat Cancer. 2020 Nov;1(11): 1025-1026
  14. Nat Cancer. 2021 Nov;2(11): 1115