Holistic approaches to open science and publishing infrastructures: Case studies from Carnegie Mellon University and F1000
In the last decade, the scholarly communication ecosystem has evolved at an unprecedented pace. This is especially evident in the scholarly community’s movement towards openness, a cultural shift that was accelerated exponentially by the pandemic. An increasing number of policies and guidelines, like the recent OSTP announcement, are now promoting open science publishing through collaboration, availability, and transparency in all spheres—from data to code to publications.
Against this backdrop, publishers, librarians, and researchers are grappling with the practical challenges of building an open ecosystem. At this year’s Virtual Charleston Conference, Chasz Griego, Open Science Postdoctoral Associate at Carnegie Mellon University, and Emily Farrell, Director of Open Research, Americas at Taylor and Francis, held a session to showcase two different approaches libraries and publishers are taking to support researchers in their open pathways. In their presentation, they addressed some of the questions that publishers and institutions must contend with. What does an open system look like in practice? How are researchers responding to this increase in open research? What support can and do libraries and publishers provide to researchers? How will these change and grow with researchers’ needs? And how can we rethink infrastructures to support a holistic approach to open science publishing?
Open Access as a part of Open Science
While open access to published papers was once a radical proposition, thought leaders are now seeing it as just one aspect in building a healthy scientific process: from research processes all the way through to publication. Instead of emphasizing open access, open science has been signposted as the future for researchers and institutions.
FOSTER has defined open science as “the practice of science in such a way that others can collaborate and contribute, where research data, lab notes, and other research processes are freely available, under terms that enable reuse, redistribution, and reproduction of the research and its underlying data and methods”. That demands a profound change for both researchers and publishers, who must adapt and facilitate openness from a project’s conception.
The Carnegie Mellon Library’s Open Science and Data Collaboration program (OSDC) exemplifies how institutions can support infrastructure to promote open science from day one. Through OSDC, researchers have access to licenses, consultations and workshops to help them create open projects and manage open data the moment they start designing their project.
“[Researchers have access to] lab archives, something that someone can use to prepare digital notebooks. In the collecting and analyzing phase, we offer consultations, workshops and support for practices with R and Python. And then going forward, we offer licenses for…users to list their research protocols, and open science framework to prepare a place to host their research projects,” said Chasz Griego.
Reflecting an active desire for support, OSDC has seen cross-disciplinary engagement, user increase of platforms year after year, and workshop attendance reaching into the hundreds.
However, even if a study has been conducted entirely openly, when it comes time to publish, researchers may face an entirely new set of obstacles. This is where F1000 steps in.
When studies or research notes are complete, F1000’s model ensures that the entire process of publication – from preprint to peer review to archiving – is rapid and transparent. After rapid publication,
“…the F1000 model is similar to the ways that Carnegie Mellon is addressing changes in the research process through their library,” explained Emily. “This model really does respond to the real call for more rapid publication that’s come from many different disciplines. The fact that peer review is more transparent allows for more engagement and the ability to see who the reviewers are and how the review process is being done. It also adds the ability to account for what’s happening across the research journey to make those pieces available.”
Emily highlighted that F1000’s model had seen successes that had profound and positive implications for advancing research. Rapid publication means that advances in research are still relevant when they’re published. Transparent peer review reduces the chance for bias and encourages accountability. The model’s openness and flexibility in types of publications (articles, data notes, protocols) encourages diversity in both submissions and study types, supporting scientific inquiry in all its forms, at all stages.
Facing the Challenges of Open Infrastructure
Even with OSDC’s considerable successes, Chasz highlighted the need to develop deeper insight into the program’s users: what motivates users to engage, and what stops them. Catering to different service needs (for example, longer term projects as opposed to shorter term needs) and coexisting with different library services are both processes the university is continuing to work on.
Following that, even if researchers are fully supported to conduct studies openly, they face additional obstacles when it comes to publication.
Emily describes how traditional structures and incentives are deeply embedded into research culture. For example, journal impact factors still hold sway over researchers, despite criticism of their validity as a value metric, and act as a barrier to more innovative open research models. Additionally, positive publication bias and restrictive formats mean valuable findings are excluded from published research. Meaningfully engaging different scholarly disciplines means catering to the unique ways each one analyses and shares knowledge, something F1000 is partnering to build into its platform.
“We’re working collaboratively to develop different types of articles that are more suited for different disciplines, different types of researchers, different organizations and funders,” said Emily, “Such that there’s enough flexibility to ensure that we’re working to serve researchers in the ways that are needed as the fields develop.”
Both OSDC and F1000’s publishing models are good examples of scholarly communication systems that give researchers what they need to succeed in a research culture that is becoming ever more open. In an earlier blog, Rebecca Lawrence, Managing Director at F1000 emphasized the need for an Open Research Task Force. Research funders, institutions, societies, publishers, and researchers working together across the scholarly research ecosystem. They are the key stakeholders in open science publishing, and each of them plays an important part.
Didn’t make the conference? You can watch the session recording below.