Springer Nature supports 'Scholarly Communication in Times of Crisis' project, led by Research on Research Institute (RoRI)
London | 06 December 2021
Springer Nature was part of a project team of publishers, and others from the scholarly ecosystem, led by the Research on Research Institute (RoRI) who have contributed to a report that has sought to address the impact of key commitments, made across the research and scholarly publishing ecosystem, to promote sharing of COVID-19 research. In summary the report found that levels of COVID-19 research data sharing have remained low during the pandemic, and preprinting of research on the virus has been lower than would be expected. Whilst the efforts of scientific publishers and the research community have been shown to have sped up publication times for COVID-19 research, and made much of it freely accessible, the report calls for more collaborative action if society is to really benefit from open science.
Speaking of the report and its findings, Sowmya Swaminathan, Head of Editorial Policy and Research Integrity at Springer Nature, said:
“Being involved with the Scholarly Communication in Times of Crisis project has been an incredibly informative experience and one that we have been delighted to contribute to. For us, sharing research is fundamental to trust, integrity and reproducibility and so having a report that addresses to what extent researchers are actually doing this and how they are doing this is really important to help ensure that we, as publishers, are supporting the community in the way in which they need.
Whilst it is disappointing to see that the sharing of data and early versions of research in the form of preprints was low during the pandemic, it provides solid evidence for the community that more action needs to be taken if we are to move to a truly open research world. We recognise the enormous pressures and challenges confronting researchers and we are committed to working with researcher’s to address their pain points through solutions such as In Review which makes it easy for authors to post their submitted manuscript on the Research Square preprint platform, and continue to develop a suite of research solutions to better support a more open workflow.”
The full report can be read here and the press release, issued by RoRI, can be seen below.
COVID-19 research freely accessible, but research data sharing and preprinting are low
Levels of COVID-19 research data sharing have remained low during the pandemic, and preprinting of research on the virus has been lower than two initiatives tried to ensure it would be. This is according to a new report that examines the effectiveness of initiatives taken by players in the research ecosystem to promote sharing of COVID-19 research by stepping up open science approaches.
While the efforts of scientific publishers and the research community have speeded up publication times for COVID-19 research, and made much of it freely accessible, more effort is needed if society is to truly benefit from open science, the Scholarly Communication in Times of Crisis: The response of the scholarly communication system to the COVID-19 pandemic report says.
The sharing of the SARS-CoV-2 genome is seen as the poster child for open science, and the pandemic held up as a turning point for open science. Yet the report finds this has only partly been realised. It makes a series of key recommendations, three of which focus on opening up data, encouraging preprinting and strengthening collaboration across the scholarly communication ecosystem:
- Only joint efforts will improve the availability and quality of research data sharing. Common data policy templates should be developed to require data sets and software to be posted to a trusted, FAIR-enabling repository, and to require formal citations to data sets and software.
- Mandating preprinting and rewarding researchers who use preprints could shift the needle. Publishers should include posting of preprints in their submission workflows and leaders should advocate for preprints.
- Publishers and other scholarly communication organisations should intensify their joint efforts to improve the availability and quality of data and metadata on scholarly publishing, allowing for robust evidence-informed approaches to innovation in scholarly communication.
The report concludes that there is no magic bullet to improving scholarly communication. It is a joint responsibility that requires collaboration and coordinated action across stakeholders in the research system.
Early in 2020 a Wellcome-coordinated COVID-19 statement, signed by over 30 publishers, called for open or free access to all COVID-19 publications for the duration of the pandemic; for COVID-19 papers to be made available via preprint servers prior to journal publication; and data from COVID-19 research to be shared as early as possible.
A second initiative, launched by a group of publishers and related organisations, the COVID-19 Rapid Review Initiative, worked on implementing the commitments made in the Wellcome-coordinated COVID-19 statement and aimed to accelerate peer review of COVID-19 papers.
Scholarly Communication in Times of Crisis: The response of the scholarly communication system to the COVID-19 pandemic has been written by a team comprising researchers, publishers, and other scholarly communication experts, all associated with the COVID-19 Rapid Review Initiative. It presents the results of research undertaken by the team and reviews research conducted by others, with a view to identify opportunities for the scholarly communication stakeholders to effect change that will extend beyond the pandemic and have long-lasting benefits.
The authors also conclude that obtaining robust evidence on the response of the scholarly communication system to the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging. Relevant publishing data is often not available or is of limited quality. To enable robust evidence-informed approaches to innovation in scholarly communication, joint efforts to improve the availability and quality of this type of data are needed.
Ludo Waltman, Associate Director, Research on Research Institute (RoRI) and Professor of Quantitative Science Studies, Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University says: “Development of innovative new forms of peer review, for instance by @PREreview_ and @mitpress @RapidReviewsC19, is extremely important and deserves further attention from all relevant actors in the system. I hope that the pandemic will be an impetus for more innovation in this area.”
Stephen Pinfield, Associate Director, Research on Research Institute (RoRI) and Professor of Information Services Management, University of Sheffield says: "Approaches adopted during the pandemic have powerfully illustrated the benefits of openness. It is important that we apply those lessons in future to improve the scholarly communication system for the benefit of the research community and society more generally."
From 13.00 Central European Time the report will be available at: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.17125394
About COVID-19 Collaboration Group
On 27 April 2020, a group of publishers and scholarly communications organisations announced a joint initiative to maximize the efficiency of peer review, ensuring that key work related to COVID-19 is reviewed and published as quickly and openly as possible, supported by Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association ( https://oaspa.org/covid-19-publishers-open-letter-of-intent-rapid-review/).
About Springer Nature
For over 175 years Springer Nature has been advancing discovery by providing the best possible service to the whole research community. We help researchers uncover new ideas, make sure all the research we publish is significant, robust and stands up to objective scrutiny, that it reaches all relevant audiences in the best possible format, and can be discovered, accessed, used, re-used and shared. We support librarians and institutions with innovations in technology and data; and provide quality publishing support to societies.
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