Academic publishing and scholarly communications: Good reads, March 2016
The month of March has brought some positive developments in the scholarly publishing scene, with government policies and funding bodies proactively aiming to boost grants and funding for research. Some of the other interesting discussions trending this month revolved around data sharing mandates, linguistic bias in academic publishing, retractions due to honest errors, the impact of the abstract on citations, etc. Here are some snapshots that our editors have curated especially for you:
1. Funding for rejected NIH proposals: Not all grant proposals received by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) succeed in getting funding. In an effort to connect the applicants of rejected proposals to private funders, NIH has joined forces with Leidos Life Sciences for The Online Partnership to Accelerate Research (OnPAR) program. Rejected proposals that have scored within the 30th percentile will receive an opportunity for consideration by private funding organizations such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. While this idea has met with a positive response, some experts warn that in such cases attracting consistent funding could be challenging for researchers.
2. Canada gives a boost to science funding: The funding roadmap proposed by Canada's new Liberal government promises to boost the country’s federal research agencies and universities, by increasing the annual budget of Canada's research grants councils by $72 million, reports Bob Grant. The government has also promised to increase the focus on science and innovation in the country. How the funds are utilized by the institutions remains to be seen.
3. Compliance with data sharing mandates: The Wellcome Trust has warned major publishers, including Elsevier and Wiley, that unless they improve their service and lower their costs, the trust could refuse to provide researchers with funds to publish in certain types of their journals. The problem arose when it was found that some hybrid journals that publish both open access and subscription-only papers do not comply with the Trust's requirement of depositing published work in open access repositories. A Times Higher Education Report states that following this mandate, both Wiley and Elsevier have retrospectively put papers in the right repositories.
4. Retractions due to honest error: Retractions as a result of honest error account for less than 20% of all retractions, showing that researchers are reluctant to admit their errors. This is not surprising considering that retraction can be damaging to the reputation of the author. Danielle Fanelli argues that having a 'self-retraction' system that distinguishes clearly between retractions due to honest error and retractions due to misconduct would help reduce the stigma and encourage researchers to report their own mistakes.
5. How the abstract can impact citation count: A study published in the Journal of Informetrics informs that the style in which a research paper's abstract is written has an effect on its scientific impact. An analysis of more than 200,000 academic papers published between 1999 and 2008 in the online database Web of Science revealed that shorter abstracts containing more frequently used words received more citations.
6. Linguistic bias in academic publishing: Poor English is one of the most common reasons for journal rejection and it a common belief among the academic publishing community that authors from non-English speaking countries have more difficulty getting their papers published compared to their English-speaking counterparts. Some scholars also claim that in the English-dominated world of academic publishing, decision makers are inherently biased against ESL (English-as-a-second-language) authors. Taking this up, Ken Hyland, professor of applied linguistics at the University of Hong Kong, states that there is little evidence to support this assumption. In fact, Dr. Ken's research shows that the language discrimination phenomenon might be a myth!
7. Repression of academics in Turkey: Hundreds of academics have united and signed a petition criticizing the Turkish government and universities for the treatment meted out to the academics. Last month, accusation was leveled against academics from universities in Istanbul for signing a petition that called for an end to violence in the southeast of the country; they were accused of “spreading terrorist propaganda”. All of them were faced the consequences such as dismissal, suspension, and investigation. To protest this, academics from 62 countries have called on the international community to persuade the Turkish government to “respect academic freedom, free the arrested academics, and reinstate all the academics suspended or expelled during the persecution campaign with compensation”.
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Tell us what you read this month: Did you read something interesting about academic publishing this month? And would you like to share it with our readers? Feel free to share your reading in the comments section below.