Plan S, an ambitious project to accelerate the progress of Open Access in scientific journals, has announced a new policy that will allow authors funded by participating agencies (mostly in Europe) to submit their papers to any journal, even though the journal may be behind a subscription paywall. The trick this time is that Coalition S funders will require authors to deposit their accepted manuscript immediately upon publication, using a CC-BY Creative Commons license. The coalition claims that this will allow authors to retain their intellectual property rights and avoid long embargoes that most publishers demand for "green" open access. Since most publishers are not on board with this, Plan S has simply declared that the funding contract precedes and overrides any subsequent publishing agreement that a journal may try to impose. Plan S is slated to go into effect in 2021, although compliance with its requirements remains an open question. Read more in Nature and a critique in Scholarly Kitchen.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is being developed rapidly to address the problem of coping with the exploding literature on the novel coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. With an exponential growth curve, there are now almost 30,000 articles and preprints in various stages of peer review and publication, far too many for any researcher to sift through, let alone read, without the help of computers. NIH has been at the forefront of collecting them in a repository that can be used by software developers as a valuable test bed for AI algorithms that can answer researchers' questions in real time. The urgency of this task may provide a big boost to reaching the next generation of literature search technology, one that does not rely so much on the entry of keywords and the tedious manual scanning of results. Read more in a Nature article.
After a long beta period, the new version of the ultra-popular PubMed index database took the place of the old version in May. Many users have objected to the changes and new layouts, and they haven't been shy about saying so on social media. NLM seems determined to press forward though, and the legacy version will probably be retired for good in the not-distant future. Read more in Science.
Preprint servers are exploding. Peer review has sped up substantially. For-profit journals are making large chunks of articles free to read (temporarily at least). More scientists than ever are seeking ways to publish faster and more openly. The COVID pandemic has altered the scientific publishing landscape in ways that few people anticipated, that probably could not have happened without a global crisis unfolding in real time. The changes represent both opportunities and challenges, and pose questions about whether these developments will be fleeting or permanent. Read more in a Nature article, "Will the Pandemic Permanently Alter Scientific Publishing?"
A revised and expanded history of the Mallet Chemistry Library, from its founding in 1883 until it closed in 2017, has been published in Texas ScholarWorks, our institutional repository. The paper is authored by librarian David Flaxbart and is based on extensive archival materials from the Mallet archive files, much of which was compiled by longtime librarian Aubrey Skinner (served 1951-1985).
A new citation analysis across 15 disciplines has shown that chemists cite their own work more frequently than researchers in other fields such as biology and physics. The study covered 400,000 authors and 3.2 million papers with over 90 million citations. For the unnamed top self-citer in chemistry, 11% of his references were to his own papers. The study authors, based in Finland and Germany, point out that self-citation is not always a bad thing that indicates gaming the system in one's favor. There are many reasons to cite one's own work, namely that researchers routinely build on their own past work and cite what has preceded it. The research was published in the journal Scientometrics.
Jorge Hirsch, a physicist at UC San Diego, proposed the (in)famous H-index as an objective measure of scientific impact in 2005. It has since become a standard metric, used for good or ill, in assessing the cumulative impact of academic scientists. Now Hirsch is speaking out, and says "I can understand how the sorcerer’s apprentice must have felt. ... About half the scientific community loves the H-index and half hates it. The H-index of the scientist itself is a great predictor of whether s/he belongs to the first or the second group.” As the index becomes an overused shortcut to award jobs, grants, and tenure, it's a number to either flaunt or downplay, and its inherent bias toward more senior, prolific researchers is a point of criticism. Read more in the Nature Index blog.
The Journal of Organic Chemistry and Organic Letters published a joint editorial encouraging authors to submit original NMR data alongside their manuscripts, to better comply with Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) data guidelines. The original data for NMR includes free induction decay (FID) files, acquisition data, and processing parameters to be uploaded as a zipped file for ‘Supporting Information for Publication’ with their submission. This will help journals move away from static images of NMR spectra most commonly found in supporting information files now. "ACS has now developed a data packaging tool to assist authors in zipping their FID files, acquisition data, and processing parameters along with other appropriate FAIR metadata such as a SMILES or InChI for submission. This tool can be found at ACS Research Data Center, is free for any researcher to use, and includes instructions for authors on how to upload their data." Despite author guidelines that encourage authors to voluntarily include FID data during the submission process, the journals currently receive very few data submissions. The editors urge authors to "lead by example" and make their data more accessible and resusable to readers and reviewers.
The American Chemical Society has announced the launch of its third fully open access journal, titled JACS Au (to be pronounced, they no doubt hope, "JACS Gold"). JACS Au is intended to complement the flagship journal, Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), which will remain a "hybrid" journal publishing both OA and non-OA articles. ACS' standard author charges will apply to both. JACS Au will be open for submissions in the summer of 2020. [See press release]
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