As if Russian behavior lately wasn't objectionable enough, there's a paper mill that's openly selling author slots on papers submitted to reputable journals. A researcher in Berlin has been tracking the operation of International Publisher LLC, which has done a fine business since 2018. In return for a fee up to $5000, a desperate or unethical author can buy a slot on a paper in a journal to be named after payment of the fee. The site largely targets specialized journals at major publishers such as Elsevier, Wiley, SpringerNature, and Taylor & Francis. Publishers don't have many tools to combat this kind of fraud, but they don't seem to be trying very hard either. Read more in Science.
The American Chemical Society and Elsevier, two major publishers at the forefront of litigating against open literature platforms, have won a ruling in a German court over violation of copyright by authors who illegally posted copies of their papers on the social networking site. This is the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits against the platform, but it's hardly the last word. The ruling was limited and applies only in Germany. Read more in Nature.
Starting in January 2023, the NIH will require researchers to submit data management plans (DMPs) with their grant applications, and eventually to openly share all "scientific data" generated in their projects. The impetus for this mandate is the reproducibility crisis in life science research - one study has found that less than half of published studies can be reproduced. Some scientists are concerned about the added administrative burdens and costs placed on underfunded and understaffed labs and programs. The NSF has been requiring DMPs with its grant applications for a number of years. Read more in Nature.
The American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), Taylor & Francis, and Wiley are participating in a new pilot project in which articles from selected journals will be accessible through Elsevier’s online platform – ScienceDirect. Part of the pilot includes over 70,000 articles in 35 organic chemistry journals (six of which are from ACS), which will become discoverable within ScienceDirect's search results, and accessible via linking back to their native platforms. This experiment is made possible by GetFTR technology and is basically a form of syndication, where the content of one publisher is also visible and/or available via a secondary platform, which might be a social media site (e.g. ResearchGate) or another publisher's site. Read more on the ACS Axial blog and the Elsevier Connect newsletter.
The use of preprints in health science was just getting tentatively underway in 2020 when the emerging coronavirus pandemic accelerated the process beyond anyone's wildest imagination. Preprints are the open posting of research papers that have not yet been peer reviewed or accepted by a journal, and they've been the norm in some areas of physics and mathematics for decades. The more recent creation of new preprint servers such as BioRxiv and medRxiv brought many questions about the consequences of unvetted medical research let loose in the world, and its potential for both patient benefit and harm. Then the coronavirus came along. Preprints exploded - over 6000 of them on COVID-19 topics in the first four months of the pandemic alone - and their strengths and weaknesses were soon revealed. Nature Medicine offers an analysis of what went well, and what went wrong, and where it might lead in future.
Clarivate, creator of the Web of Science suite of databases, has released its 2021 list of Highly Cited Researchers. From the press release: "The annual list identifies 6,602 researchers from across the globe who demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. The names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index, and the list identifies the research institutions and countries where they are based." The United States still leads the country race, with about 40% of the authors, but this is down significantly from past years. China is rising fast with 935 researchers, followed by the UK (492), Australia (332) and Germany (331). Chemistry's own Jonathan Sessler is on the list.
As if things couldn't get much worse, Nature reports that the latest scam in the journal publishing world is "special issues" of established journals being hijacked by scammers posing as guest editors and publishing hundreds of fake scientific papers. It's becoming clear that normal safeguards are insufficient before editors hand the keys over to alleged guest editors, who then proceed to conduct fake peer review and populate their issues with nonsensical articles with titles such as "Sea level height based on big data of Internet of Things and aerobics teaching in coastal areas," which apparently attract no notice prior to final publication. Elsevier and Springer Nature have been most affected so far, and there are probably many more to come. The big question is why anyone would go to such trouble to pollute the literature with obviously fake papers. The saga continues.
ACS Publications has announced a portfolio-wide Research Data Policy, effective September 30th, 2021. The policy, which was developed in partnership with ACS editors and outside experts, provides best practice recommendations for data citation, data availability statements, and the use of appropriate data repositories. This is a "step toward ensuring that the results reported in our journals are verifiable, reproducible, and easily accessible to researchers. For authors publishing in ACS journals, making their data available and citable offers a greater opportunity for the research to be recognized and assists in meeting various funders’ requirements. For readers and the research community, having data available for review allows researchers to reproduce and compare reported results. It can also create efficiencies in the research process, providing greater potential for scientific and economic development." Read more at ACS Axial.
In a sad sign of the times, the journal tracking company Cabell's has logged over 15,000 "predatory" journals out there. The service analyzes journal web sites, fees and behavior for the unmistakable signs of a scam: hidden fees, false claims of peer review, fake editorial boards, and bogus U.S. addresses of "editorial offices." A new innovation is hijacking a legitimate journal: cloning the title, ISSN and website of the original in order to dupe authors into paying to publish in a paper mill that might disappear at any time. Read more on the Cabell's blog. (Disclosure: The UT Libraries do not subscribe to the Cabell's service and do not officially endorse its work or methods.)
The Library has purchased a complete e-book set of the Thieme reference series Science of Synthesis, including the base set of 48 volumes and the Reference Library volumes through 2020. SoS is the successor edition to the venerable Methoden der organischen Chemie (known to older chemists as Houben-Weyl) and was published between 2000 and 2010. It contains reviews of synthetic methods for various classes of organic compounds authored by experts. While the library has always held the series in print, we now offer access as standalone e-books via the Library Catalog. See the guide page on Science of Synthesis for more information.
Staying up to date with the literature in your field has always been difficult, if not impossible. And it gets harder every year as publications increase exponentially. The traditional ways of tracking new papers - email alerts and RSS feeds - fill your inboxes and are less and less effective. Database 'keep me posted' alerts based on saved searches are effective but underutilized. A new generation of online artificial intelligence tools, most of them free, is emerging to tackle this problem. Connected Papers, Google Scholar, Feedly, Research Rabbit, and others, some of which are newly launched and others long established, have entered the fray. Read more about them in this Nature article.
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