Creating a healthier publication climate

07 december 2018

As of January 2019, a Task Force of the Federa will start to make the publication process in biomedical sciences healthier. This is the result of the Workshop 'How to Create a Healthy Environment for Scientific Publications' of 29 November 2018. The Federa board is pleased that nine workshop participants want to commit themselves to this project.

Workshop Healthy Publications

First, Prof. Aletta Kraneveld highlighted the challenges young scientists face in publishing their research: it must be enough, in a high-quality journal, and must be affordable. Experienced researchers are under pressure to carry out peer reviews for free. The costs of open access publishing often come from the scientist's budget.

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Challenges in the current climate for scientific publication (Prof.Dr.Aletta Kraneveld, Professor of Interdisciplinary Translational Pharmacology at Utrecht University, Chair Federa)

After that, Prof. Lex Bouter first of all presented the core dilemma: the interest of the individual scientist is not synonymous with quality of science. What scientists can do is to commit themselves to navigate on a moral compass and to modify the current career system in which counting publications and citations is an essential part of the process.

Bouter then touched on some problems: low replicability, selective reporting, P-Hacking and HARKing. After this, the encouraging part of his presentation started: an overview of all the possibilities that already exist to solve bottlenecks in the publication process. It is promising that the new initiatives also offer possibilities that are not included in the conventional publishing process, such as filing data prior to an investigation and adding peer review after publication.

Download  PDF New ways of publishing can help to prevent sloppy science
Prof.Dr.Lex Bouter, Professor Methodology and Integrity at Amsterdam UMC, VU and Chair of COREON  

Tjitske Bezema as workshop leader challenged the attendees to give impulses in half an hour to achieve a healthy publication climate. The four visions and answers were:

How to create a publication system, that

A. compels the underlying research to be conducted properly from beginning to end

Look at the roles of the stakeholders: direct colleagues can offer feedback on research proposals, academic teachers, research institutions should offer sound statistical methods, publishing entities (traditional or web-based) evaluate research quality. 

B.  offers researchers the possibility to safeguard credits for their innovative ideas so there’s no need to publish data prematurely

A closed repository for proposals can safeguard ideas (time stamp, cf. patents). Goal is not to grant points, but to prevent plagiarism. The proposals should be counted in yearly reports.

C. makes scientific research accessible tot society, i.e. free of charge, understandable and including disproved research.

Systems are already in place. Hindrance is the impact factor driven science, thus develop an alternative scoring system. Seek influencers who are not driven by their own need for publishing in high impact factors. Encourage with money, recognition, or career points. NWO: ask the ‘tweede kamer’ for a budget for open access publishing.

D. is affordable for researchers and easy to be admitted to when research is conducted properly.

The ultimate goal of publishing is to inform peers and have discussions that lead to innovation. The H-factor system favours the narrow specialist, but hampers 'risky' research in new areas. Alternatives for career evaluation: peer reviewed research output, using a multiplication factor for changing the field of research, for interdisciplinary research, for working with researchers abroad. Formulate the societal relevance of the research (and yes, that is possible for fundamental research as well).

Task Force starting in January

These approaches are an excellent starting point for the Task Force, which will meet for the first time in January 2019.

Do you have any suggestions or questions? Would you like to participate in the Task Force? Then please, contact Dr Anje te Velde



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