Ten Hot Topics around Scholarly Publishing

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The changing world of scholarly communication and the emerging new wave of ‘Open Science’ or ‘Open Research’ has brought to light a number of controversial and hotly debated topics. Evidence-based rational debate is regularly drowned out by misinformed or exaggerated rhetoric, which does not benefit the evolving system of scholarly communication. This article aims to provide a baseline evidence framework for ten of the most contested topics, in order to help frame and move forward discussions, practices, and policies. We address issues around preprints and scooping, the practice of copyright transfer, the function of peer review, predatory publishers, and the legitimacy of ‘global’ databases. These arguments and data will be a powerful tool against misinformation across wider academic research, policy and practice, and will inform changes within the rapidly evolving scholarly publishing system.

Keywords: peer review; copyright; open access; open science; scholarly communication; web of science; Scopus; impact factor; research evaluation

Figure 1: (A) Traditional peer review publishing workflow. (B) Preprint submission establishing priority of discovery.
Figure 2: (A) Data citations distribution for eight selected journals. Each plot reports the 2015 journal impact factor (JIF) and the percentage of citable items below the JIF (between parenthesis). Data from https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/062109v2. (B) Detail of citations distributions for two selected journals: Plos Genetics and Nature. It is evident how a few highly cited articles push the 2015 JIF of Nature to 38.1. All code and data needed to reproduce these figures are on Zenodo: http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2647404
Figure 3. Proportion of journals indexed in the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) that charge or do not charge APCs (article-processing charges). For a small portion, the information is not available. All code and data needed to reproduce these figures are on Zenodo: doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2647404.
Figure 4. Some steps allowing free Open Access publishing for authors (vertical arrows imply ‘no’, and horizontal arrows imply ‘yes’. Inspired by https://figshare.com/collections/How_to_make_your_work_100_Open_Access_for_free_and_legally_multi-lingual_/3943972.

Cite as:

Tennant, Crane, H., Crick, T., Davila, J., Enkhbayar, A., Havemann, J., Kramer, B., Martin, R., Masuzzo, P., Nobes, A., Rice, C., Rivera-López, B., Ross-Hellauer, T., Sattler, S., Thacker, P. D., & Vanholsbeeck, M. (2019). Ten Hot Topics around Scholarly Publishing. Publications, 7(2), 34. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications7020034