TS Picks: April 7, 2017

Consortium pushes for open citation data; Gates Foundation launches open-access publishing platform; Cell Press lifts the veil on papers under consideration; an online widget circumvents some paywalls

Bob Grant
Bob Grant
Apr 7, 2017


Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • More than 60 organizations and scholarly publishers yesterday (April 6) announced an effort to unlock citation data and make it more broadly available to the public. The Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC) consortium is supported by 29 publishers and several organizations and companies, including the Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the U.K.’s Wellcome Trust. I4OC’s goal is to make citation data, which is collected by publishers, but not always made publicly available, accessible via Crossref. “Over the coming months, the organizations involved in I4OC will be working with different stakeholders to raise awareness of the availability of open citation data and evaluate how it can be reused, analyzed, and built upon,” the Wikimedia Foundation said in a statement. “We will provide regular updates on the growth of the public citations corpus, how the data is being used, additional stakeholders and participating publishers, and new services that are being developed.”

  • In addition to signing on to I4OC, the Gates Foundation last week (March 23) launched Gates Open Research, an open-access platform to disseminate papers and data that result from foundation-funded projects. Gates Open Research was apparently patterned after a similar service launched last year by the Wellcome Trust, and the European Commission is considering starting a similar open-access publishing platform, using the Gates and Wellcome efforts as templates. “We believe that published research resulting from our funding should be promptly and broadly disseminated,” Gates Foundation spokesperson Bryan Callahan told Nature.

  • A service called Unpaywall is poised to assist many a comber of the scientific literature. The plug-in, which appears as a tab in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers, can search the web for free-to-read versions of scientific papers that are locked behind paywalls at publisher’s sites. Users have downloaded the widget 10,000 times since Unpaywall’s March 10 debut. “For years, libraries have had little expectation that the [open-access] deposit of subscription articles would displace subscription access, mainly because locating those articles and providing access to them would be labor-intensive,” Rick Anderson, associate dean for collections and scholarly communication at the University of Utah, told the news arm of Nature, a journal that publishes paywalled papers than can be accessed using the web tool. “By making that process so much easier, Unpaywall could really change the game for us.”

  • Cell Press is offering a different kind of open access: sneak peeks at papers under consideration in Cell and associated journals. The so-called Sneak Peek aims to give researchers the ability to share their manuscripts that they’ve submitted for publication. Authors can then share papers that are being peer reviewed via the Mendeley platform with other users who are registered for the Sneak Peek group.