Munich, Germany (Scicasts) — Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly, a PhD student from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, comments on the launch of RIO journal and the rise of open science publishing platforms, for Scicasts:
"RIO takes its place among a series of ongoing developments that are making science publishing more open and transparent. This may be a great opportunity for researchers to place more emphasis on the pure acquisition and sharing of knowledge. In today's impact factor-dominated scientific community this primary purpose of research too often takes the back seat.
The rise of open access journals pioneered by PLOS that allow free access to all publications has led to a greater accessibility of research articles. In addition to open access, the journal eLife has recently introduced a new and improved way of peer-reviewing and publishing with online-only publication that offers full use of digital media. The founders of RIO now offer an open-access publishing platform that transcends the limitations of the classic research journals. A similar concept was already introduced in 2013 by the publishing network ScienceOpen that publishes research articles, reviews and even conference posters that are reviewed post-publishing in an open online system.
What makes RIO distinct from ScienceOpen is that they aim to publish all research output including data, protocols as well as research ideas and proposals. However, a major obstacle might be that researchers may not be willing to share their proposals due to the constant fear of competition. At the moment, I don’t see my colleagues sharing their ideas and research plans even at small scientific meetings so I find it hard to imagine that they would be willing to share their proposals publicly. Sharing research ideas early would ideally foster more collaboration and reduce competition to make scientific research more efficient. But is the scientific community ready for such a development?
In my opinion, publishing all scientific outputs such as protocols and also so-called negative data will greatly enhance research efficiency by enabling researchers to learn from the experience as well as the mistakes of others. Data that are considered low impact or data that are considered negative because they do not confirm a proposed hypothesis are very often not shared. This leads to a waste of resources, time and talent trying to answer questions that have long and repeatedly been answered. Hopefully, publishers like RIO will encourage researchers to share their knowledge more openly. However, if more and more of our research outputs are published a major challenge will be the efficient filtering of large amounts of resources. Another challenge may be controlling quality, especially if publishers circumvent the peer-review process or make it optional.
In spite of these challenges, for me as a PhD student these new developments in science publishing are very encouraging. I truly hope that these concepts will be successful and that it will change our publishing habits in a way that makes research more productive."
Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly is a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. She studies the mechanisms of aggregate toxicity in neurodegenerative diseases and also blogs about various scientific topics.