Automated software saves researchers valuable hours

Online tools are lightening the load for authors and journal editors.

An international partnership is developing online tools that could save authors and journal editors hours in manuscript checking, while ensuring, with the help of peer review, that published science is high-quality, replicable, and useful. Read more in Nature Index.

Mapping the spread of predators and prey

Bogus journals and their victims are widespread, study finds.

The advent of open-access publishing has made scientific literature more accessible, but it has also given rise to ‘predatory’ publishers — shady outfits that will reproduce just about anything that resembles a research paper, without the safeguards of peer review or quality editorial standards.

David Moher, a clinical epidemiologist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada, and his colleagues, set out to find where these journals come from, and who gets duped into paying them. Read more in Nature Index.

Canadian researchers do more with less

Growing participation in large international research projects may explain the drop in Canada’s index performance.

Researchers at Canadian institutions are publishing more papers in top journals, but make up a smaller part of the collaborative teams that publish them, according to the latest data from Nature Index.

Between 2012 and 2015, the number of publications in the 68 high-profile journals tracked by the index that featured Canadian institutions rose from 3,211 to 3,319. But the total weighted fractional count (WFC) of the country’s institutions — a metric that measures the proportional contribution to each publication — fell by 2.8%, from 1521.05 to 1478.29. Read more in Nature Index.

CMAJ gets interim editor amid governance shake-up

Dr. Diane Kelsall, a long-time CMAJ deputy editor and editor of CMAJ Open, has been appointed interim editor of the CMAJ as part of the journal owner’s restructuring and modernization plan.

On Feb. 29, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) board of directors dismissed the journal’s editor-in-chief, Dr. John Fletcher, who had held the post for four years, and disbanded the Journal Oversight Committee, which was tasked with mediating between the journal and CMA on matters of editorial independence. Read more in CMAJ.

Montreal institute going ‘open’ to accelerate science

Experiment aims to show whether forgoing patents and freeing up data can boost neuroscience research.

Guy Rouleau, the director of McGill University’s Montreal Neuro logical Institute (MNI) and Hospital in Canada, is frustrated with how slowly neuroscience research translates into treatments. “We’re doing a really shitty job,” he says. “It’s not because we’re not trying; it has to do with the complexity of the problem.”

So he and his colleagues at the renowned institute decided to try a radical solution. Starting this year, any work done there will conform to the principles of the “open-science” movement—all results and data will be made freely available at the time of publication, for example, and the institute will not pursue patents on any of its discoveries. Read more in Science.

AuthorAID to add online courses for social scientists

AuthorAID, a network that helps scientists in developing countries publish and communicate their work, is seeking partners to help develop courses specific to social sciences.

These would be online courses, following the success of the recent move to do more courses online instead of face-to-face — expanding the initiative’s reach while reducing costs.

“We want to collaborate with someone as we expand into the social sciences,” says Ravi Murugesan, who designs and runs online courses for AuthorAID, an initiative managed by UK development charity the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP). Read more in SciDev.Net.

On the record

The open science movement is just the latest development in the long history of scholarly communication.

The essence of science has always been communication. Nothing gets entered into the scientific record until it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal so that it can be explained to the scientific community at large, allowing them to examine and critique the work. And the roots of those journals go back to the letters that the first natural philosophers of the enlightenment wrote to one another to share their ideas and the results of their experiments.

So it is fitting that as new communications technologies are developed, scientists are among the first to adopt them and make use of them in their work. Read more in Materials Today.