Asbjorn Jokstad
Asbjorn Jokstad
Editor-in-chief, Clinical and Experimental Dental Research

Monitoring%20Journal%20Performance.jpgThe dissemination of new scientific discoveries in medicine has undergone a rapid transformation from exclusively printed words, to comprise graphs, photographs and radiographs of increasing qualities. It seems obvious that elements such as 3D animation, film videos and tomography imaging can enhance the translation of new scientific findings for both professionals as well as laypeople. For this reason, I am convinced that the future of dissemination of new scientific discoveries is in digital media.


I assume all participants of Open Access Week are familiar with -- and positively endorse -- OA as an approach to egalitarian dissemination of new scientific discoveries. Yet, even if it is exciting to launch a new OA journal from scratch, there are also challenges. I have elaborated on this dualism in an editorial in the inaugural issue of a new OA journal on oral and dental health. A major problem is the proliferation of predatory publishing, which seems to have tarnished the OA publishing model. In this respect, it will be interesting to follow the recent lawsuit that the Federal Trade Commission in USA has filed against one publisher for claims of having engaged in unfair and deceptive acts and practices.


A potential strategic solution to meet the challenges from predatory publishers is to adopt and promote journal policies that are in accordance with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals produced by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Hence, several statements specific to the items must be mandatory elements of the Materials & Methods sections:


  • Informed consent must be obtained from all individuals participating in the research comprising the manuscript.


  • Protocol and procedures must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate institutional review committee and must be in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human or animal experimentation. For research involving recombinant DNA, containment facilities and guidelines should conform to those of the US National Institutes of Health or corresponding institutions.


  • All authors (both the corresponding author and all co-authors of a manuscript) must complete and upload a conflict of interest disclosure form together with the manuscript on submission. Advice should be provided on the author guidelines website on examples of potential sources of conflict of interest.


What's your view on how predatory publishing is impacting open access? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet using hashtag #OAWeek.


Image credit: Tolga TEZCAN/Shutterstock


    Kelly Neubeiser
Kelly Neubeiser
Author Marketing, Wiley

One of the components of this year’s International Open Access Week theme, "Open in Action," includes highlighting those who have demonstrated their commitment to the open access movement. University of Hull Professor of Nursing, Roger Watson, is the Editor-in-Chief of two Wiley journals, both of which contribute to the open access mission by allowing authors to easily make their work freely available around the world. The Journal of Advanced Nursing offers the opportunity to publish open access through OnlineOpen, while Nursing Open, a fully open access journal, publishes all articles under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.


In this podcast, Watson shares his expert insight on the challenges facing open access, reflects on his work in the research field and provides tips for early career researchers looking to further their careers.



What are your thoughts on this year’s theme? Let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #OAWeek.


    Christine Thomsen
Christine Thomsen
Marketing Manager, Author Marketing, Wiley

open access 2.jpgWelcome to Open Access Week 2016! With the theme of "Open in Action," we wanted to reflect on some open access milestones from the past year and look ahead to some of the exciting initiatives coming up in the future.


Gold Open Access


Over the past year, we’ve launched several new open access journals, bringing our total of fully open access journals to 63, with still more expected to launch or convert from subscription to open access by the beginning of 2017. These new offerings cover a wide range of academic fields and publish original, high-quality, peer-reviewed work, with new titles including Limnology and Oceanography Letters, Ecosphere and Health Expectations, which converted to open access at the start of 2016.


New and existing society partnerships afforded us exciting opportunities to publish several new open access journals on behalf of these partners. These include FEBS Open Bio from the Federation of European Biochemical Societies, Bioengineering and Translational Medicine from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and Clinical and Translational Science from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Advanced Science continues to go from strength to strength, publishing high quality research from across the broad spectrum of science.


Earlier this year we announced a new collaboration with Hindawi, which will see nine Wiley subscription journals converting to open access in 2017. Hindawi will take over the editorial and production workflow for each of the journals within the partnership, which will be hosted on the Hindawi website, allowing them to benefit from the publisher’s experience in publishing high quality journals on an open access basis. The Wiley-Hindawi collaboration allows both publishers to support the ongoing development of high-quality open access titles, as well as giving authors additional options for where and how to publish.


Open Research Data


We are working on ways to make it easy for authors to transfer or to link to files in approved repositories in order to comply with funder and journal mandates. Earlier this year, we announced a partnership and pilot with figshare, creating data repository integration that allows authors to deposit their data via ScholarOne during the submission process. Once an author’s paper is accepted, we deposit the data to figshare on behalf of the author and at no cost to them, and link from the data to the HTML version of the article on WOL.


As the world’s leading society publisher, we believe it is important to take an active role in supporting industry initiatives around protecting the integrity of research practice and the reproducibility of data. This includes being a TOP Guidelines signatory, RDA member and supporter of the CONSORT, EQUATOR and FAIR initiatives.


In January of this year, Wiley joined more than 550 journals and organizations to become an organizational signatory to the TOP Guidelines. By signing these guidelines, we signaled our further support for the principle of openness, transparency and reproducibility of research. The guidelines cover eight different components of the research process:


  • Data Citation
  • Data Transparency
  • Analytic Methods (Code) Transparency
  • Research Materials Transparency
  • Design and Analysis Transparency
  • Preregistration of Studies
  • Preregistration of Analysis Plans
  • Replication


The Research Data Alliance (RDA) was launched as a community-driven organization in 2013 by the European Commission, the United States Government's National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Australian Government’s Department of Innovation. As members of RDA, we strongly support the development of infrastructure and community activities to reduce barriers to data sharing and exchange, and accelerate data-driven innovation worldwide.


In addition, we also support:


  • CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials), which aims to alleviate the problems arising from inadequate reporting of randomized controlled trials;
  • EQUATOR (Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research) Network, an international initiative seeking to improve the reliability and value of published health research literature, through the promotion of transparent and accurate reporting; and
  • FAIR, which joins and supports existing communities to collectively realize and enable "FAIR" data, in the sense of being Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.


Open Recognition and Reward


We continue to implement open recognition and reward partnerships and programs to help researchers get credit for their work. Author recognition starts with author disambiguation, and therefore with ORCID. As part of our commitment to supporting authors at every step of the publishing process, Wiley authors can create an ORCID iD during the submission process (many of our journals and funders are starting to make this a condition of publication/awarding grants). The process is quick and simple, and authors will only need to do this once for each journal.


Open Collaboration


Driven by new technologies and the pressure on researchers to find new ways to collaborate (to maximize time, budgets and research outputs), we are investing in new technology to help authors collaborate and create the best possible outcome for their research. This includes annotation-based peer review, enabling corresponding authors to collaborate with reviewers and the editor during the peer review process directly on the content, and helping to discuss, comment/annotate and ultimately improve the digital content collaboratively before acceptance.


In February of this year, we announced a combined open access and subscription agreement between Wiley and Dutch universities. The negotiations between The Association of Universities in The Netherlands (VSNU) and Wiley resulted in an unprecedented agreement covering 2016 – 2019. It provides students and researchers at Dutch universities affiliated with the VSNU with access to all of our subscription journal content and enables authors at Dutch universities affiliated with the VSNU to enjoy unlimited open access publication in our hybrid journals (c.1400), with no publishing charge levied at the article level.


Open on the Horizon


We are working closely with our publishing partners and leading thinkers in open research. Together with EMBO, we recently announced the launch of the "SmartFigures Lab," a prototype online publishing website with enhanced data presentation capabilities. SmartFigures are interactive figures that display data in the context of related results published in other papers and link figures to major biological databases. This enables users to intuitively navigate across papers through interconnected figures, facilitating literature browsing and accelerating data discovery. The research community is invited to test SmartFigures at smartfigures.net and to provide their feedback.


We are constantly looking for better ways in which we can serve our customers, and we’re currently working on our new Author Services site, due later this year. The new site will provide a cleaner, more visual interface, with improved performance and greater ease of use. Through the Author Dashboard, authors will be able to order OnlineOpen, pay for open access, and easily sign and upload their license agreements. The Dashboard will also provide access to a host of other valuable features, such as article citation metrics, author resource pages and peer review training tools.


What do you feel are the major open access milestones of the past year? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet using hashtag: #OAWeek.


Image credit: Maros Markovic/iStockphoto


    Kelly Neubeiser
Kelly Neubeiser
Author Marketing, Wiley

Nobel+medal.jpgEvery year, the world turns its attention to Stockholm as The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announces the latest Nobel Prize award winners. For more than 100 years, the award has honored those whose achievements have led to unprecedented advances and discoveries in the fields of chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, physics, economics, and peace. Their contributions are inspiring and deserve the warmest congratulations.


Wiley is proud to have published six of these laureates in various medical, physiology, chemistry and economics journals and books.


The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Recognized "for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy," Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi has brought new understanding to a concept first observed in the 1960s. Autophagy, Greek for "self-eating," is the cell’s biological recycling system. In 1988, Ohsumi began using baker’s yeast to study the process further, ultimately showing its role in human physiology. Ohsumi told Tokyo reporters that he decided to study the cell’s waste disposal system because he wanted to focus on something different than other scientists of his time. The decision was a good one: His findings have shown that autophagy is necessary to our cells’ survival, as it can help fight infection. The hope is that Ohsumi’s discoveries can help further our understanding of the process to fight diseases including cancer and dementia.


Ohsumi is a professor at the Institute of Innovative Research at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In addition to being named a Nobel Prize Laureate, Ohsumi also won the 2016 Wiley Prize in Biomedical Science for his work on autophagy. He has authored three book chapters in Wiley publications, and has published over 40 articles in 11 Wiley journals, including The EMBO Journal, FEBS Letters, Acta Crystallographica Section F, Genes to Cells and the Journal of Electron Microscopy Technique.


The 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Awarded jointly to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines," the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureates are credited with taking molecular systems to a whole new level.


In 1983, Sauvage successfully linked molecules together to form a chain – or a catenane. Building on the idea of molecular machines, Stoddart demonstrated in 1991 that molecular rings could move along a molecular axle. Then, by 1999, Feringa had developed the very first molecular motor. All three laureates have shown that when energy is added, controlled movement between molecular systems is possible. Such molecular machines could be used a multitude of ways, including to store energy.


“It’s early days, of course,” Feringa told the Nobel committee. “But once you’re able to control movement, you have a motor, you can think of all kinds of functions.”


All three winners have published in or served on the boards of Wiley publications. Sauvage is Professor Emeritus at the University of Strasbourg and Director of Research emeritus at the National Center for Scientific Research, France. He edited Perspectives in Supramolecular Chemistry: Transition Metals in Supramolecular Chemistry, Volume 5; co-edited From Non-Covalent Assemblies to Molecular Machines, to which he, Stoddart and Feringa contributed; and edited Molecular Catenanes, Rotaxanes and Knots, to which he and Stoddart contributed.


Scottish-born, Sir Stoddart is Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University, USA. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of Chemistry – A European Journal, ChemPlusChem, Chinese Journal of Chemistry and Macromlecular Rapid Communications. He was a member of the international advisory board of Angewandte Chemie (1995-2013), and he co-edited Stimulating Concepts in Chemistry, Crown Ethers and Analogs and The Nature of the Mechanical Bond.


Feringa is a professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He is a member of the editorial boards of Advanced Synthesis & Catalysis, ChemPhotoChem and Israel Journal of Chemistry. He also co-edited Molecular Switches, to which he, Stoddart and Sauvage all contributed.


Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2016

Harvard’s Oliver Hart and MIT’s Bengt Holmström have been recognized "for their contributions to contract theory." Contract theory is a framework for analyzing the complications and details that exist in contractual agreements. Holmström introduced the "informativeness principle," which links the performance of an "agent" with their pay, weighing risk against incentives. Today, this is used in the context of rewarding employees with pay but also with opportunities for promotion. Hart created a new branch of contract theory dealing with control rights in contractual agreements, impacting not only economics but also the fields of political science and law.


In a Harvard Gazette article, Hart says of the prize, "It is recognition that your work is being influential. When you get that call, you realize you’ve managed to convince some people of the importance of your work."


Born in London, Hart is the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard University, teaching in the areas of contract theory, the theory of the firm, corporate finance, law and economics. His work has appeared in the Wiley journals Journal of the European Economic Association, Journal of Accounting Research, The Economic Journal and Economica.


The Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Holmström can now add the prize to his other accolades, which include the Banque de France-TSE Senior Prize in Monetary Economics and Finance, the Stephen A. Ross Prize in Financial Economics and the Distinguished CES Fellow award from CESifo Munich. Holmström’s work has been featured in the following Wiley publications: The Journal of Finance, Journal Of Economics & Management Strategy and The Journal Of Applied Corporate Finance.


The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

For the first time, the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature is a singer-songwriter. Honoring his 50+ year career and his evocative pieces that have touched on events from the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights Movement, the Academy has awarded Bob Dylan the Prize "for having created new poetic expression within the great American song tradition." Dylan is the first American to win the prize for literature in over 20 years – the last being Toni Morrison in 1993. This is an exciting time in the history of the Nobel Prize, and is significant to many in its acknowledgement of the art of lyricism.


While Wiley hasn’t published Bob Dylan himself, we’ve seen several works about the legend, including the book Bob Dylan: The Never Ending Star by Lee Marshall, and articles published in The Journal of Popular Culture, The Journal of American Culture and Journal of Popular Music Studies.


Congratulations once again to all the winners of this year’s Nobel Prizes.


Image credit: Getty Images


    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

Last week we looked at some of the driving forces behind the new era of open science. Today we turn our attention to one of the key themes within open research: open recognition and reward, by looking at four key initiatives: ORCID, Kudos, Altmetric and Publons.


Open rec and reward infographic FINAL-page-001.jpg


Do you feel your research and reviews work is being appropriately recognized? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


    Anne-Marie Green
Anne-Marie Green
Communication Manager, Wiley

Last month, Wiley and the British Academy awarded prizes for excellence in research in the fields of Economics and Psychology. Professor James Fenske of Warwick University was awarded the prize for Economics for his academic excellence in the field of economic history, in particular the quantitative economic history of Africa. Dr. Stephen Fleming of University College London was the recipient of the Wiley Prize for Psychology for his contribution to the study of the neuropsychology of human metacognition.


Each annual prize provides an award of £5,000 to the recipient.


We recently had the opportunity to ask the winners a couple of questions about their research.


Q&A with James Fenskejames fenske.jpg


Q: Why did you decide to study economics and economic history in particular?


A: At Queen's University, I was drawn into economic history by taking classes from and interacting with people like Alan Green, Iean Keay, Byron Lew, Frank Lewis, Huw Lloyd-Ellis, Marvin McInnis, David Parker, and Robert Shenton. At Yale, my advisors Timothy Guinnane, Ben Polak, and Christopher Udry, provided me with encouragement and support that further encouraged me to pursue this career path.


Q: From your research, what economic lessons can we learn from the past?


A: Economic history is relevant to the present both directly and by analogy. First, history continues to exert important influences on the present. Many other scholars have shown the persistent importance of Africa's slave trades, its pre-colonial states, and its institutions governing property rights. In my own work, I have tried to understand the origins of these historical variables. Second, history gives us more data than is available only looking at recent years. In my own work I have tried to add to our understanding of the causes of conflict, land disputes, and political unrest by examining data from the colonial and precolonial periods.


Q&A with Stephen Fleming


Q: What is Metacognition and how did it become the focus of your research?


A: Metacognition means “thinking about thinking” -- the ability to monitor and control other cognitive processes, often in the absence of external feedback. For example, a student who believes she has studied enough for an upcoming exam is engaging in metacognition about the strength of her memory. People often liken the brain to a computer -- but as far as we know, being able to reflect on our own thoughts sets us aside from almost all other thinking devices on the planet. I study how metacognition works and how it is implemented in the human brain.


As an undergraduate I completed a degree in Psychology and Physiology at Oxford. While I was there I had a fantastic tutor, Dr. Paul Azzopardi, who introduced me to the field of psychophysics, which uses mathematical models to understand subjective experience. That opened my eyes to the idea we could create a rigorous neuroscience of metacognition, and I went on to complete a PhD in brain imaging at UCL before starting my own research program.


Q: What questions are you hoping your research will answer?


steven fleming.jpgA: In the short term, I’m interested in unpacking the psychological and neural processes supporting metacognition about different types of mental state, understanding how it facilitates self-control, and how metacognition becomes disrupted in cases of brain damage and psychiatric disorders. In the lab we use very simple but carefully controlled decision scenarios, such as judging the brightness of patches on a computer screen, and ask people to reflect on how well they’re doing. We can then use computer models and brain imaging to understand what happens when metacognition is engaged. The ultimate aim is to reveal the mechanisms in the human brain that support self-reflection. In turn this should lead to a better understanding of changes in subjective experience that plague disorders of mental health.


Q: What does winning this prize mean to you?


A: I’m delighted to receive the Wiley Prize in Psychology. It’s sometimes difficult to know whether the research we’re doing is on the right track (academics have poor metacognition about their own research!), so it’s great to know that people find it of interest. I’ve also benefited from superb mentorship during my early career, and this award owes much to the many individuals who have supported my interests and nudged me to keep going. Finally, it’s also lovely to receive a British Academy Award. My area of research blends elements of philosophy, psychology and neuroscience, and the British Academy is a brilliant cheerleader for this kind of interdisciplinary research.


Congratulations to the winners of this year’s prizes!


Image Credits: 1. British Academy, 2. Stephen Fleming


7 Drivers of Open Science

Posted Oct 13, 2016
    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

The research landscape is changing quickly, driven by new technologies and the need to deliver more rapid, reliable and sustainable results. With this infographic, we look at some of the driving forces behind this new era of Open Science. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.


Drivers of Open Science FINAL-page-001.jpg


    Lucy Whitmarsh
Lucy Whitmarsh
Marketing Manager, Wiley

173929681.jpgIn July 2015, Wiley Exchanges published "Print vs. digital textbooks and the challenge of meeting student needs," a blog post by Elizabeth Lorbeer, Library Director at the Western Michigan School of Medicine. The post explored research around the affordability of textbooks and the link to student outcomes. Elizabeth concluded that for e-textbook programs to be successful for all learners, being able to switch between print and digital formats would be key.


This concept of "all learners" is one that resonates. As academic institutions cope with the influx of new courses, increasing fees, and students crossing borders to obtain the education they want, there are more expectations than ever on their resources.


As highlighted in the NMC Horizon Report 2015 Library Edition, a growing focus on a positive experience is influencing web presence and digital resources in libraries. In 2014, the first journal focused on library user experience was published, while 2015 saw a conference in the UK and an online digital workshop on the same subject.


Weave: Journal of Library User Experience suggests that we should be talking about UX “in any other content where it might be useful." For libraries this will be any aspect of the user’s interaction and perception of the service, including the physical environment, the support and the resources available.


In a 2015 survey of almost 500 librarians across the globe, Wiley discovered that the academic libraries surveyed support an average of 16,500 students across undergraduate, postgraduate and research degrees. There are continued challenges in meeting the needs of these patrons, the most basic of which is providing resources that support the variety of available courses -- but what about the diversity of the users themselves?


In July 2015, commissioned reports by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) addressed discrepancies between different groups of students and their outcomes. Students may be segmented by their course, background, method of study, ethnic group, disability or special learning needs. With emerging research from the UK, South Africa and the US suggesting that universities who engage their students with library resources see improved academic outcomes, understanding how best to do this could be crucial.


An area of particular interest in these reports was the reviewing of support for students with disabilities. In 2013/14 the Higher Education Statistics Agency (UK) showed that over 6% of undergraduates enrolled in the UK were in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance. For these 88,000 students, “resources are a common issue affecting the happiness of disabled students." How, then, can libraries tailor resources to these students without alienating or distancing them from the other 93%, while navigating budget challenges?


Looking to current trends in academic libraries reveals some potential solutions. A short term impact trend, as identified in the 2015 Horizon report, alongside user experience, is the prioritization of mobile content and delivery. Mobile technology continues to develop, and a recent Flurry report indicates that time spent on mobile devices has increased by 117%. The impact on studying is that “library patrons’ expectations of when and where they should be able to access content and services” (Horizon) have been transformed.


A similar report by Arup explored trends around learning models and highlighted how “digital technologies can now provide innovative opportunities to enhance teaching, learning, research.” As students become increasingly demanding of resources that suit the mobile lifestyle they have settled into, is there a way to combine this drive for digital while supporting students with disabilities?


One suggestion made was in digital resources, specifically textbooks. Digital resources are easy to access, share and store. For those with a physical disability, the portability of a digital text can make studying more accessible. The design of a digital resource can make full use of supportive hyperlinks and definitions, allowing complex content to be presented in a more accessible way. If a universal design for learning (UDL) approach is used, core content can be “scaffolded to meet the cognitive levels of individual learners."


The task of meeting the needs of a diverse user group is not something that can be easily answered, but it is clear that as libraries take on the challenge of User Experience we will continue to see discussion and debate around how best to solve it.


Does your library have a strategy for meeting diverse needs? Would you like to share your views on Wiley Exchanges? Leave us a comment below or tweet us at @WileyLibInfo.


Image credit: Nikada/iStockphoto


    Natasha Simons
Natasha Simons
Australian National Data Service

23 Things image.jpgAre you someone who cares for -- and about -- research data? Do you want to learn more about research data management, discover new resources and connect with others who care for data? If so, then the 23 (Research Data) Things may be perfect for you!


23 (Research Data) Things is an online, self-directed learning program for anybody who wants to know more about research data. It is ideal for those who care for data (Librarians, Managers, Data Custodians), those who create data (Researchers, Early Career Researchers, Research Assistants) and those who are looking to incorporate data into their future careers (PhD students, Librarianship and Information management students).


The Australian National Data Service (ANDS) launched the 23 Things program in March 2016, designed to build capability and a community of practice around research data management. If you choose to participate, you will be challenged to "do" 23 Things that will build your confidence and experience with research data management. For example, you may be asked to critique a video, comment on a short paper, explore a data repository or try out a free online tool. To accommodate a variety of capabilities and learning styles, a choice of three activities is provided for each Thing: "getting started," "know more" or "challenge me." Some people choose to complete all three!


The 23 Things program is paced for participants to undertake one Thing per week and to complete all 23 Things over several months. The Things are grouped into several topics including rights, ethics and sensitive data, repositories for data, metadata and crosswalks, data citation and impact.


23 Things is intended to be a hands-on learning program. As you work through each Thing, you will be encouraged to share questions, ideas and learnings with others involved in the program through a dedicated online discussion forum, local community groups, webinars and social media. With over 1,500 people participating in the program from countries around the world, the forum discussions are rich and varied. There are over 50 community groups you can choose to join, an ongoing conversation on Twitter and 23 online credly badges to claim.


As we near the conclusion of the 23 Things program, ANDS has developed a re-purposed toolkit to encourage you to take the 23 Things and adapt it for your situation, adopt it as suggested training for all staff, contextualize it for your discipline, or extend or contract it to meet your specific research data knowledge needs. One example of an adaptation of the 23 Things is a creation of the top 10 research data Things for Medical and Health.


Courses in research data management can be hard to find, expensive or part of a larger degree program. 23 (Research Data) Things is free, online, self-paced and available now. What are you waiting for? Game on!


Natasha Simons is a Senior Data Management Specialist with the Australian National Data Service.


Image credit: Natasha Simons


    Amy Nimegeer
Amy Nimegeer
Research Associate, University of Glasgow
Chris Patterson
Chris Patterson
Research Assistant, University of Glasgow

shutterstock_245562505.jpgPeer review is a cornerstone of evidence-based medicine, a vital part of the checks and balances that help to ensure that scientific publishing is one of our most robust sources of evidence. As we recently celebrated this year's peer review week, it is important to acknowledge that peer reviewing literature is a valuable skill that needs to be nurtured. The peer review system, in short, is only as good as the peers who review, and every peer reviewer needs to start somewhere. As an early career researcher, being invited by a journal editor to review a paper for the first time is an honor, but it can also be daunting.


To help introduce new researchers to the skills needed to review their peers’ research, we at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, have recently launched a free online resource to support people in reviewing the most common types of population health research. Understanding Health Research is an interactive online tool designed to help anybody to engage critically with published health science, including students and researchers carrying out their first peer reviews, or reviewing unfamiliar research methods for the first time.


Understanding Health Research walks the user through a series of questions designed to highlight key aspects of research necessary for reaching conclusions about the quality and usefulness of the research. First, a set of general questions encourage reviewers to consider core concepts such as whether the paper has received appropriate ethical approvals and whether their research questions or aims are clear and focused. Next, the user is guided to a series of questions specific to the methods being used. For example, if reviewing a clinical trial, the key quality criteria would include questions about control groups, randomization, blinding and the measurements taken.


Once all questions have been answered, the tool gives the user a summary of the answers they gave along with guidance on what the ramifications of those answers might be. Understanding Health Research can be seen as a companion to established critical appraisal tools such as CASP checklists, which highlight the value of treating the critical appraisal as a deliberate, step-by-step process. In addition to acting as an interactive critical appraisal checklist for researchers, our tool is also useful for teaching critical appraisal skills to non-scientists, or anyone new to engaging with scientific research papers. Another useful tool for early career researchers starting out in the process of peer review is Peer Review: the nuts and bolts, a guide produced by early career researchers of the Voice of Young Science network.


Understanding Health Research was a collaboration between researchers at the University of Glasgow, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and was funded by the Medical Research Council’s Population Health Science Research Network.


Amy Nimegeer and Chris Patterson are researchers at the University of Glasgow's MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit.


Image credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock


    Eric Davidson
Eric Davidson
President-elect, American Geophysical Union

B93A0521 (2).jpgWhile sexual harassment in academia and in scientific workplaces is receiving increasing attention by the media, it is by no means a new phenomenon. Now that the topic is finally receiving some of the attention that it has long deserved, the time is right for scientific societies to lead the way to create a culture where sexual harassment, and harassment of any kind, is not tolerated.


A call to respond


I recently had the honor of participating in and speaking at the workshop, “Sexual Harassment in the Sciences: A Call to Respond,” funded by the National Science Foundation and convened by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in partnership with a number of other societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Chemical Society (ACS). More than 60 leaders from societies, government agencies and universities spent the day discussing the pervasive issue of sexual harassment in our community, identifying challenges and generating ideas on how to address the issue as a community across a broad range of disciplines and environments.


As a community, we realized we need to go beyond talk. We need action. We need to address harassment directly where policies are enforced. We must ensure that offenders experience real consequences, and victims and bystanders are protected from retaliation. Scientific societies should lead by example and should be a trusted source of resources for our members to obtain the information and support that they need. We should work together to share best practices, update codes of conduct, encourage and facilitate further conversations, forums, and publication of articles, and offer support and guidance to victims, bystanders and leaders in our communities.


Why men need to be more involved


Personally, I’d like to see more men involved in these discussions and making commitments to become better informed about the pervasiveness of harassment in many science workplaces, the roles that they can and should play when they observe harassment, and their responsibilities to help create a culture where harassment is not tolerated. Men are disproportionately represented in the sciences, especially in senior positions, so logic follows that men need to help carry more of the load in addressing this issue by finding solutions and helping transform the culture of labs, classrooms, field camps, ships and anywhere that research and learning are conducted.


Every locale for doing and learning science should be one that is unquestionably safe and welcoming. We need to come together as a community if we’re going to create a culture that encourages and enables all scientists.


What’s next?


At the end of the workshop, AGU launched the stopharassment.agu.org website. The site provides information, resources and articles on the topic of harassment in science, including how other societies have addressed the issue. I encourage you to take a look and to think about the issue and how you can help. Guiding principles, developed from feedback from the workshop, are planned for release by the end of the year. Many attendees, in addition to the co-sponsoring organizations, have expressed an interest in continuing to further this work.


Eric Davidson is the president-elect of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and director and professor of the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Learn more about his research interests here.

Image credit: American Geophysical Union


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