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Feature article

Chief Scientist's plan for open research

Dr Cathy Foley, Australia's Chief Scientist, is keen to see the end of fees and paywalls that prevent the frictionless sharing and re-use of research. She says: "Progress would be extremely slow if we all had to start at the beginning, or unknowingly tread paths others have already been down."

The major scientific breakthroughs that hit the headlines all "emerge from years or even decades of testing, rejecting and refining ideas, painstakingly building a body of knowledge." Her goal is for all Australian research to be open access, both here and internationally, and for research conducted overseas to be freely available to read in Australia.

An important step towards this goal was taken when 193 countries at the UNESCO General Conference adopted the first international framework on open science. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay stated: "The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus how open science practices such as open access to scientific publications, the sharing of scientific data and collaboration beyond the scientific community can speed up research."

Approximately 70 per cent of scientific publications are locked behind paywalls. Over the past two years, however, this proportion has dropped to about 30 per cent for COVID-19-related publications. This shows that science can definitely be more open. Read the full article.

What's New

  • Journals adopt AI to check images
  • Some journal publishers have begun to use automated software to identify flaws in images submitted as part of papers. Artifical intelligence (AI) software alerts editors to duplicated images, including those in which parts of the images have been rotated, filtered, flipped or stretched. The aim is to stamp out faked or falsely enhanced results. While the numbers of publishers using it is currently small, the practice is expected to spread. Read more.

  • The changing face of research
  • Molecular biologists study the world at the smallest of scales but this intense micro-focus in well-controlled labs might overlook the range of genetic variation that occurs in different species as they are forced to respond to fluctuations in their environment. The European Molecular Biology Laboratory's new Molecules to Ecosystems program will support scientists to go out into the world to study life in its natural context. Read more.

Hot Topics

Perverse incentives

Is fake science infiltrating scientific journals? Even the most esteemed journals have been fooled into publishing junk science during the last decade. Many of these junk papers "bear the hallmarks of having been produced in a paper mill: submitted by authors at Chinese hospitals with similar templates or structures." While the problem is not limited to China, an academic system that rewards publication quantity over quality has to wear some of the blame for incentivising people to cut corners, fake results or suppress unfavourable findings. Journals which charge high fees to publish are also incentivised to publish as many papers as possible to create profits. Read the full story.

The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain Text Social Science

As a PhD student, how much thought have you given to the tools you use for writing and analysis? Do you use the same software your peers use? What your supervisor recommends? Or have you made your own choices? If so, what principles have guided your choices?

Kieran Healy of Duke University has written a useful guide to the kinds of tools that give you more control over your writing and analysis in social science research. As he says: "people who enter the world of social science excited to work with data will also tend to have little or no prior experience with text-based, command-line, file-system-dependent tools." This is because increasingly people gravitate to a "mobile, cloud-centered, touch-screen, phone-or-tablet model", which, while easy to use, actually de-skills people by focusing on single tasks, masking where files sit, and hiding a lot of implementation detail. He offers an alternative path. Read the full article.

Also have a look at Francois Briatte's Computing Advice for Social Science Students.

Tweet of the Week

Tweet of the week

What you might have missed on the blog

  • Meet the researchers
    Our Researcher Profile series on our Library Connect blog showcases the wide range of current research from Griffith. During 2021, we spoke with many Griffith experts whose research interests range from human rights to healthcare. See the range of experts we have interviewed.

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