Towards open science, Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz welcome submission of preprint manuscripts

By Claude Pirmez

For 350 years, the scientific world has been shaped by a model of publishing research results that has emphasized journals as the unique forum for accredited source of scientific information. This model was entirely based upon the skills of editors and, more recently, peer reviewers, to select, evaluate, edit, and publish the articles describing the most relevant research results.

Getting published in today’s competitive environment is a matter of survival for the typical research scientist: without published papers, no certified (peer-reviewed) information is delivered to one’s peers; no tenure or promotion is awarded; no funding is secured; and no result is delivered to society. That is the message we have been learning from our mentors, graduate supervisors, funding agencies, research centers, and university managers. The main consequence of this publishing framework is that science facts do not flow immediately from the generators (scientists) to the users (research peers and then society in general).

The advent of digital information technology, with its low cost, fast pace, instantaneous dissemination, lack of geographic barriers, lack of frontiers, and lack of centralized control, has changed this scenario and brings possibilities not imagined some years ago: immediate visibility, accessibility, and continuous tracking for scientific articles. From the point of view of traditional journals, digital innovations seem a disturbing event, posing many apparent threats to the actual consolidated publication model, in which decisions are highly concentrated with editors, and the editorial system “certifies” published scientific articles. So far, this system is considered to be the worst form of publication except for all those other forms that have been tried. One enduring question remains: how to decide what is good for publication and what should be rejected?

Much intellectual effort has certainly been deployed to solve this question. New insights have been emerging, providing an alternative pathway: a very large group of individuals (research peers, post-docs, or graduate students) interactively read through open scientific articles and add comments, corrections, and suggestions for improving the text, with all of these activities being shared, tracked, measured, and permanently recorded on servers at relatively low cost for funding agencies and society in general.

Important driving forces oppose each other in this model: on the one hand, funding agencies and public investors need immediate and transparent results; on the other, mainstream publishers wish for this movement to take place at the slowest possible pace.

This resistance notwithstanding, how feasible is the implementation of such an innovation in the near future? Well, it is right around the corner. Preprints are the start-up of this new game! Learning from over 20 years of successful open publishing practice of Arxiv physics, some innovators have launched initiatives that are gradually changing the science publishing landscape (in the biosciences field, bioRxiv and PeerJ preprints are worth mentioning). For most fields of knowledge, there is now some kind of preprint in full operation (for a good list of preprints, check OSF Preprints’ website). The consolidation of such a publishing model, of course, poses some challenges to the editors of traditional journals and their publishing practices. The most pressing consequence is a change in the modus operandi of an editor: rather than passively controlling the flux of manuscripts received by the journal, in other words, choosing which ones are admitted or go into the garbage, editors must carefully look at preprints (or the impact they are causing!) and then convince authors to submit them to their journals.

Time has come to think about the current framework for publishing research results in traditional journals such as Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. For more than 100 years (we will be 110 next 12th December), Memórias has been committed to offering both authors and readers the latest science publishing practices. It could not be different in these times of “digital storm”. The editorial board of Memórias has decided that this journal now accepts articles that have already been published in preprint. This decision is in agreement with recent developments in the scientific editorial scenario, including SciELO. Memórias wants to be a partner and to collaborate in the success of the SciELO Preprints. This certainly will be an important step to the recent history of Brazilian scientific publishing.

Reference

PACKER, A.L., SANTOS, S. and MENEGHINI, R. SciELO Preprints on the way [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2017 [viewed 06 December 2017]. Available from: http://blog.scielo.org/en/2017/02/22/scielo-preprints-on-the-way/

External links

General Information About arXiv – <https://arxiv.org/help/general>

OSF Preprints – <https://osf.io/preprints/>

 

About Claude Pirmez

Doctor specialized in anatomical pathology, she is a senior researcher at Instituto Oswaldo Cruz – FIOCRUZ, where she has done research on the immune response to parasitic infection, particularly leishmania. She was Vice-President of research at FIOCRUZ and today acts as Editor-in-Chief for the journal Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz.

 

Translated from the original in portuguese.

 

 

How to cite this post [ISO 690/2010]:

PIRMEZ, C. Towards open science, Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz welcome submission of preprint manuscripts [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2017 [viewed ]. Available from: http://blog.scielo.org/en/2017/12/07/towards-open-science-memorias-do-instituto-oswaldo-cruz-welcome-submission-of-preprint-manuscripts/

 

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