Antonia Seymour, Chief Executive
As a leading learned society publisher, we continue to make physical science research more openly available through transformative agreements (TAs). We now have 19 TAs with universities and research organisations in 12 different countries. These arrangements helped increase open access publishing in our hybrid journals by over 72% in 2020.
TAs are a powerful instrument to help accelerate OA publishing but moving to a new publishing paradigm brings new challenges. During this period of transition, however fast that comes about, we must continue to provide excellent services to researchers and librarians. Providing financially sustainable support for author choice and upholding high-quality peer-review and publication services is at the heart of what we do and form the pillars upon which trusted physics research relies. OA publishing involves sometimes similar, sometimes different or sometimes entirely new systems and workflows and delivering those improvements requires considerable effort and investment from everyone involved in the scholarly ecosystem.
Over the coming year we will be considering how IOP Publishing, as a mission-driven organisation, needs to evolve further to support continued excellence in physical sciences publishing as open science becomes increasingly central to research communications.
Ken Caldeira, atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution who Bill Gates has called "one of my best teachers"
My fellow research group members and I are very lucky to have access to Stanford University libraries so we can get access to nearly all the research materials we need. But I want my research to be accessible to people who do not have access to such library services, including people at less well-endowed universities, journalists, policy makers and researchers in the Global South. To me, open access is a way of disseminating my work while advancing the cause of equity in global research.
Nearly all of our work is highly interdisciplinary. For me, the most exciting work occurs when two or more academic traditions collide. As an open access journal, IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters has been a valuable place to publish such collaborative work.
For example, we’ve recently published a “back of envelope” calculation to help think quantitatively about approximate magnitudes in consideration of balancing climate and sustainable development goals. Environmental Research Letters is a great outlet for us to publish this kind of research.
Daniel Keirs, Head of Journal Strategy and Performance
Our journal policies positively influence the adoption of open science practices. This year we have strengthened and extended our research data policy. We now require authors to be transparent about the availability of data and we encourage the wider sharing and citation of the data that underpins authors’ scientific results.
Researchers now include a data availability statement in all articles published in IOP Publishing journals, and this year we have been pleased to see that over half of the articles that include new data have been made available immediately.
We hope to see the public availability of data increase further over the coming year and will monitor this closely. We also know that legitimate reasons for limiting access to research data remain, and we plan to work with our communities to improve the visibility of these unavoidable barriers to openness.
Anatole von Lilienfeld, professor at the University of Vienna and editor-in-chief of IOP publishing’s Machine Learning: Science and Technology journal
I can only see the advantages of publishing open access (OA). It enhances the visibility and accessibility of papers, and it maximises their impact. Many funding agencies recognise the positive outcomes OA can bring and allow for the reimbursement of article publication fees (APCs) whilst publishers provide discounts and waivers to support people who might not have the means to pay for these charges.
Some funding agencies have even made it mandatory that the funded research is published OA only. While I am all for OA, I do think that it should remain voluntary and that it is excessive and harmful to make it mandatory. Academics should always be in control of how their work is disseminated. The OA decision should be up to them.
Freedom of research
Most of us researchers would agree that freedom of research is a major accomplishment and a necessity for ‘good’ science. Freedom of research would of course also include author choice. As such, it should become a matter of principle to carefully ponder the question if a general restriction of this freedom by imposing certain publication practices will indeed benefit science eventually. While some discussions have certainly already taken place over recent years, I do not have the impression that a broad societal consensus has been found.
In my mind, an ideal world would allow for fast and easy access and dissemination of scientific insights while imposing high quality peer review.
Miriam Maus, Publishing Director
“Over 8,000 academics have now gained IOP Trusted Peer Review status, through our peer review excellence programme.”
Publishing systems and workflows to support the transition to OA are evolving at an eye watering pace. The goal is to make OA publication as easy as possible for authors and offer a trouble-free route to compliance with OA funder mandates. Publishers have demonstrated considerable resilience and innovation, continuing to deliver efficient online, open access publishing at ever-increasing scale.
We believe that quality and integrity remain two vital beacons of trust in an ever-changing scholarly research ecosystem. That’s why we continue to invest in peer review, most recently through the launch of our peer review excellence programme. Co-delivered by top-level physical scientists, the programme provides customised training on all components of high-quality peer review, and over 8,000 academics have now gained IOP Trusted Peer Review status.
Our commitment to upholding rigorous and fair standards in peer review also motivated us to introduce double anonymous peer review for all our owned journals last year, making us the first physical sciences publisher to adopt the approach portfolio-wide.