Daniel Keirs, associate director
“Transparency plays a key part in any fair assessment system and we are committed to providing increased transparency of the processes and services our journals provide.”
The 2020 theme for International Open Access Week is Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion. We aim to be genuine leaders in promoting equity, inclusion and diversity in scientific publishing. Our goal is to achieve parity of opportunity for any physical sciences researcher to contribute as an author, reviewer or board member. Addressing inequity in research assessment will be key to achieving this. We play an important role in the way that research quality is understood and how researchers are recognised and credited for their outputs. That is why, this month we have become a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment, better known as DORA. Its principles are aligned with ours, highlighting a need to assess research on its own merits by seeking to ensure that the quality and impact are ‘measured accurately and evaluated wisely’.
We believe it is important to judge the quality of research on a range of qualitative and quantitative criteria, rather than a single metric such as the journal impact factor. Many publishers, including IOP Publishing, provide article-level metrics to indicate how many times each specific article has been downloaded, cited or referenced in wider media and non-academic sources. From this month, we will display a wider range of metrics on our journal homepages, covering not only citation-based metrics but also measures associated with the crucial academic service of peer review. We hope these will complement other existing initiatives, such as transparent peer review. Transparency plays a key part in any fair assessment system and we are committed to providing increased transparency of the processes and services our journals provide.
Marc Gillett, head of publishing operations
“Improving fairness will require greater diversity and inclusivity among those who develop and implement the standards and processes of assessment.”
The key tenet of DORA is that research should be assessed on its own merits, and this same sentiment is central to our approach to peer review. Providing a rigorous, consistent and objective evaluation of each piece of research submitted to us is exactly what we strive to achieve. We, along with many other groups who support the DORA principles, recognise that improving fairness will require greater diversity and inclusivity among those who develop and implement the standards and processes of assessment. Otherwise, entrenched inequalities and unconscious biases can remain unchanged.
We are committed to instigating positive change by increasing diversity among our peer reviewers and journal editorial boards, as well as extending what we believe to be a more inclusive method of peer review – ‘double-anonymous’ – across all our journals. Our approach to peer review is continually improving and we are now looking to embed wider visibility of reviewer reports alongside each article through our transparent peer review initiative. Following a successful trial, we will be rolling transparent peer review out to more titles in the coming months.
Kim Eggleton, research integrity and inclusion manager
“Incentivising wider sharing of research outputs through new credit mechanisms goes hand-in-hand with promoting openness and transparency.”
Ensuring that researchers are credited for their individual contribution is an important part of improving fairness in research assessment. There is growing awareness that researchers make different contributions to the various articles that they co-author, and recognising these specific contributions is important, yet historically rarely captured. Open licensing of article reference lists is one way of increasing recognition of researchers’ contributions to the scientific literature, which we now enable as part of our participation in the Initiative for Open Citations. We also encourage responsible authorship practices and the inclusion of authorship statements on our journals.
Crediting researchers for the work that they do is made more difficult when academic assessment is focused too heavily on impact factor. This does not provide enough incentive for journals, or new platforms, to enable researchers to share negative results or other vital, yet ancillary, material like data, methods and code. Such material could play a valuable role in building scientific knowledge and in reducing duplication. Nonetheless, we continue to seek ways to encourage and credit researchers for such activities, such as expanding the requirement to include a data availability statement and data citation in articles we publish. We also publish new types of journals, such as IOP SciNotes, that welcome both negative findings as well as different ‘non-article’ types of scholarly outputs. Incentivising wider sharing of research outputs through new credit mechanisms goes hand-in-hand with promoting openness and transparency, which we strive to support through our open physics initiative.
Antonia Seymour, publishing director
“The growth in open access has been considerable over the past decade, driven through a combination of funder requirements and researchers’ desire to share their results more widely.”
Open science and fairer assessment can be self-reinforcing, with the level of credit granted for adopting open science practices improving as more and more researchers opt to publish their work openly. The growth in open access has been considerable over the past decade, driven through a combination of funder requirements and researchers’ desire to share their results more widely. In physics, articles published on an open access basis have grown on average by 26% per year compared with average growth in all articles of approximately 2% per year.
At IOP Publishing, since OA Week 2019, we have doubled the proportion of open access articles in our journals. Today, 22% of our articles are published open access compared to 11% this time last year, with the overall number of open access articles published increasing by 124%.
This growth has been achieved by the introduction of new dedicated open access journals as well as subscription-based journals allowing individual articles to be made openly accessible. We are working with institutions around the world to make ‘transformative agreements’ so that some, or all, of the outputs from a given institution’s research is entirely open. As of now, we have 14 such arrangements in place.
The increasing normalcy of open publishing models can only support the call for change in approaches to academic assessment, but it will require sustained action and commitment from stakeholders across academia. We support DORA as an important catalyst for this action.
To find out more about IOP Publishing’s commitment to open physics visit the online hub, which is updated regularly as existing initiatives evolve and new ones develop.