Issue 4


The Public Domain Manifesto underlines the importance of the public domain for the creative or educational process. In many jurisdictions the public domain is not defined as a legal concept in itself but through the absence of copyright. The manifesto promotes the concept that the public domain should generally be the rule, and copyright protection the exception for created works. 

Why open science matters to factfinding in courts”. Preprint by Jason Chin, Bethany Growns, and David Mellor. The principles of open science could also help to prevent miscarriage of justice, for example where it concerns expert witnesses.

Arenas of Productive Conflict: Universities, peer review, conflict and knowledge,” a paper by Cameron Neylon in the Humanities Commons that looks at conflict in the academic system, especially the productive conflict around peer review, and openness as a driver of change. “If general knowledge is created in the productive conflict between disparate groups, then the only way it can grow is through contact with new groups. Openness, as an aspiration, is crucial in creating that conflict and our practice as a community, is critical in making it as productive as it can be.”

If the selection process for talented applicants for academic fellowship programs becomes very competitive, the shortlist of candidates is so strong that a random selection process performs as well as a scientific peer review process to select the most suitable candidates. At least according to an analysis of the EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Want to assess how FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) a dataset is? The ARDC FAIR data Self-Assessment Tool offers help.


The effect of publishing peer review reports on referee behavior in five scholarly journals,” a study of a transparent peer review trial in Elsevier journals. According to the study, transparent peer review did not significantly affect referees willingness to review a paper, their recommendations, or turn-around times. However, early career researchers were more willing to participate. Published in Nature Communications.

Wiley has 10 more journals launching transparent peer review. In her blog post, Elizabeth Moylan presents more details of Wiley's experience so far. Notably, at the initial pilot journal, Clinical Genetics, the author opt-in rate is a strong 83%.

Credit, copyright, and the circulation of scientific knowledge : the Royal Society in the long nineteenth century,” a paper by Aileen Fyfe, Julie McDougall-Waters, and Noah Moxham explores the Royal Society's approach towards copyright and reuse in the Philosophical Transactions. From the abstract: “The Royal Society attempted to protect the originality and priority of the research published under its imprint, but it never sought to use copyright legislation to prevent (or to profit from) the reprinting or reuse of its research. [...] It typically relied on a code of conduct enforced through tradition and moral suasion, rather than legislation.” Published in the Victorian Periodicals Review.

Open access mythbusting: Testing two prevailing assumptions about the effects of open access adoption” by Dan Pollock and Ann Michael in Learned Publishing. They confirm that “there is no evidence that, in the mainstream literature, open access (OA) journals suffer significant quality issues compared with non‐OA journals.” However, they also find that the article processing charge (APC) model appears not to lead to increased competitiveness, and that factors beyond publishing costs matter more to authors. (Unless of course authors are priced out of the market by lack of funds, which appears not captured here.)

The Ascent of Open Access” by Digital Science charts the rise of the open access movement from 2000 to 2016. 


The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is reviewing the UK universities' compliance with their obligation to report clinical trials data


Preprints and science news – how can they co-exist? Talks and discussions organised by Open Research London on 6 February 2019 at the Francis Crick Institute.

Joerg Heber