Issue 57

Open Science Newsletter


UNESCO launches a global consultation to develop a standard-setting instrument on Open Science. The process is expected to lead to a UNESCO Recommendation to be adopted in 2021.

Federal judge rules clinical trial sponsors must publish a decade’s worth of missing data. A US federal judge in New York’s Southern District is following up a law that requires sharing of outcomes from clinical trials. The implementation of that legal requirement has been very patchy. The suit against the US FDA was brought forward by Charles Seife and Peter Lurie. More information is in the court order.

Canada has published a roadmap for Open Science. Developed by Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer, it makes ten recommendations. These include open access to federally-funded research without embargo, data sharing according to the FAIR principles, and more.

Interior Department moves to impose new rules on use of science in decision-making. “The Interior Department is moving closer to further entrench a policy that it calls ‘Promoting Open Science’ but that critics call misguided and political.” Many studies, in particularly around harmful effects on humans, are based on confidential or private patient data that cannot be publicly released. A full disclosure requirement will make it impossible for such evidence to be considered, leading to accusations of misusing open science principles.

Scientists offered €1,000 to publish null results. The Berlin Institute of Health is trying to convince its 7,000 researchers to publish null results or replication studies.


China is moving away from placing a weight on journal impact factors in the assessment of researchers. The detailed memorandum (original text) from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology also mentions the development of a stronger national publishing infrastructure and quasi-caps on open access article processing charges.

Journals, funders and scholars must work together to create an infrastructure to study peer review. Data and studies around peer review are scarce. To understand and improve peer review requires a stronger infrastructure across publishers, say the authors of this Comment in Nature.

Elsevier’s Nick Fowler and Springer Nature’s Steven Inchcoombe have introduced the “Scholarly Networks Security Initiative (SNSI)”, which aims to address cyber challenges in scholarly publishing. Judging from their article in Research information (registration required), a first focus includes Sci-Hub.

Open Access eXchange (OAeX): an economic model and platform for fundraising open scholarship services. A description of a fundraising platform that “seeks to facilitate open access publishing without the barrier of article processing charges (APCs), as well as contribute to solving challenges of transparency and economic sustainability in open scholarship projects in the broader sense.”

SAGE launches portal to streamline open access publishing process. The portal aims to enable authors, consortia, libraries, and funders to manage the open access publishing workflow. 


I have largely refrained from adding to the sea of news on the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. However, that all official US coronavirus messaging is now going through the office of the US Vice President is an untenable for a situation where expert information, transparency and openness are required.

The 2020 American Physical Society March Meeting in Denver, CO, has been canceled “due to rapidly escalating health concerns relating to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).” With more than 10,000 attendees, the cancelation of the meeting came about 36 hours prior to its scheduled start. The society will invite researchers to share their presentations to YouTube and other social media, as other participants discussed the need for more online-only conferences. Other conferences are likely to follow; I heard about at least one small conference in Europe that is postponing their meeting.

Nominations for the 2020 John Maddox prize will open on 9 March. A joint initiative between Sense of Science and Nature, the prize recognizes researchers who have shown great courage and integrity in standing up for science and scientific reasoning against fierce opposition and hostility.


King’s Open Research Conference is taking place on 11 June 2020 in London, UK.


Katherine Johnson has passed away at age 101. Her calculations were crucial to the success of the Apollo missions. She and her group of African-American women mathematicians broke down barriers in research. Also, famed physicist Freeman Dyson passed away at 96.

The Smithsonian Institution released 2.8 Million 2D and 3D images into the public domain with a CC0 license. This is a wonderful development, congratulations!

The Data Coalition is looking for policy interns this summer.