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Preprints in Scholarly Communication: Re-Imagining Metrics and Infrastructures

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      Abstract

      Digital scholarship and electronic publishing within scholarly communities change when metrics and open infrastructures take center stage for measuring research impact. In scholarly communication, the growth of preprint repositories as a new model of scholarly publishing over the last three decades has been one of the major developments. As it unfolds, the landscape of scholarly communication is transitioning—with much being privatized as it is made open—and turning towards alternative metrics, such as social media attention, author-level, and article-level metrics. Moreover, the granularity of evaluating research impact through new metrics and social media changes the objective standards of evaluating research performance. Using preprint repositories as a case study, this article situates them in a scholarly web, examining their salient features, benefits, and futures. Moves towards scholarly web development and publishing on the semantic and social web with open infrastructures, citations, and alternative metrics—how preprints advance building the web as data—is discussed. We determine that this will viably demonstrate new metrics and, by enhancing research publishing tools in the scholarly commons, facilitate various communities of practice. However, for preprint repositories to be sustainable, scholarly communities and funding agencies should support continued investment in open knowledge, alternative metrics development, and open infrastructures in scholarly publishing.

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      The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship

      There is an urgent need to improve the infrastructure supporting the reuse of scholarly data. A diverse set of stakeholders—representing academia, industry, funding agencies, and scholarly publishers—have come together to design and jointly endorse a concise and measureable set of principles that we refer to as the FAIR Data Principles. The intent is that these may act as a guideline for those wishing to enhance the reusability of their data holdings. Distinct from peer initiatives that focus on the human scholar, the FAIR Principles put specific emphasis on enhancing the ability of machines to automatically find and use the data, in addition to supporting its reuse by individuals. This Comment is the first formal publication of the FAIR Principles, and includes the rationale behind them, and some exemplar implementations in the community.
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        The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era

        The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in relation to major publishers’ high profit margins. However, the share of scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration (70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.
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          Deep impact: unintended consequences of journal rank

          Most researchers acknowledge an intrinsic hierarchy in the scholarly journals (“journal rank”) that they submit their work to, and adjust not only their submission but also their reading strategies accordingly. On the other hand, much has been written about the negative effects of institutionalizing journal rank as an impact measure. So far, contributions to the debate concerning the limitations of journal rank as a scientific impact assessment tool have either lacked data, or relied on only a few studies. In this review, we present the most recent and pertinent data on the consequences of our current scholarly communication system with respect to various measures of scientific quality (such as utility/citations, methodological soundness, expert ratings or retractions). These data corroborate previous hypotheses: using journal rank as an assessment tool is bad scientific practice. Moreover, the data lead us to argue that any journal rank (not only the currently-favored Impact Factor) would have this negative impact. Therefore, we suggest that abandoning journals altogether, in favor of a library-based scholarly communication system, will ultimately be necessary. This new system will use modern information technology to vastly improve the filter, sort and discovery functions of the current journal system.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Publications
            Publications
            MDPI AG
            2304-6775
            March 2019
            January 14 2019
            : 7
            : 1
            : 6
            10.3390/publications7010006
            © 2019

            https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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            Self URI (article page): http://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/7/1/6

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