Louise Page, Chief Innovation Officer at PLOS answers our questions
Your organisation has been supporting DOAJ for a few years now. Why is it important for PLOS to support DOAJ?
As a leading Open Access publisher we strongly support DOAJ and its mission to increase the visibility, accessibility and impact of quality, peer-reviewed, Open Access research. Our two organizations were launched in the same year and PLOS has always valued the importance of having an independent organization provide validation of a journal’s probity to help ensure that researchers find a suitable, vetted Open Access home for their work.
What benefits does being indexed in DOAJ bring to your journals?
There are a number of benefits that PLOS derives from being indexed in DOAJ. The first is simple: visibility. Authors who are unaware of us can find PLOS listed in the directory, which shows our commitment to providing high-quality, peer-reviewed Open Access content. In addition, authors can rest assured that only legitimate journals are listed, which is a check against predatory journals. Also, many university libraries use DOAJ as the pathway to provide content, including PLOS, to their scholars.
What is PLOS doing to support that development? Do you have any exciting projects underway?
PLOS recently launched preprints. Our collaboration with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s bioRxiv will give PLOS authors a choice about whether to make their work visible before peer review, after initial screening and basic ethical and technical checks. even earlier. We hope that authors – and reviewers – will benefit from community comments alongside the traditional peer review process. PLOS and CSHL are also planning to develop badges, to serve as an indicator that certain services have been completed.
In addition, one of PLOS’ goals for 2018 is to implement a robust transparent review service. We are currently consulting with our communities to better understand how best to responsibly move forward. Also, PLOS is formalizing its collaboration with protocols.io to better enhance reproducibility. Reviewers and editors gaining access to the protocols during peer review enables methodological details to be shared and integrated into the research cycle, from bench to publication and back.
What are your views on the future of Open Access publishing?
We see increasing adoption of Open Access policies and practices by funders, institutions, publishers and researchers, which will foster an ethical and intellectual environment conducive to responsible Open Science. We also hope to see innovations that promote reproducibility, credit and accountability, as these priorities support establishment of an Open Science culture, with open data, early sharing of work and clear contributor recognition. We see the benefit of Open Access content in relation to future advances in machine-readable formats and text and data mining—and the potential for Open Access to propel Open Science forward into new and exciting territory.
What do you think that the scholarly community could do to better support the continued development of the Open Access movement in the near future?
From a publisher perspective, PLOS and others can help showcase and reward rigorous study design, not just results. We can also strenuously push the industry to make publishing replications and negative results an act that deserves credit and recognition. The industry can also increase the range of article level metrics available to deemphasize the Journal Impact Factor. In addition, supporting and facilitating FAIR sharing of all research outputs (especially data), promoting open source and embracing interoperable, open standards and digital identifiers
Open Access publishers can also do a better job at understanding the real-world concerns of researchers in the Global South and how Open Access can be a positive influence in their careers. Non-paywalled content enables them to gain access to the literature, but the APC business model is seen as a detriment to publishing. We need to explore a middle ground that is beneficial to everyone.
Much has been said recently about whether open access is succeeding or failing, particularly in terms of the original vision laid out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Do you think that open access has fallen short of this vision, or has it surpassed expectations?
Open Access publishing still has a long way to go before anyone can proclaim ‘job done’ with regard to the BOAI initiative in 2002. That said, Open Access publishing, despite all the challenges both behind and ahead of us, is surpassing expectations. Think of how far scholarly publishing has come since the Budapest Open Access Initiative. Despite all the early naysayers and strong opposition from subscription publishers, authors now have more choices than ever in which to find the best fit for their research. Open Access helped bring about multi-disciplinary journals, which helps support authors who collaborate across the sciences. Open Access publishers have implemented policies, practices and introduced innovations that were unthinkable in the 90s. In addition, more private funders and governments require the research they fund be published in Open Access journals. Why? Simply put: it’s working. Collectively we are on the right path.
At the same time there is a growing concern that crucial research communication functions and data management will be controlled by a small number of commercial players. The consolidation of vital tools and services may lead to unaffordable costs, limited access to research metrics, and a proliferation of big deal licenses. We are very interested in exploring how the Open Access community can enable new markets and provide new services to a diverse community that encompasses early career researchers to seasoned scientists working in a global arena. Exciting recent initiatives centered around Open Science, such as open data, open methods and open notebooks allow for improved transparency and reproducibility, leading to more reliable science. The landscape has changed dramatically since 2002 and the new players and initiatives will certainly have an impact on the ultimate metric by which the success of Open Access is measured.