The COVID-19 pandemic has been the greatest global public health crisis in a century. Scientific research and its effective communication have been at the centre of the worldwide response to the emergency. This report analyses how the scholarly communication system – involving the production, evaluation, and dissemination of research outputs – has responded to this crisis, focusing on the period until mid-2021. It evaluates ways in which the scholarly communication system, including its quality control mechanisms, has operated during the pandemic. It also examines how the global crisis has enabled innovations in scholarly communication, and the effects they have had on the system, or may have in future.
Differential rodent responses to the sex of human experimenters could have far reaching consequences in preclinical studies. Here, we show that the sex of human experimenters affects mouse behaviours and responses to the rapid-acting antidepressant ketamine and its bioactive metabolite (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine. We found that mice manifest aversion to human male odours, preference to female odours, and increased susceptibility to stress when handled by male experimenters. This male induced aversion and stress susceptibility is mediated by the activation of brain corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) neurons projecting from the entorhinal cortrex to hippocampal area CA1. We further establish that exposure to male scent prior to ketamine administration activates CRF neurons projecting from the entorhinal cortex to hippocampus, and that CRF is necessary and sufficient for ketamine’s in vivo and in vitro actions. Further understanding of the specific and quantitative contributions of the sex of human experimenters to different experimental outcomes in rodents may lead not only to reduced heterogeneity between studies, but also increased capability to uncover novel biological mechanisms.
Disagreement is essential to scientific progress but the extent of disagreement in science, its evolution over time, and the fields in which it happens remain poorly understood. Here we report the development of an approach based on cue phrases that can identify instances of disagreement in scientific articles. These instances are sentences in an article that cite other articles. Applying this approach to a collection of more than four million English-language articles published between 2000 and 2015 period, we determine the level of disagreement in five broad fields within the scientific literature (biomedical and health sciences; life and earth sciences; mathematics and computer science; physical sciences and engineering; and social sciences and humanities) and 817 meso-level fields. Overall, the level of disagreement is highest in the social sciences and humanities, and lowest in mathematics and computer science. However, there is considerable heterogeneity across the meso-level fields, revealing the importance of local disciplinary cultures and the epistemic characteristics of disagreement. Analysis at the level of individual articles reveals notable episodes of disagreement in science, and illustrates how methodological artifacts can confound analyses of scientific texts.
Several studies have investigated the way learners connect with science, re-emphasising persisting inequalities in science learning. This article combines the concept of intersectionality with the theoretical lens of science learning ecologies to focus on inequalities in connecting with science: Which factors influence the formation of a positive science attitude of young learners and how does the social background of young learners influence their opportunities of connecting with science, focusing on the intersections of class and gender? Based on a quantitative survey among 1,486 visitors of non-formal science education offers aged between 8 and 21, we analyze important factors for the development of a positive science attitude and investigate structural inequalities. The intersectional perspective was implemented in the sampling, survey design as well as its analysis. Using composite indicators of age and gender as well as gender and educational capital, we avoid a homogenisation of broadly defined groups. The results highlight that the development of a highly positive science attitude–as identified in a stepwise logistic regression model–is linked to supportive social environments, intrinsic motivation, science learning in school as well as regular engagement in arts-based learning, and self-directed science learning. The learning ecology perspective illustrates the influence of school on science attitudes in general. From an intersectional perspective, however, our findings demonstrate that the persistence of an androcentric and classist concept of science is not compatible with every learning ecology; male learners from educationally affluent backgrounds are most likely to enjoy science learning and see how science relates to their everyday realities. In turn, however, not only female learners with lower educational capital but also male learners with lower educational capital might find it more difficult to connect with science. The intersectional approach unveiled the multiple ways educational capital and gender shape individual learning ecologies. More equitable science learning spaces and offers have to adapt to a diversity of needs and preferences in order to make science activities enjoyable for all.
False investigators are researchers who have been listed on grant proposals as part of a research team even though there is no expectation that they will contribute to the research effort. Their use seems to be widespread even though their inclusion raises legal and ethical questions. Using data collected from the top 200 universities listed on U.S. News and World Report (2015), this manuscript investigates whether the use of false investigators impacts the distribution of research money and if so, by how much? Our analysis suggests they do, grants with false investigators receive more money, and while the size of this return varies with grant size, we find an average increase of about 70%. We also investigate how this influence is manifested; whether the increased funding is because false investigators apply for more grants, or if the presence of a false investigator increases the amount of funding received per proposal. We close with a discussion of policy issues and questions about research funding that remain unanswered.
In this paper, we analyze the role of science and technology studies (STS) journal editors in organizing and maintaining the peer review economy. We specifically conceptualize peer review as a gift economy running on perpetually renewed experiences of mutual indebtedness among members of an intellectual community. While the peer review system is conventionally presented as self-regulating, we draw attention to its vulnerabilities and to the essential curating function of editors. Aside from inherent complexities, there are various shifts in the broader political–economic and sociotechnical organization of scholarly publishing that have recently made it more difficult for editors to organize robust cycles of gift exchange. This includes the increasing importance of journal metrics and associated changes in authorship practices; the growth and differentiation of the STS journal landscape; and changes in publishing funding models and the structure of the publishing market through which interactions among authors, editors, and reviewers are reconfigured. To maintain a functioning peer review economy in the face of numerous pressures, editors must balance contradictory imperatives: the need to triage intellectual production and rely on established cycles of gift exchange for efficiency, and the need to expand cycles of gift exchange to ensure the sustainability and diversity of the peer review economy.
The two major functions of a scientific publishing system are to provide access to and evaluation of scientific papers. While open access (OA) is becoming a reality, open evaluation (OE), the other side of the coin, has received less attention. Evaluation steers the attention of the scientific community and thus the very course of science. It also influences the use of scientific findings in public policy. The current system of scientific publishing provides only journal prestige as an indication of the quality of new papers and relies on a non-transparent and noisy pre-publication peer-review process, which delays publication by many months on average. Here I propose an OE system, in which papers are evaluated post-publication in an ongoing fashion by means of open peer review and rating. Through signed ratings and reviews, scientists steer the attention of their field and build their reputation. Reviewers are motivated to be objective, because low-quality or self-serving signed evaluations will negatively impact their reputation. A core feature of this proposal is a division of powers between the accumulation of evaluative evidence and the analysis of this evidence by paper evaluation functions (PEFs). PEFs can be freely defined by individuals or groups (e.g., scientific societies) and provide a plurality of perspectives on the scientific literature. Simple PEFs will use averages of ratings, weighting reviewers (e.g., by H-index), and rating scales (e.g., by relevance to a decision process) in different ways. Complex PEFs will use advanced statistical techniques to infer the quality of a paper. Papers with initially promising ratings will be more deeply evaluated. The continual refinement of PEFs in response to attempts by individuals to influence evaluations in their own favor will make the system ungameable. OA and OE together have the power to revolutionize scientific publishing and usher in a new culture of transparency, constructive criticism, and collaboration.
A major factor underlying several of scholarship's most pressing problems is its antiquated journal system with its trifecta of reproducibility, affordability and functionality crises. Any solution needs to not only solve the current problems but also be capable of preventing a takeover by corporations. Technically, there is broad agreement on the goal for a modern scholarly digital infrastructure: it needs to replace traditional journals with a decentralized, resilient, evolvable network that is interconnected by open standards under the governance of the scholarly community. It needs to replace the monopolies of current journals with a genuine, functioning and well-regulated market. In this new market, substitutable service providers compete and innovate according to the conditions of the scholarly community, avoiding further vendor lock-in. Redirection of funding from the legacy publishers to the new framework may be realized by a tried-and-tested incentive system: Funding agencies have ensured minimum standards at funded institutions by requiring specific infrastructures. These requirements, updated to include the new framework, provide exquisite incentives for institutions to redirect their infrastructure funds from antiquated journals to modern technology. At the same time and enabled by this plan, new, modern and adaptable reputation systems, long demanded by the scientific community, can finally be implemented. Ownership involves socially recognized economic rights, first and foremost the exclusive control over that property, with the self-efficacy it affords. The inability to exert such control over crucial components of their scholarly infrastructure in the face of a generally recognized need for action for over three decades now, evinces the dramatic erosion of real ownership rights for the scholarly community over said infrastructure. Thus, this proposal is motivated not only by the now very urgent need to restore such ownership to the scholarly community, but also by the understanding that through their funding bodies, scholars may have an effective and proven avenue at their disposal to identify game-changing actions and to design a financial incentive structure for recipient institutions that can help realize the restoration of ownership, with the goal to implement open digital infrastructures that are as effective and as invisible as their non-digital counterparts.