Pensoft took a BiCIKL ride to Naturalis to report on a 3-year endeavour towards FAIR data

Three years ago, the BiCIKL consortium took to traverse obstacles to wider use and adoption of FAIR and linked biodiversity data.

Leiden – also known as the ‘City of Keys’ and the ‘City of Discoveries’ – was aptly chosen to host the third Empowering Biodiversity Research (EBR III) conference. The two-day conference – this time focusing on the utilisation of biodiversity data as a vehicle for biodiversity research to reach to Policy – was held in a no less fitting locality: the Naturalis Biodiversity Center

On 25th and 26th March 2024, the delegates got the chance to learn more about the latest discoveries, trends and innovations from scientists, as well as various stakeholders, including representatives of policy-making bodies, research institutions and infrastructures. The conference also ran a poster session and a Biodiversity Informatics market, where scientists, research teams, project consortia, and providers of biodiversity research-related services and tools could showcase their work and meet like-minded professionals.

BiCIKL stops at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center

The main outcome of the BiCIKL project: the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub, a one-stop knowledge portal to interlinked and machine-readable FAIR data.

The famous for its bicycle friendliness country also made a suitable stop for BiCIKL (an acronym for the Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library): a project funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme that aimed at triggering a culture change in the way users access, (re)use, publish and share biodiversity data. To do this, the BiCIKL consortium set off on a 3-year journey to build on the existing biodiversity data infrastructures, workflows, standards and the linkages between them.

Many of the people who have been involved in the project over the last three years could be seen all around the beautiful venue. Above all, Naturalis is itself one of the partnering institutions at BiCIKL. Then, on Tuesday, on behalf of the BiCIKL consortium and the project’s coordinator: the scientific publisher and technology innovator: Pensoft, Iva Boyadzhieva presented the work done within the project one month ahead of its official conclusion at the end of April.

As she talked about the way the BiCIKL consortium took to traverse obstacles to wider use and adoption of FAIR and linked biodiversity data, she focused on BiCIKL’s main outcome: the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH).

Key results from the BiCIKL project three years into its existence presented by Pensoft’s Iva Boyadzhieva at the EBR III conference.

Intended to act as a knowledge broker for users who wish to navigate and access sources of open and FAIR biodiversity data, guidelines, tools and services, in practicality, the BKH is a one-stop portal for understanding the complex but increasingly interconnected landscape of biodiversity research infrastructures in Europe and beyond. It collates information, guidelines, recommendations and best practices in usage of FAIR and linked biodiversity data, as well as a continuously expanded catalogue of compliant relevant services and tools.

At the core of the BKH is the FAIR Data Place (FDP), where users can familiarise themselves with each of the participating biodiversity infrastructures and network organisations, and also learn about the specific services they provide. There, anyone can explore various biodiversity data tools and services by browsing by their main data type, e.g. specimens, sequences, taxon names, literature.

While the project might be coming to an end, she pointed out, the BKH is here to stay as a navigation system in a universe of interconnected biodiversity research infrastructures. To do this, not only will the partners continue to maintain it, but it will also remain open to any research infrastructure that wishes to feature its own tools and services compliant with the linked and FAIR data requirements set by the BiCIKL consortium.

On the event’s website you can access the BiCIKL’s slides presentation as presented at the EBR III conference.

What else was on at the EBR III?

Indisputably, the ‘hot’ topics at the EBR III were the novel technologies for remote and non-invasive, yet efficient biomonitoring; the utilisation of data and other input sourced by citizen scientists; as well as leveraging different types and sources of biodiversity data, in order to better inform decision-makers, but also future-proof the scientific knowledge we have collected and generated to date.

Project’s coordinator Dr Quentin Groom presents the B-Cubed’s approach towards standardised access to biodiversity data for the use of policy-making at the EBR III conference.

Amongst the other Horizon Europe projects presented at the EBR III conference was B-Cubed (Biodiversity Building Blocks for policy). On Monday, the project’s coordinator Dr Quentin Groom (Meise Botanic Garden) familiarised the conference participants with the project, which aims to standardise access to biodiversity data, in order to empower policymakers to proactively address the impacts of biodiversity change.

You can find more about B-Cubed and Pensoft’s role in it in this blog post.

On the event’s website you can access the B-Cubed’s slides presentation as presented at the EBR III conference.

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Dr France Gerard (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) talks about the challenges in using raw data – including those provided by drones – to derive habitat condition metrics.

MAMBO: another Horizon Europe project where Pensoft has been contributing with expertise in science communication, dissemination and exploitation, was also an active participant at the event. An acronym for Modern Approaches to the Monitoring of BiOdiversity, MAMBO had its own session on Tuesday morning, where Dr Vincent Kalkman (Naturalis Biodiversity Center), Dr France Gerard (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) and Prof. Toke Høye (Aarhus University) each took to the stage to demonstrate how modern technology developed within the project is to improve biodiversity and habitat monitoring. Learn more about MAMBO and Pensoft’s involvement in this blog post.

MAMBO’s project coordinator Prof. Toke T. Høye talked about smarter technologies for biodiversity monitoring, including camera traps able to count insects at a particular site.

On the event’s website you can access the MAMBO’s slides presentations by Kalkman, Gerard and Høye, as presented at the EBR III conference.

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The EBR III conference also saw a presentation – albeit remote – from Prof. Dr. Florian Leese (Dean at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, and Editor-in-Chief at the Metabarcoding and Metagenomics journal), where he talked about the promise, but also the challenges for DNA-based methods to empower biodiversity monitoring. 

Amongst the key tasks here, he pointed out, are the alignment of DNA-based methods with the Global Biodiversity Framework; central push and funding for standards and guidance; publication of data in portals that adhere to the best data practices and rules; and the mobilisation of existing resources such as the meteorological ones. 

Prof. Dr. Florian Leese talked about the promise, but also the challenges for DNA-based methods to empower biodiversity monitoring. He also referred to the 2022 Forum Paper: “Introducing guidelines for publishing DNA-derived occurrence data through biodiversity data platforms” by R. Henrik Nilsson et al.

He also made a reference to the Forum Paper “Introducing guidelines for publishing DNA-derived occurrence data through biodiversity data platforms” by R. Henrik Nilsson et al., where the international team provided a brief rationale and an overview of guidelines targeting the principles and approaches of exposing DNA-derived occurrence data in the context of broader biodiversity data. In the study, published in the Metabarcoding and Metagenomics journal in 2022, they also introduced a living version of these guidelines, which continues to encourage feedback and interaction as new techniques and best practices emerge.

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You can find the programme on the conference website and see highlights on the conference hashtag: #EBR2024.

Don’t forget to also explore the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub for yourself at: https://biodiversityknowledgehub.eu/ 

BiCIKL project sums up outcomes and future prospects at a Final GA in Cambridge

On multiple occasions, the participants agreed that the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub must be the flagship outcome of BiCIKL. 

The city of Cambridge and the Wellcome Campus hosted the Final General Assembly of the EU-funded project BiCIKL (acronym for Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library): a 36-month endeavour that saw 14 member institutions and 15 research infrastructures representing diverse actors from the biodiversity data realm come together to improve bi-directional links between different platforms, standards, formats and scientific fields. Consortium members who could not attend the meeting in Cambridge joined the meeting remotely.

The 3-day meeting was organised by local hosts European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and ELIXIR in collaboration with Pensoft Publishers.

After a welcome cocktail reception on Monday evening at Hilton Cambridge City Centre, on Tuesday, the consortium made an early start with a recap of BiCIKL’s key milestones and outputs from the last three years. All Work Package leaders had their own timeslot to discuss the results of their collaborations.  

They all agreed that the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub – the one-stop portal for understanding the complex – yet increasingly interconnected landscape of biodiversity research infrastructures – is likely the flagship outcome of BiCIKL. 

Prof. Lyubomir Penev, project coordinator of BiCIKL and founder/CEO of Pensoft Publishers at the BiCIKL’s third and final General Assembly in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

In the afternoon, the participants focused on the services developed under BiCIKL. Amongst the many services resulting from the project some were not originally planned. Rather those were the ‘natural’ products of the dialogue and collaboration that flourished within the consortium throughout the project. “A symptom of passion,” said Prof. Lyubomir Penev, project coordinator of BiCIKL and founder/CEO of Pensoft Publishers.

An excellent example of one such service is what the partners call the “Biodiversity PMC”, which brings together biodiversity literature from thousands of scholarly journals and over 500,000 taxonomic treatments, in addition to the biomedical content available from NIH’s PubMed Central, into the SIB Literature Services (SIBiLS) database. What’s more, users at SIBiLS – be it human or AI – can now use advanced text- and data-mining tools, including AI-powered factoid question-answering capacities, to query all this full-text indexed content and seek out, for example, species traits and biotic interactions. Read more about the “Biodiversity PMC” in its recent official announcement.

Far from being the only one, the “Biodiversity PMC” is in good company: from the blockchain-based technology of LifeBlock to the curation of the DNA sequences by PlutoF, the BiCIKL project consortium takes pride in having developed twelve services dedicated to FAIR and linked ready-to-use biodiversity data. 

All those services are already listed in the FAIR Data Place within the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub, where each is presented with its own video. For many services, from the same page, visitors can also download factsheets meant to serve as user guidelines. All will also be featured in the EOSC catalogue.

All services developed under BiCIKL with links to their explanatory videos:

On Wednesday, the consortium focused on BiCIKL’s activities from the Transnational and Virtual Access Pillar, which included both presentations by each open call leader and VA leader, as well as open discussions and a recap of what the teams have learnt from these experiences. 

A panel discussion took place on Thursday as part of an open event, where BiCIKL partners and ELIXIR Biodiversity and Plant Communities came together to discuss the Future of Biodiversity and Genomics data integration at the EMBL Wellcome Genome Campus.

Thursday was dedicated to an open event where BiCIKL partners and ELIXIR Biodiversity and Plant Communities came together to discuss the Future of Biodiversity and Genomics data integration at the EMBL Wellcome Genome Campus. You can find the agenda on BiCIKL’s website.

After 36 months of action, the BiCIKL project will officially end in April 2024, but does it mean that all will be done and dusted come May 2024? Certainly not, point out the partners. 

To ensure that the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub will not only continue to exist but will not cease to grow in both use and participation, the one-stop portal will remain under the maintenance of LifeWatch ERIC. 

In conclusion, we could say that an appropriate payoff for the project is “Stick together!” as put by BiCIKL’s Joint Research Activity Leader Dr. Quentin Groom.

Final words at the third and last General Assembly of the BiCIKL project.

You can find highlights from the BiCIKL General Assembly meeting on X via the #BiCIKL_H2020 hashtag (in association with #Cambridge and #finalGA)

All research outputs, including the approved grant proposal, policy briefs, guidelines papers and research articles associated with the project, remain openly accessible from the BiCIKL project outcomes collection in RIO Journal: https://doi.org/10.3897/rio.coll.105.

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All BiCIKL project partners:

Towards the “Biodiversity PMC”: a literature database supporting advanced content queries

The indexing is one of the major outcomes from the partnerships within the Horizon 2020-funded project Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL)

Amongst the major outcomes from the currently nearly completed Horizon 2020-funded project Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL) – dedicated to making biodiversity data FAIR and bi-directionally linked – brings the SIB Literature Services (SIBiLS) database one step closer to solidifying its “Biodiversity PMC” portal and working title.

In a joint effort between the Swiss-based Text Mining group of Patrick Ruch at SIB (developing SIBiLS), the text- and data-mining association Plazi and scientific publisher Pensoft, the long-time collaborators have started feeding full-text content of over 500,000 taxonomic treatments extracted by Plazi and tens of thousands full-text articles from 40 well-renowned biodiversity journals published by Pensoft to the SIBiLS database. 

What this means is that users at SIBiLS – be it human or AI – have now gained access to advanced text- and data-mining tools, including AI-powered factoid question-answering capacities, to query all this full-text indexed content and seek out, for example, species traits and biotic interactions.

To index and directly feed the content from its 40+ academic outlets at SIBiLS, Pensoft relies on advanced and full-text TaxPub JATS XML journal publication workflow, powered by the ARPHA publishing platform. Meanwhile, Plazi uses its GoldenGate text- and data-mining software to harvest taxon treatments from over 80 journals stored at TreatmentBank and the Biodiversity Literature Repository, and then further re-used by GBIF, OpenBiodiv and now by SiBILS.

Seen as a pilot, the indexing – the partners believe – could soon be extended with other journals relying on modern publishing or converted legacy publications. 

In fact, ever since its launch in 2020, the queryable database SIBiLS has been retrieving relevant full-text papers directly from the NIH’s PubMed Central, including Pensoft’s ZooKeysPhytoKeysMycoKeysBiodiversity Data Journal and Comparative Cytogenetics

However, there were still gaps left to bridge before SIBiLS could indeed be dubbed “the Biodiversity PMC”, and those have mostly been about volume and breadth of content. While the above-mentioned five journals by Pensoft had long been indexed by SIBiLS through harvesting PMC, those had been quite an exception since, several years ago, a reorganisation at PMC moved the focus of the database to almost exclusively biomedical content, thus leaving biodiversity journals out of the scope of the database.

In the meantime, while Plazi has been feeding SIBiLS a growing volume of taxonomic treatments and visual data, as it was exponentially increasing the number of publishers and journals it mined data from, a lot of biodiversity data (e.g. genetic, molecular, ecological) published in the article narratives that were not taxon treatments could not make it to the portal.

“We all know the advantages and practical uses PMC offers to its users, so we cannot miss the opportunity to incorporate this well-proven approach to navigate the data deluge in biodiversity science. Undoubtedly, it is an extremely ambitious and demanding task. Yet, I believe that, at the BiCIKL consortium, we have made it pretty clear we have the necessary expertise, know-how and aspiration to take on the challenge,”

said Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder/CEO at Pensoft and project coordinator of BiCIKL.

“For far too long, scientific knowledge about biodiversity has been imprisoned in a continuously growing corpus of scientific outputs, which – most of the time – are published in unstructured formats, such as PDF, or as paywalled content, and often locked by both! This means that they are – at best – difficult to access and comprehend by computer algorithms. In the meantime, we need all that knowledge, in order to accelerate our understanding of the dynamics of the global biodiversity crisis and to efficiently assess the impact of climate change. This is why the need for advanced workflows and tools to annotate, mine, query and discover new facts from the available literature is more than obvious,”

added Dr. Donat Agosti, President at Plazi.

“In the course of the BiCIKL project, at SIBiLS, we started indexing a larger set of biodiversity-related contents in the broad sense, including environmental sciences and ecology, to build a new literature database, or what we now call ‘Biodiversity PMC’. Now, with the help of Plazi and Pensoft, we provide a unique entry point to half a million taxonomic treatments, which were not included into the original PubMed Central. Next on the list is to expand our network of literature sources and continue this exponential growth of queryable biodiversity knowledge to turn Biodiversity PMC into the “One Health” library. We promise to keep you posted,”

said Dr. Patrick Ruch, Group Leader at SIB and Head of Research at HES-SO, HEG Geneva, Switzerland. 

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Follow BiCIKL Project on Twitter and Facebook. Join the conversation on Twitter at #BiCIKL_H2020.

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About the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics:

SIB is an internationally recognized non-profit organisation, dedicated to biological and biomedical data science. SIB’s data scientists are passionate about creating knowledge and solving complex questions in many fields, from biodiversity and evolution to medicine. They provide essential databases and software platforms as well as bioinformatics expertise and services to academic, clinical, and industry groups. With the recent creation of the Environmental Bioinformatics group, led by Robert Waterhouse, SIB is engaged in an unprecedented effort to streamline data across molecular biology, health and biodiversity. SIB also federates the Swiss bioinformatics community of some 900 scientists, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing.

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About Plazi:

Plazi is an association supporting and promoting the development of persistent and openly accessible digital taxonomic literature. To this end, Plazi maintains TreatmentBank, a digital taxonomic literature repository to enable archiving of taxonomic treatments; develops and maintains TaxPub, an extension of the National Library of Medicine / National Center for Biotechnology Informatics Journal Article Tag Suite for taxonomic treatments; is co-founder of the Biodiversity Literature Repository at Zenodo, participates in the development of new models for publishing taxonomic treatments in order to maximise interoperability with other relevant cyberinfrastructure components such as name servers and biodiversity resources; and advocates and educates about the vital importance of maintaining free and open access to scientific discourse and data. Plazi is a major contributor to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

Pensoft collaborates with R Discovery to elevate research discoverability

Pensoft and R Discovery’s innovative connection aims to change the way researchers find academic articles.

Leading scholarly publisher Pensoft has announced a strategic collaboration with R Discovery, the AI-powered research discovery platform by Cactus Communications, a renowned science communications and technology company. This partnership aims to revolutionize the accessibility and discoverability of research articles published by Pensoft, making them more readily available on R Discovery to its over three million researchers across the globe.

R Discovery, acclaimed for its advanced algorithms and an extensive database boasting over 120 million scholarly articles, empowers researchers with intelligent search capabilities and personalized recommendations. Through its innovative Reading Feed feature, R Discovery delivers tailored suggestions in a format reminiscent of social media, identifying articles based on individual research interests. This not only saves time but also keeps researchers updated with the latest and most relevant studies in their field.

Open Science is much more than cost-free access to research output.

Lyubomir Penev

One of R Discovery’s standout features is its ability to provide paper summaries, audio readings, and language translation, enabling users to quickly assess a paper’s relevance and enhance their research reading experience significantly.

With over 2.5 million app downloads and upwards of 80 million journal articles featured, the R Discovery database is one of the largest scholarly content repositories.

At Pensoft, we do realise that Open Science is much more than cost-free access to research outputs. It is also about easier discoverability and reusability, or, in other words, how likely it is for the reader to come across a particular scientific publication and, as a result, cite and build on those findings in his/her own studies. By feeding the content of our journals into R Discovery, we’re further facilitating the discoverability of the research done and shared by the authors who trust us with their work,” said ARPHA’s and Pensoft’s founder and CEO Prof. Lyubomir Penev.

Abhishek Goel, Co-Founder and CEO of Cactus Communications, commented on the collaboration, “We are delighted to work with Pensoft and offer researchers easy access to the publisher’s high-quality research articles on R Discovery. This is a milestone in our quest to support academia in advancing open science that can help researchers improve the world.

So far, R Discovery has successfully established partnership with over 20 publishers, enhancing the platform’s extensive repository of scholarly content. By joining forces with R Discovery, Pensoft solidifies its dedication to making scholarly publications from its open-access, peer-reviewed journal portfolio easily discoverable and accessible.

Two new freshwater fungi species in China enhance biodiversity knowledge

The discoveries from the southwest of the country add to the impressive diversity of freshwater fungi in China.

Researchers have discovered two new freshwater hyphomycete (mould) species, Acrogenospora alangii and Conioscypha yunnanensis, in southwestern China. 

This discovery, detailed in a study published in MycoKeys, marks the addition of these species to the Acrogenospora and Conioscypha genera, further enriching the diversity of freshwater fungi known in the region.

A research team consisting of Lu Li, Hong-Zhi Du and Ratchadawan Cheewangkoon from Chiang Mai University, Thailand, as well as Vinodhini Thiyagaraja and Rungtiwa Phookamsak from Kunming Institute of Botany, China, and Darbhe Jayarama Bhat from King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, employed comprehensive morphological analysis and multi-gene phylogenetic assessments in their study. 

Notably, Acrogenospora alangii was identified on submerged branches of the medicinal plant Alangium chinense, highlighting a unique ecological association.

Hostplant of Acrogenospora alangii growing near water body.

Freshwater fungi are highly diverse in China and frequently reported from submerged wood, freshwater insects, herbaceous substrates, sediments, leaves, foams, and living plants.

Most species are well-known as saprobes (organisms that live on decaying organisms) and they play an important role in ecological functioning as decomposers, but also can be pathogens as well as symbionts on humans and plants.

This research underscores the ecological and taxonomic richness of freshwater fungi in China, a country already recognised for its diverse fungal habitats. The findings contribute valuable insights into the roles these organisms play in freshwater ecosystems and emphasise the importance of ongoing biodiversity studies in these environments.

Research article

Li L, Du H-Z, Thiyagaraja V, Bhat DJ, Phookamsak R, Cheewangkoon R (2024) Two novel freshwater hyphomycetes, in Acrogenospora (Minutisphaerales, Dothideomycetes) and Conioscypha (Conioscyphales, Sordariomycetes) from Southwestern China. MycoKeys 101: 249-273. https://doi.org/10.3897/mycokeys.101.115209

Follow MycoKeys on Facebook and X.

Pensoft 2023 review: A year of pioneering research

To celebrate a successful year, Pensoft gives thanks and reflects on the achievements of key journals in 2023.

As the new year approaches, we take a moment to look back on a great year for several of Pensoft‘s key journals.

The following videos were created as part of the #Pensoft2023Review campaign and present the journals’ achievements this year.

ZooKeys

PhytoKeys

MycoKeys

Biodiversity Data Journal

NeoBiota

Nature Conservation

One Ecosystem

Metabarcoding and Metagenomics

Evolutionary Systematics

Looking forward to 2024

Despite the success of 2023, the Pensoft team is keener than ever to improve in every aspect in the coming year. A massive thank you to every author, editor, reviewer and reader of Pensoft’s journals, and a very happy New Year!

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Conferences across the continents: Pensoft’s events in Autumn 2023

Pensoft participated in several events all around the world in October and November 2023.

October and November 2023 were active months for the Pensoft team, who represented the publisher’s journals and projects at conferences in Europe, North America, South America, Oceania and Asia.

Let’s take a look back at all the events of the past two months.

The Biodiversity Information Standards Conference 2023

The Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) Conference, held from October 9-13 in Tasmania, Australia, brought together experts and stakeholders from the global biodiversity research community.

The annual gathering is a crucial platform for sharing insights, innovations, and knowledge related to biodiversity data standards and practices. Key figures from Pensoft took part in the event, presenting new ways to improve the management, accessibility, and usability of biodiversity data. 

Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pensoft, gave two talks that highlighted the importance of data publishing. His presentation on “The Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH): A Crosspoint and Knowledge Broker for FAIR and Linked Biodiversity Data” underscored the significance of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data standards. BKH is the major output from the Horizon 2020 project BiCIKL (Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library) dedicated to linked and FAIR data in biodiversity, and coordinated by Pensoft.

Prof. Lyubomir Penev, Pensoft founder and CEO.

He also introduced the Nanopublications for Biodiversity workflow and format: a promising new tool developed by Knowledge Pixels and Pensoft to communicate key scientific statements in a way that is human-readable, machine-actionable, and in line with FAIR principles. Earlier this year, Biodiversity Data Journal integrated nanopublications into its workflow to allow authors to share their findings even more efficiently.

Chief Technology Officer of Pensoft Teodor Georgiev contributed to the conference by presenting “OpenBiodiv for Users: Applications and Approaches to Explore a Biodiversity Knowledge Graph.” His session highlighted the innovative approaches being taken to explore and leverage a biodiversity knowledge graph, showcasing the importance of technology in advancing biodiversity research.

Teodor Georgiev (right), Pensoft CTO.

Many authors and editors at Biodiversity Data Journal also spoke at the TDWG conference, including Vince Smith, the journal’s editor-in-chief, who is Head of Digital, Data, and Informatics at the Natural History Museum. He delivered insightful presentations on digitising natural science collections and utilising AI for insect collections.

GEO BON Global Conference 2023

GEO BON’s Global Conference on Biodiversity and Monitoring took place from 10-13 October 2023 in Montreal, Canada.

Metabarcoding and Metagenomics editor-in-chief, Florian Leese.

The theme of the conference was “Monitoring Biodiversity for Action” and there was particular emphasis on the development of best practices and new technologies for biodiversity observations and monitoring to support transformative policy and conservation action.

Metabarcoding & Metagenomics’ editor-in-chief, Florian Leese, was one of the organisers of the “Standardized eDNA-Based Biodiversity Monitoring to Inform Environmental Stewardship Programs” session. Furthermore, the journal was represented at Pensoft’s exhibition booth, where conference participants were able to discuss metabarcoding and metagenomics research.

Following the conference, Metabarcoding & Metagenomics announced a new special issue titled “Towards Standardized Molecular Biodiversity Monitoring.” The special issue is accepting submissions until 15th March 2024.

Asian Mycological Congress 2023

The Asian Mycological Congress welcomed researchers from around the world to Busan, Republic of Korea, for an exploration of all things fungi from 10-13 October. 

MycoKeys Best Talk award (winner not pictured).

Titled “Fungal World and Its Bioexploitation – in all areas of basic and applied mycology,” the conference covered a range of topics related to all theoretical and practical aspects of mycology. There was a particular emphasis on the development of mycology through various activities associated with mycological education, training, research, and service in countries and regions within Asia.

As one of the sponsors of the congress, Pensoft proudly presented a Best Talk award to Dr Sinang Hongsanan of Chiang Mai University, Thailand. The award entitles the winner to a free publication in Pensoft’s flagship mycology journal, MycoKeys.

Joint ESENIAS and DIAS Scientific Conference 2023

The ESENIAS and DIAS conference took place from 11-14 October and focused on “globalisation and invasive alien species in the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions.” Pensoft shared information on their NeoBiota journal and the important REST-COAST and B-Cubed projects.

Polina Nikova receiving the NeoBiota Best Talk Award.

Polina Nikova of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences received the NeoBiota Best Talk Award for her presentation titled “First documented records in the wild of American mink (Neogale vision von Schreber, 1776) in Bulgaria.” The award entitles her to a free publication in the NeoBiota journal.

XII European Congress of Entomology

Pensoft took part in the XII European Congress of Entomology (ECE 2023) in Heraklion, Crete, from 16-20 October. The event provided a forum for entomologists from all over the world, bringing together over 900 scientists from 60 countries.

Carla Stoyanova, Teodor Metodiev and Boriana Ovcharova representing Pensoft.

The ECE 2023, organised by the Hellenic Entomological Society, addressed the pressing challenges facing entomology, including climate change, vector-borne diseases, biodiversity loss, and the need to sustainably feed a growing world population. The program featured symposia, lectures, poster sessions, and other types of activities aimed at fostering innovation in entomology. For Pensoft, they were a great opportunity to interact with scientists and share their commitment to advancing entomological research and addressing the critical challenges in the field.

Throughout the event, conference participants could find Pensoft’s team at thir booth, and learn more about the scholarly publisher’s open-access journals in entomology. In addition, the Pensoft team presented the latest outcomes from the Horizon 2020 projects B-GOOD, Safeguard, and PoshBee, where the publisher takes care of science communication and dissemination as a partner.

XIV International Congress of Orthopterology 2023

The XIV International Congress of Orthopterology, held from 16-19 October in Mérida, Yucatán, México, was a landmark event in the field of orthopterology.

Group photo of XIV International Congress of Orthopterology 2023 participants.

Hosted for the first time in Mexico, it attracted experts and enthusiasts from around the world. The congress featured plenary speakers who presented cutting-edge research and insights on various aspects of grasshoppers, crickets, and related insects.

Pensoft’s Journal of Orthoptera Research was represented by Tony Robillard, the editor-in-chief, who presented the latest developments of the journal to attendees.

Symposia, workshops, and meetings facilitated discussions on topics like climate change impacts, conservation, and management of Orthoptera. The event also included introductions to new digital and geospatial tools for Orthoptera research.

The 16th International Conference on Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions

The 16th International Conference on Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions (EMAPI 2023) took place in Pucón, Chile, from 23-25 October . The conference focused on the promotion of diversity in the science and management of biological invasions. Several NeoBiota authors ran sessions at the conference, and the journal also presented a Best Talk Award.

4th International ESP Latin America and Caribbean Conference

The 4th International ESP Latin America and Caribbean Conference (ESP LAC 2023) was held in La Serena, Chile, from 6-10 November. Focused on “Sharing knowledge about ecosystem services and natural capital to build a sustainable future,” the event attracted experts in ecosystem services, particularly from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Organised by the Ecosystem Services Partnership, this bi-annual conference was open to both ESP members and non-members, featuring a hybrid format in English and Spanish. Attendees enjoyed an excursion to La Serena’s historical center, adding a cultural dimension to the event.

The conference included diverse sessions and a special recognition by Pensoft’s One Ecosystem journal, which awarded full waivers for publication to the authors of the three best posters.

Magaly Aldave receiving the Best Poster Award.

Magaly Aldave of the Transdisciplinary Center for FES-Systemic Studies claimed first prize with “The voice of children in the conservation of the urban wetland and Ramsar Site Pantanos de Villa in Metropolitan Lima, Peru.” Ana Catalina Copier Guerrero and Gabriela Mallea-Rebolledo, both of the University of Chile, were awarded second and third prize respectively.

Biosystematics 2023

Biosystematics 2023, held from 26-30 November at the Australian National University in Canberra, was a collaborative effort of the Australian Biological Resources Study, Society of Australian Systematic Biologists, Australasian Mycological Society, and Australasian Systematic Botany Society. Themed “Celebrating the Past | Planning the Future,” the conference provided a platform for exploring advancements in biosystematics.

The event featured in-person and online participation, catering to a wide audience of researchers, academics, and students. It included workshops, presentations, and discussions, with a focus on enhancing understanding in biosystematics.

Pensoft awarded three student prizes at the event. Putter Tiatragu, Australian National University, received the Best Student Talk award and a free publication in any Pensoft journal for “A big burst of blindsnakes: Phylogenomics and historical biogeography of Australia’s most species-rich snake genus.”

Helen Armstrong, Murdoch University, received the Best Student Lightning Talk for “An enigmatic snapper parasite (Trematoda: Cryptogonimidae) found in an unexpected host.” Patricia Chan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, was the Best Student Lightning Talk runner-up for “Drivers of Diversity of Darwinia’s Common Scents and Inflorescences with Style: Phylogenomics, Pollination Biology, and Floral Chemical Ecology of Western Australian Darwinia (Myrtaceae).”

As we approach the end of 2023, Pensoft looks back on its most prolific and meaningful year of conferences and events. Thank you to everyone who contributed to or engaged with Pensoft’s open-access journals, and here’s to another year of attending events, rewarding important research, and connecting with the scientific community.

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Pensoft partners with ResearchGate to drive readership and visibility of open access journals

Content from 20 Pensoft journals will now be automatically added to ResearchGate to reach the research network’s 25 million users. Each journal will also receive a dedicated profile.

ResearchGate, the professional network for researchers, and Pensoft today announced a new partnership that will see a set of Pensoft’s open access journals increase their reach and visibility through ResearchGate – increasing access and engagement with its 25 million researcher members.  

Pensoft is a fully open access publisher, providing high-quality end-to-end services to its own and third-party scientific journals via its in-house developed scholarly publishing platform ARPHA.

As part of this new partnership, 20 journals published by Pensoft – including the publisher’s flagship titles ZooKeys, PhytoKeys, MycoKeys, Biodiversity Data Journal and Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal) amongst others – will now have their content automatically added to ResearchGate upon publication to benefit from enhanced visibility and discoverability through ResearchGate’s innovative Journal Home offering. These journals will all have dedicated profiles and be prominently represented on all associated article pages on ResearchGate, as well as all other relevant touch points throughout the network.

Journal Home provides a unique opportunity for Pensoft to connect its authors with their readers. The new journal profiles on ResearchGate will provide a central location for each journal, enabling researchers to learn more, discover new article content, and understand how, through their network, they are connected to the journal’s community of authors and editors. Authors of these journals additionally benefit from having their articles automatically added to their ResearchGate profile page, giving them access to metrics, including who is reading and citing their research. These rich insights will also enable Pensoft to build a deeper understanding of the communities engaging with its journals. 

“Pensoft is delighted to be working with ResearchGate to provide an even greater service to our authors and readers. ResearchGate offers an innovative way for us to grow the reach and visibility of our content, while also giving us a way to better understand and engage our author and reader audiences.”

said Prof Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft.

“We couldn’t be happier to see Pensoft embark on this new partnership with ResearchGate. Journal Home will not only enable Pensoft authors to build visibility for their work, but provide them and Pensoft with greater insights about the communities engaging with that research. I look forward to seeing this new collaboration develop”

said Sören Hofmayer, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at ResearchGate.

About ResearchGate:

ResearchGate is the professional network for researchers. Over 25 million researchers use researchgate.net to share and discover research, build their networks, and advance their careers. Based in Berlin, ResearchGate was founded in 2008. Its mission is to connect the world of science and make research open to all.

Fungal festivities: Celebrating 100 issues of MycoKeys

Pensoft’s marquee mycology journal published its 100th issue in November 2023.

Since its launch in 2011, MycoKeys has evolved into a leading journal in the field of mycology. Over the years, the publication has garnered substantial recognition, reflected in over 6,000 citations of its 550+ articles at the time of its 100th issue release.

MycoKeys has witnessed consistent growth over time, receiving more than 130 manuscripts annually for the past six years. The journal’s global influence is evident, attracting contributions from researchers across 80 countries, with particularly strong representation from China, Thailand, Germany, the USA, Sweden, and Italy.

The journal’s range of topics is vast, predominantly focusing on the systematics and taxonomy of fungi, especially Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. MycoKeys has been a platform for significant taxonomical contributions, with over 1100 new species and numerous new genera and families described.

These are the three most accessed papers published in MycoKeys:

  • Nilsson R, Tedersoo L, Abarenkov K, Ryberg M, Kristiansson E, Hartmann M, Schoch C, Nylander J, Bergsten J, Porter T, Jumpponen A, Vaishampayan P, Ovaskainen O, Hallenberg N, Bengtsson-Palme J, Eriksson K, Larsson K, Larsson E, Kõljalg U (2012) Five simple guidelines for establishing basic authenticity and reliability of newly generated fungal ITS sequences. MycoKeys 4: 37-63. https://doi.org/10.3897/mycokeys.4.3606
  • Tedersoo L, Anslan S, Bahram M, Põlme S, Riit T, Liiv I, Kõljalg U, Kisand V, Nilsson RH, Hildebrand F, Bork P, Abarenkov K (2015) Shotgun metagenomes and multiple primer pair-barcode combinations of amplicons reveal biases in metabarcoding analyses of fungi. MycoKeys 10: 1-43. https://doi.org/10.3897/mycokeys.10.4852
  • Hawksworth D (2011) A new dawn for the naming of fungi: impacts of decisions made in Melbourne in July 2011 on the future publication and regulation of fungal names. MycoKeys 1: 7-20. https://doi.org/10.3897/mycokeys.1.2062

Embracing modern communication channels, MycoKeys maintains an active social media presence, engaging with over 1,500 followers on X and 2,200 on Facebook. Its research has not only appealed to the academic community but has also captured the interest of mainstream media, with coverage in outlets like The Washington Post and CNN.

As MycoKeys celebrates this landmark issue, we thank the authors, reviewers and editors who have helped every step of the way. The journal continues to contribute profoundly to our understanding of fungi, leveraging cutting-edge methods to explore this fascinating kingdom of life, and we look forward to the next 100 issues and beyond.

You can also trace the timeline of MycoKeys back to 2011 by looking at the inaugural editorial by Editor-in-Chief and lichenologist Dr Thorsten Lumbsch (Vice President of Science & Education at the Field Museum) and colleagues, which marks the launch of the journal, and the most recent one that opens the 100th volume of the journal.

Follow MycoKeys on Facebook and X.

Eye for Detail: Papers in Pensoft journals sport a new look

As behaviours and needs of readers change, we strive to keep up with the times. Let’s run through what & why has changed to the PDF format.

Readers at some of the journals published by Pensoft, who have downloaded/printed a publication or ordered a physical copy of a journal issue over the last few weeks, might be in for a surprise concerning the layout of the PDF format of the articles. 

Research papers published in ZooKeys demonstrating the former (left) and the current (right) article layout seen in the PDF format. 

Even though it’s been years since online publishing has become the norm in how we are consuming information – including scientific publications – we understand that academia is still very much fond of traditional, often paper-based, article layout format: the one you use when accessing a PDF file or a print copy, rather than directly scrolling down through the HTML version of the article. 

Even if today large orders of printed volumes from overseas are the exception, rather than the rule, we know we have readers of ours who regularly print manuscripts at home or savе them on their devices. Trends like this have already led to many journals first abandoning the physical- for digital-first, then transitioning to digital-only publication format.

Meanwhile, it is true that needs and demands have fundamentally changed in recent times. 

As we speak, readers are accessing PDF files from much higher-quality desktops, in order to skim through as much content as possible. 

In the meantime, authors are relying on greater-quality cameras to document their discoveries, while using advanced computational tools capable of generating and analysing extra layers of precise data. While producing more exhaustive research, however, it is also of key importance that their manuscripts are processed and published as rapidly as possible.

So, let’s run through the updates and give you our reasoning for their added value to readers and authors.

Revised opening page

One of the major changes is the one to the format of the first page. By leaving some blank space on the left, we found a dedicated place for important article metadata, i.e. academic editor, date of manuscript submission / acceptance / publication, citation details and licence. As a result, we “cleaned up” the upper part of the page, so that it can better highlight the authors and their affiliations. 

Bottom line: The new layout provides a better structure to the opening page to let readers find key article metadata at a glance. 

Expand as much – or as little – as comfortable

As you might know, journals published by Pensoft have been coming in different formats and sizes. Now, we have introduced the standard A4 page size, where the text is laid in a single column that has been slightly indented to the right, as seen above. Whenever a figure or a table is used in a manuscript, however, it is expanded onto the whole width of the page.

Before giving our reasons why, let’s see what were the specific problems that we address.

Case study 1

Some of our signature journals, including ZooKeys, PhytoKeys and MycoKeys, have become quite recognisable with their smaller-than-average B5 format, widely appreciated by people who would often be seen carrying around a copy during a conference or an international flight.

However, in recent times, authors began to embrace good practices in research like open sharing of data and code, which resulted in larger and more complex tables. Similarly, their pocket-sized cameras would capture much higher-resolution photos capable of revealing otherwise minute morphological characters. Smaller page size would also mean that often there would be pages between an in-text reference of a figure or a table and the visual itself.

So, here we faced an obvious question: shall we deprive their readers from all those detailed insights into the published studies?

Case study 2

Meanwhile, other journals, such as Herpetozoa, Zoosystematics and Evolution and Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift, had long been operating in A4 size, thereby providing their readers with a full view of the figures in their publications. 

Yet, the A4 format brought up another issue: the lines were too long for the eye comfort of their readers. 

What they did was organise their pages into two-column format. While this sounds like a good and quite obvious decision, the format – best known from print newspapers – is pretty inconvenient when accessed digitally. Since the readers would like to zoom in on the PDF page or simply access the article on mobile, they will need to scroll up and down several times per page. 

In addition, the production of a two-column text is technologically more challenging, which results in extra production time.

Bottom line: The new layout allows journals to not sacrifice image quality for text readability and vice versa. As a bonus, authors enjoy faster publication for their papers.

Simplified font

If you have a closer look at the PDF file, you would notice that print-ready papers have also switched to a more simplistic – yet easier to the eye – font. Again, the update corresponds to today’s digital-native user behaviour, where readers often access PDF files from devices of various resolutions and skim through the text, as opposed to studying its content in detail.

In fact, the change is hardly new, since the same font has long been utilised for the webpages (HTML format) of the publications across all journals.

Bottom line: The slightly rounder and simplified font prompts readability, thereby allowing for faster and increased consumption of content. 

What’s the catch? How about characters and APCs?

While we have been receiving a lot of positive feedback from editors, authors and readers, there has been a concern that the updates would increase the publication charges, wherever these are estimated based on page numbers.

Having calculated the lines and characters in the new layout format, we would like to assure you that there is no increase in the numbers of characters or words between the former and current layout formats. In fact, due to the additional number of lines fitting in an A4 page as opposed to B5, authors might be even up for a deal.

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* At the time of the writing, the new paper layout has not been rolled out at all journals published by Pensoft. However, most of the editorial boards have already confirmed they would like to incorporate the update.

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