RIO shifts gears to serve as project-driven knowledge hub

Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal) upgrades its unique concept to appeal to scientific projects, conference organisers and research institutions

Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal) upgrades its unique concept to appeal to scientific projects, conference organisers and research institutions

Over the last few years, we’ve been increasingly observing how major funders of research around the world, including the likes of the European Commission, Wellcome, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) recognise the research cycle as a continuum, rather than scattered standalone conclusions and reports. 

Hence, as a forward-looking, open science-driven journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) took it as its own responsibility to encourage scientific project teams, conference organisers and research institutions to bring together unconventional research outputs (e.g. grant proposals, data management plans, project deliverables, policy briefs, conference materials) as well as traditional (e.g. research or review papers, monographs, etc.), including such published elsewhere. To do so, RIO now provides the platform ready to be used as a research knowledge hub, where published outcomes are preserved permanently and easier to share, disseminate, reference and reuse.

Hence, RIO stepped up its game by turning permanent article collections into a one-stop source of diverse research items, where project coordinators, conference organisers or research institutions can not only publish early, interim and conclusive research items as they emerge within a research project, a series of events or the continuous scientific efforts at their lab, but also link relevant publications (i.e. preprints, articles or other documents, published elsewhere) available elsewhere through their metadata. As a result, they will receive a one-stop source under their own branding for every piece of scientific contribution ready to present to funding bodies or prospective collaborators and future research teams.

A permanent topical collection in RIO Journal may include a diverse range of both traditional and unconventional research outputs, as well as links to publications from outside the journal (see What can I publish on the journal’s website). 

Apart from bringing contextually linked research outcomes together, thus prompting findability, readership and citability en masse, RIO’s approach to collections ensures further accessibility by not only having RIO-published articles available in traditional PDF, semantically enriched HTML and minable XML format. The open-science journal has now made it possible for users to add to their collections preprints from ARPHA Preprints, as well as author-formatted PDFs (e.g. project deliverables, reports, policy briefs, etc.) and linked metadata to documents published elsewhere. Thanks to the integration of the journal with the general-purpose open-access repository Zenodo, all items in a collection are archived, and additionally indexed, disseminated and cited.

By focusing on article and preprint collections coming out from a research project, institution or conference, RIO provides a quite specific and unique combination of benefits to all actors of the research process: scientists, project coordinators, funders and institutions: 

  1. Project, institution or conference branding and promotion.
  2. One-stop point for outputs of a research project, institution or conference.
  3. Free publication of author-formatted project outputs (i.e. grant proposals, deliverables, reports, policy briefs, conference materials and others).
  4. Inclusivity through adding articles, preprints and other documents published elsewhere as easy as entering the DOI number of the document.
  5. Credit and recognition for the Collection and Guest editors, who take care to organise and manage the article collection.
  6. Easier discoverability and usability of topically related studies to benefit both authors and readers.
  7. Increased visibility of related papers in a collection, even when these might otherwise not have much exposure.
  8. Simultaneous citation of multiple articles related to a certain subject.
  9. Citation and referencing of the whole collection as a complete entity.
  10.  DOI and citation details for collections and individual articles.

Furthermore, RIO Journal maps all publications to the Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs), in order to emphasise the real-world impact of each published contribution, by displaying the corresponding badge within the article list. 

Last, but not least, both collections and individual publications in RIO enjoy the variety of default and on-demand science communication services, provided by Pensoft.  

How do project coordinators, funders and institutions benefit from a collection in RIO?

At the time a grant proposal is submitted to a research funder for evaluation, the team behind the proposed project has already put in considerable efforts, resulting in a unique idea with the potential to make a great stride towards the resolution of an outstanding problem in science, if only given the chance. However, too many of these ideas are bound to remain locked away in the archives of those funders, not because they are lacking in scientific value, but due to limited funds.

So, with its launch back in 2015, RIO Journal made it possible to publish and shed light on grant proposals and research ideas in general, similar early research outputs regardless of whether they are eventually funded or not, a novelty in scholarly publishing which earned RIO the SPARC Innovator Award Winner in 2016. To date, the journal has already published 75 grant proposals

Then, imagine what a contribution to science it would make to bring together the whole continuum of knowledge and scientific work all the way from the grant proposal to data  and software management plans, workshop reports, policy briefs and all interim and final deliverables produced within the span of the project!

On the other hand, funders are increasingly evaluating a prospective project’s impact based on its communication strategy. So, why not publish a grant proposal at the time of the submission of your proposal, in order to prove to the funding body that your project is serious about optimising its outreach to both the public and academia? Furthermore, by having an academic journal host any subsequent project deliverable, as a coordinator, you can rest assured that the communication activities of your project remain consistent and efficient.

In an excellent example of a project collection, the EU-funded ICEDIG (Innovation and Consolidation for Large Scale Digitisation of Natural Heritage), led by several major natural history institutions, including the Natural History Museum of London, Naturalis Biodiversity Center (the Netherlands), the French National Museum of Natural History and Helsinki University, brought together policy briefs, project reports, research articles and review papers, in order to provide a fantastic overview of their own research continuum. As a result, future researchers and various stakeholders can easily piece together the key components within the project, in order to learn from, recreate or even build on the experience of ICEDIG.

The Path2Integrity Project Outcomes collection demonstrates how research papers published elsewhere are featured in RIO Journal.

Similarly, conference organisers can make use of their own branded collections to overcome the ephemerality of presented research by collating virtually all valuable conference outputs, including abstracts, posters, presentations, datasets and full-text conference talks. For further convenience, a collection can be divided into subcollections, in order to organise the contribution by type or symposium. What particularly appeals to conference participants is the ARPHA Writing Tool, an intuitive collaborative online environment, which practically guides the user through each step: authoring, submission and pre-submission review, within a set of pre-designed, yet flexible templates available for each type of a conference output, thus sparing them the hassle to familiarise themselves with specific and perplexing formatting requirements

For institutions, RIO offers the opportunity to continuously provide evidence of the scholarly impact of their organisation. To better serve the needs of different labs or research teams, an institution can easily organise their outputs into various subcollections, and also customise their own article types, as well as the available usage tracking systems. Furthermore, by making use of the available pre-paid plans, institutions can support their researchers by covering fully or partially the publication charges at a discounted rate.

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Find more information regarding the submission and review process, policies and pricing, visit RIO Journal’s website.

Follow RIO Journal on Twitter and Facebook.

Open Science RIO Journal invites early research outcomes for the free-to-publish collection “Observations, prevention and impact of COVID-19”

Looking at today’s ravaging COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, which, at the time of writing, has spread to over 220 countries; its continuously rising death toll and widespread fear, on the outside, it may feel like scientists and decision-makers are scratching their heads more than ever in the face of the unknown. In reality, however, we get to witness an unprecedented global community gradually waking up to the realisation of the only possible solution: collaboration. 

On one hand, we have nationwide collective actions, including cancelled travel plans and mass gatherings; social distancing; and lockdowns, that have already proved successful at changing what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has determined as “the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic” in Hong Kong, Singapore and China. On the other hand, we have the world’s best scientists and laboratories all steering their expertise and resources towards the better understanding of the virus and, ultimately, developing a vaccine for mass production as quickly as possible. 

While there is little doubt that the best specialists in the world will eventually invent an efficient vaccine – just like they did following the Western African Ebola virus epidemic (2013–2016) and on several other similar occasions in the years before – the question at hand is rather when this is going to happen and how many human lives it is going to cost?

Again, it all comes down to collective efforts. It only makes sense that if research teams and labs around the globe join their efforts and expertise, thereby avoiding duplicate work, their endeavours will bear fruit sooner rather than later. Similarly to employees from across the world, who have been demonstrating their ability to perform their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities from the safety of their homes just as efficiently as they would have done from their conventional offices, in today’s high-tech, online-friendly reality, no more should scientists be restricted by physical and geographical barriers either. 

“Observations, prevention and impact of COVID-19”: Special Collection in RIO Journal

To inspire and facilitate collaboration across the world, the SPARC-recognised Open Science innovator Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal) decided to bring together scientific findings in an easy to discover, read, cite and build on collection of publications. 

Furthermore, due to its revolutionary approach to publishing, where early and brief research outcomes (i.e. ideas, raw data, software descriptions, posters, presentations, case studies and many others) are all considered as precious scientific gems, hence deserving a formal publication in a renowned academic journal, RIO places a special focus on these contributions. 

Accepted manuscripts that shall deal with research relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic across disciplines, including medicine, ethics, politics, economics etc. at a local, regional, national or international scale; and also meant to encourage crucial discussions, will be published free of charge in recognition of the emergency of the current situation. Especially encouraged are submissions focused on the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Why publish in RIO Journal? 

Launched in 2015, RIO Journal has since proved its place at the forefront of Open Science, which resulted in the SPARC’s Innovator Award in 2016. Supported by a renowned advisory board and subject editors, today the journal stands as a leading Open Science proponent. 

Furthermore, thanks to the technologically advanced infrastructure and services it provides, in addition to a long list of indexers and databases where publications are registered, the manuscripts submitted to RIO Journal are not only rapidly processed and published, but once they get online, they immediately become easy to discover, cite and built on by any researcher, anywhere in the world. 

On top of that, Pensoft’s targeted and manually provided science communication services make sure that published research of social value reaches the wider audience, including key decision-makers and journalists, by means of press releases and social media promotion.

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More info about RIO’s globally unique features, visit the journal’s websiteFollow RIO Journal on Twitter and Facebook.

Plazi and Pensoft join forces to let biodiversity knowledge of coronaviruses hosts out

Pensoft’s flagship journal ZooKeys invites free-to-publish research on key biological traits of SARS-like viruses potential hosts and vectors; Plazi harvests and brings together all relevant data from legacy literature to a reliable FAIR-data repository

To bridge the huge knowledge gaps in the understanding of how and which animal species successfully transmit life-threatening diseases to humans, thereby paving the way for global health emergencies, scholarly publisher Pensoft and literature digitisation provider Plazi join efforts, expertise and high-tech infrastructure. 

By using the advanced text- and data-mining tools and semantic publishing workflows they have developed, the long-standing partners are to rapidly publish easy-to-access and reusable biodiversity research findings and data, related to hosts or vectors of the SARS-CoV-2 or other coronaviruses, in order to provide the stepping stones needed to manage and prevent similar crises in the future.

Already, there’s plenty of evidence pointing to certain animals, including pangolins, bats, snakes and civets, to be the hosts of viruses like SARS-CoV-2 (coronaviruses), hence, potential triggers of global health crises, such as the currently ravaging Coronavirus pandemic. However, scientific research on what biological and behavioural specifics of those species make them particularly successful vectors of zoonotic diseases is surprisingly scarce. Even worse, the little that science ‘knows’ today is often locked behind paywalls and copyright laws, or simply ‘trapped’ in formats inaccessible to text- and data-mining performed by search algorithms. 

This is why Pensoft’s flagship zoological open-access, peer-reviewed scientific journal ZooKeys recently announced its upcoming, special issue, titled “Biology of pangolins and bats”, to invite research papers on relevant biological traits and behavioural features of bats and pangolins, which are or could be making them efficient vectors of zoonotic diseases. Another open-science innovation champion in the Pensoft’s portfolio, Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal) launched another free-to-publish collection of early and/or brief outcomes of research devoted to SARS-like viruses.

Due to the expedited peer review and publication processes at ZooKeys, the articles will rapidly be made public and accessible to scientists, decision-makers and other experts, who could then build on the findings and eventually come up with effective measures for the prevention and mitigation of future zoonotic epidemics. To further facilitate the availability of such critical research, ZooKeys is waiving the publication charges for accepted papers.

Meanwhile, the literature digitisation provider Plazi is deploying its text- and data-mining expertise and tools, to locate and acquire publications related to hosts of coronaviruses – such as those expected in the upcoming “Biology of pangolins and bats” special issue in ZooKeys – and deposit them in a newly formed Coronavirus-Host Community, a repository hosted on the Zenodo platform. There, all publications will be granted persistent open access and enhanced with taxonomy-specific data derived from their sources. Contributions to Plazi can be made at various levels: from sending suggestions of articles to be added to the Zotero bibliographic public libraries on virus-hosts associations and hosts’ taxonomy, to helping the conversion of those articles into findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) knowledge.

Pensoft’s and Plazi’s collaboration once again aligns with the efforts of the biodiversity community, after the natural science collections consortium DiSSCo (Distributed System of Scientific Collections) and the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF), recently announced the COVID-19 Task Force with the aim to create a network of taxonomists, collection curators and other experts from around the globe.

Recursive language and modern imagination were acquired simultaneously 70,000 years ago

The lion-man sculpture from Germany (dated to 37,000 years ago) must have been first imagined by the artist by mentally synthesizing parts of the man and beast together and then executing the product of this mental creation in ivory. The composite artworks provide a direct evidence that by 37,000 years ago humans have acquired prefrontal synthesis.
Image by JDuckeck
[Public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lion_man_photo.jpg, Wikimedia Commons]

A genetic mutation that slowed down the development of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in two or more children may have triggered a cascade of events leading to acquisition of recursive language and modern imagination 70,000 years ago.

This new hypothesis, called Romulus and Remus and coined by Dr. Vyshedskiy, a neuroscientist from Boston University, might be able to solve the long-standing mystery of language evolution. It is published in the open-science journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO).

Numerous archeological and genetic evidence have already convinced most paleoanthropologists that the speech apparatus has reached essentially modern configurations before the human line split from the Neanderthal line 600,000 years ago. Considering that the chimpanzee communication system already has 20 to 100 different vocalizations, it is likely that the modern-like remodeling of the vocal apparatus extended our ancestors’ range of vocalizations by orders of magnitude. In other words, by 600,000 years ago, the number of distinct verbalizations used for communication must have been on par with the number of words in modern languages.

On the other hand, artifacts signifying modern imagination, such as composite figurative arts, elaborate burials, bone needles with an eye, and construction of dwellings arose not earlier than 70,000 years ago. The half million-year-gap between the acquisition of the modern speech apparatus and modern imagination has baffled scientists for decades.

While studying acquisition of imagination in children, Dr. Vyshedskiy and his colleagues discovered a temporal limit for the development of a particular component of imagination. It became apparent that modern children who have not been exposed to full language in early childhood never acquire the type of active constructive imagination essential for juxtaposition of mental objects, known as Prefrontal Synthesis (PFS).

Dr. Vyshedskiy explains:

“To understand the importance of PFS, consider these two sentences: “A dog bit my friend” and “My friend bit a dog.” It is impossible to distinguish the difference in meaning using words or grammar alone, since both words and grammatical structure are identical in these two sentences. Understanding the difference in meaning and appreciating the misfortune of the 1st sentence and the humor of the 2nd sentence depends on the listener’s ability to juxtapose the two mental objects: the friend and the dog. Only after the PFC forms the two different images in front of the mind’s eye, are we able to understand the difference between the two sentences. Similarly, nested explanations, such as “a snake on the boulder to the left of the tall tree that is behind the hill,” force listeners to use PFS to combine objects (a snake, the boulder, the tree, and the hill) into a novel scene. Flexible object combination and nesting (otherwise known as recursion) are characteristic features of all human languages. For this reason, linguists refer to modern languages as recursive languages.”

Unlike vocabulary and grammar acquisition, which can be learned throughout one’s lifetime, there is a strong critical period for the development of PFS and individuals not exposed to conversations with recursive language in early childhood can never acquire PFS as adults. Their language is always lacking understanding of spatial prepositions and recursion that depend on the PFS ability. In a similar manner, pre-modern humans would not have been able to learn recursive language as adults and, therefore, would not be able to teach recursive language to their own children, who, as a result, would not acquire PFS. Thus, the existence of a strong critical period for PFS acquisition creates a cultural evolutionary barrier for acquisition of recursive language.

The second predicted evolutionary barrier was a faster PFC maturation rate and, consequently, a shorter critical period. In modern children the critical period for PFS acquisition closes around the age of five. If the critical period in pre-modern children was over by the age of two, they would have no chance of acquiring PFS. A longer critical period was imperative to provide enough time to train PFS via recursive conversations.

An evolutionary mathematical model, developed by Dr. Vyshedskiy, predicts that humans had to jump both evolutionary barriers within several generations since the “PFC delay” mutation that is found in all modern humans, but not in Neanderthals, is deleterious and is expected to be lost in a population without an associated acquisition of PFS and recursive language. Thus, the model suggests that the “PFC delay” mutation triggered simultaneous synergistic acquisition of PFS and recursive language.

This model calls for:

  • two or more children with extended critical period due to “PFC delay” mutation;
  • these children spending a lot of time talking to each other;
  • inventing the recursive elements of language, such as spatial prepositions;
  • acquiring recursive-conversations-dependent PFS;
  • teaching recursive language to their offsprings.

The hypothesis is named after the celebrated twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Similar to legendary Romulus and Remus, whose caregiver was a wolf, the real children’s caregivers had an animal-like communication system with many words, but no recursion. Their parents could not have taught them spatial prepositions or recursion; children had to invent recursive elements of language themselves. Such an invention of a new recursive language has been observed in contemporary children, for example among deaf children in Nicaragua.

“The acquisition of PFS and recursive language 70,000 years ago resulted in what was in essence a behaviorally new species: the first behaviorally modern Homo sapiens,” concludes Dr. Vyshedskiy. “This newly acquired power for fast juxtaposition of mental objects in the process of PFS dramatically facilitated mental prototyping and led to fast acceleration of technological progress. Armed with the unprecedented ability to mentally simulate any plan and equally unprecedented ability to communicate it to their companions, humans were poised to quickly become the dominant species.”

Humans acquired an ability to trap large animals and therefore gained a major nutritional advantage. As the population grew exponentially, humans diffused out of Africa and quickly settled in the most habitable areas of the planet, arriving in Australia around 50,000 years ago. These humans were very much like modern humans since they possessed both components of full language: the culturally transmitted recursive language along with the innate predisposition towards PFS, enabled by the “PFC delay” mutation.

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Original source:

Vyshedskiy A (2019) Language evolution to revolution: the leap from rich-vocabulary non-recursive communication system to recursive language 70,000 years ago was associated with acquisition of a novel component of imagination, called Prefrontal Synthesis, enabled by a mutation that slowed down the prefrontal cortex maturation simultaneously in two or more children – the Romulus and Remus hypothesis. Research Ideas and Outcomes 5: e38546. https://doi.org/10.3897/rio.5.e38546