New special issue of Neotropical Biodiversity and Conservation pays homage to the Unisinos Postgraduate Program in Biology

The program, which birthed the NBC journal, was discontinued in 2022 for financial reasons.

Today, a special issue of Neotropical Biodiversity and Conservation has been released in tribute to the discontinued Postgraduate Program in Biology (PPG Biologia Unisinos) of the Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos), Brazil.

Diversity and Wildlife Management: The legacy of PPG Biologia Unisinos was edited by former professors and students of PPG Biologia Unisinos, and features eight articles focused on the Neotropical region. Each study was conducted by the research teams of the program, or was only made possible with their help. It serves as a testament to the importance of the program.

On 21 July 2022, Unisinos, a private institution in southern Brazil, announced that it would discontinue 12 of its postgraduate programs, including PPG Biologia Unisinos. The program specialised in diversity and wildlife management and was the birthplace of the journal Neotropical Biology and Conservation in 2006.

Cover image for Diversity and Wildlife Management: The legacy of PPG Biologia Unisinos.

The closure of the programs was explained by Unisinos as a measure to maintain the university’s financial stability. However, this decision is widely seen as a significant setback for Brazilian research. It has disrupted the work of many professors and graduate students and is expected to have a noticeable negative impact on Brazilian research in the coming years.

“PPG Biologia Unisinos was a resilient postgraduate program with amazing professors that always did their best to keep the high quality of their research even when facing adversities such as budget cuts.

“We hope that this special issue helps raise awareness on the importance of biological research and encourages researchers from other institutions to defend their programs and advocate for more investment in biological research.”

Piter Boll, Neotropical Biology and Conservation’s editor-in-chief and former student of PPG Biologia Unisinos

Notable research featured in the issue includes a review of the management effectiveness of nature conservation units in southern Brazil, and a paper discussing the consequences of the program’s closure.

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Follow Neotropical Biodiversity and Conservation on social media:

Pensoft’s statement on the European Union’s Conclusions on OA scholarly publishing

We are firm supporters of healthy competition that drives innovation and revolutionary technologies, while supporting freedom of choice.

On behalf of Pensoft Publishers, we express our support for the Conclusions on high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing, recently published by the Council of the European Union. We do share all concerns articulated in the document that highlight major inequities and outstanding issues in the scholarly publishing environment.

In our opinion, it is of utmost importance to promptly address the existing issues in the publishing system, where healthy competition can thrive and contribute to a reality safe from potential mono-/oligopolies and corporate capture.

We firmly believe that only an industry that leaves room for variously-scaled pioneers and startups is capable of leading a long-awaited shift to a high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing landscape aligning with the principles of FAIRness.

Yet, we shall acknowledge that the industry has so far failed to eradicate the most fundamental flaw of the past. In the beginning, the main aim of the Open Access (OA) movement was removing the barrier to access to publicly funded scientific knowledge and scrapping costly subscription fees.

Recently, however, the industry’s biggest players merely replaced it with a barrier to publication by introducing costly Article Processing Charges (APCs) and “big deals” signed between top commercial publishers and academic institutions or national library consortia. 

As a result, small and middle-sized open-access publishers, which have, ironically, been the ones to lead the change and transition to OA by default and oppose the large commercial publishers’ agenda, were effectively pushed out of the scene. Further, we are currently witnessing a situation where OA funds are mostly going to the ones who used to oppose OA.

So, we strongly support measures that ensure an inclusive and FAIR competition, which could in turn prompt quality, sustainability and reasonable pricing in scholarly publishing. In our opinion, an environment like this would actually foster equality and equity amongst all publishers, either small, large, non-profit, commercial, institutional or society-based. 

One of the main points of the conclusions is a recommendation for a general use of the Diamond OA model, where no charges apply to either researchers or readers. While we fully support the Diamond OA model, we wish to stress on the fact that considerable concerns about the sustainability of existing Diamond OA models remain.

On the one hand, there are OA agreements (also known as read-and-publish, publish-and-read, transformative agreements etc.), typically signed between top publishers and top research institutions/consortia. This OA model is often mistakenly referred to as “Diamond OA”, since authors affiliated with those institutions are not concerned with providing the APC payment – either by paying themselves or applying for funding. Instead, the APCs are paid centrally. Most often, however, journals published by those publishers are still directly charging authors who are not members of the signed institutions with, in our opinion, excessive APCs. Even if those APCs are covered by a signed institution, these are still considerable funds that are being navigated away from actual research work. 

On the other hand, there are independent researchers, in addition to smaller or underfunded institutions, typically – yet far from exclusively – located in the developing world, who are effectively being discriminated against. 

In conclusion, this type of contracts are shutting away smaller actors from across academia just like they used to be under the subscription-based model. Hereby, we wish to express our full agreement with the Council of the European Union’s conclusion, that “it is essential to avoid situations where researchers are limited in their choice of publication channels due to financial capacities rather than quality criteria”.

There are also several alternative OA models designed to lessen the burden of publication costs for both individual researchers, libraries and journal owners. However, each comes with its own drawbacks. Here – we believe – is where the freedom of choice is perhaps most needed, in order to keep researchers’ and publishers’  best interests at heart. 

One of those alternatives is open-source publishing platforms, which – by design – are well-positioned to deliver actual Diamond OA for journals, while maintaining independence from commercial publishers. However, the operational model of this type of publishing and hosting platforms would most often only provide a basic infrastructure for editors to publish and preserve content. As a result, the model might require extra staff and know-how, while remaining prone to human errors. Additionally, a basic technological infrastructure could impede the FAIRness of the published output, which demands advanced and automated workflows to appropriately format, tag semantically and export scientific outputs promptly after publication.

Similarly, large funders and national consortia have put their own admirable efforts to step up and provide another option for authors of research and their institutions. Here, available funds are allocated to in-house Diamond OA publishing platforms that have originally been designed according to the policies and requirements of the respective funding programme or state. However, this type of support – while covering a large group of authors (e.g. based in a certain country, funded under a particular programme, and/or working in a specific research field) – still leaves many behind, including multinational or transdisciplinary teams. Additionally, due to the focus on ‘mass supply’, most of these OA publishing platforms have so far been unable to match their target user base with the appropriate scale of services and support.

What we have devised and developed at Pensoft with the aim to contribute to the pool of available choices is an OA publishing model, whose aim is to balance cost affordability, functionality, reliability, transparency and long-term sustainability. 

To do so, we work with journal owners, institutions and societies to create their own business and operational model for their journals that matches two key demands of the community: (1) free to read and free to publish OA model, and, (2) services and infrastructure suited for Diamond OA at a much lower cost, compared to those offered by major commercial publishers.

In our opinion, independent small publishers differentiate from both large commercial publishers and publicly funded providers by relying to a greater extent on innovative technology and close employee collaboration.

As a result, they are capable of delivering significantly more customisable solutions – including complete packages of automated and human-provided services – and, ultimately, achieving considerably lower-cost publishing solutions. Likewise, they might be better suited to provide much more flexible business models, so that libraries and journal owners can easily support (subsets of or all) authors to the best of their capabilities.

While we realise that there is no faultless way to high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing, we are firm supporters of an environment, where healthy competition prompts the continuous invention and evolution of tools and workflows

Our own motivation to invest in scholarly publishing technology and its continuous refinement and advancement, coupled with a number of in-house and manually provided services, which is reflected in our APC policies, aligns with the Council’s statement that “scientific practices for ensuring reproducibility, transparency, sharing, rigour and collaboration are important means of achieving a publishing system responsive to the challenges of democratic, modern and digitalised societies.”

Our thinking is that – much like in any other industry – what drives innovation and revolutionary technologies is competition. To remain healthy and even self-policing, however, this competition needs to embrace transparency, equity and inclusivity.

Last, but not least, researchers need to have the freedom to choose from plenty of options when deciding where and how to publish their work!

Beware of scientific scams! Tips to avoid predatory publishing in biological journals

Predatory publishing has been growing exponentially, with severe consequences for society and the environment.

Guest blog post by Cássio Cardoso Pereira, Gabriela França Fernandes, and Walisson Kenedy Siqueira

We are bombarded day and night with slot-machine invitations from journals, books, and events such as congresses and lectures. Predatory publishing has reached alarming levels in biology, which is why we published an editorial in the journal Neotropical Biology and Conservation to alert the community, show the modus operandi of these publishers, and pass on good practices so that researchers, especially beginners, can escape this trap.

Piggybacking on the open access movement, numerous predatory publishers have emerged in search of easy profits. These cybercriminals take advantage of the publish-or-perish culture without providing any information about their peer-review protocols, concerned not with the scientific, bibliographic, or ethical aspects of publishing, but with the money received from authors.

The number of predatory publishers has grown exponentially in recent years and spread across all areas of knowledge, including biology. It is a common practice of these journals, often with an equally fake editorial staff, to send electronic invitations to potential authors to publish articles. These invitations are often facilitated by initial screenings of the emails of corresponding authors available on the internet. The emailed invitations from the supposed editors often stress that the author’s work is sound and, since it has already gone through the scrutiny of the editorial board, requires only the payment of a fee to publish it, with no need for further peer review.

Invitations to join the editorial board of these journals are also frequent, mostly intended to take advantage of the scientists’ prestige. Instead of editing articles, these invited editors are used as poster boys, i.e., they have their names published on the journal’s website, thus attracting unsuspecting authors to submit their manuscripts.

These journals are generally not included in the directory of open access journals (DOAJ) and are not indexed in the main bibliometric databases, such as Google Scholar, SciELO, Scopus, and Web of Science, for the simple reason that they do not meet their inclusion criteria. The websites of these journals often have little information about the editorial board, have a fake International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), lack transparency regarding their scope, provide no indication of a policy of retraction, have no transparency regarding copyright transfer, and provide very vague contact information, often omitting the address of the journal’s office.

In addition to papers, there are also invitations to publish books and book chapters with fake International Standard Book Numbers and dubious editorial boards. There is also a flood of invitations to predatory meetings, such as online conferences, symposia, workshops, and lectures. These often have websites that are equally confusing and never linked to a university or a postgraduate program. Above all, one should consult advisors, supervisors, or senior colleagues about the invitation and the sender’s academic reputation. In any case, one must pay attention not only to the citation metrics but also, mainly, to their editorial board, ISSN, ISBN, contact information, and relationships with recognized institutions.

When we analyze the impacts of predatory publishing on the scientific community, the worst problems are:

  • the dissemination of erroneous information about scientific problems of interest
  • the facilitation of plagiarism
  • the waste of public resources intended for publication
  • the appointment of researchers at universities and research institutes based on curricula full of doubtful publications, generating negative cascading effects that undermine higher education as a whole.

The damage done to society can be even worse. Governments, large companies, and decision-makers can be misled by false information, resulting in attitudes that undermine responses to major human problems such as climate change, biodiversity, and pandemics.

Efforts to fight predatory publishers require collaboration and support at higher levels. Governments need to create regulatory agencies that carefully and systematically evaluate the activities carried out by scientific journals. Science funding agencies should require that publication fees be paid only to publishers that adhere to an internationally recognized set of transparency and ethical rules. We need to discuss our values and incentives in the academic community, so we can start prioritizing quality over quantity. This would provide a reference point for research, help design coherent interventions, and improve information and public policy in favor of society and the environment.

Reference:

Pereira CC, Mello MAR, Negreiros D, Figueiredo JCG, Kenedy-Siqueira W, Maia LR, Fernandes S, Fernandes GFC, Ponce de Leon A, Ashworth L, Oki Y, de Castro GC, Aguilar R, Fearnside PM, Fernandes GW (2023) Beware of scientific scams! Hints to avoid predatory publishing in biological journals. Neotropical Biology and Conservation 18(2): 97-105. https://doi.org/10.3897/neotropical.18.e108887

Pensoft among the first 27 publishers to share prices & services via the Journal Comparison Service by Plan S

All journals published by Pensoft – each using the publisher’s self-developed ARPHA Platform – provide extensive and transparent information about their costs and services in line with the Plan S principles.

In support of transparency and openness in scholarly publishing and academia, the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft joined the Journal Comparison Service (JCS) initiative by cOAlition S, an alliance of national funders and charitable bodies working to increase the volume of free-to-read research. 

As a result, all journals published by Pensoft – each using the publisher’s self-developed ARPHA Platform – provide extensive and transparent information about their costs and services in line with the Plan S principles.

The JCS was launched to aid libraries and library consortia – the ones negotiating and participating in Open Access agreements with publishers – by providing them with everything they need to know in order to determine whether the prices charged by a certain journal are fair and corresponding to the quality of the service. 

According to cOAlition S, an increasing number of libraries and library consortia from Europe, Africa, North America, and Australia have registered with the JCS over the past year since the launch of the portal in September 2021.

While access to the JCS is only open to librarians, individual researchers may also make use of the data provided by the participating publishers and their journals. 

This is possible through an integration with the Journal Checker Tool, where researchers can simply enter the name of the journal of interest, their funder and affiliation (if applicable) to check whether the scholarly outlet complies with the Open Access policy of the author’s funder. A full list of all academic titles that provide data to the JCS is also publicly available. By being on the list means a journal and its publisher do not only support cOAlition S, but they also demonstrate that they stand for openness and transparency in scholarly publishing.

“We are delighted that Pensoft, along with a number of other publishers, have shared their price and service data through the Journal Comparison Service. Not only are such publishers demonstrating their commitment to open business models and cultures but are also helping to build understanding and trust within the research community.”

said Robert Kiley, Head of Strategy at cOAlition S. 

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About cOAlition S:

On 4 September 2018, a group of national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), announced the launch of cOAlition S, an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality. It is built around Plan S, which consists of one target and 10 principles. Read more on the cOAlition S website.

About Plan S:

Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. The plan is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funding and performing organisations. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms. Read more on the cOAlition S website.

Fossil Record, a Natural History Museum of Berlin journal moves to ARPHA

Having been publishing its historically renowned Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift and Zoosystematics and Evolution in partnership with Pensoft since 2014, the Museum extends the collaboration by moving a third signature journal

Having been publishing its historically renowned scientific journals Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift (DEZ) and Zoosystematics and Evolution (ZSE) in partnership with the scholarly publisher Pensoft and its ARPHA Platform since 2014, the Natural History Museum of Berlin (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin) now extends the collaboration by moving a third signature journal: Fossil Record

Launched in 1998 under the name Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Geowissenschaftliche Reihe, Fossil Record is the Natural History Museum of Berlin’s palaeontological journal. Published in two issues a year, the open-access scientific outlet covers research from all areas of palaeontology, including the taxonomy and systematics of fossil organisms, biostratigraphy, palaeoecology, and evolution. It deals with all taxonomic groups, including invertebrates, microfossils, plants, and vertebrates.

Following its move to ARPHA, Fossil Record is to utilise the whole package of ARPHA Platform’s services, including its fast-track, end-to-end publishing module, designed to appeal to readers, authors, reviewers and editors alike. 

With ARPHA, each submitted manuscript is carried through the review, editing, publication, dissemination and archiving stages without leaving the platform’s collaboration-centred online environment. The articles are made available in PDF and machine-readable JATS XML formats, as well as semantically enriched HTML for better and mobile-friendly reader experience. 

As a result, the journal’s articles are as easy to discover, access, reuse and cite as possible. Once published, the content is indexed and archived instantaneously and its underlying data exported to relevant specialised databases. Simultaneously, a suite of various metrics is enabled to facilitate tracking the usage of articles and sub-article elements, such as figures and tables.

“We have deeply enjoyed our collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Berlin for the past seven years that started with two great journals moving to our scholarly portfolio and advanced open access. Now, I am delighted to strengthen this wonderful partnership by welcoming Fossil Record and its fantastic editorial team to the families of ARPHA and Pensoft. I am certain that together we will not only repeat the success we had with DEZ and ZSE, but will actually build on it,”

says Prof. Dr Lyubomir Penev, founder and CEO at ARPHA and Pensoft.

About the Natural History Museum of Berlin:

The “Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science” is an integrated research museum within the Leibniz Association. It is one of the most important research institutions worldwide in the areas of biological and geological evolution and biodiversity.

The Museum’s mission is to discover and describe life and earth – with people, through dialogue. As an excellent research museum and innovative communication platform, it wants to engage with and influence the scientific and societal discourse about the future of our planet, worldwide. Its vision, strategy and structure make the museum an excellent research museum. The Natural History Museum of Berlin has research partners in Berlin, Germany and approximately 60 other countries. Over 700,000 visitors per year as well as steadily increasing participation in educational and other events show that the Museum has become an innovative communication centre that helps shape the scientific and social dialogue about the future of our earth.

Why we shouldn’t blame women for gender disparity in science: Perspectives of women in zoology

A Brazilian network of female zoologists aims to oppose gender disparity in science

Guest blog post by Veronica Slobodian

Scientists are part of a rather sexist society and, therefore, ruled by a rather sexist social conduct. Nevertheless, women scientists attempt to thrive despite all setbacks provided by structural sexism (both explicit and implicit). 

Sadly, female scientists are more likely to suffer from harassment, be deprived from recognition for their work, and be more overburdened with household chores compared to their male counterparts. All these situations are being reinforced by social gender stereotypes. 

As a result, many women leave academia because of these hindrances and prejudice in a phenomenon known as “leaking pipeline”. To properly address those setbacks, we must first recognize the structural inequalities in academia, and then provide strategies to recruit, retain and promote students and faculty from underrepresented groups. 

In a rebuttal to an article published in Nature Communications (AlShebli et al. 2020, now retracted), which suggested that female protégés reap more benefits when mentored by men and, therefore, policies to promote female mentors need to be revisited, our group of female zoologists wrote the opinion paper “Why we shouldn’t blame women for gender disparity in academia: Perspectives of Women in Zoology“, now published in the open-access scientific journal Zoologia. Quickly supported by over 500 signatories from all around the world, the piece soon grew into the Women in Zoology network, which brings together zoologists from underrepresented people in the scientific field groups, especially women.

In this reply, we pointed to the methodological flaws and addressed the inherently problematic conclusions of AlShebli et al. (2020). We also demonstrated the gendered academic settings that systematically prejudices women and presented how some of the current diversity policies are positively changing the zoological field in Brazil. While writing our response, we realized these challenges and aches were in fact much more common in the field, so we decided to broaden the network to encompass all female zoologists who want a more fair and diverse Zoology. So, with the “Women in Zoology” network, our aim is to promote female zoologists, investigate their underrepresentation in Brazilian zoology, and propose policies to balance the situation. 

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Original article: 

Slobodian V, Soares KDA, Falaschi RL, Prado LR, Camelier P, Guedes TB, Leal LC, Hsiou AS, Del-Rio G, Costa ER, Pereira KRC, D’Angiolella AB, de A Sousa S, Diele-Viegas LM (2021) Why we shouldn’t blame women for gender disparity in academia: perspectives of women in zoology. Zoologia 38: 1-9. https://doi.org/10.3897/zoologia.38.e61968 

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Find more information about the “Women in Zoology” network on Instagram: @mulheresnazoologia.

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.

Making the most of conferences with modern publishing and indexing practices

Given scientific conferences present academics with the fantastic opportunity to meet up and discuss their latest work, as well as share their vision for the future of their field, it’s no wonder that, historically, the majority of ground-breaking science can easily be traced back to a particular event.

This said, don’t you think that we need to do everything within our powers to ensure the visibility, dissemination and long-term accessibility of research presented and linked to these wonderful drivers of scientific progress that conferences are? Similarly to the care conference organisers take to make sure the event runs smoothly and the attendants are happy with the programme and enjoy themselves, the organisational committee should also be thinking how to preserve all those promising pieces of research well after the event is over.

Here at Pensoft, an open-access scholarly publisher, founded by scientists, we’ve been contemplating for a while now how to encourage and support the community to efficiently open up the valuable outputs to researchers and readers well beyond the publication of abstracts in an abstract book of the conference. 

As a result, we came up with several simple, yet efficient publishing solutions for scientific conferences to collect and contextualise various research outputs either presented at or resulting from the event.

Bear in mind that with any solution, all publications enjoy the benefits seen in conventional research papers, such as:

  • Crossref registration and individual DOI to ensure preservation;
  • Publication in PDF, semantically enhanced HTML and data-minable XML formats to improve readability, accessibility and findability;
  • Indexing and archiving at multiple, industry leading databases to increase visibility;
  • PR and social media promotion to boost outreach to various audiences.

Collections of conference abstracts, posters and presentations

Conference (video) abstracts, posters and presentations are easily the first to fall victims of the ephemerality of an event, yet these are too often the stepping stones to major scientific discoveries. This is why a few years back we launched ARPHA Conference Abstracts (ACA), where conference organisers can open their own collection and provide the participants with submission, review and publication of their abstracts ahead of the conference.

Furthermore, these abstracts can be handled editorially in sub-collections, e.g. the convenors of symposia or working groups within a conference will take care of the abstracts submitted to them, thus spreading the editorial workload across larger teams of editors and organisers.

Not only will conference organisers spare themselves the worries about providing a special platform for abstracts submissions, but this will also facilitate presenting authors, who will be able to easily point to their contribution before, during or after their presentations. On the contrary, the abstracts are assigned with DOIs, published in human-readable PDF and HTML and machine-actionable JATS XML, permanently preserved on ARPHA and Zenodo, and easy to find, access and cite, just like a conventional research paper, providing authors with full credit for their work early on.

Further, with ACA, the conference abstracts can be enhanced into what we call “extended abstracts”, meaning they can also include data, images, videos and multimedia. After the conferences, we can add video recordings of the presentations or graphic files of posters, so that these are visualised on the page of each abstract.

For example, take a look at the conference abstract collection of the Vth International Congress on Biodiversity: “Taxonomy, Speciation and Euro-Mediterranean Biodiversity”.

Conference proceedings

About the time we launched ACA, we also created ARPHA Proceedings, in order to also find a place for full-text conference papers. Similarly, the platform supports dedicated collections, where conference attendants are invited to submit and publish dynamically articles under the imprint of the event.

Conference papers in ARPHA Proceedings can also include data, figures and citations, and can also be updated with video recordings, posters and presentations following the conference.

Check out an example by the VI International Forum on Teacher Education.

Article topical collections and special issues resulting from conferences

Naturally, papers resulting from a particular conference are contextually linked, so a one-stop place to discover topical studies sharing one and the same topic would be greatly appreciated by readers and future researchers. In turn, this would lead to better viewership and citability of the papers in the collection.

With our user-friendly, dedicated workflow for special issues and permanent topical article collections, we’ve made it easy for guest editors across our journals to pitch and manage article collections, in order to bring together valuable and related studies. Using such a collection under the theme of your conference in a suitable journal, you can invite your conference’s participants or, better yet, all scientists working within the field, to submit their work in a nice package of topical science. We’d be happy to assist you with the identification of the most suitable journal for your conference, authors and goals.

See an example from One Ecosystem and the collection “Mapping and assessment of ecosystem condition and ecosystem services across different scales and domains in Europe”, the result from the “Mapping and assessment of ecosystem services – Science in action” conference, held in 2017.

Bringing together traditional and non-conventional research outputs, (e.g. research ideas, grant proposals, conference materials or workshop reports) with RIO Journal’s article collections

Undoubtedly, valuable research outcomes come in many shapes and sizes well beyond research papers, conference abstracts, posters and proceedings. We are firm supporters that every research item, even early and interim outputs, could be of value to the scientist next in line within a particular study.

This is why we launched the award-winning journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO), where your collections can include both conventional and non-traditional research outputs, such as research ideas, posters, workshop reports, forum papers, policy briefs, software and data management plans to name a few. Furthermore, in RIO, you can even link articles or preprints published elsewhere to your collection via their metadata. Similarly to other Pensoft journals, in RIO, you will have the full control to whom you are opening your collection for submissions, allowing you to either limit it to the outcomes coming from your conference or welcome submissions from other researchers as well.

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). 

See the Brainhack 2016 Project Reports, whose aim is to collate reports from the 2016 Brainhack events. Also, check out the collection of the European Biodiversity Observation Network (EU BON) Project, providing a nice example for a wide range of publication types.

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Don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your own case and select the best option for your conference – we’ll be happy to hear from you!

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Pensoft partners with ReviewerCredit to certify and reward peer review

Following recent API integration with ReviewerCredits, Pensoft – the scholarly publisher and technology provider – has launched a pilot phase with one of its peer-reviewed, open-access journal: Biodiversity Data Journal (BDJ). Reviewers, who create an account on ReviewerCredits, will automatically record their peer review contributions, which will be certified via the platform and receive rewards and recognition within the scholarly community and fellow scientists.

Following recent API integration with ReviewerCredits, Pensoft – the scholarly publisher and technology provider – has launched a pilot phase with one of its peer-reviewed, open-access journal: Biodiversity Data Journal (BDJ). Reviewers, who create an account on ReviewerCredits, will automatically record their peer review contributions, which will be certified via the platform and receive rewards and recognition within the scholarly community and fellow scientists. 

Apart from a seamless system to showcase their peer review activity, reviewers will also be assigned virtual credits, which can be redeemed for benefits provided by selected partners, including discounted APCs. 

The registration on ReviewerCredits is free. While a reviewer can register any of his/her peer reviews on the platform, reviews for journals partnering with ReviewerCredits earn additional redeemable credits.

Once a reviewer signs in BDJ using their own reviewer account, a pop-up window will recommend that an account on ReviewerCredits is created by using an ORCID ID or an email address. Once the registration is complete, each completed peer review contribution will automatically appear as certified on ReviewerCredits, as soon as the editor submits a final decision on the reviewed manuscript. In line with peer-review confidentiality, the entry displayed on ReviewerCredits will not contain the content of the review, nor the particular paper it is associated with.

“We are happy to partner with ReviewerCredits to further recognise, encourage and reward the contribution of reviewers in BDJ. No one should forget that, at the end of the day, it is up to reviewers to ensure that only good and quality science makes its way in the world. Unfortunately, though, their role in scholarship has traditionally been overlooked and we all need to put in effort to change the status quo,”

comments Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder and CEO of Pensoft.

“We are excited by the collaboration with Pensoft on this project and to acknowledge BDJ among our prestigious partner journals. Pensoft has proved an extremely competent partner, well aware of the importance for journals to state the value of their peer review process. We work together to strengthen the collaboration between journals and reviewers and we are looking forward to a growing collaboration with Pensoft publications,”

Prof. Giacomo Bellani, co-founder and president of ReviewerCredits, underlines the value and enthusiasm for this new partnership.

About ReviewerCredits:

ReviewerCredits is a startup company, accredited to the University of Milan Bicocca, launched in 2017 by enthusiastic active researchers and scientists. ReviewerCredits is an independent platform dedicated to scientists, Journals and Publishers addressing the peer review process.

All Pensoft journals indexed in Transpose to support transparency in journal policies

All open-access, peer-reviewed academic titles of Pensoft‘s, as well as those using the white-label publishing solution provided by the scholarly publishing platform ARPHA, have their journal policy data fed into the Transpose database, in order to increase their discoverability and transparency.

Thanks to the recent integration with the community-sourced initiative Transpose, details about each journal’s approach to peer review, co-review and preprint publication can be easily accessed, navigated and compared through a user-friendly interface. Visitors can also query the data by journal title, publisher, ISSN or DOI, and apply several filters.

Having estimated that almost 1/3 of the top-cited journals across disciplines do not provide clearly basic information about their editorial policies, including whether they operate blind peer review or not, the team behind Transpose launched the forward-thinking community-sourced initiative with the aim to advance practices in academia and increase awareness and transparency amongst authors, editors and many other stakeholder groups. To highlight the essentiality of free and easy access to editorial policies for a wide range of actors, Transpose have published user testimonials on their website coming from various points of view, including early researchers, supervisors, project investigators, funders, publishing staff, and others.


Recent integration of the scholarly publishing platform ARPHA and Transpose results in the editorial policies of all ARPHA-hosted journals being fed into the associated database. Thus, various stakeholders from across the academic landscape are provided with an easy access to details about the peer review, co-review and preprint policies at each journal via a user-friendly interface.

Pensoft and ARPHA’s founder and CEO Prof. Lyubomir Penev says:

“Having been Open Science advocates from the very beginning, at Pensoft and ARPHA, we have always supported our clients and users in being as transparent as possible. Favourite examples are the open-science journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO), welcoming continuously updatable publications from across the whole research cycle, and Rethinking Ecology, launched to voice innovative and even bold ideas for the purposes of taking swift actions towards the conservation of the environment. The former operates public pre- and post-publication peer review to support efficient collaboration in research, while the latter relies on double-blind peer reviews, in order to encourage researchers of various experience and background to share their inventive ideas in ecology. Obviously, journal policies are and should be crucial when it comes to picking a specific journal over another regardless of the perspective. This is why I am certain that joining Transpose is doing good for all ARPHA-hosted journals, as well as the academic community.”

ASAPbio‘s Executive Director and member of the team behind Transpose, Dr Jessica Polka adds:

“We’re thrilled to incorporate data from Pensoft into Transpose. Making policy information clear and easy to find ensures that authors and reviewers can work with journals that best align with their values — and that scholarly work can be fairly interpreted by everyone, including general readers.”

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Additional information:

About Transpose:

Transpose is an initiative to build a database of journal policies. It focuses on three areas: open peer review, co-reviewing, and detailed pre-printing policies. It welcomes contributions from anyone, but seeks verification from journals and publishers. The goal of Transpose is to foster new practices while increasing awareness among authors, editors, and other stakeholders, and we seek to provide resources to assist journals in setting, sharing, and clarifying their policies.