PubTech Radar Scan: Issue 12

Shiny new things

News and other interesting things


  • I am really enjoying watching Scholarcy and Scite develop their products in public. Not everything works out but it’s great to watch them trying things out and figuring out what users want. Perhaps this is why I let out such a sigh when I read Kent Anderson’s latest posts about peer review and indexing of Wellcome Open Research. Kent raises some good points but I think we need to cut these services some slack as they work through their ideas. As Bec Evans put in a 2017 post on The ideas paradox: why publishers fail to innovate. “Don’t become a cynical old so-and-so. Acknowledge your own bias, and counter it with openness to new ideas and systems to test with users. If an idea is any good — it will resonate with customers who are the experts in what they want.” I think these new publishing models are resonating with researchers but there are problems. Even preprint advocates have been disappointed at the COVID-related junk churned out and placed on preprint servers (around 20 mins in). I like James Heathers’ colourful comments about how to hold authors accountable for the “dumbshit” that they have published over the last 6-7 months. What will the community decide to do with flawed research that doesn’t pass peer review, especially research that has already gone through a form of peer review to get funding? It is retracted and hidden away, it is left orphaned on preprint servers or funder sites, or does the community do something else with it? 

  • The comments section of this Scholarly Kitchen article about Why Publishers still don’t prioritize Researchers is a sobering community written explanation of the problems of trying to innovate within academic publishing.

  • Nancy Robert has a short piece on why Publishers are underinvested in core operating systems where Nancy comments that publishers often have “a binary approach in its evaluation of projects – they are either a complete success or a failure, and there is not often a willingness to take on risk with the attitude that failure represents a real opportunity to learn.”

  • On a much more positive note, JMIR and Gunther Eysenbach have [quietly] launched some really interesting initiatives over the years so I am really excited to see what will come out of JMIR’s new appointments which include Adrian Stanley, Lisa Cuevas Shaw, Michael Shepard

  • Meta also has a nice article about the process of building prototypes in collaboration with researchers. Things have been quiet at Meta recently so I hope this is the start of something new.

Events and opportunities

And finally…

Couldn’t resist linking to this from Trish Greenhalgh: