COMETS opinion paper: Opening of scientific publications is an opportunity for ethics and integrity

Opening of scientific publications: opportunities for ethics and integrity

(COMETS opinion paper 2019-40 “les publications scientifiques à l’heure de la science ouverte”)

Reinforcement of ethics and integrity is expected to result from open access of scientific publications, allowing faster exchanges and better results attributions. Innovative editorial models have to be developed for more scientific literature accessible on line. Journals asking excessive Article Processing Charges are not a fair model, deepening the gap between rich groups and the others. Open archives offer many opportunities to be explored, including pre and post open peer review of manuscripts.

The international context is now favoring transparency of science, open to the entire research community and broadly to the public and the medias. The European Research Area echoes these principles and envisages the free access of the scientific publications without cost and without delay. Reinforcement of ethics and integrity is expected to follow from a fast knowledge circulation, quick exchanges between teams, unambiguous dating and attribution of results, immediate checks of proofs, fast detection of errors, etc. This should also allow bypassing results blockade and archiving restriction from arbitrary ideological decisions taken in some no-right countries. Obviously new innovative editorial models have to be developed, beyond the scope of the traditional business of prestigious publishers collecting enormous profits out of research and evaluation provided by the scientists themselves. So far globally only 28% of the scientific literature is accessible on line. The open access journals are increasing in number; yet the most prestigious publishers request costly APC (Article Processing Charges): this not fair model is likely to deepen the gap between teams with many grants and the less doted ones outside the main stream of research or working in less favored countries. The “green” model of open archives provides multiple opportunities: it is highly recommended to deposit copies of accepted articles without delay under CcBy licence. Interestingly enough, some disciplines make use of preprints, their work being released even before evaluation. The great advantage of preprints is first that errors or plagiarism can be immediately detected and corrected, second that authors can be better protected from being stolen of their personal results and ideas. New publishing models are developing in France with Epi Reviews on internet where scientists organize themselves for peer review without private publishers. Open archives offer fascinating opportunities for new open peer review methods where discussions on line take place before publication (including PreRegistration of Codes and Methods), as well as post publication (PPPR or Post Publication Peer Review) using comments obviously non-anonymous for ethical reasons. This opens up an avenue for research envisaged as the work of a community of scientists, decreasing the emphasis of individual excellence achievements and hopefully promoting a better science with less deviation from integrity.