EORI Bulletin

24/05/2021 5-minute update

EORI keeps an eye on changes in the fields of Open Science, FAIR data principles, and others, and directs any interested parties to important updates:

  • On a previous update, we’d mentioned Sci-hub, a website which gives access to research articles by cycling through IP addresses until it finds one which is permitted, and the FBI’s attempts to shut it down by accessing the founder’s data and Apple account. Thankfully, fans of the site are mobilising via Reddit to save the platform, by backing up its combined 77Tb of data – a rather large task. Even though Sci-hub’s website it still online, it’s been unable to add any more papers since this latest attack began, meaning that previous manuscripts can still be accessed with it – for now – but newer manuscripts cannot. Vice covers this here. Alexandra Elbakyan, the website’s founder, reasons that corporations are gatekeeping knowledge for profit, and that the public are the ‘real’ owners of that information. More developments will surely come! Also, if you want to get around the block that the UK’s internet suppliers have put on Sci-hub, there’s a guide here.
  • Clarative have bought ProQuest for the hefty sum of $5.3 billion (here), which adds to their portfolio of bought companies in library services which shows no sign of halting expansion. Reaction to this could be generously described as mixed. It comes as they’ve introduced their new research metric, the Journal Citation Indicator (JCI), which aims to normalise research fields to citation and publication rates to a single journal-level metric. However, following the rise of the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which effectively states that assessing research with single level metrics is inappropriate and instead research should be judged on its own merits, the scientific community are moving away from simplistic reductions of research to arbitrary numbers. Other well-intentioned single-value metrics developed for this, such as the H-index, are also inappropriate. At best, the JCI can be described as well-intentioned, but considering it’s a black-boxed calculation which has the potential to cause many more problems than it solves, it’s a wonder why anyone spent time developing it. Unless, of course, it’s intention is to financially benefit the company but not the scientific community, but with the narrative framing of its introduction by Clarative (here) could that possibly be the case? I’ll leave you to decide.
  • After some long entries, here’s a short one: Dockstore is an open-source platform for publishing, sharing, and finding bioinformatics tools and workflows. More info here.

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