UK funds ‘as you go’ research publication platform

The UK will fund the development of a new publishing platform that will break down traditional science productions into the latest chunks.

Octopus, which receives £ 650,000 from Research England, aims to provide a new ‘primary research record’ for scholarship registration ‘as it happens’.

Unlike traditional journal articles, Octopus will divide research projects into eight elements: problem; hypothesis / justification; methods / protocol; data / results; analysis; interpretation; implementation in the real world; and peer review.

These elements can then be linked together to form “chains” of collaborative work. Octopus, which is headed by Alexandra Freeman, executive director of the Winton Center for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, said having smaller publishing units “would encourage faster sharing” and allow for faster sharing. credit “individual work at all stages of the research process, including peer review”.

The platform will be free for researchers and all downloaded material will be free to read.

“My hope for Octopus is that it breaks down barriers to accessing scientific research, helps eliminate hierarchies and the cultural problems they cause, and fosters a new culture of collaboration, constructive criticism and rapid sharing. labor, ”said Dr. Freeman.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown not only how important the rapid and open publication of research is, but also what can be achieved when the scientific community works together towards a common goal. Covid research should not be the exception – all research should be equally transparent and freely accessible to all. “

Octopus is developed by a community interest company Octopus Publishing, in collaboration with the technology organization of the sector Jisc.

The funding from Research England will support the technical development necessary to transform the experimental Octopus platform from a prototype into a globally available service. It will also support marketing, evaluation and ‘work to develop a sustainable model for Octopus in the long term’.

“There is real potential for this service to positively disrupt the publishing landscape and provide a tool for the research community, which belongs to the community,” said Steven Hill, director of research at Research England.

The move comes amid a growing trend for researchers to pre-register their research goals before starting experiments, in response to concerns about alarming rates of false-positive results and the potential for unnecessary duplication of efforts by researchers. ‘attacking the same problem without knowing it.

As early as 2015, Sir Mark Walport, then the chief scientific adviser to the UK government, suggested that scientists in the future could communicate their results through ‘living manuscripts’ which are continually updated over the course of a year. professional life.

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