Much of the work done by faculty at both public and private universities has significant public dimensions: it is often paid for by public funds; it is often aimed at serving the public good; and it is often subject to public evaluation. To understand how the public dimensions of faculty work are valued, we analyzed review, promotion, and tenure documents from a representative sample of 129 universities in the US and Canada. Terms and concepts related to public and community are mentioned in a large portion of documents, but mostly in ways that relate to service, which is an undervalued aspect of academic careers. Moreover, the documents make significant mention of traditional research outputs and citation-based metrics: however, such outputs and metrics reward faculty work targeted to academics, and often disregard the public dimensions. Institutions that seek to embody their public mission could therefore work towards changing how faculty work is assessed and incentivized.
Journals are exploring new approaches to peer review in order to reduce bias, increase transparency and respond to author preferences. Funders are also getting involved. If you start reading about the subject of peer review, it won't be long before you encounter articles with titles like Can we trust peer review?, Is peer review just a crapshoot? and It's time to overhaul the secretive peer review process. Read some more and you will learn that despite its many shortcomings – it is slow, it is biased, and it lets flawed papers get published while rejecting work that goes on to win Nobel Prizes – the practice of having your work reviewed by your peers before it is published is still regarded as the 'gold standard' of scientific research. Carry on reading and you will discover that peer review as currently practiced is a relatively new phenomenon and that, ironically, there have been remarkably few peer-reviewed studies of peer review.
Preprints in biology are becoming more popular, but only a small fraction of the articles published in peer-reviewed journals have previously been released as preprints. To examine whether releasing a preprint on bioRxiv was associated with the attention and citations received by the corresponding peer-reviewed article, we assembled a dataset of 74,239 articles, 5,405 of which had a preprint, published in 39 journals. Using log-linear regression and random-effects meta-analysis, we found that articles with a preprint had, on average, a 49% higher Altmetric Attention Score and 36% more citations than articles without a preprint. These associations were independent of several other article- and author-level variables (such as scientific subfield and number of authors), and were unrelated to journal-level variables such as access model and Impact Factor. This observational study can help researchers and publishers make informed decisions about how to incorporate preprints into their work.
Interpreting the first results from the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology requires a highly nuanced approach. Reproducibility is a cornerstone of science, and the development of new drugs and medical treatments relies on the results of preclinical research being reproducible. In recent years, however, the validity of published findings in a number of areas of scientific research, including cancer research, have been called into question (Begley and Ellis, 2012; Baker, 2016). One response to these concerns has been the launch of a project to repeat selected experiments from a number of high-profile papers in cancer biology (Morrison, 2014; Errington et al., 2014). The aim of the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology, which is a collaboration between the Center for Open Science and Science Exchange, is two-fold: to provide evidence about reproducibility in preclinical cancer research, and to identify the factors that influence reproducibility more generally.
It is widely believed that research that builds upon previously published findings has reproduced the original work. However, it is rare for researchers to perform or publish direct replications of existing results. The Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology is an open investigation of reproducibility in preclinical cancer biology research. We have identified 50 high impact cancer biology articles published in the period 2010-2012, and plan to replicate a subset of experimental results from each article. A Registered Report detailing the proposed experimental designs and protocols for each subset of experiments will be peer reviewed and published prior to data collection. The results of these experiments will then be published in a Replication Study. The resulting open methodology and dataset will provide evidence about the reproducibility of high-impact results, and an opportunity to identify predictors of reproducibility.