Trouble understanding publisher copyright policies for self-archiving? RoMEO service is here.

SherpaRomeoAuthors are increasingly encouraged to deposit their published articles in open access repositories. This can be institutional sites, personal or laboratory homepages or social websites. The one that do, often find the process a bit tedious but rewarding.

However, a majority of journals are not open access and limit the diffusion of the article in its published format. Every publisher have slightly different policies, some allowing only pre-prints (ie pre-refereeing), post-prints (ie final draft post-refereeing), or event full formatted text in certain case. In any case, the variety of policies can be discouraging.

Luckily, RoMEO, a service based  at the University of Nottingham, gathers the copyright and self-archiving policies of an impressive list of over 2200 journals.  Simply enter the name of the journal and the tool will display the journal’s policy concerning pre-print, post-prints and the publisher’s version, while detailing any restrictions that apply. To make it easier, RoMEO also assigns a color for each journal that corresponds to the degree of openness of the policies.

  • Green  – can archive pre-print and post-print or publisher’s version/PDF
  • Blue – can archive post-print or publisher’s version/PDF
  • Yellow – can archive pre-print
  • White – archiving not formally supported

Rubriq tells you what your manuscript is worth.

rubriq-logoPublishing a paper can be a long, tedious and ultimately very frustrating process. Publishers can take weeks if not months to get back to you, to eventualy find out that your work does not fit the journal’s scope or is not quite as polished as it should be to be accepted. The work done before the submission such as optimizing the manuscript’s quality and selecting the right journal is key to speed up publication. There is clearly a need for tools and service like Edanz’s journal advisor to help in the process.

Rubriq, launched in beta phase last week, goes a step further. Rubriq offers a rigorous peer-review service for your biological and medical sciences-related manuscript before their submission to publishers. With the help of peer-scientists, they will judge the manuscript’s quality and check for issues such as plagiarism, conflicts of interest and ethical issues. The paper is then attributed a scorecard that can be used as a pre-publishing metric of quality.

The service is still in the beta phase, with a progressive release of the different services over the course of 2013. As of today, Rubriq accepts manuscripts in the field of immunology, cancer biology, and microbiology and offer scorecard completed by three reviewers in two weeks for $500. The full set of service is expected to go live in March 2013.

I like this initiative. It helps streamline a the pre-submission review of manuscripts, a process that often already exists, but is slow and not always very honest. It help authors get published and should help science get communicated better and more efficiently. One aspect I appreciate in particular is that the scientists reviewing the manuscripts through Rubriq are compensated for their time and effort. This is contrast to the volunteering reviewing work currently done by researchers that directly benefit for-profit publishers. Rubriq will also be an energetic partner for the open access community thinking about how to improve the peer-reviewing process.

Rubriq was founded by entrepreneur Shashi Mudunuri and Keith Collier. Rubriq is a sister company of American Journal Experts which offer related services such manuscript editing and preparation.

Publish the unpublishable with ResearchGate

ResearchGate recently announced that they now encourage researchers to share data through their platform. They hope to get more unpublished information out in the open to fuel scientific discussion. Such information include:

  • Datasets and raw data
  • Negative results
  • Figures and media files
  • Unpublished articles


This new service comes in addition to a set of other services that already allow researchers to share data and unpublished information. ResearchGate, with their 2+ million users, will probably quickly become one of the main platform to publish such information. By steadily releasing new services, ResearchGate seems to be taking the lead as a social platform for scientific exchange.  However published data should be easily searchable, citable and not prisoner of proprietary formats. This is not the case as of today, and I would be curious to learn more about efforts currently underway to address these issues.

Search for facts buried in articles with EvidenceFinder

Europe PubMed Central has this interesting “lab section“, where they experiment new tools to improve how one can search their database.

EvidenceFinder is a search engine that digs deep into the full text of articles to find facts related to your search queries. EvidenceFinder then converts these facts into a list of questions. And for each question, corresponds articles containing specific answers.

For example, if I enter the keyword “mucin” (a glycoprotein, major component of our mucus), the tool will come up with a series of questions that I might have been thinking of:

  • What is bound to intestinal mucin?
  • What is bound by salivary mucin?
  • What degrades intestinal mucin?
  • What produces mucin?
  • What is inhibited by submaxillary mucin?
  • What dilutes in gastric mucin?
  • ….

Let’s say I was looking for information about what can bind to salivary mucin, the tool then displays articles that contain answers to the question. For example, here we learn that salivary mucin bins to Choleragen and “WGA” for example. The tool makes accessing very specific facts easy.

I found that the search had a very natural feel, probably because very often my search queries actually originate from questions. Usualy, I first mentally transform a question into keywords, then it is up to me to do the data mining. Here, the data mining is done for us, and the tool provides a list of questions that have been addressed in the literature. The service is still in the experimental phase, and is a bit to slow to be used in my every day search, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on this.

EvidenceFinder is developed by The National Centre for Text Mining (NaCTeM), a UK-based text mining centre that provides text mining services to the UK academic community. The tool is hosted by Europe PMC (formerly named UKPMC),  an initiative supported by 19 funders of biomedical research, including charities and government organisations in the UK, Austria, and Italy, led by the Wellcome Trust.

I will very soon create a new section in the “Online tools for researchers” page gathering the most innovative and useful research-oriented search engines.

Online tools that help you share your data.

One important aspect of the open science movement, is making your research data more accessible than when formated in manuscripts (which are usually only the tip of an enormous iceberg of work and findings). The data can be slide presentations, data sets or figures for example. All are very rich in unpublished information. Several sites offer researchers to share such information:

I can see a number of different advantages to doing this.

  • Online sharing services help create a communities and form relationships.
  • Sharing protocols or workflows increases research efficiency, by favoring access to  expertise and avoiding reinvention.
  • Platforms for sharing data allow to share negative results and help combat the “positive result bias” in scientific publishing.
  • Finally, this is also increases your presence on the web for your personal promotion.

Of course in some scientific domains, sharing openly your data is discouraged because of strong competition or pressure to patent or publish first. But even if posted online years after the original publication, the data can still be valuable to the community.

Searching the pool of shared data is currently not an easy task. Although sites like SlideShare, OpenWetWare and FigShare are rather well indexed in by search engines, searching for specific information contained in the data might be more challenging for example. More specialized tools, like what the DataCite initative is offering,  that can efficiently index, organize and search through the shared data will clearly benefit the open data movement.