Open Practice Badges: A Primer and How to Get Started

The Center for Open Science (COS) provides tools, training, support, and advocacy that help researchers and scholars manage, share, and discover scientific research. The COS’ mission is to “increase the openness, integrity, and reproducibility of scholarly research. Acceleration of scientific progress can be a primary motivator for scholarship and a powerful driver of real solutions.

The COS develops software tools, workflows, data storage solutions, and more based on its free Open Science Framework (OSF). The OSF is an ecosystem of solutions, partnering companies, technologies, and ideas that support researchers across the entire research life cycle.  One initiative that is gaining momentum is the use of Open Practice Badges in the publishing workflow.

Openness is a core value of scientific practice.
 

The scholarly publishing community agrees on the relevance and importance of open communication for scientific research and progress. In 2009 there were approximately 4,800 OA journals publishing approximately 190,000 articles. In January 2017, the estimate is that there are around 9,500 active OA journals. At Cenveo Publisher Services, we work with a large number of society and commercial publishers who have launched or are preparing to add OA publication models to their workflows.

Awarding Open Practice Badges on published content is a way of designating and awarding authors badges that acknowledge their use of open practices during the research life cycle.

Incorporating Open Practice Badges Into Publishing Workflows

By acknowledging open practices in scientific research, journal publishers can use badges in their publications to certify that a particular research practice was followed. Badges can be awarded to the published content as part of the peer review process or they can be awarded post-publication. As long as processes and practices are transparent, any organization can issue badges. Most publishers are awarding the badges during peer review. Publishing platforms and review services are likely to use the badges post publication.

For publishers, the journal awards the badge and it is linked to the specific article. Each publisher tends to have specific methods for incorporating badges into the published article. However, it is critical that the badge is machine discoverable and readable.

Detailed information on incorporating OA badges into your publication workflow can be found at the OSF Wiki page here.

Badge Overview

There are three badges currently used:

  1. Open Data
  2. Open Materials
  3. Preregistered

Following is an overview of the three badges and corresponding criteria. Detailed information is available on the OSF Wiki page, including corresponding links.

Open Data

The Open Data badge is earned for making publicly available the digitally-shareable data necessary to reproduce the reported results.

Criteria

Digitally-shareable data are publicly available on an open-access repository. The data must have a persistent identifier and be provided in a format that is time-stamped, immutable, and permanent (e.g., university repository, a registration on the Open Science Framework, or an independent repository at www.re3data.org).

A data dictionary (e.g., a codebook or metadata describing the data) is included with sufficient description for an independent researcher to reproduce the reported analyses and results. Data from the same project that are not needed to reproduce the reported results can be kept private without losing eligibility for the Open Data Badge.

An open license allowing others to copy, distribute, and make use of the data while allowing the licensor to retain credit and copyright as applicable. Creative Commons has defined several licenses for this purpose, which are described at www.creativecommons.org/licenses. CC0 or CC-BY is strongly recommended.

Open Materials

The Open Materials badge is earned by making publicly available the components of the research methodology needed to reproduce the reported procedure and analysis.

Criteria

Digitally-shareable materials are publicly available on an open-access repository. The materials must have a persistent identifier and be provided in a format that is time-stamped, immutable, and permanent (e.g., university repository, a registration on the Open Science Framework, or an independent repository at www.re3data.org).

Infrastructure, equipment, biological materials, or other components that cannot be shared digitally are described in sufficient detail for an independent researcher to understand how to reproduce the procedure.

Sufficient explanation for an independent researcher to understand how the materials relate to the reported methodology.

Preregistered/Preregistered+Analysis Plan badges 

The Preregistered/Preregistered+Analysis Plan badges are earned for preregistering research.

Preregistered

The Preregistered badge is earned for having a preregistered design. A preregistered design includes: (1) Description of the research design and study materials including planned sample size, (2) Description of motivating research question or hypothesis, (3) Description of the outcome variable(s), and (4) Description of the predictor variables including controls, covariates, independent variables (conditions). When possible, the study materials themselves are included in the preregistration.

Criteria for earning the preregistered badge on a report of research are:

  1. A public date-time stamped registration is in an institutional registration system (e.g., ClinicalTrials.govOpen Science FrameworkAEA RegistryEGAP).
  2. Registration pre-dates the intervention.
  3. Registered design and analysis plan corresponds directly to reported design and analysis.
  4. Full disclosure of results in accordance with registered plan.

Badge eligibility does not restrict authors from reporting results of additional analyses. Results from preregistered analyses must be distinguished explicitly from additional results in the report. Notations may be added to badges. Notations qualify badge meaning: TC, or Transparent Changes, means that the design was altered but the changes and rationale for changes are provided. DE, or Data Exist, means that (2) is replaced with “registration postdates realization of the outcomes, but the authors have yet to inspect or analyze the outcomes.

Preregistered+Analysis Plan

The Preregistered+Analysis Plan badge is earned for having a preregistered research design (described above) and an analysis plan for the research and reporting results according to that plan. An analysis plan includes specification of the variables and the analyses that will be conducted. Guidance on construction of an analysis plan is below.

Criteria for earning the preregistered+analysis plan badge on a report of research are:

  1. A public date-time stamped registration is in an institutional registration system (e.g., ClinicalTrials.gov, Open Science Framework, AEA registry, EGAP).
  2. Registration pre-dates the intervention.
  3. Registered design and analysis plan corresponds directly to reported design and analysis.
  4. Full disclosure of results in accordance with the registered plan.

Notations may be added to badges. Notations qualify badge meaning: TC, or Transparent Changes, means that the design or analysis plan was altered but the changes are described and a rationale for the changes is provided. Where possible, analyses following the original specification should also be provided. DE, or Data Exist, means that (2) is replaced with “registration postdates realization of the outcomes, but the authors have yet to inspect or analyze the outcomes.”

What Journals Are Using Open Badges?

A list of journals currently using Open Practice Badges can be found here. The list continues to grow as more publishers understand the benefits of providing this acknowledgement to researchers and readers.


Cenveo Publisher Services is an advocate of Open Practice Badges. If your publishing organization would like to learn how we can support open badges in your workflow, feel free to reach out to us directly.

Are you currently using Open Practice Badges? Please share your findings or observations in the comments section below.

 

 

 

 

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Mike Groth

Michael Groth is Director of Marketing at Cenveo Publisher Services, where he oversees all aspects of marketing strategy and implementation across digital, social, conference, advertising and PR channels. Mike has spent over 20 years in marketing for scholarly publishing, previously at Emerald, Ingenta, Publishers Communication Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and Wolters Kluwer. He has made the rounds at information industry events, organized conference sessions, presented at SSP, ALA, ER&L and Charleston, and blogged on topics ranging from market trends, library budgets and research impact, to emerging markets and online communities.. Twitter Handle: @mikegroth72

How Open Access is Changing Scholarly Publishing

Guest blog by John Parsons

After almost two decades, the Open Access publishing model is still controversial, and misunderstood. Here’s where we stand today.

The beginnings of scholarly publishing correspond roughly to the Enlightenment period of the late 17th and early 18th Centuries. The practice of publishing one’s discoveries was driven by a belief—championed the Royal Society—in the transparent, open exchange of experiment-based ideas. Over the centuries, journals embraced a rigorous peer review process, to maintain the integrity (and the subscription value) of its research content.

Transparency, openness, and integrity all come at a cost, however. For many years, that cost was met by charging journal subscription fees—usually borne by institutions who either produced the research, benefited from it, or both. So long as the publishing model was solely print-based, the subscription model worked well, especially for institutions with deep pockets. That all changed with the Internet. Not only did the scope and volume of research increase rapidly, so did the perception that all information should be easily findable via search engines.

The Internet expanded the audience for research outside traditional institutions—to literally anyone with a connected device. With this expansion, the disparity between the well-funded and those less fortunate became acute. As it did with other publishing workflows, this disruption drove a need for new economic models for scholarly publishing.

Open Access Basics

Advocacy for less fettered access to knowledge is nothing new. But the current Open Access (OA) movement began in earnest in the early 2000s, with the “Three Bs” (the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Statement, and the Berlin Declaration by the Max Planck Institute). Much of the impetus occurred in the Scientific, Technical, and Medical, or STM publishing arena, and from research funding and policy entities like the European Commission and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The latter’s full-text archive of free biomedical and life sciences articles, PubMedCentral or PMC, is a leading example—backed by a mandate that the results of publicly-funded research be freely available to the public.

In a nutshell, Open Access consists of two basic types—each with its own variations and exceptions. “Green” OA is the practice of self-archiving scholarly articles in a publicly-accessible data repository, such as PMC or one of many institutional repositories maintained by academic libraries. There is often a time lag between initial publication—especially by a subscription-based journal—and the availability of the archived version.

As we will discuss in future blogs, publishers and their service providers are exploring better ways to adapt their publishing workflows to the realities of OA and hybrid journals. In some cases, such as metadata tagging, XML generation, and output to print and online versions, these workflows can be highly automated. In others, publishers must find cost-effective ways to add value—while being as transparent as possible to the authors and users of journal content.

The alternative is the “Gold” OA model. It includes a growing number of journals, such as the Public Library of Science (PLOS), that do not charge subscription fees. Instead, they fund the cost of publishing through article processing charges (APCs) and other mechanisms. Although APCs are commonly thought of as being paid by the author, the real situation is more complex. Often, in cases where OA is mandated, APCs are built into the funding proposals, or otherwise factored into institutional and research budgets. PLOS and other journals can also waive APCs, or utilize voluntary funding “pools,” for researchers who cannot afford to pay them.

The appeal of Open Access is obvious to researchers and libraries of limited means. It also has the potential to accelerate research—by letting scientists more easily access and build upon others’ work. But for prestigious institutions, publishers, and their partners, the picture is more complicated.

Publishers in particular can be hard pressed to develop and enhance their brand—or offer a multitude of services that scholars may take for granted—when constrained by the APC funding model. (Those challenges will be addressed in a future blog.)

Misconceptions, Problems—and Solutions

Even today, researchers are not always clear about what Open Access means for scholarly publishing. Research librarians have their work cut out for them. They cite the common misconception that OA journals do not have an adequate peer review process, for example. This is caused by disreputable or “predatory” journals that continually spam researchers with publication offers. Librarians counter this with a growing arsenal of blacklist and whitelist sources, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Perhaps a major contributor to the uncertainty surrounding OA is the practice of openly publishing “preprint” versions of articles prior to—or during the early stages of—the peer review process. Sometimes, this is part of the researcher’s strategy to secure further funding, but it can fuel the mistaken notion that peer review is not required in OA publishing workflow. Distinguishing preprints from final OA articles must be a goal for publishers and their partners.

Another problem is scholars’ unfamiliarity with the OA-driven changes in publishing workflows. Gold OA journals—particularly those involved in STM publishing—are usually quite adept at guiding authors through the publication process, just as their subscription-based counterparts and publishing service providers have been. For example, the practice of assigning Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), ISSNs, and other metadata to scholarly publishing works is becoming increasingly efficient for both Gold OA and subscription journals.

Green OA is a thornier problem for traditional publishing workflows. Each institutional repository is separate from the others—with its own funding sources, development path, and legacy issues. A common approach to article metadata, for example, has not happened overnight. Fortunately, organizations like Crossref are working with multiple partners and initiatives to make these workflows universal—and transparent to the researcher.

Perhaps the biggest issue posed by OA is the fate of traditional, subscription-based journals. Despite the push to “flip” journals from a subscription model to Open Access, there are cases where this is simply not feasible or even desirable. Many journals have a large subscriber base of professionals who, although they value the research, do not themselves publish peer reviewed articles. This is especially true for STM publishing. Some of these journals have adopted a “hybrid” approach, charging APCs for some articles (which are available immediately) while maintaining others for subscribers only. These are eventually made Open Access under the Green model, especially when Open Access is a funding requirement.

Scanning the Horizon

As we will discuss in future blogs, publishers and their service providers are exploring better ways to adapt their publishing workflows to the realities of OA and hybrid journals. In some cases, such as metadata tagging, XML generation, and output to print and online versions, these workflows can be highly automated. In others, publishers must find cost-effective ways to add value—while being as transparent as possible to the authors and users of journal content.

Despite these challenges, Open Access is changing the scholarly publishing landscape forever. There is a compelling need for researchers to find and build upon the research of others—each needle buried in a haystack of immense proportions—to advance the human condition. Publishers and their service partners are well positioned to make that open process accessible and fair to all.

 

Resources for Publishers