2018 Research Resolutions

Yesterday, I tweeted some of my New Year research resolutions for 2018. It seemed to strike a chord with many, getting a lot of positive feedback. Oddly, I’ve been doing most of these since the beginning of my research career (I started my PhD in 2012), and I’m happy to say that it seems like the perception of these activities is improving positively!

I’ve decided to flesh them out a bit more here for 2 reasons. Firstly, to help me focus on what these commitments are and what they mean. And secondly, so that you all can hold me accountable to them!

1. Make sure all papers (past, present, future) are Open Access.

This one is remarkably easy, as all of my past papers are already Open Access. Ones that are in prep. are available as preprints too.

Sadly, I’m not affiliated with any institute any more, and have lost the bottomless pot of gold to pay for OA that I had at Imperial College. So this will require several things:

Problem solved!

2. Make sure all code is on GitHub.

I’m a woeful, woeful coder. Does this mean I shouldn’t share any of it? Hell no. There are other people out there still training too, and we can all learn from each other’s small steps. Everything we do for paleorXiv is also on GitHub.

Sharing code openly also makes a personal statement: “I am not afraid for you to analyse my data using my code, and find something new or wrong.”

An added bonus from Chris Holdgraf:

3. Make sure all data are on the Open Science Framework.

Vicky Steeves also commented that it is possible to link GitHub repos to your OSF projects, which I’m happy to say that I tried, it works, and is awesome! All previously published data is openly available too.

4. Peer review only Open Access articles.

I can already hear the usual flames of retaliation being kindled: “But what if people can’t afford open access?“, “How do you know if an article is going to be open access?” The first of these is basically fake news by now (see point 1), and only demonstrates one’s gross misunderstanding of the current OA environment. However, the latter requires some thought, as “hybrid” journals don’t ask about OA until after acceptance in order to alleviate the editorial conflict of interest.

Your experience/thoughts may vary, but this is how I feel:

  • If an article is in a pure OA journal, not a problem.
  • I feel very reluctant to peer review for ‘hybrid’ journals anyway, as they’re pretty awful.
  • However, if I do, I can:
    • Make a recommendation to self-archive in the review report.
    • Email the author if possible to ask about OA.
    • Make self-archiving a condition to the Editor of accepting the review.

For every problem, there’s a solution. You just have to think a bit. Different people and communities will have their own standards and practices, and it’s up to you to find out what works.

5. Make sure all papers have non-specialist summaries.

It is not up to me to decide who might be interested in my work, and want to learn more about it. Common claims from researchers like ‘The public aren’t interested in my research’ is a grossly ignorant and harmful view to take, unless you have personally surveyed the views of everyone on the planet.

I feel that anyone who wants to read my work, should have the opportunity to do so. However, just making research papers freely available isn’t always enough to do this, as often they are written with a target audience of specialists in mind (paleontologists). It is always worth remembering that your true audience and intended audience are different things.

As such, all research papers I have written in the past, and will continue to write, will also have non-specialist summaries blogged about them (which can be tracked using services like Altmetric, and shared on platforms such as Kudos/ScienceOpen).

6. Encourage others to do 1-5.

Because growth as a community is much greater than growing as an individual.

I also really liked this suggestion from Stevan Bruijns:

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