Global Challenges in the Communication of Scientific Research

Science is global now: it is not only carried out in more places than ever, but also addresses worldwide problems and is increasingly collaborative. Forty years ago, about two-thirds of publications had an author from one of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Nowadays, the contributions of other countries to the research landscape have increased, especially from the so-called BRICKS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Korea, and South Africa).

The ACS CINF Symposium “Global Challenges in the Communication of Scientific Research” addressed this new geography of science from different perspectives. How are publishers reaching out to new audiences? How are developers shaping their products to exploit the cheaper technologies and the interconnected world? How can we facilitate international science? And ultimately, what are the challenges ahead of us in the scholarly communications arena?

The symposium was organized by David Martinsen and Norah Xiao, and chaired by David Martinsen. The morning sessions featured talks centered around two broad themes: tools and resources that can facilitate global science, and global cross-cutting issues. In the first group, Steven Muskal described the efforts of Eidogen-Sertanty to use cloud-based mobile app development and pipelining technologies to meet global needs; Tony Williams and Valery Tkachenko talked about the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) efforts to build a chemical data repository that can enable storage, validation, standardization, and sharing of data, and that can also enhance scientific publishing; Charlie Weatherall presented an overview of CDD Vault, which is a tool to manage, visualize and share chemical and biological data and described some examples of its use in team science; Andrey Yerin described the new IUPAC organic nomenclature and the concept of Preferred IUPAC Name (PIN) and how ACD/Labs is working to incorporate it into the newest iterations of their products. Global issues broached in this session included the state of photovoltaics in the world, by Colin Perry from the University of North Texas, and the need of open data for drug discovery of rare and ultra-rare diseases, by Sean Ekins of Collaborations in Chemistry.

The afternoon sessions focused on how the changing global landscape of science affects scholarly communication. A common issue raised by several speakers was how the global nature of science is pushing publishers to engage with new audiences and creating new markets for companies offering services to international authors. Thus, Amy Beisel of Research Square described some of the challenges that international authors face when submitting articles to English-language journals: preparing and formatting the manuscript, making sure that the topic fits the journal scope, responding to reviewer comments, and understanding the correspondence from editors and reviewers.

Talks by ACS and RSC staff brought the chemistry publisher perspective and highlighted their focus to reach globally. Steve Hansen and ACS journal editors Kirk Schanze and Prashant Kamat presented an overview of the expansion of the well-established ACS on Campus program to Mexico, China, and India. They also summarized what they have learned about participants of those programs, including their desire for information and advice on the peer review and publication process, their value of recognition and eagerness to see their research published, and their concerns about the fairness of the peer review system. Along the same lines, Stephen Hawthorne and Daping Zhang presented RSC efforts for supporting and facilitating the development of research beyond the scientific powerhouses in chemistry, such as their community engagement in Far East Asia and Latin America, and their focus on developing skills in Russia, Africa, and India.

Chinese journals are also seeking to increase their international influence. Xiaowen Zhu of University & Higher Education Press described the situation of chemical journals in China from the Chinese publisher point of view. Increased financial support by the government, international editorial boards, and collaboration with international publishers were some of the strategies mentioned.

New trends in scientific publishing are also likely to have a global impact. Thus, the session also included two talks centered on new trends in scholarly communication by open access publishers. Frederick Fenter described Frontiers’ efforts to increase article discoverability and visibility in the global research community by using a scientific social network. Martin Hicks of Beilstein-Institut focused on the challenges in scholarly communication, such as data reproducibility and integrity, issues in the peer review system, and plagiarism.

Finally, the symposium concluded with a talk on how to engage with non-scientific audiences to fight chemophobia.

Elsa Alvaro, Symposium Reporter

Please join us again for the CINF symposia in Denver, March 22-26, 2015!

Research Results: Reproducibility, Reporting, Sharing & Plagiarism. Martin Hicks.

Defining “Value” in Scholarly Communications: Evolving Ways of Evaluating Impact on Science. Sara Rouhi.

A list of the CINF symposia planned for Denver is at: