Conference paper Open Access

Opening Scholarly Communication in Social Sciences: Supporting Open Peer Review with Fidus Writer

Mayr, Philipp; Momeni, Fakhri; Lange, Christoph

Scholarly communication in the social sciences is centered around publications, in which data also play a key role. The increasingly collaborative scientific process, from a project plan, to collecting data, to interpreting them in a paper and submitting it for peer review, to publishing an article, to, finally, its consumption by readers, is insufficiently supported by contemporary information systems.
They support every individual step, but media discontinuities between steps cause inefficiency and loss of information: word processors lack direct access to data; reviewers cannot provide feedback inside the environment in which authors revising their papers; open access web publishing is constrained to document formats designed for paper printing but neglecting the Web’s accessibility
and interactivity potential; finally, readers, seeing a single frozen view of the underlying data in a paper, are unable to access the full extent of the data and to make observations beyond the restricted scope chosen by the author.
Web technology can address these problems. Isolated solutions, such as tools for publishing data on the Web for easy retrieval and visualization, exist in preliminary manifestations in the social sciences, but have not been integrated into tools for writing, reviewing and publishing articles. Tools that assist writers in making their documents’ structure explicit for information systems, as well as document
browsers that use articles as interactive interfaces to related information on the Web have been successfully deployed in the life sciences. In the Opening Scholarly Communication in Social Sciences (OSCOSS) project, founded by DFG, we will transfer these ideas to the social sciences by integrating existing data and publication management services into a web-based collaborative writing environment that publishers can set up to supports all types of end users throughout the publication process: authors, reviewers and readers.
With the collaborative document editor Fidus Writer and Open Journal Systems system we choose a stable technical foundation. We secure user acceptance by respecting the characteristics of the traditional processes social scientists are used to: web publications must have the same high-quality layout as print publications, and information must remain citable by stable page numbers. To ensure we meet these requirements, we will work closely with the publishers of
“methods, data, analyses” (mda) and “Historical Social Research” (HSR), two international peer reviewed open accessible journals published by GESIS, and build early demonstrators for usability evaluation.
Our system will initially provide readers, authors and reviewers with an alternative, thus having the potential to gain wider acceptance and gradually replace the old, incoherent publication process of our journals and of others in related fields. It will make journals more “open” (in terms of reusability) that are open access already, and it has the potential to serve as an incentive for turning “closed” journals into open access ones.
In this poster we will present the framework of the system and highlight the following use case.
Reviewer Scenario: Jakob and Dagmar submitted their manuscript, pointing to data and the R code, to the journal mda. Rainer gets assigned Jakob and Dagmars’s manuscript for review. He wants to check whether Jakob and Dagmar have done their analysis in a correct way. He downloads their R code and raw data and redoes the calculation described in the paper. He observes that, for one of the statements that Jakob and Dagmar have made in the results section of their manuscript, the R output of the analysis does not give sufficient evidence. They should have known from Ariane’s paper published two years ago, that in one of the items of the dataset that they analysed, some data items are too sparse for reliably applying the significance test to them. Rainer marks the respective statement in Jakob’s and Dagmar’s result section, adding a reference to the methodology section of Ariane’s paper and to the affected item in the dataset. Finally, the editorial board decides to accept the submission, given that a major revision is made. Jakob and Dagmar receive the paper with 100 comments attached. As the comments are attached to precise parts of the paper, grouped by
reviewers and classified as “major” vs. “minor”, they can quickly prioritise the necessary tasks to improve their article.

Extended abstract of an accepted poster
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