BIREME Bulletin n°57

5th LatinREV: BIREME integrates panel on innovations and trends in academic publishing management in Latin America

Innovations and trends in academic editorial management: reports from Latin America. This was the theme of the 5th edition of the LatinREV Journey, a virtual event that took place on June 17th and 24th and July 1st and 8th, 2021. The event was organized by the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Sede Argentina (FLACSO), the Red Latinoamericana de Revistas (LatinREV), the Área de Estado y PolĂ­ticas PĂșblicas and theBiblioteca de Ciencias Sociales ‘Enzo Faletto’ of FLACSO, with the objective of providing advice and updates on topics related to the sustainability of scientific publications in Latin America. With the support of Proyecto EducaciĂłn y Nuevas TecnologĂ­as and the Distance Education Program of FLACSO Argentina, the meeting included experts from the region in a program designed to present and discuss solutions using new information and communication technologies and innovations for scientific publication.

After the opening words by the Director of FLACSO Argentina, Luis Alberto Quevedo; the Director of the Area of ​​Studies and Public Policies of FLACSO Argentina, Daniel García Delgado; María Cecília Corda, Director of the Social Sciences Library ‘Enzo Faletto’ at FLACSO, spoke about the restructuring of the LatinREV Network portal, which has more than 1,600 social and political science journals from the countries of the Region; the use of social networks to disseminate articles and other topics of interest to the journal directory; and other improvement projects that it hopes to develop throughout the year.

The inaugural conference was led by Sigmar de Mello Rode, director of the Brazilian Association of Scientific Editors (ABEC) and Professor of Dentistry at UNESP SĂŁo JosĂ© dos Campos, moderated by Betty Espinoza, professor and researcher at FLACSO Ecuador. His presentation addressed Open Science and the construction of good practices in the editorial process of scientific journals. According to Sigmar, “Latin America (LA), where research and the dissemination of its results are financed mainly with public resources, is the region in the world with the greatest adoption of open access to scientific journal content”, which makes it particularly conducive for the adoption of other open science practices.

Representing BIREME, Lilian CalĂČ[1], participated on July 1st in Panel 2:  Innovaciones y proyecciones de las revistas acadĂȘmicas y cientĂ­ficas (Innovations and projects of academic and scientific journals), integrated, moreover, by Maximiliano Salatino[2] and Remedios Melero[3]. The July 1st session was accompanied by over 200 connections to the FLACSO YouTube channel from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Panel members discussed the situation of journals in scientific communication in LA countries, considering information and communication technologies, the end of the monopoly of journals in communicating research results with the popularization of preprints, and especially open science practices, which advocate the availability of research data, the opening of peer review and the consolidation of open access to scientific knowledge, in addition to the culture of appropriation of science and its benefits by the whole society, and not just by researchers, educators and professionals.

Lilian CalĂČ began her presentation by introducing the term infodemiologĂ­a, a discipline created in 2002, which studies the determinants and distribution of information and misinformation in health. During the SARS-CoV-1 epidemic in 2003, it was the first time that the term infodemic was used, cited by the Director General of the World Health Organization, when referring to Covid-19 at the beginning of the pandemic. Lilian spoke about the limitations of the peer review process in guaranteeing all the integrity characteristics of research articles, contrary to society’s understanding. In general, society interprets peer review as a “seal of approval or a mechanism that has the power to protect society from information chaos”. But there are several aspects of quality and integrity that peer review cannot detect, such as transparency, absence of bias or conflict of interest, plagiarism or false data, reproducibility, relevance, and originality.

Discussing the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of preprints in the COVID-19 research results report, Lilian shows how preprints (which are fast but not peer-reviewed) and journal articles (slower but submitted for peer review) peers) can function in parallel as communication channels for scientific research, especially when the magnitude and impact of the pandemic certainly justify efforts to accelerate the publication of research results.

By demonstrating that peer-reviewed journal articles are not free from errors (honest or conscious), and for this reason they are retracted, Lilian showed how, in fact, preprints go through the post-publication peer review process, when they receive comments (not formally requested) from readers. About 40% of bioRxiv preprints receive at least one comment, and about 70% are published in peer-reviewed journals within two years of posting. Concluding her presentation, Lilian cited UNESCO’s draft Recommendation on Open Science[4] “[…] to promote open science from the beginning of the scientific process, including the encouragement of preprints, in order to accelerate the dissemination and encourage the rapid growth of science. scientific knowledge […]”, to be adopted at the 40th UNESCO General Assembly later this year.

Maximilano Salatino focused his presentation, entitled “The death of scientific journals?”, on the current situation of scientific journals in LA, considering the “crisis” of scientific publications and the questions about the academic reward model resulting from publication in renowned and alternative journals, such as preprint repositories and open science practices. Enumerating reasons such as magazine obsolescence; their exceedingly large number and questionable quality; endogeny; low contribution to the advancement of science, considering their peripheral reach; high maintenance cost; too much time between submission and publication; the issue of “publication language” and “local language”, among others, the lecturer suggests that the primary function of the article, in recent decades, has been to give researchers academic ‘credits’ that are used for hiring, progressing their career, and obtaining resources for research. Salatino makes a diagnosis of scientific journals in LA (which he estimates at more than ten thousand) and points out a strong heterogeneity in the digital academic publication system in terms of format, accessibility, indexing, labelling, and design. He stresses that ensuring open access to digital formats does not necessarily mean that a region (such as LA) or a particular country will have access to publications in this format, considering the asymmetry in the modalities and forms of Internet connection, resulting from structural infrastructure dilemmas, which, it is important to note, have been accentuated during the pandemic and telecommuting. Furthermore, he analyzes the idealized aspect of indexing, especially in internationally renowned databases, which implies a commercialization aspect of the dissemination of scientific knowledge.

In conclusion, Salatino is of the opinion that scientific journals as instruments of circulation are perhaps dead, but they remain alive and active as consecrating sociotechnical artifacts, due to the direct relationship that exists between indexing and science evaluation policies, despite efforts in the sense of unlinking these entities. This hypothesis is corroborated by the fact that the criteria for indexing in renowned databases are essentially the same, and what varies is the emphasis given to particular criteria in each database, according to its characteristics and scope.

Following, Reme Melero spoke about editorial policies and the sharing of research data, one of the pillars of open science, highlighting that research data can be licensed, deposited in repositories, indexed, cited, and published (in specialized journals – data journals). As the more relevant reasons for sharing research data in open access, Reme cites the preservation of data for long periods of time considering the obsolescence of the software usually used to store it in personal files; promotion of innovation and potential new uses of data (which previously served only one purpose), with consequent savings in financial and human resources; fostering collaboration between researchers; maximization of transparency; verification and reliability of the research; increased visibility and impact of research; and recognition through citations to the author of the data, among others. A growing number of journals around the world are demanding the archiving of underlying research data in repositories (usually open access) when submitting articles for publication. This practice may not be dominant in LA journals, but the creation of repositories such as Fiocruz and SciELO has increased awareness that the effort in methodology and financial and human resources involved in curating and depositing data is rewarded for the reasons listed above by Melero.

The researcher mentioned the different editorial policies adopted by journals to create their own repositories or recommend a list of these to authors, defining standards for the creation of datasets, citing, for this, principles on the choice of types of licenses under which the data will be stored, and what determines what can and cannot be done with the data, like the Panton Principles. In any case, it is strongly recommended to use licenses that are as broad as possible and as limited as necessary, so that the data can really be reused. It is recommended that data generated by research financed with public resources be in the public domain, using licenses (e.g. Creative Commons) that ensure this condition. A set of important characteristics about the data that will be shared is defined by the FAIR principles. FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. These are the four characteristics that all research data must meet when being shared in a data repository, or published in the form of a data paper.

Concluding his presentation, Reme presented editorial policies of European journals and scientific societies on the collection, curation, storage, and availability of open data and, as an example, cited COVID-19 Publishers Open Letter of Intent – ​​Rapid Review of the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA), in which the signatories – a group of publishers and scientific communication organizations undertake to maximize the efficiency of peer review, suggest that authors deposit their manuscript submissions as preprints, and deposit research data in repositories according to the FAIR principles, with the objective of fostering exchange and collaboration in the search for treatments and vaccines against COVID-19.

At the end, an intense discussion followed, through questions from the audience, involving the speakers and their different points of view, which further enriched the dialogue. MarĂ­a CecĂ­lia Corda and Cristina Ruiz ended the session by thanking the speakers and everyone’s participation.

[1] Lilian CalĂČ holds a PhD in Biochemistry from USP and is Coordinator of Scientific Communication and Institutional Communication at BIREME/PAHO/WHO

[2] Maximiliano Salatino is a specialist in Political Science and a Ph.D. in Social Sciences from the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, where he is a professor and a postdoctoral fellow at CONICYT

[3] Remedios Melero, Ph.D. in Chemical Sciences from the University of Valencia, Spain, is a researcher at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones CientĂ­ficas at the Instituto de AgroquĂ­mica y TecnologĂ­a de Alimentos, Spain, and is a member of the Committees of SciELO Spain, Redalyc, DOAJ and AMELICA.

[4] First Draft of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. 2020. Available at:  

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