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Addressing the Crisis in Academic Publishing

The academic publishing system has become corrupted. Top journals in all fields have daunting backlogs of articles awaiting review. Hence new commercial publishers have emerged, seeking to capitalise on the situation with little understanding of, or concern for, the quality of what they publish. In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in predatory journals claiming to publish peer-reviewed content when they do not. Between this rapidly growing group of predatory journals and the small group of elite quality academic journals is a new group of serious journals seeking to establish themselves with blind peer review as their quality control mechanism. However, it is becoming more difficult to distinguish new, but good journals, from predatory journals.
   
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Widespread plagiarism detected in many medical journals based in Africa

African medical journals have a plagiarism problem. A study that looked at nearly 500 papers in 100 Africa-based journals found that 63 percent contained some form of plagiarism. The study, published in BMJ Open by researchers based in South Africa, Croatia and the UK, sampled the papers from African Journals Online (AJOL), a database that aims to boost the visibility of journals from the continent. They randomly selected five papers published in 2016 from each of the 100 journals - fewer for journals that did not publish five articles that year. They ran the final sample of 495 papers through plagiarism-checking software. The study also found that only 26 of the 100 journals had a policy on plagiarism posted on their website, and a mere 16 stated that they used plagiarism software. The authors say that this points to a 'major problem with writing and publishing in medical science in Africa.' The numbers are higher than those found in comparable studies for other regions.
   
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European funders detail their open-access plan

Plan S, the contentious plan that a group of European science funders hopes will end scholarly journals' paywalls, has fleshed out its rules, and softened its tone a bit. The seven page implementation guidance outlines three ways researchers can comply with Plan S, which is backed by national funding agencies of countries including the UK, France, and Austria, as well as private funders including the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation. They can publish in an open-access (OA) journal or platform. They can also publish in a subscription journal provided they also make a final, peer-reviewed version or accepted manuscript immediately available in an OA repository. Finally, contrary to earlier indications, grantees will be permitted to publish in hybrid journals, which charge subscriptions but also offer an OA option, but only if the journal has committed to flip to a fully OA model.
   
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Time to break academic publishing's stranglehold on research

The academic publishing business model is indefensible. Practically everybody - even the companies that profit from it - acknowledges that it has to change. And yet the status quo has proven extremely resilient. The latest attempt to break the mould is called Plan S, created by umbrella group cOAlition S. It demands that all publicly funded research be made freely available. When Plan S was unveiled in September, its backers expected support to snowball. But only a minority of Europe's 43 research funding bodies have signed up, and hoped-for participation from the US has failed to materialise.
   
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Attention Earth Sciences: PLOS ONE wants YOUR Preprint

Preprint servers offer a myriad of benefits to authors who are excited to share their work with the community as soon as possible. So PLOS offered their authors the ease of automatically posting their life science submissions on bioRxiv. But PLOS ONE is a community of many different voices and they want to help promote preprints in all disciplines. This includes providing authors with more reasons to post a preprint - on top of the advantages that posting a preprint already offer such as faster dissemination and allowing for input from the whole community. Therefore, PLOS has introduced a new program to invite submissions of posted preprint manuscripts specifically in the Earth and Space sciences. It aims to support authors posting their papers with a fast and efficient peer review process and journal publication of their work.
   
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