Virginie Simon is the CEO and co-founder of MyScienceWork, a community of professional scientists and science enthusiasts from around the world who use MyScienceWork’s open platform to deposit and discover scientific publications and patents of all disciplines. Virginie trained as an engineer in biotechnology at the Technological University of Compiègne (UTC), France. She has a doctorate in nanotechnology for cancer therapy from the University Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC), Paris, and is now based in San Francisco. Paula Gantz caught up with her recently at the Association of American Publishers’ Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division conference in Washington, DC.
Paula Gantz: How does MyScienceWork facilitate research sharing?
Virginie Simon: Researchers conduct their research in small trusted groups and for good reason as they are trying to first confirm their research hypothesis, not promote what they feel is a very unique idea. There could be patent filing timing around their research project, yet they do like to share common tools and basic information around their topic. I think researchers want to have tools that allow them to share information to a targeted group and have the capability to build new trusted relationships. It is our job as stewards of the publishing industry to provide them with the tools, flexibility and permissions to be able to share and retrieve information. This is the vision and goal of MyScienceWork.
PG: How does your new product interface PolarisOS further facilitate content analysis?
VS: PolarisOS is perfect for institutions and researchers located at those institutions as it allows the institutions to use open source solutions to create platforms where analysis of content is enhanced. In one place, we create a window into all available content. PolarisOS can be used as a library management system, an institutional or research data repository or as a multimedia archive. Here is a short video explaining how it works: https://youtu.be/anuQEalTpmE. MyScienceWork wanted to put the user experience at the heart of the development of its new, 100 percent flexible solution. It offers an interface that meets requirements of the new generation of institutional archives. The additional value is also the control of data within the institutions for a thorough analysis of projects and support for strategic decision-making.
PG: How can data sharing be standardized and how can institutions and even industry participate in this process?
VS: Data standards are very important and take time to develop as the industry must come together to define the standard with all of the key details. Organizations like NISO, BISG and W3C work on industry standards and it is important for everyone to participate in the existing standards organizations. Unlike other scientific social networks that compromise a publisher’s copyright, MyScienceWork upholds the publisher’s copyright and its management of copyrights and embargo dates. Open Access articles are highlighted. Simultaneously a very strict plan has been set up to ensure the rights of the paid articles. In direct partnership with the publishers, MyScienceWork guarantees that the rights published on the website are up to date and in legal compliance.
PG: What are the roadblocks to encouraging data sharing and scientific exchange?
VS: If we as a community work with the existing standards organization the only roadblocks are time and coming to agreement on the standards. But one negative consequence of the rapid growth of scholarly Open Access publishing is ‘predatory’ journals. Lack of peer review, lack of quality. Also certain scientific platforms distribute the article PDF’s without proper license checks. A study showed in 2017 that more 50 percent of the usage of non-OA articles infringed the copyright and was non-compliant with the publisher’s policy. All this content came from a very famous scientific social network. Global scientific platforms have to work with publishers and to be partners. That is exactly what MyScienceWork does.
PG: Are open science/data, pre-prints and other efforts for encouraging sharing really bearing fruit? Are there concrete examples?
VS: Yes, they are bearing great fruit and we are seeing successful concrete examples, great success. arXiv and bioRxiv are two great examples of the community sharing and interacting with each other. The success of How Can I Share It is another prime example of the industry working together to properly share copyrighted material. The development of popular repository software projects contributes also a lot: The OAI (Open Archives Initiative) and OAI-PMH (Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) permit the inter-operability of such repositories. In MyScienceWork we use a lot these technologies. Interestingly, 53 percent of all European universities already have repositories. It is not necessarily that expensive. It depends on the kind of repository you use. If you use an open source platform, it may not be that expensive. We make some repositories for small universities too.
PS: What role should governments play? What role should institutions play?
From a government perspective, each country has their own rules around copyright. For instance, the European Commission has set itself the goal of promoting free access to the results of publicly funded research. FP7 (7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development) and Horizon 2020 are great examples. They enhance economic performance and improve the capacity to compete though knowledge. Open Access boosts the visibility of the research and especially SME’s (small and medium-sized enterprises). MyScienceWork is a member of International Association of STM Publishers, and they play a significant role in managing the communication and negotiations around these areas. Each publisher has its own publishing relations team that also focuses on communicating this information to institutions.
PG: If you could share some examples of institutional facilitation of data sharing worldwide, that would be extremely intriguing.
VS: The VIVO organization has been working towards data sharing for over ten years. It is a very successful approach to discovery and sharing.
Paula Gantz (www.paulagantz.com) consults for learned societies in the U.S., Europe and China. Her focus is on new products, new technologies and innovative business models. She has over 35 years’ experience in scientific and consumer publishing and an MBA from The Wharton School.