For many stakeholders within the healthcare industry, the world of open research is an exciting yet occasionally confusing one.

At the start of this year, key industry players from across the pharma industry met in Oxford for a roundtable discussion hosted by Wiley on ‘How the pharma–publisher relationship should evolve in the new world of open science’, with the aim of exploring the next steps in the evolution of open pharma.

Full details will be shared in a forthcoming Wiley white paper, as part of our commitment to opening access in the industry. The following four key points emerged from our discussion.

  1. The path to publication

For pharma teams and authors, deciding how and whether to pay for their research to be published open access adds an extra dimension to their choice of where to submit their research articles.

Delegates at the roundtable stressed the importance of ensuring that pharma teams and authors understand the different publishing and licensing options available to them and how improving the visibility of these options could help drive authors’ choice of open access types.

Choosing the right journal is an important part of the research dissemination process. Our roundtable discussions touched on the different routes to ‘open’ and the ways that these routes can lead to improved patient outcomes. Transparency of the peer review process and source data availability and sharing were also discussed. As journals increasingly look to adopt practices to address these issues, the criteria for journal selection is evolving. Improved education on and awareness around these issues are much needed.

  1. Dissemination and discoverability

Content enhancements such as videos, graphics, plain language summaries (PLSs) and podcasts are also routes that enhance the opening up of access to readers who want to consume content in different ways. Authors should be made aware of the options available to them and their potential at an early stage in the publishing process. Increased accessibility also means increased discoverability. Publishers, pharma companies and authors can partner together to raise the profile of research via enhanced content, tagged to improve search engine discovery, via some of the services mentioned earlier (e.g. PLSs), and through linking to source data.

Metrics are another area in the spotlight. Do open research practices offer the opportunity to rethink what publishing success looks like? Authors remain keenly aware of the impact factor of the journals they submit to; however, altmetrics scores for individual articles is now of growing importance and of greatest interest to pharma funders. There are a number of studies suggesting that publishing open access increases usage and readership. Is there a comparable boost when transparent review practices are employed or when associate research data is shared alongside the journal article? There is much to explore here.

  1. Increased competition, more discoverability

In recent years, the sheer volume of articles published in any form has been growing.

With increased publication output, competition for published work has also grown. Publishers, including Wiley, are launching more journals, many of which are open access, to address the evolving nature and increased interdisciplinarity of research.

Creating enhancements of content and improving the search engine optimization and visibility of research can yield better results. As a publisher, Wiley is looking at ways in which we can educate authors and pharma teams on how to make their content as discoverable as possible when publishing open access.

The amplification of this content, when published open access, can also build better metrics. Creating social media posts, e-newsletters and webinars can elevate reach more than ever before. This, along with future app development and structured ‘discovery maps’, can help the reader navigate through all content that may be relevant to them – importantly, all in an open access environment.

  1. Creating an open landscape to support pharma’s goals

Wiley has long embraced open access publishing and first introduced an open access option for authors in 2005 before moving on to launch open access journals in 2012 and migrate journals from the hybrid model to full open access. This practice continues at pace, with more open access journals being launched each year in order to meet the changing needs of researchers. At the wider market level, Wiley is also engaging with national agreements, such as the recently announced Wiley–Jisc agreement in the UK, to make open access publishing an option for all researchers within participating institutions without the need for authors to cover the costs of article processing charges.

To date, Europe has been the geographical focus of these transitional agreements; however, there is an increasing interest in open access publishing in the USA and the Asia-Pacific region. Pharma companies are looking at ways to support their own moves towards open access, with some setting specific targets for the amount of research to be made open access. Discussions about open data and the transparency of review practices add a new and exciting dimension to be explored.

It’s clear that in the coming years, open access and open research will help to reshape the relationship between pharma, publishers, researchers and other stakeholders. We’re excited that this conversation is underway.

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