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Taking on a pandemic: A round-up of initiatives within scholarly communication related to Covid-19.

Publishers team up to make peer review more efficient

Scholarly publishers are working together to maximise the efficiency of peer review, ensuring that key work related to Covid-19 is reviewed and published as quickly and openly as possible.

The group of publishers and scholarly communications organisations--initially comprising eLife, Hindawi, PeerJ, PLOS, Royal Society, F1000 Research, FAIRsharing, Outbreak Science, and PREreview--is working on initiatives and standards to speed up the review process while ensuring rigour and reproducibility remain paramount. The group has issued an open letter of intent, and is launching an initiative to ensure a rapid, efficient, yet responsible review of Covid-19 content.

The initiative is asking for volunteer reviewers with suitable expertise relevant to Covid-19, from all career stages and disciplines, to add their names to a 'rapid reviewer list'. By doing so, these reviewers will be committing to rapid reviewing times, and up-front agreement that their reviews and identity can be shared among participating publishers and journals if submissions get rerouted for any reason.

Additionally, the group is asking all potential reviewers, whether they sign up to the rapid reviewer list or not, to help identify and highlight important and crucial Covid-19 preprints as early as possible, to optimise the limited time of expert reviewers who are subsequently invited to review the most important and promising research by a journal/platform. The more rigorous and helpful review of preprints that can occur during this time, the better for all reviewers, authors, and editors.

Alongside all of this is a persistent call for openness by default--for the preprint, research, underlying data, models, code, materials--to maximise reproducibility and credibility.

Sarah Greaves, chief publishing officer at Hindawi, said: 'Many publishers have already agreed to support the Wellcome Trust and World Health Organization (WHO) initiatives for Covid-19 papers. Alongside our colleagues we wanted to share that commitment with the research community. We've been listening to what they've been saying and know many researchers are struggling to find time for peer review and are worried that this could lead to delays in publication of research. By creating a joint call for available, relevant reviewers covering all research areas related to Covid-19 we hope to ease that burden.

'By creating portable peer review between some of our journals we can save reviewers' time by allowing editors to use reports from another journal when making their decisions. This reduces the pressure on those reviewing and ultimately increases the speed by which peer-reviewed work can be shared more widely. We are delighted to be working with colleagues from across the industry and look forward to more journals joining this initiative.'

Claire Redhead, executive director of OASPA, which is endorsing the initiative and hosting the latter of intent, continued: 'The importance of open access to research and data, the need for global cooperation and, importantly, the critical dependence of humanity on the scholarly community has never been more clear. The innovative steps being taken by this group of OASPA members will help to speed up the flow of verified research and help to ease the burden on the researchers working at the forefront of fields related to the pandemic.

'OASPA fully supports this collaborative approach between publishers, where the needs of researchers are placed front and centre, and community spirit--rather than competition--shines through.'

Elsevier and ExactCure review 20 drugs for Covid-19 therapies

Elsevier and ExactCure have announced a collaboration aimed at developing personalised model simulations to improve the dosing of Covid-19 related therapies.

ExactCure is a personalised medicine start-up that uses AI technology to reduce medication errors. Combining this platform with data from PharmaPendium, which includes searchable FDA/EMA drug approval documents as well as pharmacokinetic and efficacy data, will help to shed light on potential therapeutic targets.

Fabien Astic, co-founder of ExactCure, said: 'We have been working with a university hospital in the south of France to provide the clinical pharmacologist and pharmacist the simulation-based suggestions. This allows them to quickly adapt their treatment decisions for a safer and more efficient use of these promising drugs, that while currently still under investigation, could potentially be critical and life-saving for many Covid-19 patients. Through this collaboration with Elsevier to use PharmaPendium's data we can accelerate this really important work.'

PharmaPendium will provide ExactCure with pharmacokinetic information for approximately 20 approved drugs that have been widely cited in the literature and the news, such as Hydroxychloroquine, Chloroquine, Lopinavir/Ritonavir and Azithromycin, including their regulatory-approval datasets. ExactCure will use this data to build drug-specific exposure models that allow the prediction of pharmacokinetic properties (e.g. Cmax, AUC, Tmax etc).

The first step is to build a simulation based on the patient's age, weight, drug dosage, dosing time and end-time, resulting in a personalised therapeutic window between efficiency and over-exposure. This could potentially reduce the number of adverse drug events. Furthermore, the simulation will be enriched by adding more patient parameters, such as renal status, which is also a critical factor for many severe patients.

'As the pandemic deepens, hundreds of clinical trials have been set up to test existing medications against Covid-19,' said Olivier Barberan, director of translational medicine solutions at Elsevier. 'Elsevier has taken its work further by sharing PharmaPendium data to support ExactCure in building the 'digital twin' that simulates in-silico the efficacy and interactions of drugs in the body of a patient based on their personal characteristics. This can be extremely helpful for the clinical pharmacologists and frontline doctors in the development of safe and effective treatment. We are looking forward to continuing this work with ExactCure to help reduce the impact of this global pandemic.'

ProQuest users gain free access to Covid-19 resources

ProQuest launched a Coronavirus Research Database, giving all ProQuest users no-cost access to full-text content covering all facets of Covid-19.

The Coronavirus Research Database saves time and improves outcomes for researchers by aggregating authoritative content from ProQuest with content made available at no cost by members of the International Association of STM Publishers --including Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis and The BMJ. Journals, preprints, conference proceedings and dissertations provide comprehensive coverage of COVID-19 and other past coronavirus outbreaks, such as MERS and SARS, for context around the current global pandemic. Full-text content in the database is available either directly from ProQuest or via links to publisher sites.

'Opening up access to materials related to COVID-19 will not only help clinicians, students and academics, but is also crucial for nurses--one of the many groups who are under siege right now, said Daphne Stannard, a lecturer at the San Francisco State University School of Nursing. 'I'm pleased to see ProQuest make this content available to the people who need it.'

'Whether it's the latest medical research on how the virus is transmitted, preprints exploring new therapies to combat the virus, or editorials exploring lessons learned from prior outbreaks, faculty and students need quick and easy access to information to help them navigate this new world,' said Chris Burghardt, vice president of product management at ProQuest. 'The Coronavirus Research Database was created as a tool to help our users to find the information they need to quickly explore the many facets of this disease.'

The database is automatically enabled at no cost for all ProQuest platform customers, and can be accessed at search.proquest. com/coronavirus. Content will continue to evolve as new research and information emerges.

The launch of the Coronavirus Research Database is the latest in a series of programs ProQuest is building to help libraries support the crucial research needed now to fight this disease as well as support distance learning for their patrons.

Initiative to open up Covid-19 research further

Several leading publishers, along with Digital Science's ReadCube, are part of an initiative to facilitate access to literature relevant to Covid-19 research. The Covid-19 Research Pass (CRP) programme provides direct access to more than 26 million articles and is available to anyone studying or writing about Covid-19.

The CRP programme expands on earlier efforts to provide Covid-19 researchers with access to a broader set of content needed in the course of their research. Rather than pre-filtering access to specific articles related to Covid-19, the CRP allows researchers to access any article from participating publishers they may need while studying Covid-19, including both open access and content behind paywalls.

A statement from Digital Science read: 'The ability to access related and prior work can be particularly helpful to researchers studying ways of improving therapies, clinical, and public health outcomes. For example, topics such as ventilators or respiratory syndromes often remain behind paywalls. Additionally, the program can support COVID-19 researchers who are now working remotely and require remote access to literature.'

Initial participating publishers include the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Springer Nature, and Wiley. Organisers are inviting additional publishers to the programme and aim to expand further the range of articles accessible to participants. Key aspects of the programme include:

* Instant full-text access. Pass holders can access free of charge any full-text article (or book chapter) required for use in the context of their Covid-19 research;

* Flexibility. Users can search within the portal or install a web browser extension which will alert them whenever they come across content covered by the program;

* Collaboration. Participants can generate temporary sharing URLs that provide read-only access (printing and downloading disabled) to the full text to anyone outside the CRP programme. Here is a sample. These links may be posted on social networking sites. Private collaboration groups are also accessible; and

* Text and data mining. Participants may apply for automated text and data mining access (TDM) to full-text content.

The programme is available to researchers across corporate, government and academic labs, clinicians, and other health care providers, journalists, and policymakers who are actively working on Covid-19 efforts.

Digital Science partners China tech firm on Covid-19 portal.

Digital Science has teamed up with the Beijing-based technology company Zhipu. AI to conduct data challenges and collaborate in building a Covid-19 information portal.

Zhipu.AI, a spin-out from Tsinghua University, aims to build an advanced artificial intelligence engine that can support and empower the research and innovation sectors globally. The company focuses on solving the current challenges of research organisations and government agencies, by using its extensive experience in analysing large-scale complex networks, deep semantic mining and leveraging innovative techniques with cognitive graphs.

This strategic collaboration will see the two companies work together on a broad range of projects over the next several years. Some of the existing opportunities planned for the collaboration include joint hosting of a new set of data challenges centred around scholarly communications problems such as name disambiguation; and bringing together advanced analysis tools from both companies to create deeper insights for the sector. Collaboration will be a central theme of the new relationship and will see Digital Science's Overleaf made more seamlessly available to more Chinese users, enabling them to create, edit and publish their research all from one browser using the LaTeX editor.

Jie Tang, chief scientist at Zhipu, said: 'Digital Science and Zhipu.AI are united by a common goal to improve information flows and encourage collaboration to facilitate research and innovation.

'With our combined strengths in advanced digital technologies and insights into the scientific ecosystem from both a global and regional perspective, we are able to build more intelligent and reliable tools to encourage the exchange of ideas and improve research practices to better serve the needs of the research community. We look forward to a fruitful partnership and are excited about our first joint initiatives on data challenges and the Covid-19 information portal.'

Both teams will work together to ensure that both English and Chinese-language information is as widely shared as possible by providing a Covid-19 information portal with all related publications, datasets and clinical trials exported into a google sheet and hosted on Digital Science's Figshare, as well as a dedicated website. The Google sheet and website will be updated daily pulling all relevant content on Covid-19 from Digital Science's Dimensions platform, to make sharing and distributing this research information easier.

Daniel Hook, CEO Digital Science, said: 'It is a pleasure to be working with colleagues from Zhipu.AI. Just as in academia itself, international collaborations between companies that support the emerging global research infrastructure are critical to establishing the tools and cultures that allow us to act globally to tackle the world's hardest problems.

'We are proud to launch this initiative with our partners in China.'

Sector pulls together to deliver e-textbooks

More than 120 UK universities have been set up to enable access to critical textbook content for upwards of 1.4 million students over tens of thousands of modules of study, from right across the UK and Ireland under the Free Student eTextbook Programme --FSTP. The announcement was made by Jisc, the UK's not-for-profit education and research services provider.

The textbook programme includes thousands of titles brought together by academic publishers, including Pearson, McGraw Hill, Cengage, Taylor and Francis, Wiley, Cambridge and Oxford University presses to deliver a sector wide, student-centric solution to minimise the initial impact of Covid-19.

Paul Feldman, CEO of Jisc, said: 'It's vital that as many students across the UK can continue to learn from wherever they are during the lockdown period. The rapid response from universities signing up to the programme combined with the overwhelmingly positive reaction from publishers providing core eTextbooks, is a landmark of unprecedented cooperation across the sector. We hope that this initiative will lead to future collaborations to provide critical textbook access online to all students.'

Among the first universities to go live with across campus access to eTextbooks are the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester. 'Kortext has provided an invaluable service to the HE sector in stepping up with the Free Student Content Programme at this time of uncertainty and rapidly changing circumstances. It has provided us and our university community with extremely useful teaching tools in a very timely fashion,' commented Jane Cooke, University of Liverpool Library.

Olivia Walsby, University of Manchester Library, added: 'At the University of Manchester, as with colleagues across the sector, we are keen to reassure our students and staff that we are here to support their studies and research online by providing access to key digital content during this difficult time. The Free Student eTextbook Programme will have a significant impact in making this transition as quick and comprehensive as possible at no extra cost.'

James Gray, CEO and founder of Kortext said: 'The scale of this programme is truly ground-breaking. Only by pulling together as a sector has this programme been made possible and ensured we are able to support all UK students with an unprecedented amount of content on a single, customisable bookshelf for free, thus ensuring they can continue to study at this crucial time of year.'

Jisc is continuing to encourage all publishers to collaborate with Kortext and other providers such as Vital Source and BibliU to maximise the availability of content to students as well as clinicians who are supporting the NHS during the pandemic.

In support of university libraries seeking clarity on what content is now available, Jisc has set up an online survey to capture the measures that content and service providers have put in place or plan to implement. The survey includes questions on provision for off-campus access and whether publishers intend to roll out extended trials, or grace periods. Responses will be made available on the Jisc website and will be updated daily.

Cactus aiming for world's largest Covid-19 research platform.

Cactus Communications has announced the launch of, a platform aimed at offering researchers the world's largest platform for Covid-19-related research, insights, commentary, and expert recommendations.

The site offers researchers access to the latest research and information on Covid-19 and allows them to collaborate and share potential hypotheses and challenges with researchers from other disciplines.

Abhishek Goel, co-founder and CEO of Cactus, said: 'We need all hands on deck. Researchers in many disciplines are working hard to find solutions that will shepherd the world out of this crisis: epidemiologists, virologists, immunologists, biostatisticians, emergency and internal medicine specialists, pulmonologists, public health researchers, pharmacologists, pathology researchers, geneticists, cell biologists, social scientists. Yet, for the first time, we are faced with a crisis that necessitates researchers who normally work in siloed disciplines to tap into each other's expertise and adopt a multidisciplinary approach. And we want to help them do this.'

Apart from serving researchers working on Covid-19, the new site is aimed at providing policymakers, governments, and lay people access to evidence-based answers to questions around Covid-19. There will also be an opportunity for interested members of the public to help by suggesting answers to problems that researchers and practitioners are struggling with.

Goel continued: 'With the overwhelming volume of research and information being produced on Covid-19, there needs to be a platform that allows researchers from various disciplines to easily access and digest this information, supported by expert opinion. And that's exactly what we are offering--a platform that collates research and datasets from different countries, irrespective of the language in which they were published; allows researchers to ask questions and pose hypotheses to other researchers; and curates expert-driven editorial content that simplifies and explains the latest research.

'We see this quickly expanding to include on-demand webinars and podcasts, and evolving into a crowdfunding platform for research. Imagine the power of a platform where researchers across disciplines are coming together to learn from each other and find solutions to the pandemic collaboratively.'

'Coronavirus Funding Monitor' portal available to researchers.

Frontiers is dedicating part of its open science platform to collect and disseminate information relevant to the research communities battling the Covid-19 pandemic using its Coronavirus Knowledge Hub.

The company has launched the Coronavirus Funding Monitor, a centralised portal of current funding opportunities for the research community. It offers a curated list of open funding calls and other support for researchers, non-profit organisations and commercial organisations, specifically for COVID-19 and coronavirus-related research.

Stephan Kuster, Frontiers' head of institutional relationships, led the project. He said: 'Many research funders around the world are issuing calls for research projects to be funded in fast track procedures to support the search for SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19 treatment and eradication. A central information portal is a valuable resource for research teams looking for funding, as well as for funders trying to disseminate information as fast and wide as possible.

'We invite research funders who are providing emergency funding for research on Covid-19 and Sars-CoV-2 to share the information with us and the research community to bookmark this resource and most importantly, keep checking it--daily. As a publisher that is run by researchers for researchers, we are part of that community and want to help funders and researchers by coordinating fast, simple and accurate information.'

The monitor will be updated daily. It offers up-to-date and accurate information to the research community about funding opportunities. The monitor provides an overview of the funding conditions, such as eligibility, field types, funding types, and deadlines. Links take researchers directly to the original call documents where they can immediately begin the process of applying for the funding.
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Title Annotation:Covid-19 News
Publication:Research Information
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2020
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