Helping science succeed
Helping science succeed

Research communication continues to mature along several fronts in 2024, including an increasing focus on research integrity, the possible birth of research communication as a human right, and the launch of a new initiative to protect indigenous intellectual property rights.

Research integrity

Industry analysts have been noting that research publishing seems to be shifting from creating bigger piles of open access articles, to ensuring these articles are of high quality. China recently announced new publishing rules along these lines (which is significant since China publishes more papers than even the US), and publishers everywhere are applying heightened scrutiny to protecting both research and their reputations from the threat posed by AI-generated fakery. For the public, new tools (so far) for quickly identifying fraudulent work include Signals, and the Problematic Paper Screener.

Research communication as a human right

This is a new idea as far as we’re aware at SCI. We’ve nibbled around the edges of this idea for years, talking about the importance of equity and inclusion in science communication, but positioning the right to science knowledge as a human right cuts through the chatter. A conference on this topic is planned for June of 2024, organized by the International Communication Association. According to the ICA’s email description of this event, “We argue that the outputs of research belong to the community and need to be communicated—but this stance is fundamentally different from arguments regarding the rights of taxpayers’ involvement in public research. Firstly, it expands inclusion from only those who vote or pay taxes (and whose nation states pay for science) to all human beings. Secondly, it expands consideration from publicly-funded science to all science, including privately-funded and personal academic endeavours. Furthermore, it changes the justification from a democratic and economic one (a secondary obligation in the use of public money), to an integral part of how science can and should be done, so that every human can “share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (Article 27 UDHR). Finally, this pre-conference recognizes the need to better understand and manage external actors attempting to undermine science communication through mis/disinformation and conspiracy theories related to science, verbal attacks on scientists’ credibility, and co-ordinated harassment of scientists and communicators.”

Protecting cultural IP

Local Contexts is a new nonprofit pioneering new and much needed ways to manage intellectual property issues for cultural heritage materials. According to the description on their website, Local Contexts “supports Indigenous communities with tools that can reassert cultural authority in heritage collections and data. By focusing on Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property and Indigenous Data Sovereignty, Local Contexts helps Indigenous communities repatriate knowledge and gain control over how data is collected, managed, displayed, accessed, and used in the future.” Local Contexts has clearly framed this issue, and has also developed a variety of electronic IP badges that can be easily adopted by the global publishing community. Hats off to this group for championing this cause and coming up with such an elegant solution.

Header image is Maori artwork, CC-BY licensed from Pixabay