Since the birth of the open access movement in 2002, demands for greater openness and transparency in the research process have both grown and broadened.
Today there are calls not just for OA to research papers, but (amongst other things) to the underlying data, to peer review reports, and to lab notebooks. We have also seen a new term emerge to encompass these different trends: open science.
In response to these developments, earlier this year the Research Ideas & Outcomes (RIO) Journal was launched.
RIO’s mission is to open up the entire research cycle — by publishing project proposals, data, methods, workflows, software, project reports and research articles. These will all be made freely available on a single collaborative platform.
And to complete the picture, RIO uses a transparent, open and public peer-review process. The goal: to “catalyse change in research communication by publishing ideas, proposals and outcomes in order to increase transparency, trust and efficiency of the whole research ecosystem.”
Importantly, RIO is not intended for scientists alone. It is seeking content from all areas of academic research, including science, technology, humanities and the social sciences.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, the first grant proposal made openly available on RIO (on 17th December) was published by a physicist — Finnish-born Toma Susi, who is based at the University of Vienna in Austria.
Susi’s proposal — which has already received funding from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) — is for a project called “Heteroatom quantum corrals and nanoplasmonics in graphene” (HeQuCoG). This is focused on the controlled manipulation of matter on the scale of atoms.
More specifically, the aim is to “to create atomically precise structures consisting of silicon and phosphorus atoms embedded in the lattice of graphene using a combination of ion implantation, first principles modelling and electron microscopy.”
The research has no specific application in mind but, as Susi points out, if “we are able to control the composition of matter on the atomic scale with such precision, there are bound to be eventual uses for the technology.”
Below Susi answers some questions I put to him about his proposal, and his experience of publishing on RIO.
The interview begins …
RP: Can you start by saying what is new and different about the open access journal RIO, and why that is appealing to you?
TS: Personally, the whole idea of publishing all stages of the research cycle was something even I had not considered could or should be done. However, if one thinks about it objectively, in terms of an optimal way to advance science, it does make perfect sense. At the same time, as a working scientist, I can see how challenging a change of mind-set this will be… which makes me want to do what I can to support the effort.