Plenary and Parallel Sessions

Plenary session

Abstracts for all plenary and parallel sessions can be downloaded as a pdf.

Keynote speaker

EASE Plenary Session

Professor Sir Tim Hunt, What is Science? (abstract)

Plenary speakers

Professor Milena Zic-Fuchs
Inter/multi/trans-disciplinarity: the challenge for publishing (abstract)

Elizabeth Wager, Publications Consultant
Research into peer review: how could peer-reviewed publications be more efficient? (abstract)

Professor Doug Altman
Reporting guidelines: lessons for journal editors from the EQUATOR network (abstract)

Parallel sessions (moderators)

Session A: Alun Salt: Social media and the journal as process not product

Session B: Mary Ellen Kerans: Sustainable quality and usability in biomedical translation: issues and approaches to problem solving

Session C: Shirin Heidari, Tom Babor and Joy Johnson: Sex and gender policies in scientific publishing

Session D: Irene Hames, Mirjam Curno and André van Steirteghem: Publication ethics: case studies from COPE

Session E: Paola de Castro: Publication metrics

Session F: Pippa Smart: Professional development for editors

Session G: Iveta Simera:  Reporting guidelines: a tool to increase the quality of health research published in your journal

Session H: Ana Marusic:  Evaluating editorial research and collaboration among editors' associations

Plenary Session Abstracts

Tim Hunt, Cancer Research UK, 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London UK

What is Science?
It is difficult to say exactly what “Science” is. To some, it’s a body of knowledge about the natural (as opposed to the supernatural) world. According to others, it’s simply a way of looking at the world (George Orwell) or a method to find out about the world (“Science as a way of knowing” according to the excellent, late John A. Moore). Scientific understanding is rooted in curiosity about how the world works, leading to the asking of questions about how the world works, and trying to answer those questions by observation, experiment and analysis. It is more about producing a conceptual framework for understanding the world than a list of facts, although facts have to be taken into account as evidence.

Different scientists work in very different ways: physicists tend to ask different questions from biologists, even when they are studying the same things. And they seek different kinds of answers, although paradoxically, the answers are not incompatible with each other. For various reasons, science can be extremely difficult to understand, even when it’s well-understood by the specialists in a given field. It is very easy to get lost and bored, a big problem for school science.

Milena Žic Fuchs, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Inter/multi/trans-disciplinarity: the challenge for publishing
HORIZON 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation introduces the notion of the so-called Societal Challenges. On one hand, these cover the huge span from the individual to the manifold global dimensions. On the other hand, they are implicitly inter/multi/transdisciplinary. It follows that research results (hopefully) will transcend disciplinary/domain boundaries and achieve the aims of HORIZON 2020 in the sense of “solving” the Societal Challenges. What does this mean for the future of publishing research results? If the results of HORIZON 2020 will truly be inter/multi/transdisciplinary, will the existing array of journals be ready to accept articles that go beyond the boundaries of their usually disciplinary orientation? Or will new journals appear? Apart from authorship, it will be the approach and the cross-domain content of articles that may open up “questions” for editors.

An example will be provided on the experience gained from the ESF Junior Summit “Water: Unite and Divide”, an experiment of bringing together 36 early-career researchers on a topic which does not have a history of inter/multi/transdisciplinary research. Eventually, the results appeared as an open-access variant of Journal of Water Resource and Protection ( In the new publishing landscape, will developments go in the direction of open-access journals becoming the main outlets for inter/multi/transdisciplinary research results? Will this induce a different balance between the open-access journal domain and “traditional” journal publications?

Elizabeth Wager, Publications Consultant, Sideview, UK, Visiting Professor, University of Split Medical School, Croatia

Research into peer review: how could peer-reviewed publications be more efficient?
Peer-reviewed publications have changed remarkably little in over 300 years. The format of most journal articles is essentially unchanged and many journals still view the printed version as the authoritative one. Similarly, the peer-review process, while taking advantage of electronic communications, is almost the same as that used in the 17th century.

There has been little research into how publications are used and how they could be made more useful, but online publication and social media offer great potential for innovation. I will assess the traditional model, review developments and innovations, and consider what more could be done to improve the efficiency of the academic publication process and the usefulness of scientific research to a range of user groups

Doug Altman, Centre for Statistics in Medicine and EQUATOR Network, University of Oxford, UK

Reporting guidelines: lessons for journal editors from the EQUATOR network
A fundamental principle is that readers of research articles need to know exactly what was done, and be given an accurate, complete and transparent account of what was found. They should not have to guess or assume what was done. Further, there should be enough detail to allow replication of the study in principle. Yet each year numerous new reviews of published research articles continue to demonstrate that a substantial proportion of journal articles are seriously deficient. Key information that readers need to appraise or use the findings is often missing.

How can it be that none of the authors, peer reviewers or editors has detected that so many articles are substandard and, indeed, often unfit for purpose? Ensuring that journal articles are of maximum value to readers is clearly not a priority of many of those who write research articles, nor those who review them. Widespread deficiencies in research publications weaken the evidence-base for clinical practice. In the health research field many reporting guidelines have been developed in recent years, detailing the key elements of research that should be reported, with as yet modest success. I will consider what actions are needed by different stakeholders to help to raise standards more rapidly, in particular editors and peer reviewers. I will also consider the extension of these ideas beyond health research.