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Nature Buys a Stake in Open Access

Nature Publishing Group has purchased a majority investment in open-access publisher Frontiers, the Nature News Blog reports. Kamila Markram, a Swiss Federal Institute of Lausanne neuroscientist, co-founded the company in 2007 and it now publishes 14 journals, which put out a total of 5,000 articles last year.

Frontiers uses a cooperative peer-review model in which authors and reviewers discuss the papers in an online forum; reviewers' names, the Nature News Blog adds, are listed on the final paper. "Referees and handling editors are named on published papers, which is very unusual in the life sciences community," says Philip Campbell, the editor-in-chief of Nature, in a statement. "Nature has experimented with open peer review in the past, and we continue to be interested in researchers' attitudes."

Because of this approach, Markram says that the journals only reject between 5 percent and 10 percent of papers submitted.

Going forward, the companies say that they will expand the "Frontiers in…" series and have bilateral links between their websites to ensure that open-access papers are visible at both spots. "Combining NPG's established publishing expertise with Frontiers' innovative solutions for researchers opens up a wealth of opportunities for transforming the landscape of science communication," Markram, who is now the CEO of Frontiers, says in a statement. "Frontiers is not only aiming to innovate in open access, but also to provide a more transparent and constructive peer review process, and offer an ecosystem of tools for scientists to build their academic standing."

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.