Big news for RIO: we join the club of SPARC Innovators

The latest SPARC Innovator Award was announced yesterday and (we must admit it’s hard to hide the joy) – it’s RIO!

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. Their bi-annual Innovator Award goes to individuals and initiatives who dare to challenge the status quo in scholarly communication.

As SPARC Innovators, we join a prestigious club of awardees including the OA Button, the authors of the Panton Principles and the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) as well as PLOS ONE, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Health Research Alliance and the World Bank, to name just a few.

But what is more substantial for us is this recognition from a community-focused organisation that aligns with our principles of openness and transparency in scholarly communication. From the very start, we believed in the potential of RIO. Now, we have official recognition that our project has the spark of innovation to challenge the status quo and to introduce a new dimension of openness into scholarly communication.

Why RIO?

SPARC has clear criteria for selecting its Innovators that in summary include noteworthy contributions to openness, technological advancements and challenging the status quo in scholarly communications. Here is how we believe RIO met these points:

From the very start RIO was set to innovate traditional science publishing practices by opening up for publications from across the research cycle. Our list of publication types includes Ideas, Grant Proposals, methods, Data, PhD Project Plans, Project Reports and Communication Briefs.

By publishing results from every step of the research life-span, we hoped not only to provide authors an opportunity to get credit for their efforts, but also to introduce a publishing environment that ensures maximum transparency and encourages exchange of ideas and expertise. Special functionality allows linking each published output to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to map its social relevance and promote interdisciplinary research.

To add to this mix, we also installed a transparent multi-option peer-review process, including options for author-supplier pre-submission and public post-publication peer-reviews.

All these options are available in a unique online XML-based collaborative writing, reviewing, editing and publishing environment powered by our ARPHA Publishing Platform.

What’s in for the future?

When we first announced RIO in September 2015, we promised the community a one-of-a-kind innovative journal. Since then, we’ve had many people believe in us and show us their support by joining our Advisory and Editorial Boards and, of course, by publishing with us too.

We want to express our thanks for all of the support and trust our editors, authors, reviewers, readers, and others offered us from the very beginning.
We will not ‘rest on our laurels’: this is still just the beginning for the journal. We hope to grow engagement, partnerships, content, impact, quality, readership, awareness and transparency. The most exciting Research Ideas and Outcomes are still to come…

PostDoc Project Plan invites collaborators to study how plant lice cope with variability

While Climate change steadily takes its toll, promising to raise temperatures around the world by at least 1.5 °C within the next 100 years, organisms have already started defending their species’ existence in their own ways. Possibly, such is the case of plant lice, which evoked the curiosity of PhD student Jens Joschinski with their reproductive strategy, which shifts from sexual to asexual as the days grow shorter in the autumn.aphids

Entomologist Jens Joschinski, currently studying at the University of Würzburg, Germany, is interested in finding out to what extent this advanced reproductive strategy is affected by variable and unpredictable conditions. Do plant lice spread their risks to reduce their losses (like investors that buy hedge funds), or do they put all their eggs in one basket? If plant lice manage their risks, does this adaptation compromise fitness?

By formally publishing his research idea as a PostDoc Project Plant in the open access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes, he hopes to find fellow scientists to collaborate with, as well as a host institutions.

Plant lice reproduce asexually during summer, which means that the mother give live birth to offspring by cloning herself. Then, as the days become shorter, indicating the approaching winter, the plant lice begin to produce eggs, since only they tolerate low temperature and can overwinter. However, there is a transitional period when a fraction of the same species still produce asexual offspring, which is what made Jens Joschinski wonder if this is an intended evolutionary response to climate change.

In order to assess the link between variable climates and the transition to sexual offspring, the PhD student plans to study at least 12 plant lice clones from different environments across Europe, and induce reproductive switches under controlled laboratory conditions. Afterwards, he is to assess the fitness and the ‘cost’ of this microevolution phenomenon.

The PostDoc Project Plan is to build on Jens Joschinski’s research done as part of his doctoral thesis, which is to be submitted for publication later this year. Then, while also being trained in evolutionary biology, he concluded that the plant lice are active during the day, which explains why they suffer fitness constraints related to the shorter days.

“The intended methods leave room for collaborative side-projects beyond the study question (e.g. molecular control of photoperiodism, or sharing aphid lines from throughout Europe), so this article might be of interest to anyone working with aphids”, he points to his fellow entomologists. “In addition, I would be happy to receive feedback from experts in bet-hedging theory, phenotypic plasticity and photoperiodism.”


Original source:

Joschinski J (2016) Benefits and costs of aphid phenological bet-hedging strategies. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e9580. doi: 10.3897/rio.2.e9580

Additional information:

Funding was provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG), collaborative research center SFB 1047 “Insect timing“.

Publishing grant proposals, presubmission

There are a lot of really interesting works being published over at Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO).  If you aren’t already following the updates you can do so via RSS, Twitter, or via email (scroll to the bottom for sign-up).

In this post I’m going to discuss why Chad Hammond’s contribution is so remarkable and why it could represent an exciting model for a more transparent and more immediate future of scholarly communications.





So, what’s special?

Well, to state the obvious first: it’s a grant proposal, not a research article. RIO Journal has published quite a lot of research proposals now, it’s becoming a real strength of the journal. But that’s not the really interesting thing about it. The really cool thing is that Chad published this grant proposal with RIO before it was submitted it to the funder (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) for evaluation.

You’ll see the publication date of Version 1 of the work is 24th March 2016. Pleasingly, after publication in RIO Chad’s proposal was evaluated by CIHR and awarded research funding. Chad received news of this in late April:

…and the story gets even better from here because thanks to RIO’s unique technology called ARPHA, Chad was able to re-import his published article back into editing mode, to update the proposal to acknowledge that it had been funded:

This proposal was submitted to and received funding from the annual Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) competition for postdoctoral fellowships.

The updated proposal was then checked by the editorial team and republished as an updated version of the original proposal: Version 2, making-use of CrossMark technology to formally link the two versions and to make sure readers are always made aware if a newer version of the work exists. Chad’s updated proposal now has a little ‘Funded’ button appended to it (see below), to indicate that this proposal has been successfully funded. We hope to see many more such successfully funded proposals published at RIO.

Title and metadata




With permission given, Chad was also able to supply some of the reviewer comments passed to him from CIHR reviewers as supplementary data to the updated Version 2 proposal. These will undoubtedly provide invaluable insight into reviewing processes for many.

Finally, for funders and publishing-tech geeks: you should really take note of the lovely machine-readable XML-formatted version of Chad’s proposal. Pensoft has machine-readable XML output as standard, not just PDF and HTML. Funding agencies around the world would do well to think closely about the value of having XML-formatted machine-readable grant proposal submissions. There’s serious value to this and I think it’s something we’ll see more of in the future. Pensoft is actively looking to work with funders to develop further these ideas and approaches for genuinelyadding-value to scholarly communications.
RIO is truly an innovative journal don’t you think?


Version 1:
Hammond C (2016) Widening the circle of care: An arts-based, participatory dialogue with stakeholders on cancer care for First Nations, Inuit,and Métis peoples in Ontario, Canada. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e8615. doi: 10.3897/rio.2.e8615

Version 2:
Hammond C (2016) Widening the circle of care: An arts-based, participatory dialogue with stakeholders on cancer care for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Ontario, Canada. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e9115. doi: 10.3897/rio.2.e9115


This blog post was originally published on Ross Mounce’s blog.