For Open Access Week 2020, Senior Publishing Editor, Andrew Dunn, reflects on a number of Royal Society Open Science initiatives over the course of the year.


In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to really take hold, we issued a call for papers to support efforts to tackle the pandemic. Specifically, we called for authors to pre-register their research and submit Registered Report proposals. In a Registered Report the study is peer-reviewed prior to data collection. By testing authors’ hypotheses, proposed methodologies and analyses before any research is conducted, and then publishing the outcome of the study (whether positive or negative) - as long as the registered protocols are adhered to - a number of research and publishing biases can be minimised. Furthermore, we took the decision to waive all fees on COVID-19 research published in the journal, to ensure that potential authors were not deterred by article processing charges, and to encourage a more inclusive and diverse authorship base.

This call for papers has already resulted in several publications exploring different aspects of the pandemic. For anyone who has been self-isolating, it has been a difficult time but, surprisingly, there is limited evidence from the first COVID-19 Registered Report published that mental health is adversely affected by such enforced solitude. Further pandemic-related research has explored how well-being has been impacted in Wuhan (the first city affected by the virus) following the lifting of the severe lockdown residents endured. 

All Registered Reports and ‘regular’ research submissions covering COVID-19 have benefited from our involvement in a rapid review network. This has been a fine example of cross-publisher collaboration and an exemplary open access publishing initiative.

Moving away from COVID-19 and, in perhaps more uplifting human interest news, Royal Society Open Science has continued to support emerging scientific talents in a tradition we established some years ago with the publication of a high school student’s research. This year, we were delighted to publish a manuscript that included among its authors a school student who spent some time on a work experience placement at the United Kingdom’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. We hope publishing with us will give Emilie Revill-Hivet a solid foundation for a scientific career and you can read more about this on our blog

Finally, over recent years, the journal has published a number of papers that sit at the intersection of science, policy and society. This has prompted us to think how best we might further support research and commentary in this space. We have had some very interesting ideas and hope to have exciting news to share with readers later in the year.

Royal Society Open Science offers a range of publishing options and article types and we welcome submissions across science.  If you are interested in science and science policy, please do contact us, we’d like to hear from you.


  • Andrew Dunn

    Andrew Dunn

    Royal Society Open Science