Micropublications: publishing science results piece by piece

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A look at micropublications and their place in academic publishing

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A micropublication, also called a Single Figure Publication, is “a peer-reviewed report of findings from a single experiment” (1). Are micropublications the ultimate in salami slicing – the least publishable unit of research? Or are they an important step on the road to converting research literature into a fully semantic web, a re-imagining of research outputs for the 21st century (2)? Will researchers see micropublications as a quicker and more manageable way to keep informed about new results (3) or as a new fad in publishing that they don’t want to participate in? How do the economics of this new kind of publishing stack up?

Speakers and programme:

Kaveh Bazargan, Director, River Valley Technologies

Is there a better way to communicate research?

The primary method of communicating research continues to be a "narrative" in a scholarly journal. But is there a better way? I put forward some wild ideas!

Paul Sternberg, Professor of Biology, Caltech; Editor-in-chief, microPublication Biology

microPublication: a publication process that works for researchers publishes short (typically one display item), peer reviewed articles whose information is curated and incorporated into public knowledgebases as part of the publication process. The short format is easier to write, review and read, and enhances reproducibility in research. Our initial focus is on the biological sciences.

Alexandra Freeman, Executive Director of the Winton Centre for Risk & Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge; creator of Octopus

Octopus: the new primary research record for science

Octopus is a new platform designed to break up the concept of a ‘paper’ into smaller, linked, publication units in order to help incentivise good scientific practice: removing the need for a linear narrative; valuing different parts of the research process equally (including review); encouraging smaller author groups, to be more meritocratic and accountable; speeding up communication of work. Now in partnership with Jisc and the UKRN, and funded by UKRI, it is due to launch in spring 2022.

Michael Nevels, Reader in Virology, University of St Andrews; Chief editor, Life sciences, Experimental Results

Experimental Results: an innovative, open access, open peer-review journal for short research reports from all STM disciplines

Experimental Results (Cambridge University Press) is an open access journal for findings that disclose the incremental steps underlying experimental research across Science, Technology and Medicine. The journal provides authors with an innovative outlet to rapidly publish openly peer-reviewed chunks of sound research findings. Many of these findings have remained hidden due to the traditional scholarly communication process by which only a select group of experiments are chosen to make up the narrative of a single paper. This talk will discuss Experimental Results in the context of micropublishing, including incentives for authors, economic aspects and future plans.

Nate Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer, flashPub Inc

Spark a movement, not a paper.

Publishing articles largely dictates career advancement in science, following the mantra engrained in every researcher's mind - "publish or perish." But what if the act of publishing itself has become the biggest barrier to scientific progress? Paradoxically, the way in which researchers communicate new discoveries has dramatically slowed down the pace of scientific discovery. Micropublications - smaller, faster scientific articles about the length of a single figure - take an important step in modernizing how research is communicated so that the science, rather than publishing practices, set the pace of discovery. One of the biggest hurdles to making micropublishing workflows a reality, which have been discussed since the 1970s, is a workable incentive structure that can effectively advance researchers careers. In this talk, founder Nate Jacobs discusses how they are approaching incentivizing micropublication workflows with streams of collaborative contributions aimed at shared research targets. This approach prioritizes real time, earned visibility of ongoing work and its leaders, rather than exclusivity based prestige long after a project is completed. Micropublications offer a unique opportunity to accelerate research communication and directly address many of the challenges currently plaguing the publishing industry.

Chair : Michael Markie, Publishing Director, F1000

This is an online event, hosted via the Francis Crick Institute.


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Organiser Open Research London

Organiser of Micropublications: publishing science results piece by piece

Open Research London is an open science working group dedicated to promoting the idea of sharing and collaboration among academics, as well as between academics and external parties. We are purely a community-driven group, and if you have ideas for a meeting, please get in touch by email ( or Twitter (@OpenResLdn).

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