Adventures in Signal Processing and Open Science

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iTWIST’16 Keynote Speakers: Gerhard Wunder

iTWIST’16 is starting less than two weeks from now and we have 46 participants coming to Aalborg for the event (and I can still squeeze in a couple more – single-day registrations possible – so contact me if you are interested; only 4 places left before I have to order a bigger bus for the banquet dinner 🙂 ).

wunderOur next keynote speaker in line for the event is Gerhard Wunder, head of the Heisenberg Communications and Information Theory Group. Gerhard Wunder recently came to Freie Universität Berlin from Technische Universität Berlin. Dr. Wunder is currently heading two research projects: the EU FP7 project 5GNOW and PROPHYLAXE funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research and is a member of the management team of the EU H2020 FANTASTIC-5G project. Currently he receives funding in the German DFG priority programs SPP 1798 CoSIP (Compressed Sensing in Information Processing), and the upcoming SPP 1914 Cyber-Physical Networking.

Gerhard Wunder conducts research in wireless communication technologies and has recently started introducing principles of sparsity and compressed sensing into wireless communication. As an example of this, Gerhard Wunder recently published the paper “Sparse Signal Processing Concepts for Efficient 5G System Design” in IEEE Access together with Holger Boche, Thomas Strohmer, and Peter Jung.

At the coming iTWIST workshop, Gerhard Wunder is going to introduce us to the use of compressive sensing in random access medium access control (MAC), applied in massive machine-type communications – a major feature being extensively researched for coming 5G communication standards. The abstract of Dr. Wunder’s talk reads:

Compressive Coded Random Access for 5G Massive Machine-type Communication

Massive Machine-type Communication (MMC) within the Internet of Things (IoT) is an important future market segment in 5G, but not yet efficiently supported in cellular systems. Major challenge in MMC is the very unfavorable payload to control overhead relation due to small messages and oversized Medium Access (MAC) procedures. In this talk we follow up on a recent concept called Compressive Coded Random Access (CCRA) combining advanced MAC protocols with Compressed Sensing (CS) based multiuser detection. Specifically, we introduce a “one shot” random access procedure where users can send a message without a priori synchronizing with the network. In this procedure a common overloaded control channel is used to jointly detect sparse user activity and sparse channel profiles. In the same slot, data is detected based on the already available information. In the talk we show how CS algorithms and in particular the concept of hierarchical sparsity can be used to design efficient and scalable access protocols. The CCRA concept is introduced in full detail and further generalizations are discussed. We present algorithms and analysis that proves the additional benefit of the concept.

Should we pay reviewers for their work?

I have previously discussed paying reviewers for their work. Although that was in the slightly different context of attracting reviewers for open post-publication peer review, a new open access journal is now introducing this idea in their workflow:

They do this by assigning reviewers and editors points for each paper they handle. A part of the APC of accepted papers goes into a pool and the accumulated points are then used as a basis of distribution to determine how large a bite of the cake each individual is payed. Editors and reviewers may then choose to keep the money, give the money back to the journal’s APC waiver pool, or donate it to their own university’s open access payments.

The journal has taken steps to ensure that this does not lead to inflation in the number of accepted papers just to earn points; editors and reviewers are assigned points for handling papers regardless of whether they are eventually accepted. Another IMO appealing feature of the journal is that reviews can be open if both authors and reviewers agree to this.

I am looking forward to seeing how this goes…

Workshop on Compressed Sensing in Wireless Communication

Qi Zhang, Jacek Pierzchlewski, and I (Thomas Arildsen) are organising a workshop on Compressed Sensing in Wireless Communication on May 22, 2015. The workshop is part of the conference European Wireless 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Please see the workshop webpage for details on submission etc.

Live-tweeting iTWIST 2014 workshop

As an experiment I am live-tweeting the workshop iTWIST in Namur, Belgium. Look for the tag #itwist14.
See also for inspiration (by @collabchem and @eperlste)

Standalone peer review platforms

Standalone peer review platforms

I have previously mentioned some platforms for open / post-publication peer review in Open Review of Scientific Literature and discussed the roles of such platforms in Third-party review platforms. I just wanted to mention the above document in Google Docs which seems to have been started by Jason Priem(?). The document contains a list of peer review platforms; both standalone and including manuscript publishing as well. Go have a look – there are probably some that you don’t know yet. Anyone can edit the document, so please add platforms if you now any additional ones.

Third-party review platforms

I recently read this piece ( by Chris Sampson. It is an interesting proposal and I thank Chris Sampson for writing it since it encouraged me to think so much about this possibility. I am mostly interested in the review aspect of it. Delegating the handling of peer review to third parties could for example be a good idea in terms of making the whole review process faster and more efficient – for example for the reasons argued by the team behind Libre:

I would like to weigh in with my thoughts on third-party peer review.


One important issue is that of funding such third-party “review companies”. What kind of companies are these and how do they make the money to fund their activities.

I suppose they could be non-profit organisations but could also be for-profit commercial companies. I find the former the most appealing. I guess there is nothing wrong in principle with companies making money from what they do if they do it well and provide a useful service to the scientific community, but somehow I think that such third-party review companies should exist for the sole purpose of providing competent, thorough, trust-worthy review of scientific papers and that a focus on profit might divert their attention from this goal. For example, unreasonably high profit margins are one of the reasons that large publishers such as Elsevier are currently being criticised.

However, some income is needed to run such a platform and where is that going to come from? I see several options:

  • Authors pay: this is probably not popular. It is my impression that traditional publishers are often criticised for their rather high publishing fees for (gold) open access publishing in their journals. An author fee for review could be seen as comparable to this, but I think its perception depends on how the review company is run. If it is a commercial company, an author fee might well be considered as unpopular as the mentioned OA publishing fees. If, on the other hand, the company is a non-profit able to argue that the fee simply covers the necessary (low) expenses to conduct the review process, it might be perceived as fair. Well, I am no game-theorist, sociologist, psychologist or anything relevant, so this is just my personal opinion.
  • Review company is paid by research funders: this could be a better option. In the above case of placing the fee on the authors, much of the funding for this will probably come from the researchers’ projects which are often funded by research councils etc. anyway – such as the public The Danish Council for Independent Research or The Danish Council for Strategic Research here in Denmark. It might be an idea for such research funders to simply fund the review companies directly instead, not placing the burden on individual researchers. In my opinion, this would only work fairly if the review company is a non-profit organisation. Otherwise, they would receive the same criticism for sponging off public research funding that many commercial publishers are currently subject to.
  • Review company is paid by publishers: this could be problematic. If a review company is paid for the review work by the publisher that eventually ends up publishing a particular article, the review company would be under suspicion for not being impartial. Maybe this could be less of a problem if publishers were to form a coalition that would collectively pay for all of the review being carried out. Anyway, this cost incurred on the publishers would just be carried over to publishing fees which would then be the authors’ problem.
    By the way, could impartiality also be an issue if authors pay for reviews?
  • Review company is funded by advertising on its website: I guess one could imagine this scenario although I think it is unlikely. In my opinion, this would be distasteful at best.

Chris Sampson’s post also mentions that journals would bid on papers to publish, based on the reviews. I assume he means that journals would bid as in competing for who could publish at lowest cost? Since he also suggests that all papers should be published open access, the publishers cannot charge the readers for publishing, so I assume this cost must be charged from the authors. Therefore, the competitive element must lie in which journal is able to publish at lowest cost? If the author is to pay the fee, I suppose the author also gets to choose the journal. The author might not necessarily want to select the cheapest journal; maybe a slightly higher-cost bidding journal has a better reputation and the author prefers that one.

The last part leads me to another thought: the reviews should be openly accessible as well (an issue I have discussed before on this blog). This way, there is more information available to readers for judging papers by their actual merits rather than by the journal that publishes them. Maybe this would take some of the popularity contest element out of publishing and help make publishing fees more realistic?

Publishers’ interest

I am afraid a change to the proposed model would be lobbied hard against by exisiting publishers – for at least two reasons:

  1. Review would no longer be part of the publishers’ services and so, they would have less to claim that authors need to pay for, making it more difficult for them to keep up their high profit margins.
  2. Open reviews and thereby better assessment of papers based on content rather than publication venue could work towards more equal status of publishers. This is of course something the highest-ranking journals would want to work against too.

Possible “review companies”

As I have mentioned in previous posts, several platforms have appeared recently that could take on this role of third-party reviewer. I could imagine at least:,,, and Pandelis Perakakis mentioned several others as well:

My humble attempt at practicing more open science

BilledeI have had a keen interest in reproducible research [1] since I started publishing my research back when I was a PhD student. I have lately been following the activities going on around open science and I think this is what we as scientists and researchers should be striving for. So, I decided I had better walk the talk and start a blog to show & tell a bit about what I am working on.

Let me introduce myself a bit: my name is Thomas Arildsen. I work at Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark, as an assistant professor at the Department of Electronic Systems. I am a signal processing engineer with a PhD (also from AAU) in the area of source coding – you can see more details on my LinkedIn Profile.

I currently do research applying compressed sensing in signal processing together with colleagues from our section Signal and Information Processing [2]; you can see some of the research I have been involved in here [3].

I will be blogging about my own research, others’ research in my area, as well as open science-related things I hear about here and there and find interesting.


(Image by Greg EmmerichCC BY-SA 3.0)

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Peer-review is the gold standard of science. But an increasing number of retractions has made academics and journalists alike start questioning the peer-review process. This blog gets underneath the skin of peer-review and takes a look at the issues the process is facing today.

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