Pablo Markin ~ French Academic And Research Institutions Refuse To Pay Climbing Journal Subscription Fees, Opt For De Facto Open Access


In France, circa 100 research organizations close ranks by putting their journal subscription negotiations with Springer in abeyance, while insisting on Open Access policies and retaining access to its journal titles, as no agreement between the publisher and these French scholarly institutions was reached.

rench higher education institutions and research centers claim to gain multi-million journal subscription savings after refusing a sign toll-based journal access deal with Springer Nature, according to a news item by David Matthews appearing on April 9, 2018. In the meanwhile, the publisher has refrained from cutting off the access of these institutions to its journal titles, which indicates the increasing collective bargaining power of French academic organizations that balk at rising subscription fees, have article access alternatives and clamor for rapidly transitioning to Open Access. This development is similar to the standoff between Elsevier and German research universities and institutes. It has put pressure on the publisher to maintain their access to its paywall-protected titles, as the inconclusive negotiations amble along.

Couperin, an umbrella body representing over 250 French higher education and research bodies, has been citing the growing prevalence of Open Access journals and policies as the ground for reducing the subscription fees paid to Springer. Should the deal with Springer fall through, despite continued, but fragile negotiations, French institutions may be availing themselves of article sharing opportunities. At the same time, the majority of the French organizations represented, which amounts to about 150 institutions, have renewed their contracts with Springer that publishes more than 2,900 titles. This stalemate, however, can also be precipitated by the growing adoption of Open Access by French researchers that by publishing in Open Access journals draw on university and national budgets to cover Article Processing Charges (APCs).

Read more: http://openscience.com/french-academic-and-research-institutions-refuse-to-pay

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Neo Lekgotla laga Ramoupi ~ Why Are There So Few Black Professors?


Ahead of the budget vote for 2017-2018 of the department of higher education and training, Minister Blade Nzimande expressed concern about the scarcity of black professors.

It has been reported that he will set up a ministerial task team to find out “what is holding black academics back”. Last month, when he tabled the higher education and training budget in Parliament, he said it was important to “address the paucity of black South African academics in our institutions, which manifests in 66% [in 2015] of all university professors still being white”.

“What is holding black academics back?” is the wrong question for the higher education sector to be asking. The right question is: Where do African, coloured and Indian South Africans with PhD degrees from the universities in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal go to?

Before we answer this question, statistical proof that the universities have been producing black people with doctoral degrees is available in the higher education management information systems (Hemis) data. This data has been available since at least 1994.

Read more: https://mg.co.za/why-are-there-so-few-black-professors/

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Stephen Buranyi ~ Is The Staggeringly Profitable Business Of Scientific Publishing Bad For Science


In 2011, Claudio Aspesi, a senior investment analyst at Bernstein Research in London, made a bet that the dominant firm in one of the most lucrative industries in the world was headed for a crash. Reed-Elsevier, a multinational publishing giant with annual revenues exceeding £6bn, was an investor’s darling. It was one of the few publishers that had successfully managed the transition to the internet, and a recent company report was predicting yet another year of growth. Aspesi, though, had reason to believe that that prediction – along with those of every other major financial analyst – was wrong.

The core of Elsevier’s operation is in scientific journals, the weekly or monthly publications in which scientists share their results. Despite the narrow audience, scientific publishing is a remarkably big business. With total global revenues of more than £19bn, it weighs in somewhere between the recording and the film industries in size, but it is far more profitable. In 2010, Elsevier’s scientific publishing arm reported profits of £724m on just over £2bn in revenue. It was a 36% margin – higher than Apple, Google, or Amazon posted that year.

But Elsevier’s business model seemed a truly puzzling thing. In order to make money, a traditional publisher – say, a magazine – first has to cover a multitude of costs: it pays writers for the articles; it employs editors to commission, shape and check the articles; and it pays to distribute the finished product to subscribers and retailers. All of this is expensive, and successful magazines typically make profits of around 12-15%.

The Guardian Long Read:
https://www.theguardian.com/profitable-business-scientific-publishing-bad-for-science

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Nikos Lappas ~ Do We Still Need Publishers In Academia?


As any Ph.D. student, I spend significant amount of my time studying journal articles and books. A portion of that time is spent trying to access the content itself: Lengthy requests of inter-library loans for publications not available by my university, searching though a fragmented ecosystem of search engines and citations, using slow VPNs to get authenticated by the publishers. No wonder there is one simple question spinning in my mind:
“-Why do we need middlemen in Academia in the era of electronic publishing?”

To elaborate on the existing situation, academic institutions pay fees both to submit research articles for publication, as well as to gain access to them. How much? Well, as it seems a lot. The following figure shows how the journal prices for submitted articles vary with influence and business model.

Read more: https://medium.com/do-we-still-need-publishers-in-academia

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Jess Auerbach ~ What A New University In Africa Is Doing To Decolonise Social Sciences


It’s not often that you get to create a new university from scratch: space, staff – and curriculum. But that’s exactly what we’re doing in Mauritius, at one of Africa’s newest higher education institutions. And decoloniality is central to our work.

I am a member of the Social Science Faculty at the African Leadership University. Part of our task is to build a canon, knowledge, and a way of knowing. This is happening against the backdrop of a movement by South African students to decolonise their universities; Black Lives Matter protests in the United States; and in the context of a much deeper history of national reimagination across Africa and the world.

With this history in mind our faculty is working towards what we consider a decolonial social science curriculum. We’ve adopted seven commitments to help us meet this goal, and which we hope will shift educational discourse in a more equitable and representative direction.

Read more: http://theconversation.com/what-a-new-university-in-africa-is-doing-to-decolonise-social-sciences-77181

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The Economist ~ The Shackles Of Scientific Journals


SCIENCE advances fastest when data and conclusions are shared as quickly as possible. Yet it is common practice for medical researchers to hoard results for months or years until research is published in an academic journal. Even then, the data underpinning a study are often not made public.

The incentive to withhold findings is powerful. Journal papers are the de facto measure of a scientist’s productivity. To win research money and get promoted, scientists need to accrue an impressive list of publications. Yet the delays in disseminating knowledge have the capacity to do real harm: during the Zika crisis, sponsors of research had to persuade publishers to declare that scientists would not be penalised for releasing their findings early. Nor are elite journals the guardians of quality that they often claim to be. The number of papers so flawed that they need to be retracted has risen sharply in the past two decades. Studies in elite journals (such as Nature andScience) are no more statistically robust than those in lesser journals.

Read more: http://www.economist.com/shackles-scientific-journals

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