David Matthews ~ Do Academic Networks Share Academics Interests


theIn the mid-2000s, Facebook, Bebo and Myspace were neck and neck in a frenzied race to attract the most users to their fledgling social networks. A decade later, Bebo and Myspace were moribund while Facebook boasted more than 1.5 billion monthly active users and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, had become the fourth-richest man in the world.

Zuckerberg’s position is unlikely to be challenged by anyone founding a social network focusing specifically on academics. One of those people – Richard Price, founder and chief executive of Academia.edu – estimates there to be about 6 million academics globally, plus 11 million graduate students: a mere drop in the ocean of humanity that Facebook is fishing in. Nevertheless, there is serious cash riding on Academia.edu’s struggle with the likes of ResearchGate and Mendeley to be the biggest fish in that relatively small sea.

Read more: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/fdo-academic-social-networks-share-academics-interests

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Martin Enserink ~ E.U. Urged To Free All Scientific Papers By 2020


tablet2-276x300One of the perks of holding the rotating presidency of the European Union is that it gives a member state a 6-month megaphone to promote its favorite policy ideas. For the Netherlands, which took over the presidency on 1 January, one surprising priority is open access (OA) to the scientific literature. Last week, the Dutch government held a 2-day meeting here in which European policymakers, research funders, librarians, and publishers discussed how to advance OA. The meeting produced an Amsterdam Call to Action that included the ambition to make all new papers published in the European Union freely available by 2020.

Given the slow pace with which OA has gained ground the past 10 years, few believe that’s actually possible, but the document is rallying support. Carlos Moedas, the European commissioner for research, science, and innovation, favors an ambitious approach; OA will also be a key discussion point at a meeting of Europe’s ministers of research, innovation, industry, and trade in Brussels in late May. “This is an orchestrated push on the European level that we have not seen before,” says Ralf Schimmer of the Max Planck Digital Library in Munich, Germany.

Read more: http://www.sciencemag.org/free-all-scientific-papers-2020

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David Matthews ~ Wellcome Criticises Publishers Over Open Access


Cartoon: openaccess.be

Cartoon: openaccess.be

The Wellcome Trust has warned big publishers than unless they improve their service and lower their costs it could refuse to provide researchers with funds to publish in certain types of their journals.

Elsevier and Wiley have been singled out as regularly failing to put papers in the right open access repository and properly attribute them with a creative commons licence.

This was a particular problem with so-called hybrid journals, which contain a mixture of open access and subscription-based articles.
More than half of articles published in Wiley hybrid journals were found to be “non-compliant” with depositing and licensing requirements, an analysis of 2014-15 papers funded by Wellcome and five other medical research bodies found.
For Elsevier the non-compliance figure was 31 per cent for hybrid journals and 26 per cent for full open access. In contrast, for PLOS, which only publishes full open access journals, all papers were compliant.

Wellcome said it had had meetings with Elsevier and Wiley to make them aware of the problem and make sure it did not continue to happen. Following this, both publishers had retrospectively put papers in the right repositories.

Overall, the funding bodies had paid publishers an article processing charge (APC) for nearly 400 articles which had not subsequently appeared in the PubMed Central (PMC) open access repository.
“In financial terms this equates to around £765,000. Spending this level of money – and not having access to the article in the designated repository – is clearly unacceptable,” warned the analysis, Wellcome Trust and COAF Open Access Spend, 2014-15.

Read more: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/wellcome-criticises

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Simon Bains & Helen Dobson ~ Open Access And Academic Journal Markets: A Manchester View


In February, a thought piece was issued jointly by Jisc, RLUK, SCONUL and ARMA which aimed to start a conversation about academic journal markets and progress in the UK towards Open Access. This blog post represents the combined thoughts of two leaders in Open Access publishing at the University of Manchester Library. The post does not represent an official position at Manchester, but illustrates some of the thinking that informs the development of our policies and services.

The thought piece makes a number of statements, and we have chosen to respond to a selection of them:
Academic journals play an important role in the work of universities

In our view, one might argue instead that academic research papers play an important role, and that the correlation is between availability of that research and university research performance.  The journals just happen to be the containers for the research.  The same is true of student satisfaction and access to journals.  Students want access to the ‘stuff’; whether it’s in journals is largely immaterial, and may not even be noticeable via modern library discovery systems, or Google.  The question is whether the journal remains the best container in a networked digital environment.

Read more: http://blog.research-plus.library.manchester.ac.uk/

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Savo Heleta ~ Academics Can Change The World – If They Stop Talking Only To Their Peers


peer_reviewResearch and creative thinking can change the world. This means that academics have enormous power. But, as academics Asit Biswas and Julian Kirchherr have warned, the overwhelming majority are not shaping today’s public debates.

Instead, their work is largely sitting in academic journals that are read almost exclusively by their peers. Biswas and Kirchherr estimate that an average journal article is “read completely by no more than ten people”. They write:
Up to 1.5 million peer-reviewed articles are published annually. However, many are ignored even within scientific communities – 82% of articles published in humanities [journals] are not even cited once.

This suggests that a lot of great thinking and many potentially world altering ideas are not getting into the public domain. Why, then, are academics not doing more to share their work with the broader public?

The answer appears to be threefold: a narrow idea of what academics should or shouldn’t do; a lack of incentives from universities or governments; and a lack of training in the art of explaining complex concepts to a lay audience.

The ‘intellectual mission’
Some academics insist that it’s not their job to write for the general public. They suggest that doing so would mean they’re “abandoning their mission as intellectuals”. They don’t want to feel like they’re “dumbing down” complex thinking and arguments.

Read more: http://theconversation.com/academics

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Statement Of The International Sociological Association Concerning Academic Freedom And Violence In India


isa_new2We, the members of the Executive Committee of the International Sociological Association, express solidarity with students, teachers, writers, creative artists and activists in India fighting for the rights to freedom of expression, life and liberty, in the context of increasingly virulent attacks and mob violence against all opposition to right wing fundamentalist violence and discrimination. We are particularly concerned about mob attacks on minorities and the curtailment of food freedoms (falsely posited as a “beef ban”) in India. The conversion of a large section of the electronic media into propaganda machines in support of right wing majoritarian nationalism and the systematic and violent targeting of intellectuals, students and advocates through unethical reporting and profiling is unprecedented and particularly worrying. The position of students from vulnerable social groups – especially dalit-bahujan and minority students – is a matter of immediate concern.

We support the view that the Constitution of India sets out a plural framework and refuses any scope to define the country in religious terms.

In an environment of anti-intellectualism, and majoritarian attacks on individual and collective attempts at informed debate and social critique both within and outside institutions of higher education, our responsibility as members of a professional association is especially grave. As sociologists we believe that allowing the untrammelled use of the charge of sedition to quell dissent and freedom of expression, amounts, to reiterate Amartya Sen’s words, to be too tolerant of intolerance.

We endorse the petition submitted by over 200 sociologists across India to the President of India, protesting against the attacks on sociologists, Professors Vivek Kumar and Rajesh Misra, by students belonging to the student wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Read more: http://www.thehindu.com/news/statement

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