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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Kate Murphy ~ Should All Research Papers Be Free?


payDRAWING comparisons to Edward Snowden, a graduate student from Kazakhstan named Alexandra Elbakyan is believed to be hiding out in Russia after illegally leaking millions of documents. While she didn’t reveal state secrets, she took a stand for the public’s right to know by providing free online access to just about every scientific paper ever published, on topics ranging from acoustics to zymology.

Her protest against scholarly journals’ paywalls has earned her rock-star status among advocates for open access, and has shined a light on how scientific findings that could inform personal and public policy decisions on matters as consequential as health care, economics and the environment are often prohibitively expensive to read and impossible to aggregate and datamine.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/research-papers

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John Parsons ~ Who Pays For Open Access?


MoneyThe theory of Open Access (OA) predates the Internet, but the web has made it a full-fledged phenomenon for scientific and medical journals. Driven in large part by mandates from government and institutional funding entities, OA theoretically lowers the subscription cost barrier for peer-reviewed content. Academic libraries and their constituents—especially researchers—are the prime beneficiaries, but so also are general public libraries and “citizen scientists” who simply have Internet access.

Like a politician’s promise, however, the benefits of OA have to be paid for—typically through an Article Processing Charge (APC) charged to the author or, more commonly, the author’s employer. These can average between $2,000 and $3,000 per article, according to Anneliese Taylor, Assistant Director, Scholarly Communications and Collections, at the University of California, San Francisco Library. “These are increasingly a line item in research grant funding proposals,” she said, pointing out that funding entities are themselves often proponents of Open Access.

Read more: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2016/03/oa/who-pays-for-open-access/

OAIA_articlebox_header

This feature article is part of our Open Access in Action series, sponsored by Dove Press, which tracks the evolution of important open access (OA) issues through a library lens by presenting regular original articles, video interviews, news, and perspectives. To learn more about how librarians like you are driving practice across the lifestyle of open access, be sure to visit our Open Access in Action hub page.

 

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Stop The Global Crackdown On Academic Freedom! Act now!


Picture: http://www.publichistoryproductions.com

Picture: http://www.publichistoryproductions.com

A call for the global community of teachers and students to protest against this most dangerous trend by signing, translating and circulating this statement, and organising protest meetings in all universities.

The call below was launched on 24 February by a number of academics based in the UK. It has been signed by over 200 university teachers from all over the world.

The undersigned are university teachers concerned over recent events that point to a serious reversal of gains in democracy and academic freedom achieved over the last decades in many countries.

Three cases have been most prominent in that regard since the beginning of 2016: the crackdown by Turkish authorities on the more than 1200 signatories in Turkey of the petition by “Academics for Peace” criticizing the anti-Kurdish war drive launched by the Turkish government; the crackdown by Indian authorities on students involved in a non-violent campus protest against the death penalty at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad University, and an attempt to shoot and kill a professor by groups affiliated to the ruling party; and the savage torture and assassination in Cairo of Italian research student Giulio Regeni.

We call on the global community of teachers and students to join us in protesting against this most dangerous trend by signing, translating and circulating this statement, and organizing protest meetings in all universities.

Read more: https://www.opendemocracy.net/stop-global-crackdown-on-academic-freedom-act-now

 

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Kaveh Waddell ~ The Research Pirates Of The Dark Web


Photo: librarysciencelist.com

Photo: librarysciencelist.com

The Atlantic. After getting shut down late last year, a website that allows free access to paywalled academic papers has sprung back up in a shadowy corner of the Internet.

There’s a battle raging over whether academic research should be free, and it’s overflowing into the dark web.
Most modern scholarly work remains locked behind paywalls, and unless your computer is on the network of a university with an expensive subscription, you have to pay a fee, often around 30 dollars, to access each paper.
Many scholars say this system makes publishers rich—Elsevier, a company that controls access to more than 2,000 journals, has a market capitalization about equal to that of Delta Airlines—but does not benefit the academics that conducted the research, or the public at large. Others worry that free academic journals would have a hard time upholding the rigorous standards and peer reviews that the most prestigious paid journals are famous for.

Some years ago, a university student in Kazakhstan took it upon herself to set free the vast trove of paywalled academic research. That student, Alexandra Elbakyan, developed Sci-Hub, an online tool that allows users to easily download paywalled papers for free.

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/the-dark-web/

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