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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LERU ~ The Academic World Urges Publishers To Enter A Brave New World


librarianToday, 27 January 2016, Prof Alain Beretz and Prof Kurt Deketelaere, Chair and Secretary-General of LERU (League of European Research Universities), presented the signatures to the LERU Statement on Open Access to Commissioner Carlos Moedas and Dutch Secretary of State Sander Dekker. At the end of the meeting of the informal Competitiveness Council in Amsterdam, almost 10,000 signatures* (from individuals and institutions) were handed over, calling upon the policy makers for clear initiatives to guide the development of the Green and Gold routes to Open Access (OA).

Nowadays, European universities pay publishers significant parts of their university budget. Hundreds of millions of euros. Money which is not directly spent on research and education, even though it is largely taxpayers´ money. As Harvard University already denounced in 2012, many large journal publishers have rendered the situation “fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive”, with some journals costing as much as $40,000 per year (and publishers drawing profits of 35% or more). If one of the wealthiest universities in the world can no longer afford it, who can? It is easy to picture the struggle of European universities with tighter budgets. In addition to subscription costs, academic research funding is also severely affected by “Article Processing Charges” (APC), which come at an additional cost of €2000/article, on average, when making individual articles Gold Open Access. As a result, some publishers even get paid twice for the same content (“double dipping”).

In the era of Open Science, Open Access to publications is one of the cornerstones of the new research paradigm and business models must support this transition. It should be one of the principal objectives of policy makers to ensure that this transition happens. Further developing the EU´s leadership in research and innovation largely depends on it. Therefore, LERU launched on 12 October 2015 a campaign on Open Access, under the title: “Christmas is over”. With the statement “Moving Forwards on Open Access“, LERU called upon all universities, research institutes, research funders and researchers to sign this statement and give a clear signal towards the European Commission and the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Carlos Moedas and Sander Dekker immediately reacted in a positive way to this campaign and statement.

Read more: http://www.leru.org/a-brave-new-world/

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Jeffrey J. Williams ~ Empire Of Letters


typeTom Lutz and the ‘Los Angeles Review of Books’ set out to create a new model of literary review.

When does buzz solidify into a sound?

I first heard it from my graduate students. They keep me current, and it seemed that every other day they’d forward me a piece from the Los Angeles Review of Books, or LARB, which popped up on Tumblr in 2011 and on its own site in April 2012. Several of my students work on contemporary fiction, and LARB covers it fairly extensively, reviewing genres like Young Adult (YA) and noir as well as more literary fiction, and sometimes carrying multiple reviews of notable books, for instance of Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom.

I started seeing the names of scholars I knew in the journal — Steven Brint on higher education, Wai Chee Dimock on film, Mark McGurl on creative writing. There were intriguing interviews with critics, artists, and writers, including Jonathan Lethem, and forums on timely issues, like “MOOCs and the Future of the Humanities” and the boycott of Israeli universities.

People have been complaining about the lack of reviewing since the late 1990s, when shrinking newspapers started disbanding book-review sections, but the web tends toward glut more than scarcity, so at first I wondered if LARB was just another blog that would fade into the ether.

Read more: http://chronicle.com/article/Empire-of-Letters

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Meredith Kolodner ~ Black Students Are Drastically Underrepresented At Top Public Colleges, Data Show


Petersburg High School’s principal and guidance counselor have helped more than half of their students go to college, but none have gone to UVA since 2010. Photo: Meredith Kolodner

Petersburg High School’s principal and guidance counselor have helped more than half of their students go to college, but none have gone to UVA since 2010. Photo: Meredith Kolodner

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — As racial unrest sweeps across major college campuses, and African-American students demand more equitable treatment, college administrators need look no farther than their own admissions offices to find one root of the problem.

The nation’s flagship public universities — large, taxpayer-funded institutions whose declared mission is to educate residents of their states — enroll far smaller proportions of black students than other colleges, and the number appears to be declining, according to federal records and college enrollment data analyzed by The Hechinger Report and The Huffington Post.

On average, just 5 percent of students at the nation’s flagship public universities are black. As recently as a decade ago, that figure was higher, although changing methods of counting racial categories makes a precise comparison difficult.

Read more: http://hechingerreport.org/black-students

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MMC interview ~ Joana Breidenbach: Anthropologists Are In Danger Of Losing Their Voice


Joana Breidenbach is a cultural anthropologists. She focuses her research particularly on the cultural consequences of globalisation. Foto: Joana Breidenbach

Joana Breidenbach is a cultural anthropologists. She focuses her research particularly on the cultural consequences of globalisation. Foto: Joana Breidenbach

Even greater danger than political activism in science is the possibility that anthropologists become too fragmented and lose their voice within society, claims the German anthropologist Joana Breidenbach.

She is the co-founder and the head of the largest German platform for donations, a kind of humanitarian Kickstarter: Betterplace.org. Through this platform small humanitarian projects all over the world are being financed. These projects require much less money than for example United Nation agencies with much more extensive bureaucracy.

Joana Breidenbach‘s research catalogue is also characterised by cosmopolitanism. In her pursuit of anthropologic answers she has visited numerous countries, from China to Russia and Egypt, while her research group, more precisely the Betterplace Lab think tank, covers tens of countries all over the world.

Read more: http://www.rtvslo.si/joana-breidenbach

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Linda Duits ~ Requiem voor de scriptie


OfficemuseumStapje voor stapje is de universiteit veranderd in een gestroomlijnde fabriek waar studenten maar in de weg lopen. Het is dan ook de bedoeling dat ze zo kort mogelijk blijven. Het meest duidelijk wordt dit bij de scriptie. Studenten zijn er dan al lang genoeg. Pas als ze eindelijk klaar zijn, ontvangt de universiteit geld voor ze. Die perverse prikkel lokt de terreur van rendementsdenken uit: de scriptie is hét moment waarop studenten nog een staartje studievertraging meepikken en opleidingen doen er alles aan om dat te voorkomen. ‘Naar de 6 toewerken’ was de instructie die mij vroeger bij Communicatiewetenschap werd gegeven.

Lees verder: http://www.folia.nl/opinie/97654/op-zn-duits-requiem-voor-de-scriptie

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