USDA orders scientists to say published research is ‘preliminary’ – The Washington Post

“Researchers at the Agriculture Department laughed in disbelief last summer when they received a memo about a new requirement: Their finalized, peer-reviewed scientific publications must be labeled “preliminary.”

The July 2018 memo from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the acting USDA chief scientist, told researchers their reports published in scientific journals must include a statement that reads: “The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.” A copy of the memo was obtained by The Washington Post and the USDA confirmed its authenticity.

The disclaimer appears to conflict with the integrity policy that governs research at the USDA, said Susan Offutt, who was the administrator of the Economic Research Service, a USDA statistical agency, under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The claim that reports are not “formally disseminated” runs counter to the USDA policy that “permits and, indeed, encourages researchers to publish in scientific journals,” Offutt said….

William Trenkle, the USDA departmental scientific integrity officer…said in [a public] statement that the department plans to update the disclaimer’s phrasing “in the near future.” …

A successful review and publication is “the end product to your research,” said Gregorich, a scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (the Canadian counterpart to USDA). “It is now finalized. There’s nothing preliminary about it.” …

Before releasing scientific publications, USDA science agencies send them through the department’s Office of Communications. Although the communications office is not supposed to influence a paper’s conclusions, tensions may arise between scientific results and an administration’s agenda, Offutt said….”

 

Professional development varies widely to support instructors teaching online and using OER

“Faculty members in the State University of New York system who want to transition from proprietary course materials to open educational resources can take advantage of the OER faculty fellowship, a semester-long series of seminars and workshops that culminates in the creation of a new openly licensed course resource. The program originated in 2014 and has grown since New York state’s substantial investments in OER….”

Predatory Journals on Trial: Allegations, Responses, and Lessons for Scholarly Publishing from FTC v. OMICS | Journal of Scholarly Publishing

Abstract:  On 25 August 2016, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued OMICS Group Inc., iMedPub LLC, Conference Series LLC, and Srinubabu Gedela, all affiliated with open access mega-publisher OMICS International, for deception in their solicitation of journal articles and advertising of conferences. The ongoing lawsuit seeks to stop OMICS’s deceptive practices and disgorge US $50.5 million in ill-gotten gains. OMICS has in turn claimed over $2.1 billion for harm caused by the lawsuit to its business and employees. This article describes the main arguments, counter-arguments, and court decisions in the 5920 pages of pleadings, exhibits, and orders that have been filed through 14 October 2018. The article then evaluates the case to formulate key take-aways for publishers, editors, academics, and universities. Depending on its ultimate outcome, the case against OMICS may be a turning point in the practices of questionable open access online publishers, making this interim case assessment pertinent to all concerned about the future of academic publishing.

California’s showdown with Elsevier inspires US campuses | Times Higher Education (THE)

The University of California’s hard-line bid to push publishing giant Elsevier towards open-access models is attracting widespread interest at other US universities where librarians are considering following suit.

Many librarians have expressed their support for California’s decision to cancel its $11 million (£8.4 million) a year subscription with the publishing giant, but are aware that they face their own tough decisions when their own “big deals” come up for renewal. For institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this will be at the end of 2019. …

“We’re anxiously observing” the California situation, said Lorraine Haricombe, director of libraries at the University of Texas at Austin. “There’s a hunger for solutions to budgetary pressures” caused by high journal subscription prices, Dr Haricombe said. “But there’s also historical inertia that makes the sort of wholesale change to address that…a tough slog.”… “

Arizona State Working with Community Colleges in Interactive OER Pilot — Campus Technology

Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is working with three of the largest community college systems in the country to adopt the use of interactive open educational resources. The Consortium for Open Active Pathways, as it’s called, will use technology to increase the availability of college-level educational materials, particularly in healthcare studies, a big component of community college education. The work is being funded by a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The other institutions involved are Maricopa Community Colleges in Phoenix, Florida’s Miami Dade College and Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College….”

Scholarly Communication Librarian | J. Paul Leonard Library

“Reporting to the Associate University Librarian, the Scholarly Communication Librarian is responsible for managing, promoting, and growing the university’s institutional repository. The successful candidate will develop workflows, policies, and procedures for repository projects and serve as an advocate for the role of the institutional repository in supporting sustainable scholarly communication. The Scholarly Communication Librarian will also serve as the library’s leading resource on a range of scholarly communication issues, including open access, fair use, authors’ rights, alternative publishing models, and open educational resources. The person in this position will devise and implement outreach activities as well, promoting the institutional repository and open scholarly communication on campus. In addition, library faculty members are expected to engage in scholarship and service to the university and the profession….”

Can the law be copyrighted? | TechCrunch

UpCodes wants to fix one of the building industry’s biggest headaches by streamlining code compliance. But the Y Combinator-backed startup now faces a copyright lawsuit filed against it by the International Code Council, the nonprofit organization that develops the code used or adopted in building regulations by all 50 states….

UpCodes’ first product, an online database, gives free access to codes, code updates and local amendments from 32 states, as well as New York City. For building professionals and others who want more advanced search tools and collaboration features, UpCodes sells individual and team subscriptions. In 2018, UpCodes released its second product, called UpCodes AI. Described as a “spellcheck for buildings,” the plug-in scans 3D models created with building information modeling (BIM) data and highlights potential errors in real time….

It argues that its use of building codes is covered by fair use. The ICC, on the other hand, claims that products like UpCodes’ database harm its ability to make revenue and continue developing code. The ICC wants UpCodes to take down the building code on which it claims copyright, and has also sued for damages….”

Statement from Deans and Directors of Virginia Research Libraries on the University of California System’s Termination of Contract with Elsevier | UVA Library News and Announcements

As Deans and Directors of Virginia research libraries, our core mission and our highest priority is to ensure that our research communities have access to a rich, diverse, and sustainable collection of information resources. Recently, our colleagues in the University of California system took an important stand in defense of that mission by refusing to renew their $50 million “Big Deal” contract with Elsevier, the world’s most profitable vendor of information products. We write to express our gratitude and our support for them and the brave step they have taken, the latest in a global trend of libraries rethinking their biggest expenditures….”

Government Data as Intellectual Property: Is Public Domain the Same as Open Access?

Key points to highlight: U.S. federal government data is released into the public domain. This raises concerns about:

  • privacy and security of data about individuals
  • the potential for enclosure if the U.S. government does not maintain human readable interfaces, i.e. if the open data is used by commercial companies to create toll access services and the government does not provide free end user services, this would be an instance of open commercial use effectively creating enclosure (or privatizing what is currently free government services)

Abstract

Public domain and open data policies and how they are made. Current status of open data policies in the Federal government are changing with new laws. What is HR4174/S4047 and what does it say and mean? What are trends in government data policies regarding access to that statistical data? This article will give the reader an understanding of federal policies and laws regarding data.

700 Years of Persian Manuscripts Now Digitized and Available Online | Open Culture

For Nowruz, the Persian New Year, the Library of Congress has released a digital collection of its rare Persian-language manuscripts, an archive spanning 700 years. This free resource opens windows on diverse religious, national, linguistic, and cultural traditions, most, but not all, Islamic, yet all different from each other in complex and striking ways….”