Obstacles facing Africa’s young climate scientists | Nature Climate Change

“However, early-career scientists in Africa face numerous challenges in securing resources, training and research positions. These challenges threaten to undermine the continent’s ability to deal with environmental change resulting from climate change….One such challenge is underfunded and inadequate research facilities4. Computational and e-infrastructure limitations are especially salient; high demand for supercomputers and sufficient storage for big data far exceed what most African universities can afford. The ratio between the number of usable computers and users is low in most universities5. Some also struggle to bear the cost of subscribing to closed-access journals. While open-access journals provide unmeasurable succour to researchers in these institutions, scientists are left with an incomplete view of progress in their fields….”

Effects of copyrights on science

Abstract:  Copyrights grant publishers exclusive rights to content for almost a century. In science, this can involve substantial social costs by limiting who can access existing research. This column uses a unique WWII-era programme in the US, which allowed US publishers to reprint exact copies of German-owned science books, to explore how copyrights affect follow-on science. This artificial removal of copyright barriers led to a 25% decline in prices, and a 67% increase in citations. These results suggest that restrictive copyright policies slow down the progress of science considerably.

Federal prisons abruptly cancel policy that made it harder, costlier for inmates to get books – The Washington Post

“Federal prison officials abruptly reversed a controversial policy Thursday that had made it harder and more expensive for thousands of inmates to receive books by banning direct delivery through the mail from publishers, bookstores and book clubs.

The restrictions were already in place in facilities in Virginia and California and were set to start this month at a prison in Florida.

Under the rules, inmates in at least four facilities were required to order books only through a prison-approved vendor and, at three of the prisons, to pay an extra 30 percent markup.

The reversal came after two days’ of inquiries from The Washington Post asking about the vendor, the markup and the rationale for the restriction.

Prison officials said in an email Thursday that the bureau had rescinded the memos and will review the policy to “ensure we strike the right balance between maintaining the safety and security of our institutions and inmate access to correspondence and reading materials.” …”

Federal prisons abruptly cancel policy that made it harder, costlier for inmates to get books – The Washington Post

“Federal prison officials abruptly reversed a controversial policy Thursday that had made it harder and more expensive for thousands of inmates to receive books by banning direct delivery through the mail from publishers, bookstores and book clubs.

The restrictions were already in place in facilities in Virginia and California and were set to start this month at a prison in Florida.

Under the rules, inmates in at least four facilities were required to order books only through a prison-approved vendor and, at three of the prisons, to pay an extra 30 percent markup.

The reversal came after two days’ of inquiries from The Washington Post asking about the vendor, the markup and the rationale for the restriction.

Prison officials said in an email Thursday that the bureau had rescinded the memos and will review the policy to “ensure we strike the right balance between maintaining the safety and security of our institutions and inmate access to correspondence and reading materials.” …”

Open Access: Five Principles for Negotiations with Publishers – LIBER

“The principles are based on the experiences of LIBER libraries in the past two years, and aim to guide libraries and consortia as they shift from a reader-pays model (subscription licensing) to an author-pays model based on Article Processing Charges (APC)….”

Recent APC price changes for 4 publishers (BMC, Hindawi, PLOS, and PeerJ)

Following is a summary of recent APC changes for 4 publishers, prepared on request but posted in case this might be of interest to anyone else. In brief, each publisher appears to be following a different pricing strategy ranging from flat pricing over many years with one rare exception, to a tenfold increase from 2016 – 2017.

Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts | The Scientist Magazine®

“In Germany, the fight for open access and favorable pricing for journals is getting heated. At the end of last month (June 30), four major academic institutions in Berlin announced that they would not renew their subscriptions with the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier once they end this December. Then on July 7, nine universities in Baden-Württemberg, another large German state, also declared their intention to cancel their contracts with the publisher at the end of 2017.

These institutions join around 60 others across the country that allowed their contracts to expire last year….”

Universities must present a united front against rising journal costs, research librarians say | University Affairs | Canada

“The Canadian Association of Research Libraries proposes that institutions renegotiate unsustainable deals with journal publishers and transition toward open access.

For years, academic libraries have struggled to keep up with the rising costs of journal subscriptions set by a few large, international publishers. The situation “is now getting to a point of crisis,” according to the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, which recently published a briefing paper, with input from the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, to inform university administrators of the challenges and to propose solutions.

The paper notes that scholarly journal prices have risen by five to seven percent per year since 2011. This is part of a larger trend of “excessive price increases” that has been happening over the past three decades, exacerbated by the weakening of the Canadian dollar and tightening university budgets, according to CARL.

Donna Bourne-Tyson, president of CARL and university librarian at Dalhousie University, says information sharing among universities and consortia is crucial to renegotiating deals with journal publishers. “We have a pretty good sense of how each country is faring with large publishers, although we are still working against the constraints of a non-disclosure agreement in some cases,” she said. “Part of the problem is, if we aren’t able to compare apples to apples, we don’t even know what a fair price is.”…”

Taylor & Francis scraps extra charges after university protests | The Bookseller

“Taylor & Francis has backtracked over plans to charge extra for access to older research papers online, after more than 110 universities signed a letter of protest.

The latest renewal of UK universities’ deal with the publisher, which is yet to be signed, only covers papers published in the last 20 years, reported Times Higher Education. Research released before this would have to be bought in a separate package by university.

The 20-year span of papers included in the main deal would have moved forward in time with each year. This would mean the archive would increase and costs would escalate further as researchers attempted to access papers from 1997 onwards, described by academics as the beginning of the born digital record. 

In an open letter dated 13th February, head librarians from more than 110 UK and Irish institutions, as well as representatives from Research Libraries UK, the Society of College, National and University Libraries (Sconul), and the Irish Universities Association, urged Taylor & Francis to drop the extra charges.

“A “moving wall” approach for non-subscribed titles within the journal package will increase administration activities and costs substantially for libraries and for Taylor & Francis, impose direct additional licensing costs, and create confusion and annoyance for your customers and our reader communities,” the letter reads….”