Ekklesia | China censors British academic publisher

“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the Chinese government’s censorship of academic journals that the British publishing house Taylor & Francis provides to Chinese libraries.

Taylor & Francis, whose publications include the Asian Studies Review, confirmed on 20 December 2018 that its Chinese importer, a government offshoot, decided in September 2018 to block 83 of the 1,466 academic journals to which Taylor & Francis provides access in China…. 

The German publishing house Springer Nature, which owns the science magazines Nature and Scientific American, as well as the Journal of Chinese Political Science and the publishing house Palgrave Macmillan, confirmed in November 2017 that the Chinese authorities had forced it to block online access to around one per cent of its articles within China. 

Three months before that, the Cambridge University Press (CUP), another respected academic publishing house, reported that, at the Chinese authorities’ request, it was blocking access within China to 300 articles in the online archives of its China Quarterly journal. In response to the ensuing outcry, the CUP restored access….”

The Dark side of Sci-Hub | Medico musings…

“The problem is that , as cyber security experts say, they have never met a cyber criminal who gets into a database, takes only what is necessary and gets out. Chances are he looks around. Pilfers something else that might be of value. Or worse still leaves behind something nasty.( as of this writing, there is no evidence that Scihub or its partners have actually compromised the security of the universities with any malware).

Moreover when a password is hacked, the hacker has access to the bare minimum information in the database – for example a library database. The details such as username, age, gender, timing of visiting the library, date of joining, last visit taken, last book etc can be easily gotten. From then it is only a matter of social engineering to gain access to other portals – email, social media etc. It is also a matter of concern that some people have the same password for all their sites ! …

[P]ublishers [might] tighten access – perhaps a DRM (digital rights management) or two factor authentication might be introduced – so even if the passwords are stolen by phishing attacks/attacks on university, it will become harder to access the articles….

To make things worse, nothing in Russia can be done without the tacit approval of the government. It is  a well known fact that , as a price for such approval, the government/non governmental actors might want to be a ‘part’ of the project, presumably not to download science articles. She being a marked woman, with no other refuge, would have to yield to their pressure or face the music. People have disappeared for daring to disobey the non-governmental actors in Russia.

This is where the possibility of compromised passwords providing access to the university systems causes worry. However all of this remains conjecture – or the feverish imagination of jobless bloggers at the moment. (But who doesn’t love the bragging rights to ‘I told you so’ when a disaster strikes in the future).

There is also evidence that China has been downloading a lot more than the usual academic download – although for what purpose isn’t known. Also Iran is the third largest access site – that too, a small city in Iran, raising eyebrows about what is going on….”

Chinese support for Plan S ‘major blow’ to opponents | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Chinese endorsement of Europe’s Plan S open-access initiative represents a major and unexpected blow to publishers that have criticised the scheme, according to its backers….

While it was unclear whether China would simply adopt Plan S or draw up its own open-access policies, the move is significant because it challenges the image of Plan S as being purely a regional initiative.

Chinese universities attach huge significance to publication in prestigious subscription journals – offering scientists awards of up to $165,000 (£131,000) for papers in Nature and Science, according to one report – so the country had been regarded as constituting a major bulwark against making open access a global movement.

 

However, position papers published by the three Chinese bodies say that they support the vision of Plan S “to transform, as soon as possible, research papers from publicly funded projects into immediate open access after publication”. The organisations say that they “support a wide range of flexible and inclusive measures to achieve this goal”….

A key argument advanced by opponents of Plan S is that it would limit academic collaboration and opportunities for scholars if major parts of the world, such as China, did not sign up to it. This was a key plank of an open letter published last month and signed by more than 1,500 people….”

The Scientific Community Supports Funders Mandating Open Access, Adds Balance to the Discussion of the Plan S | Open Science

“More than 1,800 researchers have endorsed the plan by science funding bodies to transition to Open Access their models of disbursing funds to researchers, as the European Plan S continues to garner international backing, such as from China….”

China backs bold plan to tear down journal paywalls

In a huge boost to the open-access movement, librarians and funders in China have said that they intend to make results of publicly funded research free to read immediately on publication….

It is not yet clear when Chinese organizations will begin implementing new policies, or whether they will exactly adopt Plan S’s details, but Robert-Jan Smits, the chief architect of Plan S, says the new stance is a ringing endorsement for his initiative. …

In three position papers, seen by Nature, China’s National Science Library (NSL), its National Science and Technology Library (NSTL) and its Natural Science Foundation, a major research funder, all said that they “support the request of the OA2020 initiative and Plan S to transform, as soon as possible, research papers from publicly funded projects into immediate open access after publication, and we support a wide range of flexible and inclusive measures to achieve this goal.” …

Funders and research institutions in China have since 2014 encouraged — and funded — scientists to publish their papers in open-access formats, and to archive manuscripts openly online….

Two other non-European countries are expected to sign up to the plan in the coming weeks, said Smits….”

Europe’s Plan S aims for expansion to US and beyond | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Plan S, a project initially signed by a coalition of 11 funding agencies, was unveiled by Science Europe just one month ago. Since then, two more funding bodies, from Sweden and Finland, have joined. Enthusiasm for the scheme, however, extends well beyond Europe.

Speaking to Times Higher Education, Robert-Jan Smits, the European Commission’s senior adviser on open access and the architect of Plan S, said that he had already embarked on discussions with White House representatives in the US, where invitations to discuss the policy had come in “one after another”.

Furthermore, Mr Smits said that colleagues from Science Europe had earlier this month engaged in “exploratory talks” with sector leaders in Japan, where the concept had been met with “real interest”. “Next I want to start conversations with India, with South Africa [and with] China,” he added. “It has really taken a global dimension, and the only issue that is my biggest enemy at the moment is time.” …

A Plan S implementation task force has been set up, with a target to deliver the policy details by the end of the year….”

China is restricting the export of science

“From Yojana Sharma in University World News (July 20, 2018): ‘China’s new regulations restricting the ‘export’ of scientific data collected within the country and asserting that any research for publication in international journals must first be approved by a new, yet to be set up authority, are causing uncertainty and concern for many researchers who are working in collaboration with China.’ …

But before Americans pile on, as if this kind of blunder could never occur in a country with a constitutional right to freedom of the press, recall a similar move by the George W. Bush administration during the height of paranoia after the 9/11 attacks….”

Facing Censorship: A Statement of Guiding Principles

“As scholarly publishers we believe in the free exchange of ideas. As university presses, we are especially vigilant defenders of academic freedom because it is fundamental to the work we do. In this, we stand with our universities, our authors, the greater scholarly community, and with each other against all restrictions imposed on the dissemination of our work….

Because of the increasingly digital nature of scholarly communications, requests to restrict access to specific elements of a larger digital collection within a given market seem likely to become a more common form of attempts at government censorship. AUPresses encourages university presses generally to withhold their consent to any such request, whether made directly or via a third-party aggregator, even if doing so results in the unavailability of the entire digital collection within that market….”