Backchannels | What a new university in Africa is doing to decolonise social sciences | Society for Social Studies of Science

“#1: By 2019, everything we assign our students will be open source

Like most institutions of higher education in Africa (and across much of the world) ALU’s library is limited. Students often deal with this by flouting copyright and piracy laws and illegally downloading material. We don’t want to train our students to become habitual law breakers. Nor do we want them to accept second-tier access to commodified knowledge.

Our aspiration is that by 2019 everything we assign in our programme will be open source. This will be achieved by building relationships with publishers, writers and industry leaders, and negotiating partnerships for equitable access to knowledge. This will ensure that a new generation of thinkers is equipped with the analytic tools they need.

It will also move towards undoing centuries of knowledge extraction from Africa to the world that has too often taken place with little benefit to the continent itself….”

List of platinum Open Access linguistics journals – oaling

“This list aims to include all peer-reviewed platinum Open Access journals in general, descriptive, and theoretical linguistics, as long as they are open to submissions from anyone. Due to the fast-moving nature of the field it is likely to be constantly out of date. If you find that your favourite platinum journal is missing, that a link is broken, or that a detail is wrong, let us know on Twitter or by emailing George. The list was last updated in July 2017.

The list is built on the excellent work of Humans Who Read Grammars. It is in alphabetical order.”

The battle for free knowledge | Fin24

“The consensus seems to be that a lawsuit isn’t going to stop Sci-Hub, it’s more than likely here to stay. 

Some in the publishing industry have even suggested that the sector needs to be introspective and acknowledge that it has failed to provide fair access to researchers.

What is clear is how much power the publishing industry that services the academic world appears to have.

Two activists who have challenged that power have met with the full force of the law. One forced into suicide and the other into hiding, fearing being kidnapped for extradition.

In a time of #FeesMustFall perhaps we as South Africans should be paying more attention to this global battle.”

Open science | Spotlight

Survey summary

Access to scientific publications is essential to many, because their private or professional lives require them to continually develop themselves. This development is expected of them, as lifelong learning and increasing levels of self-reliance are now a part of life.

Healthcare professionals, for example, must be able to communicate effectively with bodies such as pharmaceutical companies, the National Health Care Institute (Zorginstituut Nederland) and ministries, be able to decipher and contextualise countless news reports, and apply scientific results to their professional situation in a responsible and well-founded fashion. To do so they require comprehensive access to information. In the current situation, organising access costs time and money, which are two scarce commodities.

Teachers also state that they need access to research findings in order to apply them in their teaching. If they are unable to access the latest insights, then who is supposed to benefit from the research?

Other groups in society also indicate that they read scientific publications, in order to conduct in social debate in the home, to learn about diseases or food fads, or to gain background information on studies, for instance.”

Students canvass open data policy – The Nation Nigeria

“In line with the global campaign for open data, students in Nigeria have urged governments at all levels to adopt open access to data as a national policy because of its benefits.

Students, under the auspices of Open Con, at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on Tuesday, organised a conference, which sought to address challenges facing open access to data.

The convener, Bolutife Adisa, a 400-Level Electrical Electronic Engineering student, said adopting the policy would make online research and data freely accessible to people.

He said the policy would help improve government’s performance and give the citizenry the opportunity to make informed decisions and hold government accountable.”

Impact of Social Sciences – Formalised data citation practices would encourage more authors to make their data available for reuse

“It is increasingly common for researchers to make their data freely available. This is often a requirement of funding agencies but also consistent with the principles of open science, according to which all research data should be shared and made available for reuse. Once data is reused, the researchers who have provided access to it should be acknowledged for their contributions, much as authors are recognised for their publications through citation. Hyoungjoo Park and Dietmar Wolfram have studied characteristics of data sharing, reuse, and citation and found that current data citation practices do not yet benefit data sharers, with little or no consistency in their format. More formalised citation practices might encourage more authors to make their data available for reuse.”

Academic Council Affirms Commitment to Open Access Efforts like OA2020

By letter to University of California President Janet Napolitano, the Academic Council has enthusiastically endorsed and affirmed university-wide commitments to make UC research and scholarship as freely and openly available as possible.

The letter of the Academic Council, which advises the UC President on behalf of the Assembly, updates President Napolitano on various campus efforts to fulfill the University’s mission of providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge. As the Council notes, one way that the University has been working to achieve its mission is through implementation of the 2013 Open Access policy, pursuant to which UC scholars widely disseminate their scholarship by making copies available open access (OA). OA promotes free, immediate access to research articles and the rights to use these articles to advance knowledge worldwide.

DO NOT PUBLISH, or Sometimes, open data/open access not ideal – UC Berkeley Library News

“Some fields such as paleontology and archaeology have long maintained restrictions on the publication of site locations and promoted government policies and regulations to limit collection and trade in fossils, artefacts, and culturally sensitive and/or scientifically important material. Organizations such as the U.S. Forest Service do not disclose geospatial data in order to protect research sites. Other solutions include modification of research permits so that endangered species locations are not automatically uploaded into wildlife databases and masking such records on private land, as presently occurs in some states in the United States.

Is this relevant to any public health research? Other than personally identifiable information, what types of health data should not be made widely available?”

Kenya leads the way for African countries to shift to more open, accessible and data-driven national agricultural policies | Diana Szpotowicz | Pulse | LinkedIn

“The event had a simple mission: to spur greater investment in agriculture and food nutrition data, especially in the G77 countries – a mission shared by the United Nations and the African Union this year.

The conference was co-convened by the Government of Kenya, the G77 Secretariat, African Union (NEPAD) and the Platform of African Farmers’ Organizations (PAFO).”