Elsevier acquisition highlights the need for community-based scholarly communication infrastructure – SPARC

“Like many others in the scholarly community, we were very disappointed to learn about the recent acquisition by Elsevier of bepress, the provider of the popular Digital Commons repository platform.1The acquisition is especially troubling for the hundreds of institutions that use Digital Commons to support their open access repositories. These institutions now find their repository services owned and managed by Elsevier, a company well known for its obstruction of open access and repositories.2

While we were disappointed, we were not surprised. Elsevier’s interest in bepress and Digital Commons is reflective of the company’s long term strategy to stake an ownership claim in all the functions vital to the research cycle—from data gathering and annotation, to sharing and publication, to analytics and evaluation. Prior high-profile acquisitions (including SSRN and Mendeley) have made this strategy crystal clear. While this might be a smart business move on the part of a commercial company, it presents significant challenges and risks to the academic and research community.

The dangers inherent in the increasing control of crucial research communication functions in the hands of a small number of commercial players are well-known and well-documented.3 The dysfunction in the academic journal market serves as a case in point. This consolidated control has led to unaffordable costs, limited utility of research articles, the proliferation of western publishing biases, and a system in which publisher lock-in through big deal licenses is the norm. This situation is damaging for the research enterprise, individual researchers, and for society. Further consolidation of the market across functions and platforms—including key elements like research information systems and open access repositories—will exacerbate this already unhealthy situation.”

COAF Block Grant – August Update

“Please note that due to high demand, our block grant funding for several COAF partner charities has been depleted as of mid-August 2017….We are pleased that so many LSHTM publications in the past year have been made open access via the ‘gold’ (paid) route. Funding is expected to become available again for the aforementioned COAF partner charities from October, but in the mean time we encourage you to apply for APC waivers from your chosen journals, or follow the ‘green’ (self-archiving, free) route to open access by forwarding your accepted manuscript and acceptance email to publications@lshtm.ac.uk.”

SSRN Considered Harmful by James Grimmelmann :: SSRN

Abstract:  The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has adopted several unfortunate policies that impair open access to scholarship. It should enable one-click download, stop requiring papers to bear SSRN watermarks, and allow authors to point readers to other download sites. If it does not reform, those who are serious about open access should not use SSRN.

Statement on the death of CC friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil

Photo of Bassel Khartabil by Mohamed Nanabhay (CC BY)

We are deeply saddened and completely outraged to learn today that our friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil has been executed by the Syrian regime.

Bassel was Creative Commons’ Syrian project lead, an open source software programmer, teacher, Wikipedia contributor, and free culture advocate. He was also a devoted son and husband, and a great friend to many people in the open knowledge community around the world. The projects and communities he helped to build live on across the globe, and will remain a tribute to his leadership.

In March of 2012, Bassel was taken from the street in Damascus amid a wave of military arrests. He was jailed for several years, during which time he was allowed to infrequently communicate with family members. Then, in October 2015, he was abruptly transferred to an undisclosed location. At that time, all communications between Bassel and the outside world ceased. The Creative Commons board publicly called for Bassel’s immediate release, and the MIT Media Lab offered Bassel a research position in its Center for Civic Media. His family and friends prayed for his safe return, and are heartbroken today to learn the awful and terrifying news of his execution.

Over the past several years, a variety of human rights groups called for Bassel’s release. Amnesty International launched a campaign through its Urgent Action network that encouraged the public to write letters to Syrian authorities and urge them to grant Bassel access to his family, a lawyer, and medical attention. The US State Department singled him out on International Human Rights Day in 2015 as a “prisoner of conscience.”

Additionally, since his detention, an international community of Bassel’s friends and colleagues have worked to raise awareness about Bassel, his projects, and his story through the #FreeBassel campaign. As an extension of this project, a massive 3D-printed rendering of one of the Palmyra Tetrapylons was created for and exhibited at this year’s Creative Commons Global Summit. The rendering was a tribute to Bassel and was made directly possible by Bassel’s work in the founding of #NEWPALMYRA, an effort to digitally capture and remodel the endangered ruins of Palmyra.

Around the world, activists and advocates seek the sharing of culture, and open knowledge. Creative Commons, and the global commons of art, history, and knowledge, are stronger because of Bassel’s contributions, and our community is better because of his work and his friendship. His death is a terrible reminder of what many individuals and families risk in order to make a better society.

The post Statement on the death of CC friend and colleague Bassel Khartabil appeared first on Creative Commons.

Notes on the Research Works Act – Harvard Open Access Project

“The Research Works Act (HR 3699) would repeal the OA policy at the NIH and block similar policies at other federal agencies.

The main section (Section 2) is brief: “No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that — (1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or (2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work.” …”

March-in Rights: A Lost Opportunity To Lower US Drug Prices – Intellectual Property Watch

“It appears not just unfair, but absurdly so. The US government paid for research that produced a patented drug, the patents were licensed exclusively to a Japanese firm, and that firm is now committing price discrimination against the US. Astellas Pharma is selling its anti-prostate cancer drug, Xtandi, for over $129,000 per year per patient in the United States – triple the price of the drug in Japan. Alas, this situation is not unusual. Many drugs that were financed by US taxpayers are sold in the US at exorbitant prices, but are much cheaper in other high-income industrialized nations. This differential price problem could be solved easily. However, the US government has consistently refused to exercise its march-in rights in order to lower drug prices….”

How the US federal OA policies are faring under Trump

“The federal OA policies are under Trump’s control but below his radar. He has no opinion about them, and neither do his top advisors. On the other hand, he and his top advisors have a strong hostility to science, almost a resentment, and show it by cutting the budgets of the science funding agencies, taking some OA databases offline, and and even bar?ring some publicly-funded researchers from communicating directly with the public (except through their publications). All this reduces the volume of OA to publicly-funded research, past and future.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which has an OA policy, is especially vulnerable because Trump-style Republicans believe that protecting the environment is bad for business. They’ve had it in their sights for years, and will either slash it or lay it down. But this shows the Trump approach. He doesn’t oppose OA as such; he just favors corporations and deregulation. OA is collateral damage, along with much bigger things, like the planet.”

The House just passed two bills that would stifle science at the EPA – Vox

“On the face of it, the bill is in line with what a lot of researchers argue for: open access not just for journal papers but for data too. The big idea is that this will make science more transparent and replicable, and decrease the friction for one lab to evaluate the work of another. (Psychology and a number of other fields have been dealing with an ongoing “crisis” in which they’re finding past research doesn’t replicate. Open access is a way to rectify it.)”

How a sustained misinformation campaign by publishers attacked @PLOSONE’s rigorous peer review

“I know first-hand just how thorough peer review is at PLOS ONE as I published one paper there and had another rejected because of flaws that we initially missed. Some scientists even complain that PLOS ONE actually rejects too much.

How much to reject is a tricky balancing act for a megajournal. Accept too much, and you are a “dumping ground”; reject too much and you’re an ‘evil gate-keeper’. The solution seems to be precisely what PLOS ONE does – aim for rigorous peer review and publish works that pass it. A week ago, Editor-in-Chief Joerg Heber told me that PLOS ONE publishes 50% of the submitted manuscripts….”