Plan S: how important is open access publishing? | Times Higher Education (THE)

Dislike of gold open access is also partly responsible for researchers’ opposition to Plan S. Lynn Kamerlin, professor of structural biology at Uppsala University, is one of the instigators of the open letter against it. While she pledges strong support for open access, she is happy with the current rate of progress and sees the recent “explosion” in the use of preprint servers as illustrative of the range of routes towards it. She fears that the details of Plan S’ “embargo requirements and repository technical requirements…are so draconian that paid-for gold becomes the easiest way to fulfil them”. This will convert the “nudges” towards gold in existing funder mandates (which she supports) into a “shove”, which will be “a disaster for the research community” because it will disadvantage those unable to pay article processing charges and “seriously jeopardise the much more rigorous quality control standards provided by high-quality society journals compared to the high-volume for-profit business model, which has an inbuilt conflict of interest”.

Nor is Kamerlin alone in expressing a concern that the allegedly lower standards of peer review practised by fully open access journals have compromised quality. But, for Suber, debating quality rather misses the point. “Yes, there is some low-quality open access work, but there’s also low-quality subscription journal work, and people who step back [to see the bigger picture] always acknowledge that,” he says. “Quality and access are completely independent of each other. Open access isn’t a kind of peer review, it’s a kind of dissemination.”

However, he agrees with Kamerlin that the “green” form of open access, whereby academics post work that is in subscription journals on their institutional repositories or elsewhere…is another good option….”

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….”

Ryan Zinke Puts Interior Department Loyalist In Charge Of Public Records Requests

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has put political appointee Daniel Jorjani in charge of overseeing all public information requests sent to the agency. Jorjani once told Interior colleagues that their job is ultimately to protect Zinke from ethics probes and bad press….

And in a March 2017 email to colleagues, Jorjani boasted that he had “successfully protected” Interior presidential appointments facing investigations and that their main responsibility was to do the same for Zinke….

Meg Townsend, the Center for Biological Diversity’s open government attorney, accused Zinke of “politicizing” the FOIA process. 

“With a Koch crony in charge of records requests, the department will work in darkness,” she said in a statement. “Public records that might shame Zinke or big polluters will be covered up, and our public lands and wildlife will suffer.” …”

Opposition builds to Interior Department records purge | Salon.com

The proposed document purge includes records about endangered species, oil and gas leases, timber sales, dams and land purchases….

The National Archives has said that getting rid of records is standard and has been going on for decades. The schedule’s language gives broad authority to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to destroy records documenting government efforts to protect endangered species and public lands.

 

“The Trump administration wants to bury science and hide how mining, drilling and logging on public lands devastate our precious natural spaces,” said Meg Townsend, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.…”

“Ag-Gag” Laws: Evolution, Resurgence, and Public Health Implications

Abstract:  The term “ag-gag” refers to state laws that intentionally limit public access to information about agricultural production practices, particularly livestock production. Originally created in the 1990s, these laws have recently experienced a resurgence in state legislatures. We discuss the recent history of ag-gag laws in the United States and question whether such ag-gag laws create a “chilling effect” on reporting and investigation of occupational health, community health, and food safety concerns related to industrial food animal production. We conclude with a discussion of the role of environmental and occupational health professionals to encourage critical evaluation of how ag-gag laws might influence the health, safety, and interests of day-to-day agricultural laborers and the public living proximal to industrial food animal production.

When the Law Advances Access to Learning: Locke and the Origins of Modern Copyright

Abstract:  In light of the challenge and promise currently facing scholarly publishing’s move to digital models of greater openness, this paper offers a point of historical reflection on an earlier era of concern over sustainable access to learned works. It reports on a period of great turmoil in publishing that ran from the end of British book licensing in 1695, which unleashed a great wave of print piracy and sedition, to the legal remedy afforded by the Statute of Anne 1710, which introduced what we now think of as modern copyright law. The paper begins with John Locke’s lobbying of Parliament to end the effrontery of press censorship and monopoly maintained by the three-decade old Licensing Act of 1662. The scholar-friendly legal reforms of this act that Locke proposed in the 1690s were not taken up by Parliament when it allowed the act to expire in 1695. However, six years after Locke’s death in 1704, his and others’ proposed reforms were to find a place in the Statute of Anne 1710. This legislation was the first to vest authors with an exclusive, limited-term right to print copies of their work, while also protecting the access rights of scholars and the public to these and other works. I argue that the history of the statute reveals how the age of copyright began with striking a fine legislative balance between the interests of learning and those of commercial publishing, while also offering further insight into Locke’s influential work on property rights and limits. My hope is that this portrayal of Locke’s relatively effective political intervention as scholar-activist and public defender of learning in relation to the subsequent Statute of Anne might inspire and lend weight to the academic community’s current grappling with the growing commercial dominance of scholarly publishing.

Silencing Science Tracker – Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

“The Silencing Science Tracker is a joint initiative of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. It tracks government attempts to restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information, since the November 2016 election….”