Fight for the Future – News – 2021-02-24-new-tool-shows-how-amazon-and-other-book

“ offers letter grades in accessibility and availability for books, laying bare prohibitive licensing costs, exclusive deals such as Amazon’s Audible Originals, and usability concerns that are keeping popular books out of the hands of our nation’s most-vulnerable readers….

The ‘Who can get your book?’ quiz offers authors and publishers a letter grade, granting one point for each equitable decision in how a book is released. For example, Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime receives a letter grade of D, based on the memoir’s lack of availability in audiobook format due to an exclusive with Amazon’s Audible—as well as restrictive licensing agreements for the ebook.


Access issues with audiobooks in particular don’t stop there. Despite an orientation to equity of access and rare download-and-own options for ebooks, PM Press’ Pictures Of A Gone City still received a C grade because the audiobook they paid to produce via Amazon’s ACX Services is only available on Audible….”


An analysis of the factors affecting open access to research output in institutional repositories in selected universities in East Africa | JLSC

Kakai, M., 2021. An analysis of the factors affecting open access to research output in institutional repositories in selected universities in East Africa. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 9(1), p.eP2276. DOI:

Abstract: Institutional repositories (IRs) present universities with an opportunity to provide global open access (OA) to their scholarship, however, this avenue was underutilised in two of the three universities in this study. This study aimed at proposing interventions to improve access to research output in IRs in universities in East Africa, and it adds to the depth of knowledge on IRs by pointing out the factors that limit OA in IRs, some of which include lack of government and funder support for OA and mediated content collection workflows that hardly involved seeking author permission to self-archive. METHODS A mixed methods approach, following a concurrent strategy was used to investigate the low level of OA in IRs. Data was collected from three purposively selected IRs in universities in East Africa, using self-administered questionnaires from 183 researchers and face-to-face interviews from six librarians. results The findings revealed that content was collected on a voluntary basis, with most of the research output deposited in the IR without the authors’ knowledge. The respondents in this study were, however, supportive of the activities of the IR, and would participate in providing research output in the IR as OA if required to do so. CONCLUSION The low level of OA in IRs in universities in East Africa could be increased by improving the IR workflow, collection development, and marketing processes. Self-archiving could be improved by increasing the researchers’ awareness and knowledge of OA and importance of IRs, while addressing their concerns about copyright infringement.

The New Enlightenment and the Fight to Free Knowledge

“In The New Enlightenment and the Fight to Free Knowledge, MIT Open Learning’s Peter B. Kaufman describes the powerful forces that have purposely crippled our efforts to share knowledge widely and freely.

Popes and their inquisitors, emperors and their hangmen, commissars and their secret police – throughout history, all have sought to stanch the free flow of information. Kaufman writes of times when the Bible could not be translated – you’d be burned for trying; when dictionaries and encyclopedias were forbidden; when literature and science and history books were trashed and pulped – sometimes along with their authors; and when efforts to develop public television and radio networks were quashed by private industry.

In the 21st century, the enemies of free thought have taken on new and different guises – giant corporate behemoths, sprawling national security agencies, gutted regulatory commissions. Bereft of any real moral compass or sense of social responsibility, their work to surveil and control us are no less nefarious than their 16th- and 18th- and 20th- century predecessors’. They are all part of what Kaufman calls the Monsterverse….”

OSF Preprints | A survey of researchers’ needs and priorities for data sharing

Abstract:  PLOS has long supported Open Science. One of the ways in which we do so is via our stringent data availability policy established in 2014. Despite this policy, and more data sharing policies being introduced by other organizations, best practices for data sharing are adopted by a minority of researchers in their publications. Problems with effective research data sharing persist and these problems have been quantified by previous research as a lack of time, resources, incentives, and/or skills to share data.

  In this study we built on this research by investigating the importance of tasks associated with data sharing, and researchers’ satisfaction with their ability to complete these tasks. By investigating these factors we aimed to better understand opportunities for new or improved solutions for sharing data. In May-June 2020 we surveyed researchers from Europe and North America to rate tasks associated with data sharing on (i) their importance and (ii) their satisfaction with their ability to complete them. We received 728 completed and 667 partial responses. We calculated mean importance and satisfaction scores to highlight potential opportunities for new solutions to and compare different cohorts. Tasks relating to research impact, funder compliance, and credit had the highest importance scores. 52% of respondents reuse research data but the average satisfaction score for obtaining data for reuse was relatively low. Tasks associated with sharing data were rated somewhat important and respondents were reasonably well satisfied in their ability to accomplish them. Notably, this included tasks associated with best data sharing practice, such as use of data repositories. However, the most common method for sharing data was in fact via supplemental files with articles, which is not considered to be best practice. We presume that researchers are unlikely to seek new solutions to a problem or task that they are satisfied in their ability to accomplish, even if many do not attempt this task. This implies there are few opportunities for new solutions or tools to meet these researcher needs. Publishers can likely meet these needs for data sharing by working to seamlessly integrate existing solutions that reduce the effort or behaviour change involved in some tasks, and focusing on advocacy and education around the benefits of sharing data. There may however be opportunities – unmet researcher needs – in relation to better supporting data reuse, which could be met in part by strengthening data sharing policies of journals and publishers, and improving the discoverability of data associated with published articles.

The pandemic made open data bigger than ever. But it’s still pretty messy.

“Almost one year later, every state has expanded its coronavirus data offerings, but the efforts in many places remain incomplete, and incongruous across state lines, even as the United States ramps up a mass vaccination effort. Data and public health experts say the faults stem from several issues, including a lack of data related to race and ethnicity, elected officials politicizing the numbers and an absence of any national standards.

Just as the demands of remote work and digital government have raised the profile of state IT, the ongoing need for accurate information has heightened the role of data operations….”

RECOMMENDED: Is There a Text in These Data? ? dh+lib

“Publisher intransigence, library unpreparedness, and unshakable humanist allegiance to print forms of research communication distort scholarly communication systems in ways that disadvantage digital humanists and prevent migration to opener and likely more sustainable digital modes of publication and dissemination. This, in turn, isolates and disadvantages the humanities both within and outside the academy. Exactly how the humanities in general and the digital humanities specifically will break out of this untenable box remains unclear. Until they do, however, the monograph crisis will intensify, digital humanists will continue fleeing the academy for fairer, greener pastures, and the humanities will impoverish their own future.”

Are price barriers in the national interest?

“[Adler] rejected the idea that taxpayer financed research should be open to the public, saying that it was in the national interest for it to be restricted to those who could pay subscription fees. “Remember — you’re talking about free online access to the world,” he said. “You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.” …

Note that we’re talking about published research, not classified research that isn’t published. Thank goodness our enemies can’t afford to pay subscriptions or visit libraries. Thank goodness harming Americans has the side-effect of harming foreigners.  At least our sacrifice is not in vain. Thank goodness Americans have never benefited from scientific advances made by non-Americans.  Thank goodness publishers are willing to collect subscription fees for this patriotic purpose. Thank goodness publishers are willing to shoulder the responsibility of controlling access to our research.   We know that they don’t have to.  They didn’t conduct this research, write it up, or fund it….”

The broken promise that undermines human genome research

“Data sharing was a core principle that led to the success of the Human Genome Project 20 years ago. Now scientists are struggling to keep information free….

So in 1996, the HGP [Human Genome Project] researchers got together to lay out what became known as the Bermuda Principles, with all parties agreeing to make the human genome sequences available in public databases, ideally within 24 hours — no delays, no exceptions.


Fast-forward two decades, and the field is bursting with genomic data, thanks to improved technology both for sequencing whole genomes and for genotyping them by sequencing a few million select spots to quickly capture the variation within. These efforts have produced genetic readouts for tens of millions of individuals, and they sit in data repositories around the globe. The principles laid out during the HGP, and later adopted by journals and funding agencies, meant that anyone should be able to access the data created for published genome studies and use them to power new discoveries….

The explosion of data led governments, funding agencies, research institutes and private research consortia to develop their own custom-built databases for handling the complex and sometimes sensitive data sets. And the patchwork of repositories, with various rules for access and no standard data formatting, has led to a “Tower of Babel” situation, says Haussler….”

Journal policies and editors’ opinions on peer review

“To the extent that these tensions extend to open peer review policies, editors’ concerns about negative impacts on reviewer acceptance rates are not unfounded [7,21,36-39]. For example, findings from a survey of over 12,000 researchers by Publons in 2018 reported that, depending on which policies were adopted, 37 to 49% of participants stated they would be less likely to accept an invitation to review [7]. However, while these findings are unfortunate for proponents of open peer review, there is also evidence to suggest these views may be shifting, especially among younger and non-academic scholars [7,40].

Previous research has reported that three quarters of editors consider finding willing reviewers as the most difficult part of their job, with this task projected to become only more difficult. Furthermore, given that it is estimated that 10% of reviewers account for 50% of performed reviews, it is not surprising that the perceived impact of changes on an editor’s ability to recruit reviewers contributes heavily to journal policymaking decisions [7]. It is therefore also not surprising for the reasons above that we note very low uptake of the three policies most often associated with open peer review: open identities, open reports and open interactions in the current study and previous research [26,27,29]….”