Viral Science: Masks, Speed Bumps, and Guard Rails: Patterns

“With the world fixated on COVID-19, the WHO has warned that the pandemic response has also been accompanied by an infodemic: overabundance of information, ranging from demonstrably false to accurate. Alas, the infodemic phenomenon has extended to articles in scientific journals, including prestigious medical outlets such as The Lancet and NEJM. The rapid reviews and publication speed for COVID-19 papers has surprised many, including practicing physicians, for whom the guidance is intended….

The Allen Institute for AI (AI2) and Semantic Scholar launched the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), a growing corpus of papers (currently 130,000 abstracts plus full-text papers being used by multiple research groups) that are related to past and present coronaviruses.

Using this data, AI2, working with the University of Washington, released a tool called SciSight, an AI-powered graph visualization tool enabling quick and intuitive exploration
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 of associations between biomedical entities such as proteins, genes, cells, drugs, diseases, and patient characteristics as well as between different research groups working in the field. It helps foster collaborations and discovery as well as reduce redundancy….

The research community and scientific publishers working together need to develop and make accessible open-source software tools to permit the dual-track submission discussed above. Repositories such as Github are a start….”

Internet Archive Responds to Piracy Charges | CCC’s Beyond the Book

“According to the filing, says [Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly], the Internet Archive “does what libraries have always done: buy, collect, preserve, and share our common culture. Its untested legal theory of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) is [allegedly] a good faith and legal effort specifically designed to ‘mirror traditional library lending online.’

[Still quoting Albanese:] “Contrary to the publishers’ accusations, the filing states, the Internet Archive, and the hundreds of libraries that support CDL, are not pirates or thieves, they are librarians, striving to serve their patrons online just as they have done for centuries in the brick-and-mortar world.” …”

Judge Sets Tentative Trial Date for November 2021 – Internet Archive Blogs

“This week, a federal judge issued this scheduling order, laying out the road map that may lead to a jury trial in the copyright lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest publishers against the Internet Archive. Judge John G. Koeltl has ordered all parties to be ready for trial by November 12, 2021. He set a deadline of December 1, 2020, to notify the court if the parties are willing to enter settlement talks with a magistrate judge. 

Attorneys for the Internet Archive have met with representatives for the publishers, but were unable to reach an agreement. “We had hoped to settle this needless lawsuit,” said Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive’s founder and Digital Librarian. “Right now the publishers are diverting attention and resources from where they should be focused: on helping students during this pandemic.” 

The scheduling order lays out this timeline:

Discovery must be completed by September 20, 2021;
Dispositive motions must be submitted by October 8, 2021;
Pretrial orders/motions must be submitted by October 29, 2021;
Parties must be ready for trial on 48 hours notice by November 12, 2021…..

Publishers Weekly Senior Writer Andrew Albanese has been covering the story from the beginning. In a July 31st Beyond the Book podcast for the Copyright Clearance Center, Albanese shared his candid opinions about the lawsuit. “If this was to be a blow out, open-and-shut case for the publishers, what do the publishers and authors get?” Albanese asked. “I’d say nothing.”

“Honestly, a win in court on this issue will not mean more sales for books for publishers. Nor will it protect any authors or publisher from the vagaries of the Internet,” the Publishers Weekly journalist continued. “Here we are in the streaming age, 13 years after the ebook market took off, and we’re having a copyright battle, a court battle over crappy PDFs of mostly out-of-print books? I just don’t think it’s a good look for the industry.” …”

Publishers Are Taking the Internet to Court

“The trial is set for next year in federal court, with initial disclosures for discovery scheduled to take place next week. The publishers’ “prayer for relief” seeks to destroy the Open Library’s existing books, and to soak the Internet Archive for a lot of money; in their response, the Archive is looking to have its opponents’ claims denied in full, its legal costs paid, and “such other and further relief as the Court deems just and equitable.” But what’s really at stake in this lawsuit is the idea of ownership itself—what it means not only for a library but for anyone to own a book….

The Internet Archive is a tech partner to hundreds of libraries, including the Library of Congress, for whom it develops techniques for the stewardship of digital content. It helps them build their own Web-based collections with tools such as Archive-It, which is currently used by more than 600 organizations including universities, museums, and government agencies, as well as libraries, to create their own searchable public archives. The Internet Archive repairs broken links on Wikipedia—by the million. It has collected thousands of early computer games, and developed online emulators so they can be played on modern computers. It hosts collections of live music performances, 78s and cylinder recordings, radio shows, films and video. I am leaving a lot out about its groundbreaking work in making scholarly materials more accessible, its projects to expand books to the print-disabled—too many undertakings and achievements to count….

For-profit publishers like HarperCollins or Hachette don’t perform the kind of work required to preserve a cultural posterity. Publishers are not archivists. They obey the dictates of the market. They keep books in print based on market considerations, not cultural ones. …

publishers would like to see libraries obliged to license, not to own, books—that is, continue to pay for the same book again and again. That’s what this lawsuit is really about. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that publishers took advantage of the pandemic to achieve what they had not been able to achieve previously: to turn the library system into a “reading as a service” operation from which they can squeeze profits forever….”

U-M Press Dialogues in Democracy: Core titles in politics and public policy now “free-to-read” – University of Michigan Press Blog

“The University of Michigan Press is pleased to announce the launch of “Dialogues in Democracy,” a collection of at least 25 free-to-read books contextualized by multimedia resources including author podcasts and videos. Ideal for students and the engaged voter alike, these resources illustrate the core tensions in American political culture—tensions that erupt every four years during the presidential election and are particularly apparent during these unusual times….”

The Open Covid Pledge: lifting the lid | Association for Learning Technology

“Since we launched the Open Covid Pledge for Education, more than 100 open educators and more than 40 organisations have pledged to share their knowledge to support the educational response to COVID-19.

It’s a wonderful expression of solidarity in the face of enormous challenges. But what does an open pledge really mean, and what could it achieve? …”

The final version of the RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines for Data Sharing, published 30 June 2020 | RDA

“The Research Data Alliance (RDA) COVID-19 Working Group members bring various, global expertise to develop a body of work that comprises how data from multiple disciplines inform response to a pandemic combined with guidelines and recommendations on data sharing under the present COVID-19 cicumstances.  This extends to research software sharing, in recognition of the key role in software in analysing data.  The work has been divided into four research areas (namely, clinical, omics, epidemiology, social sciences) with four cross cutting themes (namely, community participation, indigenous data, legal and ethical considerations, research software), as a way to focus the conversations, and provide an initial set of guidelines in a tight timeframe.  The detailed guidelines are aimed to help stakeholders follow best practices to maximise the efficiency of their work, and to act as a blueprint for future emergencies.  The recommendations in the document are aimed at helping policymakers and funders to maximise timely, quality data sharing and appropriate responses in such health emergencies.

This work was executed in an intense period over just over 6 weeks, with five iterations, all of which were opened for public community comment.  Draft releases and comments are avaialable here (https://doi.org/10.15497/rda00046). …”

Helping data make a difference – ARDC

“In late March, when the European Commission asked the Research Data Alliance (RDA) to develop a set of global guidelines and recommendations for data sharing in response to the crisis, Kheeran Dharmawardena served as one of the moderators in the community participation theme.

Kheeran has been addressing the gap between information infrastructure and users over the past two decades. His background includes providing ICT services across the higher education and research sectors, including Monash University, the University of Melbourne, ARDC’s Nectar Research Cloud and the Atlas of Living Australia. He’s currently the principle consultant at Cytrax Consulting and also co-chairs the Virtual Research Environments and the Social Dynamics of Data Interoperability interest groups at the RDA. He also founded and co-chairs the Australian Geospatial Capabilities community of practice.

 

Following the RDA’s publication of its report, COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines for Data Sharing, Dharmawardena provided some insight on the project and the importance of data access….”

New York Times Again Forgets to Mention the Fool Proof Way to Prevent Foreign Governments from Stealing Vaccine Research – Center for Economic and Policy Research

“Of course that would be having open research that was freely shared. That would immediately make theft impossible, since there would be nothing to steal.

This simple and obvious point is not mentioned once in a piece describing efforts by Russia and China to gain access to vaccine research being done at U.S. universities and private companies. Since the whole world is struggling to get a vaccine as quickly as possible to bring the pandemic under control, it might have made sense to have a cooperative effort, where all research would be freely shared and any vaccines that are developed could be produced by any manufacturer with the capability to make it.

Instead, we went the route of restricting research access, which is both likely to slow down the development of effective vaccines and also lead to otherwise pointless security costs. It also is likely to mean that any vaccines that are developed will be expensive, since the producers will own patent monopolies that allow them to restrict access….”

Fall Update: Meeting Student Basic Needs During COVID-19 | U.S. PIRG

“While universities moved many or all of their classes online this past spring, publishers and ed tech companies offered temporary free access codes for students to submit homework. Now, those free passes are gone – and beyond their high price, commercial products like these pose numerous problems for students, such as their lack of instructor flexibility, reliance on a strong wifi connection, and student data privacy. Faculty should consider free open educational resources that are more adaptable to their teaching style and this learning environment. The University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library, UC Davis’ LibreTexts, and Rice University’s OpenStax are great sources for high quality open materials, with links to free homework solutions. 

This fall, Rutgers University has expanded its Open and Affordable Textbook Program  directly in response to faculty demands to cut student costs because of COVID-19. The program is projected to save over two million dollars for more than 16,000 students over the next few terms. In addition to open textbooks, college and university faculty should consider assigning materials the library already owns, or sharing chapters or select pages from copyrighted books. Stony Brook University has a good guide to fair use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes. …”