Chinese support for Plan S ‘major blow’ to opponents | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Chinese endorsement of Europe’s Plan S open-access initiative represents a major and unexpected blow to publishers that have criticised the scheme, according to its backers….

While it was unclear whether China would simply adopt Plan S or draw up its own open-access policies, the move is significant because it challenges the image of Plan S as being purely a regional initiative.

Chinese universities attach huge significance to publication in prestigious subscription journals – offering scientists awards of up to $165,000 (£131,000) for papers in Nature and Science, according to one report – so the country had been regarded as constituting a major bulwark against making open access a global movement.


However, position papers published by the three Chinese bodies say that they support the vision of Plan S “to transform, as soon as possible, research papers from publicly funded projects into immediate open access after publication”. The organisations say that they “support a wide range of flexible and inclusive measures to achieve this goal”….

A key argument advanced by opponents of Plan S is that it would limit academic collaboration and opportunities for scholars if major parts of the world, such as China, did not sign up to it. This was a key plank of an open letter published last month and signed by more than 1,500 people….”

University of California in subscription showdown with Elsevier | Times Higher Education (THE)

The long-running battle to oust high-cost subscription journals from the world of research is at a showdown moment, with a leading US university system set to break from the globe’s biggest academic publisher.

The University of California system is down to the final weeks of its $11 million (£8.8 million) per year contract with Elsevier and, with negotiations stalled, it has begun telling its faculty to brace for impact….”

Toward an Open Knowledge Research Graph: The Serials Librarian: Vol 0, No 0

Abstract:  Knowledge graphs facilitate the discovery of information by organizing it into entities and describing the relationships of those entities to each other and to established ontologies. They are popular with search and e-commerce companies and could address the biggest problems in scientific communication, according to Sören Auer of the Technische Informationsbibliothek and Leibniz University of Hannover. In his NASIG vision session, Auer introduced attendees to knowledge graphs and explained how they could make scientific research more discoverable, efficient, and collaborative. Challenges include incentivizing researchers to participate and creating the training data needed to automate the generation of knowledge graphs in all fields of research.

“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.

An audacious new plan will make all science free. Can it work? | New Scientist

“This may sound like the beginning of a tedious story of interest only to academics and publishers. I suspected so too when I started looking into it, but I soon discovered I was wrong. The battle over scientific publishing is a tale of big money, piracy, hacking, infighting, fake news and free speech. At stake is the soul of science itself. And after bubbling away for 20 years, it is about to boil over, with unpredictable consequences for all of us….”

OCLE: A European open access database on climate change effects on littoral and oceanic ecosystems – ScienceDirect

“Studies on historical and future distribution of marine species are frequently limited by the lack of relevant data on abiotic components (IPCC, 2014), especially when working over large areas (Robinson et al., 2017). Important advances have been achieved in the last years regarding availability of global information on physical and chemical driven forces affecting species distributions. WorldClim (Hijmans et al., 2005) marked a milestone in terrestrial species distribution studies, as it opened the opportunity to address global research studies with high resolution. Other databases including historical and projected variables in the terrestrial environment, mainly temperature and precipitation, such as Climond (Kriticos et al., 2012), Climate wizard (Girvetz et al., 2009) or Chelsea (Karger et al., 2016) have emerged recently. However, in the marine environment the number of global databases is limited. Bio-Oracle is the most valuable reference because it provides surface and benthic layers for water temperature, salinity, nutrients, chlorophyll, sea ice, current velocity, phytoplankton, primary productivity, iron and light at high resolution and global coverage (Assis et al., 2017; Tyberghein et al., 2012). Other remarkable databases are MARSPEC (Sbrocco and Barber, 2013), offering variables derived from bathymetry, slope, salinity and sea surface temperature, Aquamaps (Ready et al., 2010), focused on marine animals, or Hexacoral (Fautin and Buddemeier, 2002), with the aim to understand spatial and temporal patterns in biogeochemistry and biogeography. Some databases cover both land and sea areas, such as the MERRAclim (Vega et al., 2017), which offers decadal data of 19 derived variables of air temperature and humidity atmospheric water vapour….

Trying to comply with these requirements and using the best data available, to our best knowledge, this study presents the open access database on climate change effects on littoral and oceanic ecosystems (OCLE), an ecological-driven database of present and future hazards for marine life in Europe….”

Investigation of challenges in academic institutional repositories | A survey of academic librarians | Library Hi Tech | Ahead of Print



The purpose of this paper is to explore the breadth of the challenges and issues facing institutional repositories in academic libraries, based on a survey of academic librarians. Particularly, this study covers the challenges and barriers related to data management facing institutional repositories.


The study uses a survey method to identify the relative significance of major challenges facing institutional repositories across six dimensions, including: data, metadata, technological requirements, user needs, ethical concerns and administrative challenges.


The results of the survey reveal that academic librarians identify limited resources, including insufficient budget and staff, as the major factor preventing the development and/or deployment of services in institutional repositories. The study also highlights crucial challenges in different dimensions of institutional repositories, including the sheer amount of data, institutional support for metadata creation and the sensitivity of data.


This study is one of a few studies that comprehensively identified the variety of challenges that institutional repositories face in operating academic libraries with a focus on data management in institutional repositories. In this study, 37 types of challenges were identified in six dimensions of institutional repositories. More importantly, the significance of those challenges was assessed from the perspective of academic librarians involved in institutional repository services….”

Publishing speed and acceptance rates of open access megajournals | Online Information Review | Ahead of Print

“Purpose. The purpose of this paper is to look at two particular aspects of open access megajournals, a new type of scholarly journals. Such journals only review for scientific soundness and leave the judgment of scientific impact to the readers. The two leading journals currently each publish more than 20,000 articles per year. The publishing speed of such journals and acceptance rates of such journals are the topics of the study.

Design/methodology/approach. Submission, acceptance and publication dates for a sample of articles in 12 megajournals were manually extracted from the articles. Information about acceptance rates was obtained using web searches of journal home pages, editorials, blogs, etc.

Findings. The time from submission to publication varies a lot, with engineering megajournals publishing much more rapidly. But on average it takes almost half a year to get published, particularly in the high-volume biomedical journals. As some of the journals have grown in publication volume, the average review time has increased by almost two months. Acceptance rates have slightly decreased over the past five years, and are now in the range of 50–55 percent.

Originality/value. This is the first empirical study of how long it takes to get published in megajournals and it highlights a clear increase of around two months in publishing. Currently, the review process in the biomedical megajournals takes as long as in regular more selective journals in the same fields. Possible explanations could be increasing difficulties in finding willing and motivated reviewers and in a higher share of submissions from developing countries….”