The internet begins to finish the job that Aaron Swartz started, at the rate of a paper per minute
Simon Oxenham covers the best and the worst from the world of psychology and neuroscience. Formerly writing with the pseudonym "Neurobonkers", Simon has a history of debunking dodgy scientific research and tearing apart questionable science journalism in an irreverent style. Simon has written and blogged for publishers including: The Psychologist, Nature, Scientific American and The Guardian. His work has been praised in the New York Times and The Guardian and described in Pearson's Textbook of Psychology as "excoriating reviews of bad science/studies”.
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Last Friday Aaron Swartz committed suicide, shortly before his Federal trial was due to begin. According to the US Attorney’s press release, “if convicted on these charges, SWARTZ faces up to 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million”. Swartz' crime? Downloading research from the JSTOR database of academic research.
Within days of the death of Aaron Swartz, academics began posting their research papers online for free using the Twitter hashtag #PDFTribute. Within minutes a scraper popped up to database the links at pdftribute.net. Now, a browser plugin called the "Aaron Swartz Memorial JSTOR Liberator" has been developed which will use an individual's credentials to "liberate a single document" every time the bookmarklet is clicked. Users are warned this is a breach of terms of service, similar to that committed by Aaron Swartz. Once again we seem to be witnessing the Streisand Effect in action.
Micah Allen, a neuroscience researcher and open data activist has mused on idea of whether we are seeing the beginnings of "Papester" for academic research, an analogy to napster. For members of the public who fund research through taxes and the many researchers at institutions (often but not always in the third world) that can not afford journal subscription fees; and the patients whose lives depend on doctors and scientists having access to cutting edge research, this development may not be a bad thing.
Regardless of how things develop, one thing researchers can do to help ensure Aaron Swartz did not die in vain is to ensure their research is published in open access journals. For work already published researchers do not always have to break the law or the terms of service of the publishers who now hold the copyright to their work. Researchers can simply go back to the publishers of their research, (and perhaps - but probably best not, remind them that they never earned a penny - and often indeed spent large amounts of money on publishing fees - for their research which has now been locked away) and request permission to publish a copy of their own work on their blog. An example of a researcher who has done this very successfully is Vaughan Bell, author of the Mindhacks blog who has posted a direct link to the PDF's of all his research online. Once this is done, anyone with a Google account can access your research and indeed researchers can access your researchers without juggling VPN's, logins, and other other hoops placed by publishers that hinder access to research.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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