The Open Access Irony Awards
Recently under the US government shutdown many scientists discovered for the first time what it is like to be cut off from science, but for others not having direct access to all the resources they require is the norm. Once upon a time, physical hard copies of academic work were so precious they were chained to their shelves. Long ago we moved on from the days when every text had to be written by hand - and consequently could have the value of many years average salary. We have moved on from the days of the printing press and the major real costs of publishing on paper. Profits of academic publishers have soared as their outgoings have diminished, yet the ivory tower publishers still charge extortionate rates to members of the public or academics in the third world or second rate institutions who want to access science.This is a bizarre situation because scientific research is created by scientists employed by academic institutions or funded by government grants. The papers are then typically reviewed and edited by academics working for free, leaving little more than typesetting for the publisher, who then takes full ownership of the copyright and locks up the paper before promptly selling it straight back to the very same scientists and institutions who created it for free in the first place, not to mention the public who pay for government funded research through taxes.
Update 21/10/13: Since the screenshots were posted to the Open Access Irony Award group it seems some of the paywalls have been removed. I received a message from the editor of Genome Biology, who stated that a paper in question "has *always* been Open Access", I can only presume a glitch in their system caused a paywall to appear at some point. I've modified the original image in order to only display below paywalls that are still in force.
For a critical whistlestop one page crash course on open access, check out the open access week info sheet:
Why not print it off and put it on your library/lab noticeboard? Find more open access week resources here. Follow the goings on of open access week on Twitter under the following hashtags: #OAWeek #OAweek13. Use the #OA hashtag all year round.
More from me on open access:
Lumina Foundation is partnering with Big Think to unearth the next large-scale, rapid innovation in post-high school education. Enter the competition here!
Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."
- Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
- This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
- On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.
- NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
- The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
- A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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