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Open Access and the Public Good

A panel discussion on the topic “Open Access and the Public Good” will occur Friday, September 26th at   2 pm in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber. Professor Russell Ganim (Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) will moderate a conversation between the Honorable James Leach (Law), Professor Christina Bohannan (Law), and Professor Bernd Fritzsch (Biology). Among the topics will be how research in the Humanities and Sciences is financed and conducted and who has the right to access its results.

Organized by the University of Iowa Libraries, this event is free and open to the public. We hope you’ll join us to talk about open access and related issues regarding publishing and the free availability of information.

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Frustration with Scholarly Publishing

Julian Stirling, a post-doctoral researcher from Great Britain, recently published an angry blog post recounting his frustration with scientific publishers, touching on their lack of transparency, their perceived unwillingness to change, and copyright law.  Read it on his personal blog here.

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Two Articles on Laboratory Fraud and Government-funded Research

First, from the New York Times, an opinion piece titled Crack Down on Scientific Fraudsters that hits particularly close to home: a researcher at Iowa State University faked lab results to make it seem that he had created a new and effective vaccine for the AIDS virus. The topic of federally funding scientific research amid widespread laboratory fraud, as well as the issue of whether and how the government should be reimbursed for grant money used to fake results, is a focus.

And, from BMJ.com, a more wide-ranging look at the same topic, titled Should Research Fraud be a Crime?

Particularly unfortunate events considering the recent acknowledgement by the federal government that free, public, open access to scientific research conducted with government grants is important, as it may be access to an indefinite amount of criminal fantasy.

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Update on the Open Access Fund

As many of you know, in April of 2013 the Libraries and the Provost’s Office launched the Open Access Fund to encourage UI authors to publish in Open Access platforms by covering the author processing charges typically associated with OA journals.   Use of the fund took off at a leisurely pace, but has increased slowly but steadily since.

Here are some statistics that folks may find interesting, from the inception of the fund to date:

  • 54 UI authors have applied for funding
  • 53 of these requests have been approved
  • Authors came from 27 departments, many from the hard sciences and medical campus, but also from Communication Studies and the UI Museum of Natural History
  • The funding requests represented 38 unique journals from 19 publishers
  • Article processing fees were paid for 41 of these applications (some are still to be published)
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Lack of Transparency in Academic Journal Pricing

Citing a recent research paper on PNAS, a short article from http://www.the-scientist.com talks about the lack of transparency in academic journal pricing and the high prices research libraries have to pay for journal access. Read full article here.

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Another take on Altmetrics

Check out this blog post on altmetrics by David Colquhoun, a London-based scientist, and Andrew Plested, a Berlin-based scientist: Why you should ignore altmetrics and other bibliometric nightmares. Scroll down the page to see responses, which are equally interesting.

BMJ Group recently ran a shortened version on their blog.

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The new Authors Alliance aims to assist authors with their rights

Excerpted from an article by Jennifer Howard in the The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“A new nonprofit group wants to help authors understand all of their options. Called the Authors Alliance, it’s led by several academics and writers, including Pamela Samuelson, a professor of law and information at the University of California at Berkeley. She has long been a major voice in copyright discussions and has been a moving force behind friend-of-the-court briefs filed in closely followed copyright-infringement cases, including a lawsuit that pitted another authors’ group, the Authors Guild, against Google over its mass digitizing of books.

The new alliance is part of an attempt to develop a positive agenda around copyright, she says, and to arm writers, and perhaps policy makers, with information that will help them make decisions.”

Read full article here.

And, for more: Kevin Smith, a copyright expert and librarian, explains why he joined the Authors Alliance, and how it differs from the Authors Guild, in his most recent blog posting.

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The Plight of University Presses

Here is a very good article in The Nation outlining some of the challenges faced by university presses:

http://www.thenation.com/article/179712/university-presses-under-fire?page=0,0

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Altmetrics: Jonesing for Attention?

Here is a link to an interesting post on the Scholarly Kitchen (dated 5/1) by David Crotty.   What really constitutes a “use” of a scholarly work?  Be sure and take a look at the comments.

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Publishing Agreements, Nature, and Moral Rights of Authorship

Nature Publishing Group

Nature Publishing Group

Nature Publishing Group (NPG), a prestigious journal publisher for the Environmental, Life, and Physical sciences, has been receiving attention for language included in the publishing contracts they require authors to sign once a research paper has been accepted. Kevin Smith, the director of the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communication at Duke University, noticed that, in addition signing away the economic rights to their articles, authors are asked to waive their “moral rights” to their work. From the license:

“The Author(s) hereby waive or agree not to assert (where such waiver is not possible at law) any and all moral rights they may now or in the future hold in connection with the Contribution and the  supplementary Information.” [NPG License to Publish, Clause 7]

Mr. Smith argues that this clause threatens the core scholarly principle of an author to be attributed to her work. NPG has responded to this by clarifying their reasoning for the clause: “The “moral rights” language included in our license to publish is there to ensure that the journal and its publisher are free to publish formal corrections or retractions of articles where the integrity of the scientific record may be compromised by the disagreement of authors.” While retractions are not uncommon in scientific literature, it is unclear why licenses to publish do not explicitly assert a right to correct or remove fraudulent or erroneous research findings.

As the creator of an original work, you have the right to make sure that your publishing agreements reflect your best interests. For assistance with publishing agreements, contact your department’s librarian or read more about retaining your Author’s Rights.