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Colleges Reinvent Classes to Keep More Students in Science

Max Whittaker for The New York Times Hundreds of students fill the seats, but the lecture hall stays quiet enough for everyone to hear each cough and crumpling piece of paper. The instructor speaks from a podium for nearly the entire 80 minutes. Most students take notes. Some scan the Internet. A few doze. In a nearby hall, an instructor, Catherine Uvarov, peppers students with questions and presses them to…

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For Sale: “Your Name Here” in a Prestigious Science Journal

Klaus Kayser has been publishing electronic journals for so long he can remember mailing them to subscribers on floppy disks. His 19 years of experience have made him keenly aware of the problem of scientific fraud. In his view, he takes extraordinary measures to protect the journal he currently edits, Diagnostic Pathology. For instance, to prevent authors from trying to pass off microscope images from the Internet as their own,…

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Gods and Truths for Other Inhabited Worlds

A star appeared in the East. Following it, so the biblical story goes, three Magi urged on by a nervous King Herod arrived at a stable in Bethlehem and discovered the news that many of us celebrate with bells, lights and too much sugar and alcohol every year at this time: The son of God had come to die for our sins. Peace on earth and good will to men…

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Greenpeace helps quash new European science policy office

Was the recently scrapped role of European chief scientific adviser (CSA) position, held by Anne Glover, doomed to fail from the outset? Clearly it was a role that was under resourced and not clearly defined, at no fault of Glover’s, who was clearly full of the right stuff coming from the post of chief scientist in Scotland. And what role did the lobbying by a coalition of NGOs—including Greenpeace and…

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Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age, by Cory Doctorow. Available from McSweeney’s. Copyright © 2014. Is This Copyright Protection? The people who make digital locks sell them as “copy protection” (that is, protection against having a file copied), and sometimes as “copyright protection.” We can debate their claim to the former, but we should certainly reject the idea that digital locks protect copyright. As things…

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Cancer patients using “mouse avatars” to customize treatments

Scientists often test drugs in mice. Now some cancer patients are doing the same — with the hope of curing their own disease. They are paying a private lab to breed mice that carry bits of their own tumors so treatments can be tried first on the customized rodents. The idea is to see which drugs might work best on a specific person’s specific cancer. The mice may help patients…

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Has “publish or perish” become “publicize or perish”?

At the recent STM Innovations meeting, a number of new initiatives were discussed along a similar theme — promoting the works of authors, essentially marketing their papers to drive citations, public awareness, and chances for academic recognition. While one aspect of these networks is a basic narcissism (my profile with my picture about my papers and my data promoting my career), another aspect is that in an increasingly crowded publishing…

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UNESCO on the global future of open access

The mission of UNESCO, which was founded in 1945, is to “contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.” An important plank in that mission is a commitment to help build inclusive and equitable knowledge societies. We should not be surprised, therefore, that UNESCO supports the Open Access movement, we should not be surprised that…

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