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What Would It Cost to Buy Everything?

The “everything” I had in mind was all formally published academic journals. That means peer-reviewed material, but it excludes open access publications (since you don’t have to pay to read them). Also excluded for this exercise are books, databases, and other content types that mostly sit outside the bulk of discourse about scholarly communications. You will see in a minute just how complicated the original question is, but I had…

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Why Is Science Suffering in the Modern Age?

A recent survey from the Pew Research Institute revealed troubling trends in how science is doing, and showed that the public and scientists are far apart on many basic questions, from whether humans have evolved over time (only 65% of the public agrees, compared to 98% of scientists), to whether it’s safe to eat genetically modified foods (88% of scientists think so, but only 37% of the public agrees). There…

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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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Does the Creative Commons license need clarifying?

Yahoo!, owners of the photo sharing site Flickr, recently caused a storm of controversy by announcing plans to sell prints of photos that users had uploaded. Yahoo!’s plans included sharing 51% of revenue with users who had retained copyright on their photos. For those who voluntarily selected a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) for their works, no compensation was offered. Despite the fact that Yahoo! was explicitly following the…

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Unitended consequences: Open data leading to biased reanalyses

Last week, Stephen Colbert interviewed Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic. Ever the provocateur, Colbert immediately challenged Wieseltier to state his critique of modern culture in 10 words or less. This is what Wieseltier came up with on the spot: Too much digital, not enough critical thinking, more physical reality. Ten words exactly. Colbert was duly impressed. I encountered this critique a day after reading a number of articles…

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Finding Stuff: Discovery and Data Quality

About a month ago, you may have seen an article published by Nature entitled “How To Tame the Flood of Literature“. The article focused on new tools for aiding researchers in keeping current with the literature in their fields. These are personalized recommendation engines, which may be based on a researcher’s publication history (Google Scholar), on users with similar interests (PubChase), or trained by an individual’s approval or rejection of…

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Signal Distortion — Why the Scholarly Communication Economy Is So Weird

From colleagues in the library profession, I regularly hear the assertion that the current scholarly communication system is “broken” – largely because it requires academic institutions to “buy back” their own professors’ work from commercial publishers, or because it requires taxpayers to “pay twice” for research they have already funded. For reasons I’ve enumerated before (and therefore won’t belabor here), I disagree. I do, however, believe the system is broken…

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The Importance of Funding Basic Science Research

FASEB, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology runs an annual Stand Up For Science competition, and in 2013, the goal was to increase awareness of the value of US federal funding for biological and biomedical research. The winning video is below, and it makes a compelling argument for the funding of basic science. So much of the science funding mindset has seemingly been influenced by Wall Street’s  “get…

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