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Sci-Hub reveals split in OA community

“Last week in popular media, Alexandra Elbakyan got a lot of screen time (also known as free advertising) and the response has been interesting. For those that have not been paying attention, Elbakyan runs Sci-Hub, a site that provides illegal access to over 47 million scholarly journal articles. You can read about Elbakyan’s mission in her own words here, here, and here. She sincerely believes that she is above the…

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Academic Publishing Is All About Status

As a young professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1940s and 1950s, Paul Samuelson made a habit of visiting the offices of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, then based at MIT, to look through the other economics journals that arrived in the mail. “I’d read every journal, every article,” he told me a decade ago. Nowadays, no economist would do this. For one thing, there are too…

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Opening the entire research cycle

Since the birth of the open access movement in 2002, demands for greater openness and transparency in the research process have both grown and broadened. Today there are calls not just for OA to research papers, but (amongst other things) to the underlying data, to peer review reports, and to lab notebooks. We have also seen a new term emerge to encompass these different trends: open science. In response to…

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Too much open access is in the dark

One of the inconvenient truths that the OA movement prefers not to discuss is the fact that a large amount of the content in the circa 4,125 institutional repositories created by research institutions in order to provide open access to their research output is not actually freely available but on “dark deposit”, or otherwise inaccessible. In other words, it is not open access. There are several reasons for this. First,…

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Journal Impact Factor Shapes Scientists’ Reward Signal in the Prospect of Publication

The incentive structure of a scientist’s life is increasingly mimicking economic principles. While intensely criticized, the journal impact factor (JIF) has taken a role as the new currency for scientists. Successful goal-directed behavior in academia thus requires knowledge about the JIF. Using functional neuroimaging we examined how the JIF, as a powerful incentive in academia, has shaped the behavior of scientists and the reward signal in the striatum. We demonstrate…

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Journal impact factors ‘no longer credible’

Trickery by editors to boost their journal impact factor means that the widely used metric “has now lost most of its credibility”, according to Research Policy journal. With many editors now engaged in “ingenious ways” of boosting their impact factor, “one of the main bastions holding back the growing scourge of research misconduct” has been “breached”, the publication warns in an editorial. Click here to read more from this November…

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Academic Publishing Can’t Remain Such a Great Business

Publishers of academic journals have a great thing going. They generally don’t pay for the articles they publish, or for the primary editing and peer reviewing essential to preparing them for publication (they do fork over some money for copy editing). Most of this gratis labor is performed by employees of academic institutions. Those institutions, along with government agencies and foundations, also fund all the research that these journal articles…

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Open Access at a Crossroads

Last week marked the annual celebration/marketing event that is Open Access Week, and this year it seemed something of a mixed bag. Open access (OA) is growing into maturity, and has rapidly become integrated into the scholarly publishing landscape over the last fifteen or so years. We have now reached a point where experiments have been in place for a while and results can be analyzed. Early assumptions can now…

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