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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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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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Harvard Law Library Readies Trove of Decisions for Digital Age

Shelves of law books are an august symbol of legal practice, and no place, save the Library of Congress, can match the collection at Harvard’s Law School Library. Its trove includes nearly every state, federal, territorial and tribal judicial decision since colonial times — a priceless potential resource for everyone from legal scholars to defense lawyers trying to challenge a criminal conviction. Now, in a digital-age sacrifice intended to serve…

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Researchers Remain Unaware of Funding Agency Access Policies

According to a recent study, there are now more than 663 funding agency/institutional policies requiring public access to research papers. Last January I wrote about the unexpected consequences of these policies and the administrative nightmare around efforts to keep researchers in compliance. Nature’s recent “Author Insights” survey provides some new evidence of of the scope of the problem. Click here to read more from this August 20, 2015 Scholarly Kitchen…

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The dark side of open access

Contrary to what one might expect, not all the items in open access repositories are publicly available. Estimates of the percentage of the content in repositories that is not in fact open access tend to range from around 40% to 60%. This will include bibliographic records containing only metadata, plus full-text documents that have been placed on “dark deposit” — i.e., documents that are present in the repository but not…

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CC BY and Its Discontents

Recently I attended the conference of a major learned society in the humanities. I was only there for a day, and attended only two sessions: one as a panelist and the other as an observer. Both sessions dealt with issues related to Open Access (OA), and in both of them I was deeply taken aback by the degree to which the scholars in attendance—not universally, but by an overwhelming majority—expressed…

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Creating knowledge

Every scholar is part wizard, part muggle. As wizards, scholars are lone geniuses in search of original insight. They question everything. They ignore conventional wisdom and tradition. They experiment. As muggles, scholars are subject to the normal rules of power and influence. They are limited by common sense and group think. They are ambitious. They promote and market their ideas. They have the perfect elevator pitch ready for every potential…

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