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Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist

Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist
Who are the most ruthless capitalists in the western world? Whose monopolistic practices make Walmart look like a corner shop and Rupert Murdoch a socialist? You won't guess the answer in a month of Sundays. While there are plenty of candidates, my vote goes not to the banks, the oil companies or the health insurers, but – wait for it – to academic publishers. Everyone claims to agree that people should be encouraged to understand science and other academic research. You might resent Murdoch's paywall policy, in which he charges £1 for 24 hours of access to the Times and Sunday Times. Of course, you could go into the library (if it still exists). Murdoch pays his journalists and editors, and his companies generate much of the content they use. The returns are astronomical: in the past financial year, for example, Elsevier's operating profit margin was 36% (£724m on revenues of £2bn). More importantly, universities are locked into buying their products.

World's Dumbest Editor Incurs The Wrath Of The Internet Rejoice, webizens, for today will forever be remembered in the annals of crowdsourced Internet vengeance! When writer Monica Gaudio discovered that a magazine she'd never heard of, Cooks Source, had reprinted an article from her web site about medieval apple pies without her permission, she wrote to the editor asking for an apology and a $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism. Here's what world-class bonehead idiot Judith Griggs, editor of Cooks Source, had to say in response: "...honestly Monica, the web is considered 'public domain' and you should be happy we just didn't 'lift' your whole article and put someone else's name on it!... If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Yes, Griggs actually asked the writer to pay for the privilege of being ripped off!

Academic Journals: The Most Profitable Obsolete Technology in History | Jason Schmitt The music business was killed by Napster; movie theaters were derailed by digital streaming; traditional magazines are in crisis mode--yet in this digital information wild west: academic journals and the publishers who own them are posting higher profits than nearly any sector of commerce. Academic publisher Elsevier, which owns a majority of the prestigious academic journals, has higher operating profits than Apple. In 2013, Elsevier posted 39 percent profits, according to Heather Morrison, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa's School of Information Studies in contrast to the 37 percent profit that Apple displayed. This lucrative nature of academic publishing comes at a price--and that weight falls on the shoulders of the full higher education community which is already bearing the burden of significantly decreasing academic budgets. Where To Go: "Money should be taken out of academic publishing as much as possible. Another Option? Open Access for the Future?

Online law man: Virtual worlds need real laws Samantha Murphy, contributor (Image: Jo Ito)Tens of millions of people live, work and play in virtual worlds where anything goes. Greg Lastowka thinks we need to police these lawless frontiers What prompted you to write your new book, Virtual Justice? I've always been interested in technology law, and the issues surrounding law in virtual worlds are like canaries in a coal mine. Do you think we need laws covering things like electronic commerce, freedom of speech and defamation in the virtual world? Yes, we definitely do. What kinds of laws do you think we need most? We need to give careful consideration to how copyright operates in virtual worlds, where everything is mediated by the software. Then there's the question of virtual property. Have there been cases of people coming to grief over virtual theft? One that I talk about in the book is the case of a Chinese gamer named Qiu Chegwei. Surely technology has always influenced law. Yes, I think so.

Transcript for Ann Blair on Information Overload Jim Fleming: Information overload may seem like a quintessentially 21st century problem, but more than 2000 years ago people complained about the very same thing. The rise of the printed word and the creation of the printing press also flooded the world with vast new streams of information. And it took people a while to figure out how to store and manage all the new knowledge. Anne Strainchamps: We tend to think of information overload as a distinctly modern problem, especially now in the Internet age. Ann Blair: Absolutely. Strainchamps: But this is fascinating. Blair: I would say so. Strainchamps: Do you think people feel the same sort of anxiety the same sort of motions that we feel when we feel inundated by too much information? Blair: If you look at a renaissance doctor like Girolamo Cardano, he is a practicing physician. Strainchamps: [laughs] Blair: So shortcuts are definitely well known to scholars. Strainchamps: So very early on this obsession with note taking picked up.

The Initiative | ORCID Royal Society journal archive made permanently free to access 26 October 2011 Around 60,000 historical scientific papers are accessible via a fully searchable online archive, with papers published more than 70 years ago now becoming freely available. The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific publisher, with the first edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society appearing in 1665. Henry Oldenburg – Secretary of the Royal Society and first Editor of the publication – ensured that it was “licensed by the council of the society, being first reviewed by some of the members of the same”, thus making it the first ever peer-reviewed journal. Philosophical Transactions had to overcome early setbacks including plague, the Great Fire of London and even the imprisonment of Oldenburg, but against the odds the publication survived to the present day. The move is being made as part of the Royal Society’s ongoing commitment to open access in scientific publishing. Search the journal archive here.

The real cost of free | Cory Doctorow | Technology Last week, my fellow Guardian columnist Helienne Lindvall published a piece headlined The cost of free, in which she called it "ironic" that "advocates of free online content" (including me) "charge hefty fees to speak at events". Lindvall says she spoke to someone who approached an agency I once worked with to hire me for a lecture and was quoted $10,000-$20,000 (£6,300-£12,700) to speak at a college and $25,000 to speak at a conference. Lindvall goes on to talk about the fees commanded by other speakers, including Wired editor Chris Anderson, author of a book called "Free" (which I reviewed here in July 2009), Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde and marketing expert Seth Godin. In Lindvall's view, all of us are part of a united ideology that exhorts artists to give their work away for free, but we don't practice what we preach because we charge so much for our time. It's unfortunate that Lindvall didn't bother to check her facts. Why do I do this? Networks won't be harder to use.

Information Overload Is Not a New Problem | Science Blogs There is a wonderful essay in The Hedgehog Review about the promise and perils of information overload. Titled Why Google Isn’t Making Us Stupid…or Smart, this essay written by Chad Wellmon explores the history of information overload and explores its implications. But Wellmon also spends some time demonstrating that information overload is far from a new problem: These complaints have their biblical antecedents: Ecclesiastes 12:12, “Of making books there is no end”; their classical ones: Seneca, “the abundance of books is a distraction”; and their early modern ones: Leibniz, the “horrible mass of books keeps growing.” After the invention of the printing press around 1450 and the attendant drop in book prices, according to some estimates by as much as 80 percent, these complaints took on new meaning. Go Back to Top.

ReaderMeter: researcher-level metrics based on readership In a blog post last week, Dario Taraborelli officially announced ReaderMeter. ReaderMeter takes the usage data from reference managers (starting with Mendeley) to analyze the impact of publications by a particular author. ReaderMeter is a welcome addition to other metrics of researcher impact, most of which are citation-based. And ReaderMeter was hacked together in a few nights, so the service should improve over time. Dario mentions some of the current limitations in his blog post: Usage data only from Mendeley. ReaderMeter is visually pleasing and fun to use. Technical Lead Article-Level Metrics and Product Manager, PLOS

peer_review_in_public_james_hansen_s_climate_predictions_released_as_a_draft Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters The latest predictions from the usually dire climate scientist James Hansen made a lot of people sit up and take notice. The Washington Post ran a story about the study with the headline, “The world’s most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet’s future,” and Slate called it a “bombshell sea level warning.” Most coverage paid attention to, among other things, Hansen’s prediction that climate change is “triggering major sea level rise in a time frame of 50 to 200 years.” But what also stood out to some—including us—was that the eye-catching study had not yet been reviewed by outside experts before being published. At most journals, editors ask three or more experts—“peers,” in the parlance of science—to evaluate a paper and recommend for or against publishing it based on soundness of the study design, quality of the data, and strength of the analysis. That openness should be refreshing.