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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Strong's Avatar
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    The Academic Spring

    I think this is truly important.

    The government has welcomed calls from academics and one of the world's biggest research charities for results of public and charity-funded scientific research to be made available as widely as possible in the public domain.

    The Wellcome Trust, which spends more than £600m on scientific research a year and is the largest non-governmental funder of medical research after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said this week it planned to adopt a more robust approach with the scientists it funds, to ensure scientific results are freely available within six months of first publication.

    "We will watch the Wellcome Trust's new initiatives with interest," said the coalition's minister for universities and science, David Willetts. "There are some real potential benefits from improving access to academic research. They include spreading knowledge, encouraging collaboration and facilitating technology transfer."

    This is one the back of:
    More than 9,000 researchers have meanwhile signed up to a boycott of journals that restrict free sharing as part of a campaign dubbed the "academic spring" by supporters due to its potential for revolutionising the spread of knowledge.

    The majority of the world's scientific research, estimated at around 1.5m new articles a year, is published in journals owned by a small number of large publishing companies including Elsevier, Springer and Wiley. Scientists submit manuscripts to the journals, which are sent out for peer review before publication. The work is then available to other researchers by subscription, usually through their libraries. Publishers of the academic journals, which can cost universities up to €20,000 (£16,500) a year each to access, argue the price is necessary to sustain a high-quality peer review process.


    Government backs calls for research data to be made freely available

    Wellcome Trust joins 'academic spring' to open up science

    We all need to back this seismic shift. It is what the web was really meant for, the free sharing of life changing information. It could make a real difference.
    "People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost." Dalai Lama

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  3. #2
    Lives Here Now ewomack's Avatar
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    Show me the loopholes!!

    This probably wouldn't fly in the US where many academic institutions end up as corporate research laboratories. One professor I spoke with said that academics have become trade schools for corporate work. Not that there's anything wrong with that in itself, but if that's all academics become then we have an issue. Academic secrecy in the US apparently has reached an unbelievable height. Some breakthroughs never see the light of day until a product is on the shelves.

    But I hope I'm (and others are) wrong...

    Does industry sponsorship jeopardize disclosure of academic research? (PDF)
    Ed Womack
    Hidden Content

  4. #3
    Super Moderator Strong's Avatar
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    Yeah, I saw a programme recently where one of those global companies had pretty much isolated a large part of one of the big universities in the US. It had security tighter than a nats backside and it was causing all sorts of trouble amongst the academics, such as trying to oust one of them. Things haven't gone down that road over in the UK, yet.

    The move to patent everything you can in the hope of raking in cash is a big issue. It can make real research in an area almost moribund and slow progress in globally. Science cannot allow itself to stagnate simply because people cannot get hold of research papers.

    I accept there are business interests at play, but ...

    Another area that has me concerned is in the computer industry and how a small number of large companies are buying up patents left, right and centre with a view to hold all the cards for a particular technology. It makes open source even more important.
    "People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost." Dalai Lama

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