March 2015 edition
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Nominations open

Planning is currently underway for the first Open Scholarship Initiative conference, to be held in the Spring of 2016 (more details will be available in next month's newsletter). This goal of this conference—the first of 10 annual meetings on this subject—will be to find common ground between key stakeholders regarding the future of scholarly publishing. These OSI conferences will focus on creating a sustainable path forward, and on refining agreed-upon reforms as they are rolled out over the coming years.

We are currently developing our list of around 200 invitees for this first conference. If you know of someone who should attend, please email nSCI. We're looking for thought leaders and C-level delegates from every stakeholder community in scholarly publishing—publishers, open access advocates, scientists, research administrators, and more.


These OSI conferences (plus the all-scholarship repository effort mentioned last month) will involve widespread participation from the science community and long-term investments of millions of dollars annually from governments, businesses, research institutions, science societies, and others. Is your institution interested in helping support these groundbreaking efforts? Are you interested in volunteering your time and expertise? If so, please email nSCI for more information. Thank you.

News desk

Did Big Oil seek to sway scientists in climate debate?

A key Democratic lawmaker is seeking an expanded inquiry into whether fossil-fuel companies have been secretly underwriting the research of some of the country’s most prominent scientific skeptics of climate change. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D- Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent requests to seven universities asking for detailed records on the funding sources for affiliated researchers who have opposed the scientific consensus on man-made… Read more

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… Read more

Behind New Dietary Guidelines, Better Science

For decades, many dietary recommendations have revolved around consuming a low percentage of your daily calories from fat. It has been widely thought that doing so would reduce your chance of having coronary heart disease. Most of the evidence for that recommendation has come from epidemiologic studies, which can be flawed. Use of these types of studies happens far more often than we would like, leading to dietary guidelines that… Read more

Resistance Is Futile: Why That’s A Good Thing In Biomedicine

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation are very familiar with the Borg, a society of cybernetic individuals linked together in a collective mindset. The Borg navigate the universe in cube-shaped spacecraft actively seeking members of other races to absorb into their collective. Whenever others oppose their efforts, the Borg let them know, in no uncertain terms, that “resistance is futile” and they will be assimilated. Without context, however, this… Read more

New NAS reports on climate change mitigation

Our planet has entered a period in which climate is changing more rapidly than ever experienced in recorded human history, primarily caused by the rapid build-up of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists have identified a number of risks from changing climate, including rising sea level, drought, heat waves, more severe storms, and increasing precipitation intensity and associated disruption of terrestrial and aquatic… Read more

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… Read more

Your Brain Is Primed To Reach False Conclusions

Paul Offit likes to tell a story about how his wife, pediatrician Bonnie Offit, was about to give a child a vaccination when the kid was struck by a seizure. Had she given the injection a minute sooner, Paul Offit says, it would surely have appeared as though the vaccine had caused the seizure and probably no study in the world would have convinced the parent otherwise. (The Offits have… Read more

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… Read more

New report: 50 sci-tech advances for sustainable development

When the Millennium Development Goals were launched in 2000, the rallying cry was around the need for more development aid. As international institutions coalesce around the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, it is likely there will be a heavy emphasis on the role of science and technology in achieving them. Through the post-WWII history of efforts to alleviate global poverty, a small number of breakthrough technologies have had transformative impact: the… Read more

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