December 2014 edition
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Help support nSCI in 2015!

nSCI started in January 2011 as an organization to help research science market itself more effectively. Our understanding of what needed to change in science communication, along with our volunteer corps, continued to grow in 2012 and 2013, and today, nSCI is a national voice for change in science communication.

This past year has been very important for us with the launch of several major projects. This coming year can be even more important, especially with your help. Some of nSCI's current projects are poised to make a sizable impact on science and science communication.

For instance, our Open Science Initiative (OSI---read the news article below)---which started off as a global conversation between a wide variety of stakeholders in academic publishing---has now evolved into an effort to produce a 10-year series of high-level conferences to reform journal publishing. These conferences, if they can happen, obviously have the potential to reform the academic landscape, and with this reform will come better science education, better public policy, more interdisciplinary collaboration, invigorated citizen science efforts, and maybe even faster discovery in science---medical research in particular.

In a related project, earlier in the year nSCI began working with a major online presence (whose name can't be disclosed publicly just yet) to improve the availability and maybe even pricing of science journals online---another major move forward in this field. A public announcement on this effort may happen soon, so stay tuned.

We're excited by what's happening, but we could do so much more with your help. nSCI is a completely volunteer-run organization right now, so keeping the lights turned on (not to mention managing projects like OSI) is a challenge. In 2015 we'd like to hire five full-time staff to make sure our projects keep on track and our capabilities keep pace with our ambitions, and to make sure we don't disappoint the many people in our network who are counting on nSCI to keep pushing the ball forward.

Foundations and agencies have been slow to react to the need to improve science communication. We're still hopeful, but this type of support will probably take more time to cultivate and more proof that improving science communication is indeed a legitimate need. So in the meantime, if you're thinking about contributing somewhere or have been looking for a cause worth supporting on a regular basis, consider nSCI. Why? Let's say you have three criteria in mind for your donation: (1) it must be tax-deductible (check), (2) it should be in an area that will make a real difference in science (check), and (3) it should be needed and well-spent---not just a drop of water in an ocean of overhead (check), Sound reasonable? If so, then giving to nSCI might be a good choice for you. And please help pass it on (hit the share, tweet or forward buttons at the end of this email)!

How can you get started? Just go to our donations page and click a few buttons. That's about it. Transactions are safely handled by PayPal, complete with a donation receipt. Every amount helps, and your contribution may be tax deductible since nSCI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity (gold-star rated by GuideStar if you want to check us out first).

Corporate and institutional support is also encouraged because sponsors attract more sponsors. To make a pledge, use the donation form on our website or just email Your contribution can go toward supporting nSCI operations in general, or it can be targeted toward any of the projects listed on the projects page of our website

Thank you, and happy 2015 from all of us at nSCI!


Donate now!

News desk

Doing science communication right

In mid-November, the National Academy of Sciences hosted its latest Keck Futures Initiative conference—a periodic meeting of scholars from across the science spectrum (with funding support from the WM Keck Foundation). The purpose of these meetings is to break down barriers, create an impetus for greater collaboration, and stimulate discovery through the pursuit of bold, new ideas. This is science communication done right. I was privileged to take part in… Read more

PLOS drops: Is open data to blame?

Editor’s note: A December 2, 2014 Scholarly Kitchen article describes how the number of papers published by PLOS ONE dropped off earlier this year. Several possible causes are discussed. This particular explanation is explored in more detail—the open data requirement that went into effect at PLOS ONE on March 1st. Source: Scholarly Kitchen The mantra of the nascent open-data movement — that scientists should share online all data underlying their findings — sounds… Read more

Open Science Initiative conversations wrap up

nSCI’s Open Science Initiative conversation between many of the thought-leaders in academic publishing and open access is wrapping up this week, and recommendations of this working group are being prepared for circulation next week to a wider circle of stakeholders. A summary of the group’s conversation and recommendations is posted online at This was a revealing conversation. Differences of perspective clearly exist between proponents of publishing reform, and basic… Read more

New smog rules proposed, both parties unhappy

The Obama administration is expected to propose restrictions on smog-causing ozone on Wednesday in a move that will address a major cause of respiratory illness for millions of Americans while also setting the stage for new clashes with the Republican-controlled Congress. The Environmental Protection Agency’s long-awaited proposal will reportedly call for toughening restrictions on the pollutant, which forms when chemicals in factory smoke and automobile exhaust react to sunlight. Ground-level… Read more

Cookies and water?

Almost no one will dispute that when a baby is born, breast milk is the best nutrition a mother can provide. All mammals nurse their young, and breast milk benefits a newborn infant in ways above and beyond nutrition. In fact, until 1 to 2 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine and more promote breast-feeding as optimal. Unfortunately, breast-feeding until… Read more

When research funding is like Robin Hood in reverse

If you ask officers of the European commission in research and innovation whether any of the funding attached to Horizon 2020 (the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever) will improve research career conditions, they are likely to politely cough, roll their eyes and answer: yes. They’d point, for example, to the European Research Council (ERC) starting grants and the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie individual fellowships which both fall under the £63bn programme.… Read more

Beg, Borrow, or Steal: Accessing Unaffordable Science Journals

If you work in academia or in Big Pharma, you likely have easy access to the world’s scientific literature. Outside of these places, however, obtaining affordable access to the latest scientific journals is much more problematic. This includes scientists at all but the largest biopharma companies, doctors and other health care professionals, and people wanting to research diseases for themselves or loved ones. Many journal articles cost $30 to $35… Read more

Short-term loss, long-term gain for climate change?

Image by AndyHogan14 There’s been a lot of anxiety in climate change circles after Tuesday’s election ushered in a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. The Wednesday morning headlines were dire, including this one from Vox: “The biggest loser in this election is the climate.” On its face, I agree. The chances of bold climate action within the next two years took a big hit Tuesday. Coupled with the latest scientific… Read more

NTIS Expands Free Access to Federal Technical Reports

The National Technical Reports Library (NTRL) is now offering the American public free public access to a searchable online database of approximately three million federal science and technology reports. The library is a service of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Technical Information Service. NTIS, a federal agency that does not receive appropriations from Congress, previously charged a fee to provide full-text electronic copies of federal documents in its collection. The… Read more

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