Sharing Science

Open access can take many forms and utilize a variety of new social media tools to share research across disciplines, WeShareScience was developed as a new concept for sharing research in new ways.  By mashing together Pinterest, TedTalks, and YouTube (with a focus on scientific research) we created a unique place for researchers to share what they are doing and learn from others in many other disciplines — offering an exciting new perspective on research.

WeShareScience also developed the first online global science fair, with more than $11,000 in prizes that will go directly to researchers. Entries (short 5 minute videos about research) are due by June 1, 2014 to qualify. The science fair is not intended to “dumb down” research but rather to provide another entry point for those interested in research to learn what others are doing (without having to subscribe to high-price journals).  

You can help us spread the word about the science by asking your colleagues (faculty, students, professional researchers, and others) to post a video about their work.  And on April 8th we are asking everyone to post about the science fair on their Twitter or Facebook page.  You can learn more about this effort to create “buzz” about the science fair at:

HEFCE/REF Adopts Optimal Complement to RCUK OA Mandate

There are two essential components to an effective ?Green? OA mandate (i.e., one that generates as close to 100% compliance, as soon as possible):

(1) The mandate must uncouple the date of deposit from the date the deposit is made OA, requiring immediate deposit, with no exemptions or exceptions. How long an OA embargo it allows is a separate matter, but on no account must date of deposit be allowed to be contingent on publisher OA embargoes.

This is exactly what the New HEFCE policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework has done.

(2) Eligibility for research assessment (and funding) must be made conditional on immediate-deposit (date-stamped by the journal acceptance letter). Again, this is in order to ensure that deposits are not made months or years after publication: no retrospective deposit

The deposit requirement for eligibility for research assessment and funding is not itself an OA requirement, it is merely a procedural requirement: For eligibility, papers must be deposited in the institutional repository immediately upon acceptance for publication. Late deposits are not eligible for consideration.

This engages each university (always extremely anxious to comply fully with REF, HEFCE and RCUK eligibility rules) in ensuring that deposit is timely, with the help of the date-stamped acceptance letter throughout the entire 6-year REF cycle, 2014-2020.

These two conditions are what have yielded the most effective of all the Green OA mandates to date (well over 80% compliance rate and growing) at University of Liege and FRS-FNRS (the Belgian Francophone research funding council); other mandates are upgrading to this mandate model; Harvard FAS has already adopted immediate-deposit as one of its conditions. And now RCUK ? thanks to HEFCE/REF ? will reap the benefits of the immediate-deposit condition as well (see ROARMAP)

OA embargoes are another matter, and HEFCE/REF is wisely leaving that to others (RCUK, EU Horizon2020, and university mandates) to stipulate maximal allowable embargo length and any allowable exceptions. What HEFCE/REF is providing is the crucial two components for ensuring that the mandate will succeed: (1) immediate deposit as a (2) condition for REF-eligibility.

But let me add something else that will become increasingly important, once the HEFCE/REF immediate-deposit requirement begins to propagate worldwide (as I am now confident it will: UK is at last back in the lead on OA again, instead of odd-man-out, as it has been since Finch):

The immediate-deposit clause and the contingency on eligibility for research assessment and funding also ensures that the primary locus of deposit will be the institutional repository rather than institution-external repositories. (Deposits can be exported automatically to external repositories, once deposited and once the embargo has elapsed; they can also be imported from extrenal repositories, in the case of the physicists and mathematicians who have already been faithfully depositing in Arxiv for two decades,)

But besides all that, many of the eprints and dspace institutional repositories already have ? and, with the HEFCE mandate model propagating almost all of them will soon have the email-eprint-request Button:

This Button makes it possible for users who reach a closed access deposit to click once to request a copy for research purposes; the repository software emails an automatic eprint request to the author, who can click once to comply with the request; the repository software emails the requestor the eprint. (Researchers have been requesting and sending reprints by mail ? and lately by email ? for decades, but with immediate-deposit and the Button, this is greatly accelerated and facilitated. So even during any allowable embargo period, the Button will enhance access and usage dramatically. I also predict that immediate-deposit and the Button will greatly hasten the inevitable and well-deserved demise of publisher OA embargoes.)

Sale, A., Couture, M., Rodrigues, E., Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2014) Open Access Mandates and the “Fair Dealing” Button. In: Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online (Rosemary J. Coombe & Darren Wershler, Eds.)

Let me close by noting another important feature of the new HEFCE/REF policy: The allowable exceptions do not apply to the immediate-deposit requirement! They only apply to the allowable open-access embargo. To be eligible for REF2020, a paper must have been deposited immediately upon acceptance for publication (with a 3-month grace period).

(No worries about HEFCE’s optional 2 year start-up grace period either: Institutions will almost certainly want their REF procedures safely and systematically in place as early as possible, so everything can go simply and smoothly and there is no risk of papers being ineligible.)

Postscript. Expect the usual complaints from the usual suspects:

(i) “This is a sell-out of OA! It’s just Green Gratis OA, not Libre OA: What about the re-use rights? And if it?s embargoed, it isn?t even Green OA!

Reply: Relax. Patience. A compromise was needed, to break the log-jam between the Finch/Wellcome Fool?s-Gold profligacy and publisher embargoes on Green OA. The HEFCE immediate-deposit compromise is what will break up that log jam, and it?s not only the fastest and surest (and cheapest) way to get to 100% Green Gratis OA, but also the fastest, surest and cheapest way to get from Green Gratis OA to Libre Fair-Gold OA.

(ii) “This is a sell-out to publishers and their embargoes.”

Reply: Quite the opposite. It will immediately detoxify embargoes (thanks to the Button) and at the same time plant the seeds for their speedy extinction, by depriving publishers of the power to delay access-provision with their embargoes. It is also moots the worries of the most timorous or pedantic IP lawyer.

It thereby provides a mandate model that any funder or institution can adopt, irrespective of how it elects to deal with publisher OA embargoes.

And a mandate that can be simply and effectively implemented and monitored by institutions to ensure compliance.

Write to your MEPs to vote to safeguard Open Internet in Europe

I am proud to be a Fellow of the OpenForumAcademy – which promotes openness in IT standards and procurement. We are very concerned about the pressures to lead to two/many-tier Internet access and we urge “Net Neutrality”. Read this and then write to your MEP.

Don’t know who s/he is? Or how to write?

Simple  in UK. Go to – it will tell you everything. Don’t just copy the letter below – make it a bit personal.

  • About how a free Internet generates wealth for your region.
  • About how it encourages your constituents to keep in touch with MEPs
  • About the ability to share culture across Europe

You get the idea? Now tell them how to vote.

From: Maël Brunet <>Date: 31 March 2014 12:33Subject: A chance to safeguard the Open Internet in EuropeTo:

Inline images 1

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

On April 3rd, you will have the opportunity to vote on the Commission’s Telecoms Package proposal. As you are surely aware, ITRE committee adopted on March 18th its report with proposed amendments for the EP. We are disappointed with the final outcome of this vote that we believe is detrimental to an open Internet and would like to take this opportunity to address this issue with you.

We are an independent, not-for-profit industry organisation that aims at promoting open and competitive ICT market. As such, we would like to draw your attention to the vague definition of ‘specialised services’ as adopted by the ITRE members in the aforementioned report. We believe that this is a dangerous loophole. In fact, this provision opens a space to use these services for exploiting the Internet in a way that is deeply detrimental to innovation and the EU citizens as the end users.

We fear that the wording as it stands would allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to prioritise content/application providers that can comply with the financial conditions of the ISPs. This would undoubtedly lead to service monopolies, hindering the competition as a direct consequence. In addition, the ISPs would lose any incentives to invest in the open Internet and the services thereof would slowly deteriorate. Moreover, the end-users would be trapped to use and access only services, contents and/or applications of providers that can pay a prioritised accessibility under this ‘specialised services’ loophole provision. Asresearch indicates, we need to guarantee that investment continues to be made in the ‘open’ part of the network in order to avoid a ‘dirt road’ effect whereby ‘specialised services’ would become the norm rather than the exception.

The success of the global Internet and the World Wide Web has been built on the sole concept of openness, with access being guaranteed to all without favour to any individual, organisation or commercial company. This would not be the case any more, should the definition of ‘specialised services’ be maintained in the text as recommended in the report. We urge you not to miss this opportunity and use your mandate to ensure the full impact of advances to innovation that are introduced by the package. In this regard, we strongly welcome and support the alternative amendments to the regulation bill proposed by the ALDE, S&D, Greens/ALE and the GUE/NGL groups. Europe is at a crossroad and needs to decide whether it will maintain a leadership position in the digital age. In this very moment, Brazil is successfully pushing its own ‘net neutrality’ law through the legislative process and it is a question of time when other countries will follow.

“The moment you let neutrality go, you lose the web as it is. You lose something essential – the fact that any innovator can dream up an idea and set up a website at some place and let it just take off from word of mouth”said Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

Please take the time and interest to consider what is at stake. There is still a possibility to correct this shortcoming and introduce a text that truly safeguards the net neutrality in the EU.

Yours sincerely, 

Maël Brunet (Mr)

Director, European Policy & Government Relations
OpenForum Europe

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Journal of Emerging Investigators

“The Journal of Emerging Investigators is an open-access journal that publishes original research in the biological and physical sciences that is written by middle and high school students.  JEI provides students, under the guidance of a teacher or advisor, the opportunity to submit and gain feedback on original research and to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Because grade-school students often lack access to formal research institutions, we expect that the work submitted by students may come from classroom-based projects, science fair projects, or other forms of mentor-supervised research. JEI is a non-profit group run and operated by graduate students at Harvard University. JEI also provides the opportunity for graduate students to participate in the editorial, review, and publication process. Our hope is that JEI will serve as an exciting new forum to engage young students in a novel kind of science education that nurtures the development and achievements of young scientists throughout the country….”

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UK Copyright reforms set to become Law: Content-mining, parody and much more

I have been so busy over the last few days and the world has changed so much that I haven’t managed to blog one of the most significant news – the UK government has tables its final draft on the review of copyright. See .

This is fantastic. It is set to reform scientific knowledge. It means that scientific Facts can be extracted and published without explicit permission. The new law will give us that. I’m going to comment on detail on the content-mining legislation, but a few important general comments:

  • UK is among the world leaders here. I understand Ireland is following, and the EU process will certainly be informed by UK. Let’s make it work so well and so valuably that it will transform the whole world.
  • This draft still has to be ratified before it becomes law on June 1st. It’s very likely to happen but could be derailed by (a) Cameron deciding to go to war (b) the LibDems split from the government (c) freak storms destroy Parliament (d) content-holder lobbyists kill the bill in underhand ways.
  • It’s not just about content-mining. It’s about copying for private re-use (e.g. CD to memory stick), and parody. Reading the list of new exceptions make you realise how restrictive the law has become. Queen Anne in 1710 ( didn’t even  consider format shifting between technologies.  And e-books for disabled people??

So here’s guidance for the main issues in simple language:

and here are the details (I’ll be analysing the “data analytics” in detail in a later post):

And here’s the initial announcement – includes URLs to the IPO and government pages.

From: CopyrightConsultation
Sent: 27 March 2014 15:06
To: CopyrightConsultation
Subject: Exceptions to copyright law – Update following Technical Review

The Government has today laid before Parliament the final draft of the Exceptions to Copyright regulations. This is an important step forward in the Government’s plan to modernise copyright for the digital age. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your response to the technical review and to tell you about the outcome of this process and documents that have been published.

As you will recall, the technical review ran from June to September 2013 and you were invited to review the draft legislation at an early stage and to provide comments on whether it achieved the policy objectives, as set out in Modernising Copyright in December 2012.

We found the technical review to be a particularly valuable process. Over 140 organisations and individuals made submissions and we engaged with a wide range of stakeholders before and after the formal consultation period. The team at the IPO have also worked closely with Government and Parliamentary lawyers to finalise the regulations.

No policy changes have been made, but as a result of this process we have made several alterations to the format and drafting of the legislation. To explain these changes, and the thinking behind them, the Government has published its response to the technical review alongside the regulations. This document sets out the issues that were raised by you and others, the response and highlights where amendments have been made.

It is common practice for related regulations such as these to be brought forward as a single statutory instrument. However, the Government is committed to enabling the greatest possible scrutiny of these changes and the nine regulations have been laid before parliament in five groups.  In deciding how to group the regulations, we have taken account of several factors, including any relevant legal interconnections and common themes. The rationale behind these groupings is set out in the Explanatory Memorandum.

The Government has also produced a set of eight ‘plain English’ guides that explain what the changes mean for different sectors. The guides explain the nature of these changes to copyright law and answer key questions, including many raised during the Government’s consultation process.  The guides cover areas including disability groups, teachers, researchers, librarians, creators, rights-holders and consumers. They also explain what users can and cannot do with copyright material.

The response to the Technical Review and the guidance can be accessed through the IPO’s website: <>.  This also provides links to the final draft regulations, explanatory memorandum and associated documents that appear on<>.

It is now for Parliament to consider the regulations, which will be subject to affirmative resolution in both Houses. If Parliament approves the regulations they will come into force on 1 June 2014.

Thank you again for your contribution.

Yours sincerely,

John Alty

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