Five Minutes with Professor Sonia Livingstone on the benefits of open access and institutional repositories. | Impact of Social Sciences

“I honestly don’t remember how it all began, though now depositing my research is second nature (and such a regular activity that I fear I burden the always-helpful library staff). I think I began with the documents that seemed to have no place but that I had worked hard on and so wanted to be able to point to on occasion.

What was great about depositing such documents was that I held copyright so they could be instantly accessible to anyone interested….

[Question:] Have you been surprised by how many downloads your research has received in LSERO? So far this year you have received over 86,000 downloads!

Astonished! What can I say? I work in a topical field (children and young people’s engagement with the internet), though I am encouraged that some of less topical work (e.g. on media audiences) also gets noticed through LSERO. I also work in a field that has fostered a constructive and lively dialogue between academics and stakeholders/publics. This leads me to another list – who do I imagine is the audience downloading on such a scale?

It might be academics in universities with nicely resourced libraries looking for a convenient source, and it might be my students (thanks guys!).
But I hope it is also academics in less well-resourced universities who wouldn’t otherwise have access to work that, once published, sits beyond a pay wall.
And I also believe (and hope) that it’s non-academics, whether policy makers or journalists or NGOs and other stakeholders who also lack access to academic journal publications and who don’t generally (like to or have budget for) purchasing academic work….”

The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free ? Current Affairs

“But let us also notice something: the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New Republic, New York, Harper’s, the New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, and the London Times all have paywalls. Breitbart, Fox News, the Daily Wire, the Federalist, the Washington Examiner, InfoWars: free! …”

The Conversation thrives during the pandemic – Columbia Journalism Review

“The Conversation—a nonprofit that brings together scholars and journalists to bring academic writing to a general audience—may tell us a bit about where nonprofit media is headed. 

The Conversation—which was founded by Andrew Jaspan and Jack Rejtman in Australia in 2011 with $6 million in funding from four universities, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and the State of Victoria—is thriving amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Traffic is soaring, while its funding model insulates it from the collapse in advertising and subscription revenue hitting other outlets. Its stories are available for republication, for free, under a Creative Commons license—a model that seems particularly beneficial for other news outlets at this moment. “If there were ever a time for expertise and smart journalism, now is it, and we are doing it at a volume no one else is doing and there is no paywall. It is free to use and free to publish,” says Stephen Khan, the editor of The Conversation’s UK edition. …

The Conversation’s business model varies in each region, revealing a lot about the state of nonprofit media in different parts of the world. In Australia, funding comes from reader donations and universities. In Africa and Indonesia, it relies on foundations. In the UK and France, some 145 universities have signed on as financial members, including prestigious research-intensive institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge….”

A case study exploring associations between popular media attention of scientific research and scientific citations

Abstract:  The association between mention of scientific research in popular media (e.g., the mainstream media or social media platforms) and scientific impact (e.g., citations) has yet to be fully explored. The purpose of this study was to clarify this relationship, while accounting for some other factors that likely influence scientific impact (e.g., the reputations of the scientists conducting the research and academic journal in which the research was published). To accomplish this purpose, approximately 800 peer-reviewed articles describing original research were evaluated for scientific impact, popular media attention, and reputations of the scientists/authors and publication venue. A structural equation model was produced describing the relationship between non-scientific impact (popular media) and scientific impact (citations), while accounting for author/scientist and journal reputation. The resulting model revealed a strong association between the amount of popular media attention given to a scientific research project and corresponding publication and the number of times that publication is cited in peer-reviewed scientific literature. These results indicate that (1) peer-reviewed scientific publications receiving more attention in non-scientific media are more likely to be cited than scientific publications receiving less popular media attention, and (2) the non-scientific media is associated with the scientific agenda. These results may inform scientists who increasingly use popular media to inform the general public and scientists concerning their scientific work. These results might also inform administrators of higher education and research funding mechanisms, who base decisions partly on scientific impact.

Approaching Coverage of COVID-19 Through the Lens of Open – SPARC

“The early career reporter for the South China Morning Post went to Wuhan, China in early January to cover the outbreak of the then-unknown virus. Lew went in with as much precautions as were suggested at the time – a facemask, gloves, and disinfecting spray. Looking back, she says she’s lucky that she didn’t contract COVID-19. Since then, Lew has sometimes been putting in 10-12 hour days writing articles on everything from policies to politics to the impact of the global pandemic on scholarly communication.

“COVID has shined a large spotlight on the exorbitant cost of academic publishing,” Lew says. “When the virus first spread in February, it felt to me, personally—and to other members of the OpenCon community—that it was unacceptable that so much of COVID research was still behind paywalls. That kind of outdated model just boggles my mind when a pandemic is on.”

Many publishers have granted access to critical research in response to the crisis, but Lew worries that it is temporary. In her reporting, she is trying to explain the need for open science and open access to readers—many of whom are not aware of the issue. Even her editor, Lew says, was baffled when she explained how commercial publishers make high profits from tax-payer funded that is not open to the public….”

The Role of Open Data in Science Communication | Unlocking Research

“Research on the topic shows just how powerful this tool can be. For example, the recent survey by the Open Knowledge Foundation, conducted in the UK in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, found that 97% of those polled believed that it’s important for COVID-19 data to be openly available for people to check, and 67% believed that all COVID-19 related research and data should be openly available for anyone to use freely. Similarly, a 2019 US survey conducted before the pandemic found that 57% of Americans say that they trust the outcomes of scientific studies more if the data from the studies is openly available to the public….”

#NoFeeScience #MarchForBetterScience

“[This is the English translation of a manifesto originally published for a Francophone audience. The text has been modified slightly to make it more relevant to a global audience. The original text can be read here: ]

Objective: This “manifesto” is addressed, first and foremost, to fellow scientists and researchers, our peers and colleagues. Certain recent movements, such as #MarchForScience and #NoFakeScience [1, 2], both widely shared and discussed in traditional and social media, have the merit of emphasizing how much we need, not only the trust, but also the cooperation of the general public in order to face the global crises that are defining this present moment in history. However, these movements fail to mention one scientific consensus which the scientific community still cannot, in good conscience, be said to share: the credo that “knowledge belongs to humanity”. For this idea to reach consensus status, it would first be necessary for scientific knowledge to be made fully and freely accessible to one and all.

If you agree with this principle and are prepared to support it, you are invited to add your signature at the bottom of this manifesto. At this precise moment in time, as climate strike movements around the globe are hammering home the fact that we don’t have time to wait for resisters and deniers, that it’s necessary we act now, the same urgency applies to the open science movement: the time to act by reciprocating the trust which we, scientists, require of the general public, the moment to finally open science, is also now! And maybe this idea needs to be hammered home in the media too… ”

Preprinting a pandemic: the role of preprints in the COVID-19 pandemic | bioRxiv

Abstract:  The world continues to face an ongoing viral pandemic that presents a serious threat to human health. The virus underlying the COVID-19 disease, SARS-CoV-2, has caused over 3.2 million confirmed cases and 220,000 deaths between January and April 2020. Although the last pandemic of respiratory disease of viral origin swept the globe only a decade ago, the way science operates and responds to current events has experienced a paradigm shift in the interim. The scientific community has responded rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing over 16,000 COVID-19 related scientific articles within 4 months of the first confirmed case, of which at least 6,000 were hosted by preprint servers. We focused our analysis on bioRxiv and medRxiv, two growing preprint servers for biomedical research, investigating the attributes of COVID-19 preprints, their access and usage rates, characteristics of their sharing on online platforms, and the relationship between preprints and their published articles. Our data provides evidence for increased scientific and public engagement (COVID-19 preprints are accessed and distributed at least 15 times more than non-COVID-19 preprints) and changes in journalistic practice with reference to preprints. We also find evidence for changes in preprinting and publishing behaviour: COVID-19 preprints are shorter, with fewer panels and tables, and reviewed faster. Our results highlight the unprecedented role of preprints and preprint servers in the dissemination of COVID-19 science, and the likely long-term impact of the pandemic on the scientific publishing landscape.


Covering research preprints amid the coronavirus: 6 things to know

“Below, we highlight six key things reporters need to know about preprints, based on interviews with two people with vast experience in biomedical research: Bill Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and John R. Inglis, who has launched and managed multiple academic journals and, as executive director of the nonprofit Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, co-founded medRxiv and bioRxiv….”

We’re Sharing Coronavirus Case Data for Every U.S. County – The New York Times

“No single agency has provided the public with an accurate, up-to-date record of coronavirus cases, tracked to the county level. To fill the gap, The New York Times has launched a round-the-clock effort to tally every known coronavirus case in the United States. The data, which The Times will continue to track, is being made available to the public on Friday….”

Coronavirus: The Herald to make all coverage of the outbreak open access | HeraldScotland

“With almost a dozen confirmed cases of the Covid-19 strain of Coronavirus confirmed in Scotland, we believe it is more important than ever that our readers have access to as much information as possible on the worldwide outbreak….

In a bid to keep readers informed on the latest Coronavirus news, The Herald has committed to lowering our paywall for all articles on the outbreak of the condition.

We see it as our duty to allow anyone, not just our subscribers, to stay up to date with the impact of the disease on Scottish life, as well as the wider global issues caused by the outbreak….”

Coronavirus: The Herald to make all coverage of the outbreak open access | HeraldScotland

“With almost a dozen confirmed cases of the Covid-19 strain of Coronavirus confirmed in Scotland, we believe it is more important than ever that our readers have access to as much information as possible on the worldwide outbreak….

In a bid to keep readers informed on the latest Coronavirus news, The Herald has committed to lowering our paywall for all articles on the outbreak of the condition.

We see it as our duty to allow anyone, not just our subscribers, to stay up to date with the impact of the disease on Scottish life, as well as the wider global issues caused by the outbreak….”

The Atlas – Mapping the Histories and Metadata of Digitised Newspapers Collections Around the World

“Between 2017 and 2019, Oceanic Exchanges, funded through the Transatlantic Partnership for Social Sciences and Humanities 2016 Digging into Data Challenge, brought together leading efforts in computational periodicals research from six countries—Finland, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States—to examine patterns of information flow across national and linguistic boundaries. Over the past thirty years, national libraries, universities and commercial publishers around the world have made available hundreds of millions of pages of historical newspapers through mass digitisation and currently release over one million new pages per month worldwide. These have become vital resources not only for academics but for journalists, politicians, schools, and the general public. However, these digitisation programmes share a critical weakness: the very creation of national newspapers collections obscures the fact that international news exchange was central to the nineteenth-century press.

The Atlas of Digitised Newspapers and Metadata is an open access guide to digitised newspapers around the world. Its initial selection is limited in scope, being comprised of the ten databases (including the aggregator Europeana) for which we were able to secure access and licensing to the machine-readable data. Nonetheless, it aims to form the foundation of a wider mapping of collections beyond its current North Atlantic and Anglophone-Pacific focus. It brings together their histories and digitisation choices with a deeper look at the language of the digitised newspaper, the evolution of newspaper terminology and the variety of metadata available in these collections. It explores how machine-readable information about an issue, volume, page, and author is stored in the digital file alongside the raw content or text, and provides a controlled vocabulary designed to be used across disciplines, within academia and beyond.

This report draws upon multiple taxonomies: our own open access dataset, which provides a full catalogue of metadata fields across the collections, academic and industry discussions­­ of the newspaper as a journalistic form and historical artefact, digitisation guidelines and strategies, library websites, annual reports, interviews with librarians and digitisation providers and the data files themselves. The maps of this Atlas explore each of our overarching categories in detail, providing a selection of language variants, the technical definition we employed in the categorisation process, and notes on its usage across the collections and in the wider world of press history. This allows a greater understanding of how the term is currently being used in different ways by different groups and allows researchers to navigate to the specific type of information they required and ascertain its availability across these collections. Each entry also includes technical information for obtaining this data across the collections, including data types, which often vary considerably, and XPaths for locating the information within that dataset. With this information, researchers should be able to understand the different structures of these collections and develop computational means for robustly comparing datasets to explore deeper and more meaningful research….”

ALA responds to county commission decision to deny digital access to New York Times in Citrus County public libraries | News and Press Center

“The American Library Association has issued the following statement in response to the decision by the Citrus County (Florida) Board of Commissioners to not allow the Citrus County libraries to buy a digital subscription to the New York Times after one commissioner labeled the Times as “fake news”:…”

AccessLab: Workshops to broaden access to scientific research

Abstract:  AccessLabs are workshops with two simultaneous motivations, achieved through direct citizen-scientist pairings: (1) to decentralise research skills so that a broader range of people are able to access/use scientific research, and (2) to expose science researchers to the difficulties of using their research as an outsider, creating new open access advocates. Five trial AccessLabs have taken place for policy makers, media/journalists, marine sector participants, community groups, and artists. The act of pairing science academics with local community members helps build understanding and trust between groups at a time when this relationship appears to be under increasing threat from different political and economic currents in society. Here, we outline the workshop motivations, format, and evaluation, with the aim that others can build on the methods developed.