Access to chemical database Reaxys under threat in UK as fees spiral | Chemistry World

Concerns have been raised that institutional access to the Reaxys chemical and reactions database could end at universities across the UK in a row over rising costs. The dispute over subscription fees is being described as a potentially significant problem for chemists in the UK, and maybe worldwide.

Reaxys incorporates Beilstein – the largest organic chemistry database – and Gmelin – a sizeable repository of organometallic and inorganic compounds and databases, as well as other key chemistry resources. Launched in 2009 and licensed by commercial publishing giant Elsevier, Reaxys enables research chemists to search and find chemical compounds, reactions, properties and synthesis planning information. It also includes chemical patent literature.

The Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc), an organisation that assists UK universities with digital resources and negotiates on behalf of the UK higher education and research sector, is currently in talks with Elsevier to make institutional access to Reaxys more affordable.

[…]

 

Scholars contributing to books risk their livelihoods | Times Higher Education (THE)

“There are lots of reasons why you, a middling academic, might want to edit or contribute to a collection of essays. These include pride, intellectual kudos or, in the UK, a need to boost your likely rating in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The one thing you don’t do it for is the royalty cheque which is small or, more probably, non-existent.

On the other hand, at least accepting the invitation won’t cost you, except in time. Or will it? Increasingly, you would be wise to look carefully at the contract before you agree to it….

In the old days, contracts didn’t amount to much. You would probably guarantee originality and that, to the best of your knowledge, your work was not defamatory or illegal, but that was it. No longer, however. One publisher (I won’t name it, but it’s part of a major international conglomerate) insists on a contract stating that “the Author will indemnify and hold harmless the Publishers against any loss, damages, injury, costs and expenses (including any legal costs or expenses, and any compensation costs paid by the Publishers) arising from any alleged facts or circumstances which, if true, would constitute a breach of the warranty”.

Even if such verbiage makes your eyes glaze over, think carefully. You’re guaranteeing to pay from your own pocket, without limitation, for all the consequences to the publisher of any breach of copyright, libel or breach of privacy….:

Could the Internet Archive go out like Napster?

“Since the suit was filed, many of the authors who’d protested the archive have deleted their tweets or released statements explaining they’ve changed their minds. Wendig, who initially appeared to be leading the charge, has since stated several times that he is not involved with the case. And on July 14, the Authors Alliance, an organization that helps authors to reach more readers, filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit on behalf of the Internet Archive.

One thing hasn’t changed: fears that the vagaries of this case could cripple the archive and, subsequently, the myriad services it offers the 1.5 million people who visit it every day. In addition to lending books digitally, the Internet Archive hosts the Wayback Machine, a tool that has chronicled internet history since 1996; the concern is that if legal costs drain the archive of its funds, all of its services could be affected. Users of the site and digital archivists have compared the potential loss of the archive’s services to the burning of the Library of Alexandria. Yet book companies also view the stakes here as existential for their business model; the International Publishers Association stated that this case is of “global significance” to its members….”

Information Retention in the Multi-platform Sharing of Science

Abstract:  The public interest in accurate scientific communication, underscored by recent public health crises, highlights how content often loses critical pieces of information as it spreads online. However, multi-platform analyses of this phenomenon remain limited due to challenges in data collection. Collecting mentions of research tracked by Altmetric LLC, we examine information retention in the over 4 million online posts referencing 9,765 of the most-mentioned scientific articles across blog sites, Facebook, news sites, Twitter, and Wikipedia. To do so, we present a burst-based framework for examining online discussions about science over time and across different platforms. To measure information retention we develop a keyword-based computational measure comparing an online post to the scientific article’s abstract. We evaluate our measure using ground truth data labeled by within field experts. We highlight three main findings: first, we find a strong tendency towards low levels of information retention, following a distinct trajectory of loss except when bursts of attention begin in social media. Second, platforms show significant differences in information retention. Third, sequences involving more platforms tend to be associated with higher information retention. These findings highlight a strong tendency towards information loss over time – posing a critical concern for researchers, policymakers, and citizens alike – but suggest that multi-platform discussions may improve information retention overall.

 

Early firm engagement, government research funding, and the privatization of public knowledge | SpringerLink

Abstract:  Early firm engagement in the scientific discovery process in public institutions is an important form of science-based innovation. However, early firm engagement may negatively affect the academic value of public papers due to firms’ impulse to privatize public knowledge. In this paper, we crawl all patent and paper text data of the Distinguished Young Scholars of the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC) in the chemical and pharmaceutical field. We use semantic recognition techniques to establish the link between scientific discovery papers and patented technologies to explore the relationship between the quality of public knowledge production, government research funding, and early firm engagement in the science-based innovation process. The empirical results show that, first, there is a relatively smooth inverted U-shaped relationship between government research funding for scholars and the quality of their publications. An initial increase in government research funding positively drives the quality of public knowledge production, but the effect turns negative when research funding is excessive. Second, government research funding for scholars can act as a value signal, triggering the firm’s impulse to privatize high-value scientific discoveries. Hence, early firm engagement moderates the inverted U-shaped relationship such that at low levels of research funding, early firm engagement can improve the quality of public knowledge production, and at high levels of research funding, early firm engagement can further reduce the quality of public knowledge production.

 

Helen Salisbury: Unintended consequences of open access to medical notes | The BMJ

“Patients now have access to their own medical notes, which is surely progress. More patients are now taking advantage of the ability to view all of the coded information in their GP record online—and this November they’ll have access to all of the free text written in the consultation from that date onwards….

But there are unintended consequences. One is the increased demand for explanations….

As junior doctors, we learn that everything we write in a patient’s notes may potentially be read by them and that we should be polite and objective, backing up opinions with evidence. I may note mismatches between symptoms and signs when my patient who says that she’s fine has nevertheless objectively lost weight, or when the child with dreadful tummy ache clambers energetically onto my couch to be examined. In the past only a handful of patients ever asked to read their notes, but many GPs will have experienced protracted conversations with patients who were unhappy with the contents. In the future, when patients have routine access to everything we write, I fear that I may have to spend more time explaining my record of the consultation….

More fundamentally, if there’s a high likelihood that all notes will be viewed online, will GPs stop noting their “soft concerns” that are so vital in both child and adult safeguarding?…”

Threats to Academic Freedom under the Guise of Open Access – Verfassungsblog

“Developments in the publishing system increasingly suggest that the access revolution is much less revolutionary than expected. Reports gradually bring to light the extent to which publishers started to use the data tracking tools developed by “pioneers” such as Google and Facebook (see e.g. this informative briefing paper under the umbrella of the DFG, the German Research Foundation). This development could not only be the final blow for the Open Access movement’s potential to more radically and structurally change the way knowledge is being disseminated in the digital age – namely with a less prominent role played by commercial publishers. It furthermore means a systematic threat to the autonomy of the science system and academic freedom in the digital age….”

It is not transformation if nothing changes – Science & research news | Frontiers

“The substantial benefits of open access (OA) publishing are within our reach, but legacy publishers are employing commercial tactics to delay the necessary transition.

This paper exposes several of the negative, often unintended, consequences of “transformative agreements” (TAs).  It argues that these agreements, sold as a pathway to open science, in fact reinforce the status quo.  TAs maintain paywalled access as the standard financial model in publishing.  They are negotiated in the absence of basic competition and procurement rules.  And by concentrating resources into silos for a few incumbents only, they pose a threat to the diversity of the publishing ecosystem, locking out innovators, including the very players who demonstrate the benefits of OA publishing.  Deployed as a commercial tactic, these agreements will stall the establishment of a transparent and competitive marketplace for professional editorial services….:”

Data tools for achieving disaster risk reduction: An analysis of open-access georeferenced disaster risk datasets – World | ReliefWeb

“The priorities of the Sendai Framework are to (1) understand disaster risk; (2) strengthen disaster risk governance to manage risk; (3) invest in disaster risk reduction and resilience; and (4) enhance the capacity to recover from disasters (UNDRR, 2015). This study advances our knowledge of implementing the Sendai Framework from publications that have utilized open-access spatial data and issues common to Framework implementation. The findings from a literature review reveal that many of the problems cited by recent work are data-related.

This study engages with these issues and discusses how they could be addressed by those who have a vested interest in disaster risk reduction, from policymakers to community members.”

Elsevier to Acquire Interfolio – The Scholarly Kitchen

“On Thursday, Elsevier announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Interfolio. Interfolio has a series of products that fall into two related categories, one of which I call researcher career management and the other of which is the more familiar, impact assessment. While the price being paid was not revealed, Interfolio was acquired by a private equity firm in 2018 for a reported investment of $110 million (prior to adding several additional services into the Interfolio portfolio). Elsevier’s acquisition, if it succeeds, will further strengthen it as a provider of platforms and services to the university provost’s office and office of research, as well as research funders, an important consideration as it seeks to diversify its academic segment revenue basis beyond libraries. Ultimately, this acquisition would further increase the disparity in services in the increasingly direct competition between Elsevier and the new Clarivate, particularly if Elsevier can integrate it effectively. …

 So, for Elsevier, Interfolio’s faculty activity reporting, tenure and promotion, faculty search, and dossier management services should integrate very well with its already strong PURE platform. …

Interfolio’s products and services contain substantial data that already contribute to assessment and impact analysis. These are held in the aforementioned faculty career management services, on a proprietary basis for individual and institutional customers, in ways that could intriguingly be integrated into various analytical tools and services. And, at least in the UK, the oddly-named ResearchFish, acquired several years ago by Interfolio, is used by funding agencies to track the work of their funded researchers (attracting a bit of controversy lately for its unexpected approach to social media). Notwithstanding data protections in place, there could easily emerge additional opt-in opportunities for data from Interfolio services to populate other Elsevier platforms and analytics over the course of time. …

One thing is for sure — Elsevier is bringing together a premier researcher career management offering with its highly competitive research information management system — and that can make a compelling combination. Clarivate has an even higher mountain to climb now as it works to create a competitive research information management offering, working to combine Converis, which has not captured meaningful market share since Clarivate acquired it, and the more nascent Esploro, a category-bending service which it gained through the ProQuest acquisition. …

The most disappointing part of this reaction is the surprise that many librarians and other community advocates express about an acquisition of one company by another company. This should not be a surprise, as I wrote years ago when Elsevier bought bepress. Universities for whom this is a substantial concern should not outsource strategically sensitive services to commercial firms, or alternatively should ensure their contracts are structured to protect their interests in the face of the most outrageous acquisition they can imagine. …”

Biosecurity in an age of open science

Abstract:  The risk of accidental or deliberate misuse of biological research is increasing as biotechnology advances. As open science becomes widespread, we must consider its impact on those risks and develop solutions that ensure security while facilitating scientific progress. Here, we examine the interaction between open science practices and biosecurity and biosafety to identify risks and opportunities for risk mitigation. Increasing the availability of computational tools, datasets, and protocols could increase risks from research with misuse potential. For instance, in the context of viral engineering, open code, data, and materials may increase the risk of release of enhanced pathogens. For this dangerous subset of research, both open science and biosecurity goals may be achieved by using access-controlled repositories or application programming interfaces. While preprints accelerate dissemination of findings, their increased use could challenge strategies for risk mitigation at the publication stage. This highlights the importance of oversight earlier in the research lifecycle. Preregistration of research, a practice promoted by the open science community, provides an opportunity for achieving biosecurity risk assessment at the conception of research. Open science and biosecurity experts have an important role to play in enabling responsible research with maximal societal benefit.

 

Making Science More Open Is Good for Research—but Bad for Security

But a new paper in the journal PLoS Biology argues that, while the swell of the open science movement is on the whole a good thing, it isn’t without risks. 

 

Though the speed of open-access publishing means important research gets out more quickly, it also means the checks required to ensure that risky science isn’t being tossed online are less meticulous. In particular, the field of synthetic biology—which involves the engineering of new organisms or the reengineering of existing organisms to have new abilities—faces what is called a dual-use dilemma: that while quickly released research may be used for the good of society, it could also be co-opted by bad actors to conduct biowarfare or bioterrorism. It also could increase the potential for an accidental release of a dangerous pathogen if, for example, someone inexperienced were able to easily get their hands on a how-to guide for designing a virus. “There is a risk that bad things are going to be shared,” says James Smith, a coauthor on the paper and a researcher at the University of Oxford. “And there’s not really processes in place at the moment to address it.”

 

Biosecurity in an age of open science

Abstract:  The risk of accidental or deliberate misuse of biological research is increasing as biotechnology advances. As open science becomes widespread, we must consider its impact on those risks and develop solutions that ensure security while facilitating scientific progress. Here, we examine the interaction between open science practices and biosecurity and biosafety to identify risks and opportunities for risk mitigation. Increasing the availability of computational tools, datasets, and protocols could increase risks from research with misuse potential. For instance, in the context of viral engineering, open code, data, and materials may increase the risk of release of enhanced pathogens. For this dangerous subset of research, both open science and biosecurity goals may be achieved by using access-controlled repositories or application programming interfaces. While preprints accelerate dissemination of findings, their increased use could challenge strategies for risk mitigation at the publication stage. This highlights the importance of oversight earlier in the research lifecycle. Preregistration of research, a practice promoted by the open science community, provides an opportunity for achieving biosecurity risk assessment at the conception of research. Open science and biosecurity experts have an important role to play in enabling responsible research with maximal societal benefit.

 

bjoern.brembs.blog » Scholarship has no time to waste

“A second front was opened about ten years ago now from an entirely different and mostly unanticipated direction. More than just flush with funds, but this time financed by academia herself, academic publishers started (escalated?) their own attack on science by gobbling up and developing digital surveillance technologies. To expand the sources of user data, these corporations bought digital tools covering all aspects of academic life, from literature search, data analysis, writing, citing or outreach, all the way to citation analysis for research assessment. These corporations formerly known as publishers are using their expanded digital surveillance network to accomplish two separate goals. First, a copy of the data is aggregated with private data from scholarly users and sold, either to advertisers, to law enforcement agencies not allowed to collect such intrusive data themselves, or to any authoritarian government interested in identifying potential opposition intelligentsia. The second goal is to expand the monopolies they enjoy on scholarly content, to a monopoly on all scholarly services, i.e., the mother of all vendor lock-ins. Packaging all the different tools in a single bundle and selling it to institutions akin to subscription “Big Deals”, would make it impossible for any institution buying such a package to ever switch to a different provider again. An analogy outside of academia would be a merger of Microsoft, SAP, Google and Facebook. There are two corporations so far that are standing ready to deploy such bundles, RELX (parent of Elsevier) and Holtzbrinck (SpringerNature, Digital Science). A related data analytics corporation specializing on scholarly data is Clarivate (Web of Science, ProQuest)….”