The Open Access Opportunity: Building the Third Space

Read the full post from the Higher Education Policy Institute.

In her recent blog, Victoria Gardner explored whether open access was ‘the end or the means’? In this blog Matt Flinders argues that open access represents little more that the latest stage of a complex and ongoing shift in the architecture of knowledge. Open access is definitely not ‘the end’ of anything – it signals the need to think more systemically and ambitiously about knowledge translation and therefore the ‘third space’. 

When should U.S. research be stamped ‘top secret’? NSF asks for a new look at the issue

Read the full story in Science.

The U.S. academic community is gearing up for a new effort to convince national policymakers that the benefits of keeping government-funded basic research out in the open—and not stamping it classified—far outweigh any threat to national security from sharing scientific findings.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to hold a workshop on factors affecting the classification of federally funded research. Tentatively scheduled for the fall, the meeting is expected to revisit a Cold War-era policy that sets openness as the gold standard and says any classification of fundamental research should be kept to a minimum.

Delaying the inevitable? The uncertain future of the EPA’s online archive

Front door of United States Environmental Protection Agency building

Read the full story at New Security Beat.

In February 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its plans to shutter its online archive—a key resource on the work of the agency that is relied upon by researchers, legislators, policymakers, and citizens for work on everything “from historical research to democratic oversight.” Pulling the plug would instantly have made public access to a vast array of fact sheets, environmental reports, policy changes, and regulatory actions significantly more difficult.

Months of public backlash ensued—including damning public letters from prominent organizations. And just last week, the EPA announced that it would push back the demise of the archive until July 2023.

News of this welcome reprieve for the EPA digital archive raises a significant question: Why continue with plans to shut it down at all? Postponement does not resolve the eventual damage to government transparency and historical record keeping that the archive’s demise will create. And the concerns of organizations opposed to closure will not be satisfied by an additional year of operation.

Is there a case to be made that this vital resource’s reprieve should be a permanent one?

A copyright lawsuit threatens to kill free access to Internet Archive’s library of books

Read the full story in Popular Science.

Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library and a massive repository of online artifacts, has been collecting mementos of the ever-expanding World Wide Web for over two decades, allowing users to revisit sites that have since been changed or deleted. But like the web, it too has evolved since its genesis, and in the aughts, it also began to offer a selection of ebooks that any internet user can check out with the creation of a free account. 

That latter feature has gotten the organization in some trouble. Internet Archive was sued by a suite of four corporate publishers in 2020 over copyright controversies—with one side saying that what Internet Archive does is preservation, and the other saying that it’s piracy, since it freely distributes books as image files without compensating the author. 

Last week, the ongoing case entered a new chapter as the nonprofit organization filed a motion for summary judgment, asking a federal judge to put a stop to the lawsuit, arguing that their Controlled Digital Lending program “is a lawful fair use that preserves traditional library lending in the digital world” since “each book loaned via CDL has already been bought and paid for.” On Friday, Creative Commons issued a statement supporting Internet Archive’s motion. 

Methods in Ecology and Evolution to become a fully open access journal

Read the full story from the British Ecological Society.

The British Ecological Society has today announced that one of its youngest journals, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, will become a fully open access publication from January 2023.

Frontiers is first publisher to join ‘Stick to Science’ initiative

Read the full story at Research Information.

Frontiers has become the first publisher to join the ‘Stick to Science’ initiative to support open scientific collaboration.  

Initiated by Universities UK, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), public research university ETH Zurich, the ETH Board, Wellcome and The Royal Society, the ‘Stick to Science’ campaign calls for an open, inclusive, and collaborative research and innovation landscape in Europe that is free from political barriers.

The initiative comes off the back of uncertainties over the UK and Switzerland’s participation in Horizon Europe, the EU’s €95.5 billion research and innovation program. The UK’s relationship with Horizon Europe remains trapped in post-Brexit arrangements, while Switzerland is locked out of parts of the program, pending further government talks. In both cases, efficient science collaboration continues to be stalled by politics.   

Switzerland and the UK, two of the best performing science systems in the world, are long-standing and academically important partners in Europe’s research and innovation landscape. However, some of the best minds of the British and Swiss institutions are currently unable to fully and efficiently contribute to Europe’s science and research as a result of the ongoing uncertainty.  These circumstances are hindering some of Europe’s top scientists from working together to tackle looming global challenges such as climate change, pandemics, sustainability, energy and food security.  

EU science ministers agree on research assessment reform

Read the full story at Science Business.

EU science ministers today signed off an agreement backing research assessment reform in Europe, alongside conclusions on open science, international cooperation and Horizon Europe missions.

In a meeting in Luxembourg, the 27 ministers acknowledged it’s time for the EU to revamp how it evaluates research, putting more weight into the quality of research outcomes rather than qualitative indicators such as journal impact factors and number of citations.

Ministers acknowledged that national research organisations are already taking steps to improve they way they assess research, the reforms do not happen fast enough, and efforts remain fragmented.  

New initiative incentivizes open research

Read the full story at The Scientist.

A large coalition of colleges and universities aims to change hiring, promotion, and tenure practices to reward collaboration.

An open-access history: the world according to Smits

Read the full story in Nature.

The Plan S architect, scourge of paywalls, reveals how the policy sausage got made.

Making the collective knowledge of chemistry open and machine actionable

Jablonka, K.M., Patiny, L. & Smit, B. (2022). “Making the collective knowledge of chemistry open and machine actionable.” Nature Chemistry 14, 365–376. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41557-022-00910-7

Abstract: Large amounts of data are generated in chemistry labs—nearly all instruments record data in a digital form, yet a considerable proportion is also captured non-digitally and reported in ways non-accessible to both humans and their computational agents. Chemical research is still largely centred around paper-based lab notebooks, and the publication of data is often more an afterthought than an integral part of the process. Here we argue that a modular open-science platform for chemistry would be beneficial not only for data-mining studies but also, well beyond that, for the entire chemistry community. Much progress has been made over the past few years in developing technologies such as electronic lab notebooks that aim to address data-management concerns. This will help make chemical data reusable, however it is only one step. We highlight the importance of centring open-science initiatives around open, machine-actionable data and emphasize that most of the required technologies already exist—we only need to connect, polish and embrace them.