Academic spring campaign aims to make all taxpayer-funded academic research available for free online. Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, is to help the government in its bid to make taxpayer-funded research available for free online. The government has drafted in the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to help make all taxpayer-funded academic research in Britain available online to anyone who wants to read or use it.
The initiative, which has the backing of No 10 and should be up and running in two years, will be announced by the universities and science minister, David Willetts, in a speech to the Publishers Association on Wednesday.
Note: the Academic Spring was started by Timothy Gowers (Royal Society Research Professor at the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at Cambridge University) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Gowers ‘… In January 2012 Timothy Gowers made a post on his personal blog which initiated a project called The Cost of Knowledge. The blog post called for a boycott of Elsevier. The Cost of Knowledge is a petition for change in which researchers commit to discontinue support for Elsevier journals. As a result, Timothy Gowers has been credited with starting the Academic Spring…’
The move will embolden what has been dubbed the “academic spring” – a growing campaign among academics and research funders for open access in academic publishing. They want to unlock the results of research from behind the lucrative paywalls of journals controlled by publishing companies.
Almost 11,000 researchers have signed up to a boycott of journals owned by the huge academic publisher Elsevier. Subscriptions to the thousands of research journals can cost a big university library millions of pounds each year – costs that have started to bite as budgets are squeezed. Harvard University, frustrated by the rising costs of journal subscriptions, recently encouraged its faculty members to make their research freely available through open access journals and to resign from publications that keep articles behind paywalls.
“Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the very forefront of open research,” Willetts writes in the Guardian. Willetts said he recognised the value that academic publishers brought to the research process. “But, as the world changes, both cultural and technological change, their business model is going to change. I want to work with the Publishers Association as we move to the new model.”
Wales is a vocal supporter of free and open access to information on the web and he was brought in by No 10 earlier this year as an unpaid adviser to government on crowdsourcing and opening up policymaking. On open access, he will assist the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the UK Research Councils to develop new ways to store and distribute research data and articles. He will initially advise the research councils on its £2m Gateway to Research project, a website that will act as a portal, linking to publicly funded UK research all over the web. “Jimmy Wales can make sure that we maximise the collaborative potential, the added value from that portal,” Willetts added. “Wikipedia has become a crucial part of our cultural landscape and having the advice from the person who created Wikipedia as we embark on this big project will be incredibly helpful.”
Wales will also feed ideas into the work of Dame Janet Finch, a former vice-chancellor of Keele University, who was asked by Willetts to convene academics, librarians and publishers to work out how an open-access scheme for publicly funded research might work in the UK. Her recommendations to government are expected in June this year.
A government source said that, in the longer term, Wales would help to set up the next generation of open-access platforms for British researchers. “He’s also going to be advising us on the format in which academic papers should be published and data standards. One of the big opportunities is, right now, a journal article might be published but the underlying data isn’t and we want to move into a world where the data is published alongside an article in an open format, available free of charge.”
This initiative is most likely to result in a central repository that will host all research articles that result from public funding. The aim is that, even if an academic publishes their work in a traditional subscription journal, a version of their article would simultaneously appear on the freely available repository. The repository would also have built-in tools to share, comment and discuss articles.
One of the biggest challenges in achieving full open access for research will be the resistance of journal publishers to changing their lucrative business models. The majority of the world’s scientific research, estimated at about 1.5m new articles a year, is published in journals owned by a small number of large publishing companies including Elsevier, Springer and Wiley.
Scientists submit manuscripts to the journals, which are sent out for peer review before publication. The work is then available to other researchers by subscription, usually through their libraries. Publishers of the academic journals, which can cost universities up to £16,500 a year each to access, argue the price is necessary to sustain a high-quality peer review process.
David Prosser, executive director of Research Libraries UK, which represents academic libraries, welcomed the plans in principle and said the details of their implementation would be crucial.
A parallel system that runs alongside the journals might be difficult to operate, he said. “What would an author put into this parallel system, are they putting in a different type of research output other than the paper?”
Making research data standardised and more available would be valuable, he added. “The worry is that there’s all this data out there and it’s in lots of different formats and it’s not interoperable and it’s not being archived properly and it’s going to disappear and there’s a danger of a data black hole. The fact that the government is talking about doing something for that is absolutely fabulous.”
See Why Most Published Research Findings Are False Ioannidis JPA (2005) Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLoS Med 2(8): e124. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124 ‘… There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false. The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question, and, importantly, the ratio of true to no relationships among the relationships probed in each scientific field. In this framework, a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance. Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias. In this essay, I discuss the implications of these problems for the conduct and interpretation of research…’
See A key player in stoking this Swine Flu hysteria was Dr Iain Stephenson, a Consultant at University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust who has been found guilty of vaccine research fraud on a grand scale by the General Medical Council (GMC).
See Thirteen per cent of scientists or doctors have said they know of colleagues who have fabricated data in order to get research published. More than one in ten (13%) scientists or doctors have witnessed colleagues intentionally altering or fabricating data to get published or during their research, a poll suggests. The survey of almost 2,800 experts in the UK also found 6% knew of possible research misconduct at their institution that has not been properly investigated. The poll, for the British Medical Journal (BMJ), is being presented at a meeting aimed at tackling research misconduct in the UK. 13 January 2012
See Mental scores decline precipitously at 30 months after anthrax vaccine, but CDC spins study to say vaccine safe Thursday, January 12, 2012
See http://www.theoneclickgroup.co.uk/news.php?id=6732#newspost Patient No. 28665 was helping a Chesterfield company test a drug dubbed the “female Viagra” but stopped showing up for exams in December 2007. That didn’t stop a staffer of the company, PPS Clinical Research STL, from claiming that six months later the patient came in for an exam, was diagnosed with medical conditions, had undergone tests and even had given a urine sample. That admission was made in the company’s guilty plea to a federal felony charge of obstructing a proceeding of a federal agency. The drug the company helped test, aimed at women who suffered from an unexplained lack of sexual desire, never made it to market. As part of the plea, PPS admitted that it “corruptly influenced, obstructed, and impeded” an inspection by the Food and Drug Administration by providing false patient records in May 2010. During the trials, the drug’s manufacturer faulted PPS for failing to have a trained investigator conduct some exams, for back dating records and for failing to properly oversee one patient’s selection for the study, according to prosecutors. Boehringer did not respond to emails seeking comment.
See http://www.theoneclickgroup.co.uk/news.php?id=6610#newspost A well-known psychologist in the Netherlands whose work has been published widely in professional journals falsified data and made up entire experiments, an investigating committee has found. Experts say the case exposes deep flaws in the way science is done in a field, psychology, that has only recently earned a fragile respectability.
See Reporting of Conflicts of Interest in Meta-analyses of Trials of Pharmacological Treatments. Michelle Roseman, BA; Katherine Milette, BSc; Lisa A. Bero, PhD; James C. Coyne, PhD; Joel Lexchin, MD; Erick H. Turner, MD; Brett D. Thombs, PhD. JAMA. 2011;305(10):1008-1017. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.257