The University of Chicago has created an Open Courseware style Climate Science 101, with videos of the lectures and self-assessment materials online. It’s aimed at non-science undergraduates. If you, or someone you know, want to get a little more in depth knowledge about climate science on their own time, it’s a great resource.
Tens of thousands of academic papers from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society are being shared via BitTorrent thanks to the work of someone going by the name Greg Maxwell. All of the papers are out of copyright — they date from the time of Newton up through 1923. Nevertheless, they have until now been locked up behind a paywall. Hopefully others in possession of such troves will follow suit. Scientific publishing is long overdue for this kind of shakeup.
Many academic journals require their library subscribers to sign non-disclosure agreements to keep their pricing structures secret. This is obviously anti-competitive, and precludes any kind of free market from forming. Cornell has decided it’s had enough of this, and will refuse to sign any such agreement in the future, while making the (often exorbitant) prices it pays for journal subscriptions public.
A bill duplicitously entitled the “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” (HR 6845) has been introduced in congress with the goal of prohibiting federal science funding agencies such as the NIH, NSF, NASA, etc. from making their grants contingent upon open access to the published results. Currently, a large proportion of federally funded biomedical research comes with a requirement that the results be listed in the Open Access PubMed database. Proponents of Open Access journals have seen this policy as an example of the way things should work – publicly funded research should have publicly accessible results – but now this system, and progress in that direction, is in jeopardy. HR 6845 would prohibit any federal funding agency from making their funds contingent on public access to the results.
The bill has been referred to the House judicial committee. Our representative, Adam Schiff, is on the committee. If you support open access to scientific publications – especially publicly funded scientific research, please contact him and tell him to oppose the bill. Senator Feinstein is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and should also be contacted.
More information including background on the NIH open access policy can be found at the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. You can track the bill’s progress at OpenCongress.org. If you do call, write, fax, or e-mail your representative or senator, please e-mail Jennifer McLennan (jennifer [at] arl [dot] org) and let her know.