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New deals could help scientific societies survive open access – Science (Jeffrey Brainard | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 7, 2020

In the push to make the scientific literature open access, small scientific societies have feared they could be collateral damage. Many rely on subscription revenue from their journals—often among the most highly cited in their disciplines—to fund other activities, such as scholarships. And whereas big commercial publishers have the scale to absorb financial losses in some of their journals, many scientific societies operate at most a handful of journals.

A reprieve may be in sight. Last week, a project that included funders backing Plan S, the European-led effort to speed the transition to open access, released a set of contract templates and tips meant to help small, independent publishers reach deals with libraries that would eventually eliminate subscriptions while protecting revenue. The project also helped arrange pilots, which may soon be inked, that use the guidance; they will allow researchers served by library consortia to publish an unlimited number of open-access articles in return for a set fee paid to societies.

The Biochemical Society, based in London, is participating because “we have to start somewhere, and our principle is, learn by doing,” says Malavika Legge, its publishing director. The new guidance  grew out of a June workshop in London attended by two dozen society and library officials, which “opened the door to talking to librarians in a way we’ve never done before.”

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Does Research Have Any Value in a Refugee Crisis? – Scholarly Kitchen (Haseeb Irfanullah | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 5, 2020

Bangladesh is now hosting more than 859,000 Rohingyas — the ethnic Muslim minority of Myanmar — at 34 refugee camps on its southeastern Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf peninsula. Between 25 August and 31 December 2017, over 723,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh to save themselves from genocide in Myanmar. These people are staying in camps created by clearing 2,500 hectares of forestland. The Government of Bangladesh, donors, UN agencies, and national and international NGOs are collectively managing this unmeasurable humanitarian crisis.

This Scholarly Kitchen piece makes a good point about worrying less about publishing in prestigious journals for academic sake and more about making sure the outcomes are given to people who can actually make use of the information.

The challenges around this crisis are multi-dimensional and complex — fulfilling refugees’ everyday basic needs, protecting them from illegal exploitation, ensuring the future of the 55% who are children, saving them from epidemics and pandemics, reducing potential tension between the Rohingya refugees and the Bangladeshi hosts, and tackling geopolitics around this crisis to name but a few. To researchers, this crisis gives a tremendous opportunity to explore the situations, explain the challenges, test ideas and innovations, recommend solutions, and evaluate actions.

But academic research takes time. Response to humanitarian emergencies like a refugee crisis, on the other hand, is all about urgent action. Here a delay can be a question of life or death. Refugee crises thus demand actions based upon past experiences — what worked and what could work given certain factors within a specific context and ground reality.

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(US) Ex-Stony Brook prof pleads guilty to swiping $200K of cancer research funds – New York Post (Andrew Denney | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 4, 2020

A former Stony Brook University professor on Tuesday pleaded guilty to siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money intended for cancer research and using the cash for his own personal expenses.

What is reported here is horrifying.

Geoffrey Girnun, 49, admitted in a Long Island federal court to stealing $78,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and $147,000 from the college, according to federal prosecutors.

Between 2013 to 2017, the feds say Girnun had the cash wired to two shell companies under his control that he falsely claimed were providing equipment for cancer-research projects.

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What not to do in graduate school – Nature (Buddini Karawdeniya | July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 3, 2020

Six limiting maxims PhD students should avoid.

During my time as a graduate student researching analytical sensors in the Dwyer laboratory at The University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, I made a lot of mistakes — some of which matured into valuable lessons. If you are already in graduate school, or have decided to start, here are six things I recommend you do not do.

Compare yourself with others

I’ve met many scientists who spiral into stress and disappointment because they compare themselves unfavourably with others. Every research field, project and graduate student is unique. In some fields, it can take years to find a breakthrough worth publishing; in others, it’s easier to publish frequently. I became worried by the third year of my PhD, when it seemed as if it was taking me longer than others to publish my research project. It took me almost six years to complete my PhD, but my hard work paid off when I published a piece on my flagship project in Nature Communications, alongside almost a dozen other publications and two patent applications from various other projects. Instead of looking at what others are doing, learn to be introspective. Grow from your mistakes, and find more efficient and effective work tactics.

Blindly trust your data

I have learnt to be suspicious of my data. Consider what could go wrong when obtaining them — if something seems weird or wrong in some way, it probably is. I was once designing a sensor that would detect minuscule amounts of chemicals with a laser. One day, thrillingly, the signal looked fabulous: the laser power was turned all the way to the highest setting instead of my usual setting; and the higher the laser power, the higher the signal. Although it looked great, it turned out that the equipment was enormously overestimating the sensing performance and was therefore producing useless data. Be aware of issues such as sample contamination, labelling errors or faulty instrument calibrations. Just because you yourself obtained the data, do not blindly trust them.

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