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[1 Oct 2015 | One Comment | ]
A league table by any means will smell just as rank

The University Rankings season is upon us with the QS league table released a few weeks back to much hand wringing here in the UK as many science focussed institutions tumbled downwards. The fact that this was due to a changed emphasis in counting humanities and social sciences rather than any change at the universities themselves was at least noted, although how much this was to excuse the drop rather than engage with the issue is unclear.
At around the same time particle physicists and other “big science” communities were up …

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[30 Sep 2015 | 7 Comments | ]

A note on changes: I’m going to vary my usual practice in this series and post things in a rawer form with the intention of incorporating feedback and comments over time. In the longer term I will aim to post the series in a “completed” form in one way or another as a resource. If there is interest then it might be possible to turn it into a book.
There is no statement more calculated to make a publisher’s blood boil than “Publishers? They just organise peer review” or perhaps …

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[27 Sep 2015 | 5 Comments | ]
The Political Economics of Open Access Publishing – A series

One of the odd things about scholarly publishing is how little any particular group of stakeholders seems to understand the perspective of others. It is easy to start with researchers ourselves, who are for the most part embarrassingly ignorant of what publishing actually involves. But those who have spent a career in publishing are equally ignorant (and usually dismissive to boot) of researchers’ perspectives. Each in turn fail to understand what libraries are or how librarians think. Indeed the naive view that libraries and librarians are homogenous is a big …

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[10 Sep 2015 | No Comment | ]
Who’s in the Club? New frames for understanding knowledge sharing

The following is a version of the text I spoke from at the STEPS 2015 Conference, Resource Politics, at a session on Open Science organised by Valleria Arza, where I spoke along with Ross Mounce and Cindy Regalado. This version is modified slightly in response to comments from the audience.
There aren’t too many privileged categories I don’t fall into. White, male, middle class, middle aged, home owner. Perhaps the only claim I could make in the UK context is not having a connection with Oxbridge. The only language I speak …

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[7 Sep 2015 | 7 Comments | ]
Researcher as victim. Researcher as predator.

Researchers for the most part are pretty smart people. At the very least they’ve managed to play the games required of undergraduate and post graduate students, and out-competed a substantial proportion of other vying for the same places. Senior academics have survived running the gauntlet of getting published, and getting funded, at least enough to stay in the race.
It has been observed that when smart people do dumb things it is worth looking closer. The dumb thing is usually being done for a smart reason. Indeed we might go one …

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[26 Aug 2015 | 3 Comments | ]
What exactly is infrastructure? Seeing the leopard’s spots

We ducked a fundamental question raised by our proposal for infrastructure principles: “what exactly counts as infrastructure?” Of course this is not a straightforward question and part of the reason for leaving it in untouched in the introductory post. We believe that any definition must entail a much broader discussion from the community. But we wanted to kick this off with a discussion of an important part of the infrastructure puzzle that we think is often missed. That the infrastructure we should care most about is often a layer below where our attention is focused.

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[19 Aug 2015 | 4 Comments | ]

A question I have got quite frequently over the last few months is “…no but seriously, what are you actually doing…”. The answer has got more precise bit by bit but I truly didn’t leave PLOS with a specific plan for world domination. What I did want to do was find a way to combine a return to a hard core research focus with projects that really are very practical. I guess its the same problem with all research, how to combine theory with practice.
As a first step towards finding …

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[7 Jul 2015 | 2 Comments | ]

For a long time it was difficult for evolutionary biology to make sense of a (male) peacock’s tail. Clearly it is involved in courtship but the investment in growing it, and the disdvantage of carrying it around, would seem to be a disadvantage over all. The burden of the tail might be worth it for a single male if female preferences are fixed
Fisher found a solution to this problem by noting that the genes for large tails in male peacocks would tend to be carried along with the genes for …

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[24 Jun 2015 | 8 Comments | ]

There has been much talk about both “academic freedom” as well as the responsibilities of scholars over the past few weeks. Both of these are troublesome concepts, not least because one person’s “freedom” is another’s irresponsible conduct. But particularly in the context of “academic freedom” the question of freedom to do or say what, and what responsibilities come with that is complex. And of course the freedom to speak is not the right to an expectation to be taken seriously. Any such right or authority is also tied to certain, …

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[15 Apr 2015 | Comments Off on Community Support for ORCID – Who’s next to the plate? | ]

Geoff Bilder, Jennifer Lin, Cameron Neylon
The announcement of a $3M grant from the Helmsley Trust to ORCID is a cause for celebration. For many of us who have been involved with ORCID, whether at the centre or the edges, the road to sustainability has been a long one, but with this grant (alongside some other recent successes) the funding is in place to take the organization to where it needs to be as a viable membership organization providing critical community services.
When we wrote the Infrastructure Principles we published some weeks …