Open access sails on despite stormy waters

The voyage towards open access was never going to be easy, especially in a field as conservative as academic publishing. Of late the seas have been stirred to greater turbulence by the waves of activity spreading open access across the globe.The increasing apparent complexities surrounding open access can be off-putting. But given that the rise of open access publishing is now widely seen as inexorable it is more important than ever that researchers take the trouble to inform themselves about this issue.

Russian researchers protest against law dissolving Academy of Sciences

Russian researchers are vehemently protesting a bill that would essentially liquidate the venerated Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and replace it with a newly -formed but as-yet poorly-defined body. The bill was passed its first and second reading on 1 July and 5 July 2013, respectively. It is slated to be signed into law when the Duma resumes session on 10 September. According to Russian law, substantive changes may not be made to a bill after it passes its second reading.

Turkish academics in a bind over conservative policies

Since May 2013, Turkey has seen a wave of protests from part of the population expressing its opposition to conservative government moves imposed on a society that is no longer aligned with its traditional culture. Scientists in international circles expressed concerns about their Turkish colleagues, as reports of police violence and oppression emerged. They wonder how best to support the Turkish scientific community

Human rights: a responsibility of scientific organisations too

A 30 years old Iranian physicist, called Omid Kokabee, languishes in jail in Teheran since January 2010. He has been condemned to 10 years for spying for the US government. His case has received the support of major scientific societies. But does it make sense that scientific organisations care about human rights issues, beyond their main, scientific mission? Is it useful? Or even desirable?

Cumulating R&D cuts does not bode well for the future of Spain

For the fourth consecutive year, resources allocated by the Spanish Government to R&D have been reduced. To assess its real impact, we need a detailed analysis. However, facts already speak for themselves. The 2013 annual budget approved by the Spanish Parliament reveals the government’s actual policy regarding R&D. To say the least, it is not always in line with politicians’ statements in the media.

Towards research excellence rather than excellence itself

Last April, leading researchers, politicians and key players in European research funding discussed how Europe can finance and provide optimal conditions for excellent research. They adopted the so-called “Aarhus Declaration” which states that “when aiming for excellence, one should aim at the stars: a new knowledge which changes paradigms, invents new fields and opens opportunities for broad societal consequences.” Increasingly, European Union and national funding is anchored around the idea of excellence in research. But what exactly is excellence? Is this yardstick a fair measure of a scientist’s work? Questions are being raised about whether this distorts the research landscape in Europe.