“Astroturfers” and Open Science 2020 Platforms

The European Commission (EC) has assigned Robert-Jan Smits as head of the “open science” envoy to the European Political Strategy Centre, according to the University World News.

Smits’ strategic appointment, by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, comes at a time of anticipation for how 2020 open access/science deadlines will be met and how the EC will facilitate compliance with related mandates. Current discussion right now revolves around the next-generation EC-funded open science platforms, with the EC call for proposals for these soon to be released:

Researchers are keen to know whether we will now see for-profit companies and ‘astroturfers’ enter the open science landscape and undermine science in pursuit of their commercial interests, while claiming to support the struggle of researchers – notably those in Germany, in their fight against Elsevier – who demand more say in the publishing of scholarly articles.

Additional Reading

Lykkja, P.M. &  Myklebust, J.P. (2018). Open science in the EU – Will the astroturfers take over? University World News. 497. http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20180317044918836

Rabesandratana, T. (2018). One of the most powerful science policy jobs in Brussels changes hands. Science Newsdoi:10.1126/science.aat4124

Urban Dictionary. astroturf. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=astroturf


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Dr. Thorsten Beck on Image Manipulation Research at Humboldt

New video featuring Dr. Thorsten Beck and image manipulation research at the HEADT Centre — Humboldt-Elsevier Advanced Data and Text Centre. I will use this video in my next doctoral student ethics course.


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ERC Starting Grant Problematics

A thoughful commentary from Dr. Michael J. Bojdys regarding ERC starting grants and doctoral/postdoc education in the Czech context:

Reformists in the Czech Republic are asking for help and legitimacy….One way would be by empowering Czech universities in a ‘Czech Association of Institutions of Higher Education’ whose declared statutes should be: (1) freedom and indivisibility of research and teaching, and (2) care for young academics. Such an institution should act as political, economic and legal lobby for institutions of higher education in front of policy-makers and society. They should also provide information services and seminars to guide young academics; especially if their home institutions lack proper mentoring and good academic practices.

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Letter to Improve Education Exemption

EBLIDA, the European Bureau of Library, Information, and Document Associations, together with 34 other organizations has drafted a letter calling for an improved education exemption in the proposed DSM directive.

Additional Reading:


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Nethlerlands Follows German Lead on Open Access

Interview with Dutch scientific publishing negotiator, Koen Becking:

In the end we’re talking about taxpayer money, which should be used to the benefit of society.

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In Memorium, Ben Barres (1955-2017)

An elegant tribute to close mentorship and gender equality advocate Ben Barres, neurobiologist.


Barres devoted much of his last decade to publicly describing the challenges he had faced as a woman in science, and offering ways to correct a system that he viewed as fundamentally biased against the advancement of women and minorities. He also called for mentors to be held more accountable for the training and success of their graduate students and postdocs.

Additional Reading:

Barres, B.A. (2017). Stop Blocking Postdocs’ Paths to Success. Nature 548 (7669). 517–519. doi:10.1038/548517a


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Digital Deceit

Well worth a read (applicable not just to journalism anymore!); excerpt:

The central problem is that the entire industry is built to leverage sophisticated technology to aggregate user attention and sell advertising.


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OECD Publishes New Report on International Research Networks

December 2017 report, Co-ordination and support of open international research networks:

International research data networks are critical for progress in many scientific domains and underpin efforts to promote Open Science. At the same time, many of these networks are fragile and the responsibilities for their support and performance are frequently distributed across a variety of different actors. This report explores the challenges and enablers for the effective functioning of international research data networks.

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Recent G7 Science Ministers’ Communiqué

I highly recommend reading the G7 Science Ministers’ Communiqué dated 28 September 2017. At times, the day-to-day struggle of educating young scientists in today’s world can seem so daunting. It’s at least refreshing to read a clear message outlining where science, as a global endeavor, needs to go. Included are statements supporting inclusion, the need for cultures which foster research integrity, as well as those cultivating trans-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary research.


Thank you for making my day, G7 Science Ministers’ Communiqué!



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US National Academy of Sciences Arthur M. Sackler Colloquia

Still time to join the Science of Science Communication III webinar: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/science-of-science-communication-iii-webcast-registration-36280589219



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