News and notes for biology, May 2017

BMC Biology becomes the first specialist biology journal to offer Registered Reports; The scientific Odyssey: Pre-registering the voyage, by Miranda Robertson on BMC blog. You may remember that Brian Nosek talked about Registered Reports when he was here in March. Registered Reports at Center for Open Science

Food for thought; questionable Elsevier business practices: When is enough enough? This post, written by Kevin Smith, Dean of Libraries at University of Kansas, is a strong call for academic libraries to extricate themselves from doing any business with Elsevier. The whole post is worth reading but here are some quotes to motivate you:

“…I believe we must go the other way, by extricating ourselves as academic institutions from any financial involvement with Elsevier. Elsevier simply does not care about scholarship, content or access; they only care about revenue; this makes them an unacceptable partner in the academic enterprise….I have had the opportunity to interact with two lawyers from outside of academia who have each studied the situation we all find ourselves in when we try to do business with Elsevier. From very different perspectives and based on different legal situations, both lawyers arrived at the same conclusion — you cannot do business with this company. Both recommended that American universities need to find ways to extricate themselves from relationships with Elsevier; that we develop strategies to do so as quickly as possible, and that our freedom from Elsevier should be a long-term commitment.”

I doubt Washington University will take such steps in the foreseeable future but I think it’s worth considering these issues. How might your research, teaching, and publishing choices change if many/most universities did not subscribe to Elsevier products? This would mean Cell Press journals, Elsevier ebooks, Mendeley, Scopus, SSRN (including BioRN, see below), in addition to Elsevier journals. Of course some access would continue via Interlibrary Loan and access to free-to-read versions via UnPayWall, PubMed Central and other public access sites, and other such tools. Also worth considering: “we have to stop giving them our good stuff. Just don’t. Don’t give your work to subscription-based journals. Don’t review for them. And don’t act as an editor for them. Scholarship belongs to the world, not to publishers who do the opposite of publishing. Publish your work where it benefits the world.” [from Mike Taylor in What exactly is the problem with Elsevier and co?] But it seems to me Elsevier boycotts have been tried before, e.g., The Cost of Knowledge?

Elsevier enters preprint arena: Introducing BioRN, an SSRN network; you must create a free SSRN account to add, access or interact with items on BioRN.

From Scholarly Communications @ WU Libraries in May:

About the author

Ruth is a librarian at Washington University for biology, math, history of science; she is also scholarly communications coordinator. Email: Phone: 314-935-4819