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Friday, March 2, 2012

Milena Stanoeva
Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Léo Charbonneau blogs this week on the recent boycott of academic publishing company Elsevier, which owns 2,000 academic journals, by researchers. The boycott was over Elsevier’s support of the Research Works Act, a US legislation proposal that would prohibit open access mandates for federal research funding. In both Canada and the US, government organizations that provide public funding for research require that the research be made publicly available. More than 7,500 researchers worldwide vowed to stop sending their research to Elsevier-owned journals, leading the company to withdraw its support for the legislation.

Charbonneau’s blog post also makes the interesting point that, although peer-reviewed journal articles are seen as the only authoritative source of information on new research, academics who post their research online, through blogs potentially expose their research to more constructive criticism from their peers. Academics can also follow the progress of their colleagues’ research and provide feedback throughout the process.

Speaking of academic blogging, Impact of Social Science featured an interview with Patrick Dunleavy and Chris Gilson, notable academic bloggers in Britain, on the value of blogging for social science researchers. According to them, “blogging is quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now.” They argue that blogging is a great way for researchers to build networks with their colleagues and communicate their findings to a much larger audience than can be reached with a press release or journal article.

This week, the University of Oxford announced the creation of the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Scholarships in the Humanities, funded in perpetuity by an endowment of £26 million by Mica Ertegun. The endowment has an illustrious beginning–Ahmed Ertegun was the founder of Atlantic Records. After his death, many of his protégés performed at a memorial concert, but not Led Zeppelin. At Ms. Ertegun’s suggestion, music promoter Harvey Goldsmith wrote the rockers, who agreed to reunite for a 2007 concert. The proceedings–£2 million–were the seed for the endowment.

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