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A Scottish Open Access Press - Survey

More than ever before academics are expected to publish their research results Open Access. The UK funding councils under the UKRI umbrella have had an open access policy since 2013 (see related blog post for the latest update on this). The 4 national UK funding bodies too have advocated for greater open access, most notably in the requirements for the next Research Excellence Framework (REF2021). Other funders, such as Wellcome Trust, the COAF charity funders, as well as the European Research Council and other international funders, all require researchers to publish open access. Many universities too have established open access policies of their own, including the University of St Andrews.

Given this environment SCURL (Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries) are scoping the possibility for a shared Scottish Open Access Press, to assist Scottish researchers in meeting these open access requirements.

SCURL have prepared a short survey, to help establish the viab…
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The Great Science Publishing Scandal

For centuries academic journals have been the custodians of scientific knowledge. But in the past few decades this has become increasingly contentious, as publishers continue to boast high profit margins, and their customers, largely academic libraries, continue to face squeezed budgets. Some libraries have cancelled subscriptions, some countries have been in deadlocked negotiations with publishers for months and even years, and many researchers have resorted to illegal means to access research.

But how did it get this way? And is there anything that can be done? In the BBC Radio 4 programme 'The Great Science Publishing Scandal' Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at the University of Manchester, discusses the history leading up to the current crisis, and looks at the ways in which academia can change to redress the balance of power in academic publishing. One such change advocated by professor Cobb is to break the link between prestige journals and academic promotion, and an…

UKRI Open Access Review

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) recently released a statement giving more details about the upcoming Open Access review. UKRI encompasses the 7 research funding councils formerly under the RCUK umbrella, as well as Research England and Innovate UK. The statement confirmed that UKRI will retain it's commitment for open access going forward, stating that:

"sharing new knowledge has benefits for researchers, the wider higher education sector, businesses and others." (UKRI,

The update also confirms that the new open access policy will align policies across the various funding councils, as currently Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have different terms. The new policy will also provide the opportunity to align more closely with the next Research Excellence Framework after 2021. But they go on to clarify that the next REF policy will have it's ow…

Charlie Chaplin and Pixar's WALL-E

It’s Charlie Chaplin’s birthday! So we are highlighting an article in our institutional repository that focuses on the slapstick comedy tradition of the silent era and specifically how the themes of Fordism and industrialisation are also reflected in the 2008 Pixar film WALL-E.

In the article Paul Flaig discusses how Chaplin, Keaton, Floyd and other comics at the time used slapstick comedy to satirise Fordist manufacturing – division of labour, assembly lines, use of industrial machinery. The 1936 classic Modern Times is a prime example of this -

"[S]lapstick comedy was tied to the rise of modern labor in terms of both Taylorist theory and Fordist practice. Comic heroes ranging from live action comedians Chaplin or Keaton to animated animals Felix or Mickey worked against work through the playful excesses of their obediences and transgressions within an increasingly rationalized, industrial world. The digital a…

Europe PMC Plus is getting an upgrade

In a recent blog post Europe PMC announced that their Europe PMC Plus system will soon be getting an upgrade.

PMC Plus is the interface used by Principal Investigators to upload manuscripts to the Europe PMC repository. After the upgrade the system promises to be much simpler, with just three things needed to complete a submission - citation details, submission files, and funding information.

"The new submission system offers an updated design, clearer workflows, and new features, including an improved preview of submitted files, the ability to view submitted files and processed web versions side by side, and improved communication tools, which simplify creating and reviewing manuscript submissions." (Europe PMC blog -
The new system will be released on 01/05/2019.

To find out more, and to see previews of the new interface, read the full announcement below which is also hosted on Figshare.

Screening of Paywall - the business of scholarship

We are planning a screening of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, on April 25th 2019 in the Byre Theatre, followed by a panel session chaired by Katie Stevenson.
The movie is a documentary which focuses on the need for open access to research and science, and questions the rationale behind the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, a substantial proportion of this from public funding (tax payers). It examines the 35-40% profit margin associated with large academic publishers, such as Elsevier; a profit margin often greater than some of the most profitable tech companies e.g. Apple, Facebook and Google. 

This will be an excellent opportunity for everyone to hear about and debate these issues and what steps we can take as individuals, an organisation and a sector, in response. The panel will also consider developments since the Paywall documentary was made, including Plan S, an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018.

World Poetry Day: Marion Angus (1865-1946)

To mark World Poetry Day we're highlighting a PhD thesis in the University's Research Repository.   The thesis, by Aimée Y Chalmers, delves into the life and works of the Scottish novelist and poet Marion Angus (1865-1946).

Aimée introduces the first part of the thesis as a "fuller biographical account of the life of Marion Angus than is available elsewhere. In addition, in ‘The Work of Marion Angus’, I anthologise examples of her prose and poetry, and gather together a range of contemporary opinions. My research in this regard resulted in the tracing, for the first time, how her use of the Scots language developed, and how her attitude to it changed over time." Aimée Y Chalmers. CCBY.

Aimée further remarks that:
“[t]here is something ephemeral about her poetry. A passionate lover of nature, she paints strong images of natural phenomena: hills, tumbling burns, twisted trees, flowers.
Yet these images fade quickly, leaving only a…