Shit I learned during my PhD

Doing a PhD is one of the greatest trials you will ever experience in your life. It is physically and mentally grueling, you will be challenged and pushed to the limit every single day, and the pressure levels are so high they will bust you right into the sixth dimension if you’re not prepared or strong enough.

So yeah, they are not for the faint of hearted. That is, if you want to succeed by pushing yourself to the limit, excel in everything that you apply yourself to, and grow to become more powerful than you can possibly imagine (compared to the wimpy undergrad you used to be). But I imagine you wouldn’t even be doing a PhD if this wasn’t your mentality anyway.

I’m a strong believer in committing yourself fully to something if you believe in it, and doing everything within your power to achieve your goals. A PhD is basically a 3-4 year long single project that you can, and should, dedicate yourself too. Now that I’m nearing the end of my own challenge, I wanted to share some simple things with you all that might help in some way.

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The social, economic, and academic impacts of Open Access – done, and done.

For the 3-4 regular readers of this blog, you’re probably aware that a while back we published a paper with F1000Research reviewing the evidence behind the societal, economic, and academic impacts of Open Access.

Today, we submitted what I like to think of as the ‘final’ version of that paper. We have taken on an enormous wealth of feedback from the community through formal peer review, comments, open discussion on social media, and personal conversations, and integrated all of this into the manuscript. This discourse has greatly improved the content, and I hope you all find it to be a useful basis for further discussions of Open Access.

I consider this to be the final version, as thanks to this extensive ‘peer review’ I feel there is little more which can be significantly altered. Of course there will always be future developments and debates in Open Access, but rather than adapt the paper fluidly with this, I’d rather consider it to be a good reference point on which to base these discussions.

That does not mean that everything in the paper is perfect. I strongly encourage further discussion and debate on the article itself, continuing the rich comment thread that exists already. If something major comes up that we have failed to include, then we will open up considerations for a new version.

Finally, please do share this paper with your friends and colleagues. It’s such a damn important topic, and well-worth being informed about. Remember, Open Access isn’t about policies, mandates and embargoes – it’s about freedom, equality, and democratic access to our core global knowledge base. That’s something worth fighting for.

A challenge to publishers to justify embargo periods

Embargo periods on scientific research are now fairly commonplace. They are sanctions imposed by publishers on different versions of a research manuscript, often termed the author-accepted manuscript (AAM) or post-print,  in order to delay public release of those versions. Typically at this stage, the publishers themselves have had little or no input to the process besides managing the peer review process through volunteer editorial staff.

These impositions now typically exist in the form of embargo policies, in which publishers ‘allow’ researchers to deposit these earlier versions (still peer reviewed) in a public repository of some sort, but with a delay of anywhere between 6-24 months, typically. This is commonly referred to as ‘green open access’, although the original definition of this simply required public archiving in a repository without any mention of embargo periods.

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Science: Disrupt

I was interviewed for Science Disrupt about scholarly publishing, academic reform, and the usual stuff. Enjoy!

Source: Science: Disrupt

The cost of knowledge is extraordinarily low and the cost of withholding knowledge is extraordinarily high

By Lawrence Yolland

Jon Tennant, a palaeontologist and Batman of Open Access sat down with us (over Skype) to discuss the value of open access and wade through the mud of scientific publishing. Jon is relentless, and there was never a sense of deflation over the current situation, only a drive to push for more transparency and actively pursue new outlets

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Why did I choose those journals to publish in?

So regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a pretty big fan of open access (OA) publishing. I wouldn’t call myself a “self-proclaimed OA advocate” as some seem to use pejoratively against me, but I support the principles of OA: free, unrestricted access to research for everyone. To that end, during my PhD I promised that every paper I published would be made OA. As a NERC funded student in the UK, this means I was in the fortunate position that the government had given the Research Councils UK (RCUK, which NERC is part of) millions to cover the ‘transitional costs to OA’, thereby alleviating any personal financial burden I might have had in pursuing OA.

What I want to provide here are reasons for the choices I made of where to publish in order of time throughout my PhD, and the associated costs with that. Indicated costs are the APCs, or article processing charges, unless stated otherwise.

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