Plus national boycott of journal publisher: open access fight escalates  

And the winners are …

The Australian Research Council advises Linkage Grants will be announced this week.

Deep fried Dixie

CMM’s well-blow-me-down! correspondent reports research from Nashville Tenn, where a Vanderbilt U team has found a correlation among people in the US south between healthy eating and not dying. Of course, the correspondent adds, they can digest just about anything in Dixie. In Nashville he once ordered collard greens cooked in coca cola. The locals like them, he didn’t.

ANU June 4

Ripper research record

The new Australian Research Council search engine (CMM, Friday) will be live later this morning. It includes the detail of grants since 2001 and is searchable by programme, university, institution, state, discipline code, researcher, funding amount, socio-economic objective and project. It’s going to be an enormous resource for research analysts and star gazers who want to know what disciplines are in and out over time and the institutions and individuals who do well, and by their absence, don’t. “This really is a catalogue of the research the ARC supports … it reflects a great deal of hard work on streamlining behind the scenes, most of which is not yet visible to the outside world,” council chair Aidan Byrne says.

According to officials, the site is not finished and the Council is anxious for research community comment. However, even on the basis of what’s available the search function puts research on the record. This is information on government spending that the public has every right to know – even if it confirms what we all thought, as the distribution of all grants, ever, by administering institution does.

Of the lobby groups, the Group of Eight dominates as follows; University of Melbourne, 2231, University of Queensland, 2148, University of New South Wales 2090, University of Sydney 2066, Australian National University, 2019, Monash, 1619, University of Adelaide, 1082 and University of Western Australia 1002.

Awards are shared among the other lobby groups thus;

Australian Technology Network: Queensland University of Technology, 597, University of Technology Sydney, 449, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, 374, Curtin University 363, University of South Australia, 358.

Innovative Research Universities: Griffith University, 498, La Trobe University, 330, Flinders University, 253, James Cook University, 218, Murdoch University, 184, Charles Darwin University 68.

Regional Universities Network: University of New England, 112, Southern Cross University 78, Federation University 33, University of Southern Queensland, 29, Central Queensland University, 22, University of the Sunshine Coast 13.

Among the major unaligned institutions the University of Wollongong led with 629 administered grants, followed by Macquarie University, 607, the University of Newcastle, 590, Deakin University, 359 and the University of Western Sydney, 295.

mindhive 2

Funded fields

The new ARC search facility reveals research funding by ABS research classification: maths (1373), physical sciences (3345), chemical sciences (2454), earth sciences (1406), environmental sciences (2105), biological sciences (4815), agriculture and veterinary science (236), information and computing science (620), engineering (5088), technology (4318), medical and health sciences (2347), built environment and design (133), education (832), economics (772), commerce, management, tourism and services, (880), studies in human society (1937), psychology and cognitive sciences (532), law and legal studies (193), studies in creative arts and writing (146), language communication and culture (409), history and archaeology (1108) and philosophy and religious studies (168).

Hot and cold

Starting with the obvious, the ARC awarded 1448 grants for the study of climate change between 2001 and this year. Much has also long been expected of quantum physics, with funding for 703 projects. But not so much for neuroscience (474) and genomics (419). And as for black holes, that’s where research into them went, with just 36 projects.

Rural R&D to stay

Farmers who dislike the levies they pay to support rural research and development corporations were disappointed by last week’s Senate committee report which pretty much endorsed the system, (Campus Morning Mail, July 1). But disappointment will turn to depression with the government’s new agriculture white paper, which committed to the system for another decade, claiming a multiplier of ten on every research dollar.

If only he had known

A few years back one-time union official John Maitland got a licence for a training mine from former NSW minister Ian MacDonald. Mr Maitland had long argued that the industry needed one for on, well under actually, the ground training for new miners. However the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption took a dim view of the whole process. If only Mr Maitland had known then about the University of Wollongong’s virtual reality mine, which is now operating. It’s a big dark space, with 360-degree screen and sound and there is room for eight people to learn what to do in case of underground gas leaks and explosions.

Growth engine

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education and Research 24th conference commences today at UWS Parramatta, – abstracts of papers are  here. No one is ever going to accuse the NCVER of frivolity; its public persona puts the d in dour. But it does essential work, populating the economic landscape with important ideas and investigations about how VOCED can expand productivity for the nation and opportunity for individuals.

Headcounter in chief

The feds are in the market for a registrar to run the VET Unique Student Identifier. For anybody game enough to run a system involving millions of students and every government in the county job details are here.

CEF June 15 3

Dutch escalate open access dispute

Journal publisher Reed Elsevier (RELX) has a fight on its hands in the Netherlands, where universities have jacked up at its subscription prices and are cross at the publication policies of arrogant editors. Not that the Dutch dispute paying publishers, education state secretary Sander Dekker has long argued for gold open access, which requires universities to pay for academic research to appear in journals which are free for all to read But negotiations over RELX’s proposed increases have less stalled than stopped. According to Leiden University, the company’s latest offer increases open access, but with “exponential price increases”.

In response, the national universities association is asking academics who edit the company’s journals to resign from their publishing posts. The universities are prepared to escalate the dispute if this does not work, first by calling on peer reviewers to stop work and ultimately by urging researchers to take their articles elsewhere.

CMM wonders whether any of this will work, RELX journals still lead for prestige. Then again, this is the first time a nation’s peak university body has called for a boycott. The universities have reached agreement with Wiley and Springer, and have just struck a gold open access deal with Sage on a budget neutral basis, a step towards Mr Decker’s objective of all research publishing in Holland being gold open access in a decade.

At least the Dutch are having a go. Late last year (CMM, November 7) the Couperin consortium, representing French universities and medical research institutes signed with RELX, paying 172m Euros for five years of journal access, after the company conceded a rumoured E15m.

Not their party

The Victorian training awards are something of a public sector picnic, with TAFE and other government funded agencies less dominating than populating nominations. (CMM Friday). This puzzled CMM but readers explained private providers do not enter because they variously feel that they aren’t welcome. They prefer to focus on “the business and the learners,” one said.