August 28, 2017

Following the Texas Flood in Real Time data from the USGS - An important department of the Federal Government.

You can follow the flooding in real time using the USGS tool here.

August 9, 2017

Predatory Journals: They will destroy open access trustworthiness.

Jeffrey Beall, a scholarly communications librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver, has been forced to shut down his blog where he helped all of us to be aware of predatory publishers. These are businesses that are not really scholarly publishers, but simply online "open access" pay to get your paper published websites.

You can read about Jeffrey Beall's situation here. People with money are working to shut him down.
I am sad to see that the University of Colorado is not defending his value to the academic community.

Science journals, in paper or online, need to be trustworthy. They need to be edited and reviewed by real scholars in those fields, and not just anyone with a PhD who wants to pump up their resume. Actual scholars who do research for a living and who may also teach at the University and College level.

Manuscripts actually need to be reviewed. Peer review.

Online journals full of post-docs and research assistants as their editors, who have never gained charge of their own labs or research programs, or professorships / lectureships, and who also have little if any publishing of their own in their field in bona fide journals, are not really scholarly journals. They are just what they are. Pay money, get your manuscript online to look like its a real scholarly open access journal. That is not however a publication that warrants being included in a list of peer reviewed publications used to establish one's reputation or to obtain scholarly employment with.

We all get several emails a week from publishers of these online rags looking for people to submit and pay the fees. You can send the crap and it will get published. After you provide your credit card information of course.

Visiting a predatory publisher and journal website quickly reveals that they are not a journal that belongs to any scholarly society for the fields they publish in, nor do they have an expected list of experienced scholars with actual jobs as professors in their editors lists.

Real scholarly journals do not cold-email people asking for the "kind submission of your excellent manuscript" nor do they note that they liked a real paper you published recently and can you send one similar to them as well. For a fee of course.

It is up to us scholars, professors and scientists to make sure our students and post-docs do not fall into the trap of either serving on the editorial boards of these predatory journals or in wasting their time and money publishing in them.

That is how I support Jeff's efforts, even if his Institution seems to be scared to do so.
I make sure my students and staff know how to tell a junk journal when they see one.
Now there are many open access journals that are legit. They have editorial boards that are full of hard working and experienced scholars in their fields. Some of them get sponsors to cover costs of publishing so there are no fees at all to the authors even for processing and layout work done by those journals.

Open Access in not bad, but the model is being stolen by predatory publishers and the associations of Open Access journals are mostly watching this dilute their future importance to scholarly reference and knowledge. This will be at the peril of Open Access' future.

Ken Mitton, PhD FARVO
Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences
Oakland University.

August 5, 2017

Do not watch Solar Eclipse with regular sunglasses!

The Sun generally does not hurt our retina because it is so bright that we do not stare at it very long.  If we do,  our pupils contract to get very tiny as well.  But when the Solar Eclipse darkens the day to night and it is easy to look, infra red light can make you blind permanently.