From the June 2 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Today the National Academies Press announced it would offer its entire PDF catalog of books for free, as files that can be downloaded by anyone. The press is the publishing arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, and publishes books and reports that scientists, educators, and policy makers rely on.
"Eight years ago, if we did this, we would have lost substantial amounts of money," [Barbara Kline Pope, executive director for the press] says. "But our costs have come down a lot, and our institution says they will stand behind us even if we do lose money." The operating costs of the press are lower, she said, because it jettisoned its own printing and fulfillment operations (they are now outsourced) and cut staff from about 70 people down to about 40. It also no longer prints catalogs but does all its marketing over the Internet. "So now we can afford to do this," she says. "Of course, we still need to sell some hardcover books."
From the June 6 issue of Chemical & Engineering News:
The American Chemical Society plans to introduce two new online-only, peer-reviewed journals that will publish research related to biological systems and synthetic biology, and to polymer science. The journals will publish their first full issues in January 2012.
ACS Synthetic Biology will cover approaches to understanding how cells, tissues, and organisms are organized and function in natural and artificial systems, and the application of synthetic biology in engineering these systems.
The society's other new journal, ACS Macro Letters, will report major advances in areas of soft-matter science in which polymers play a significant role, including nanotechnology, self-assembly, supramolecular chemistry, biomaterials, energy, and renewable/sustainable materials.
"Whether it is in sustainable plastics, biomedical materials, renewable energy, or abundant clean water, polymers have a key role to play," notes Timothy P. Lodge, editor-in-chief of Macromolecules and ACS Macro Letters. "The time is ripe" for the new journal, which will publish findings within four to six weeks of submission.
Lodge is a professor in the departments of chemistry and of chemical engineering and materials science at the University of Minnesota. He studies polymer systems that self-assemble to form nanostructures.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education's May 31 issue:
The Australian government abandoned its journal-ranking system yesterday, amid complaints that haphazard ranks [...] were affecting research financing and the careers of academics. The system was part of an overall initiative called Excellence in Research for Australia, which helps the government decide how much money goes to a given research unit at a university. Aspects of the journal rankings had been considered for possible adoption in the United States and Europe.
The Australian reported in its May 30 issue that the chief executive of the Australian Research Council, Professor Margaret Sheil, commented:
"These reforms will strengthen the role of the ERA Research Evaluation Committee members in using their own, discipline-specific expertise to make judgments about the journal publication patterns for each unit of evaluation [...] [The change empowered] committee members to use their expert judgement to take account of nuances in publishing behaviour' [...] This approach will allow experts to make judgements about the quality of journals in the context of each discipline.''