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Artificial intelligence is selecting grant reviewers in China

China's largest funder of basic science is piloting an artificial intelligence tool that selects researchers to review grant applications, in an attempt to make the process more efficient, faster and fairer. Some researchers say the approach by the National Natural Science Foundation of China is world-leading, but others are sceptical about whether AI can improve the process. Choosing researchers to peer review project proposals or publications is time-consuming and prone to bias. Several academic publishers are experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) tools to select reviewers and carry out other tasks, and a few funding agencies, including some in North America and Europe, have trialled simple AI tools to identify potential reviewers.
   
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Flaws in Academic Publishing Perpetuate a Form of Neo-Colonialism

Academic publishing is the backbone of science. Publishing papers is one of the primary ways in which scientists disseminate findings to peers as well as the general public. Academia has been plagued by the 'publish or perish' ethos, such that the number of publications they have determines important career events such as procuring tenure. The process of publishing a scientific paper follows the publication process of any magazine but with more rigour, and the profits garnered by scientific journals are massive. This is because the costs associated with publishing - employing and paying authors, reviewers, and editors - are negligible as none of them are paid. However, to access most publicly-funded knowledge, readers are charged a humongous fee.
   
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Making Monographs Open

The University of North Carolina Press is leading an experiment to significantly lower the cost of producing scholarly books - an important step toward a sustainable open-access publishing model for monographs. Many university presses have experimented with open-access monographs, but few have transitioned away from charging fees for most work, as they are unable to do so sustainably, said John Sherer, director of UNC Press. A big part of the problem is that monographs are incredibly expensive to produce. A 2016 Ithaka S+R study found that monographs can cost anywhere from $15,140 to $129,909 to publish depending on overhead, staff time, design, production and marketing costs. In contrast, a typical science journal might charge around $2,000 to make an article free to read.
   
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Open Access Publishing is the Future

Open Access (OA) literature is published on the internet, free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. There are OA journals for new research and OA repositories to store published work. By allowing anyone with an internet connection to read and learn from a work, its impact is maximised. Anything less is a muzzle on academia, a blindfold taut across the eyes of the citizens of the world. UCSB, along with the majority of the UC system, has embarked on a journey to fight this restrictive norm. It seeks to morph current subscription based journals to OA, channel the money once used for subscriptions to the creation of OA business models, and encourage institutions of scholarship everywhere to join in this transition to make the world a better place.
   
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New age of academic publishing

There is a digital revolution underway. It is changing how many things are done - including scholarly publishing. The way that academic research is published, and its availability, has shifted over time. Academic and scholarly journals used to be available only in hard copy. Then came fairly ubiquitous internet access. This ushered in increasingly expensive subscription access to digital copies of journals. And then open access publishing arrived. Now, it is becoming increasingly easy and free to access academic research that was once hidden behind pay walls in specialist journals. This changing landscape prompted the Academy of Science of South Africa to carefully study the potential impact of the digital revolution on scholarly publishing.
   
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