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Africa: Open Access Is Not Free. Someone Is Doing the Work. Someone Is Paying

Silicon Valley futurist, Steward Brand, states that all information should be made available for free. But his corollary is that the information wants to be expensive because it is so valuable. There is always a value chain, and costs are incurred, on a continuing basis, whatever the platform that houses it. Someone somewhere is paying for open access publishing. Open access, which stands for unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse of published materials, took off in 2012 and is driven by the promise of wider exposure of articles that can be freely read by anyone connected to the Internet.
   
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New partnership gives space to up-and-coming publishers

An industry that is not constantly growing and nurturing new talent is doomed to fail. Given that, the Publishing Association of South Africa (Pasa) and the Fibre, Processing and Manufacturing Seta (FP&M Seta) have joined forces to encourage skills development in the publishing industry. In a unique initiative, the SA Book Fair 2015 and the FP&M Seta aim to provide a platform for new publishers to exhibit alongside established leaders in the publishing world.
   
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Copyright issues dog academics

In the publish or perish environment of academia, getting papers into high-impact international journals is a metric for determining a researcher's performance and job prospects. But are South African academics legally allowed to sign over copyright, which is vested in them and in their institutions, to international companies? The international publishing houses, such as Elsevier and Springer Nature, are able to make careers by publishing an academic's work in their journals, which have high citations (in other words, research published in these journals will be cited in other academics' work) and global reach, but they also have tight control over the way in which the work gets disseminated and when.
   
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Politics, medical journals, the medical profession and the Israel lobby

Criticism of Israeli government policy "is not ipso facto antisemitic, and to label it as such is a tactic to stifle debate," argue leading doctors in this editorial in The BMJ. Referring to a complaint about a letter published in the Lancet, Professor John S Yudkin from University College London and Professor Jennifer Leaning from Harvard School of Public Health, believe medical journals should not avoid discussing political issues that have a bearing on health. They explain that in April, Reed Elsevier, publishers of the Lancet, received a complaint written by Professor Mark Pepys and signed by 396 physicians and scientists, protesting about an "Open letter for the people of Gaza" published in July 2014, during the latest Israeli assault on Gaza.
   
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What Is the Point of Academic Books?

Academic publishing has confusing and contradictory goals. No one is likely to find a perfect means of reconciling them all. But as different presses and different libraries experiment with different models, they may find better ways of making information both free and/or remunerative.
   
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