Monthly Archives: April 2011

Break for Easter…

Taking an Easter break, will be back next week.

Open Access; more than just citation considerations

Article on SciDevNet called “Open Access: not just about citations“.  It follows discussion on some recently published studies: The Study of Open Access Publishing (SOAP) and a study by Philip Davis of Cornell University “Open access, readership, citations: a randomized controlled trial of scientific journal publishing“.

The discussions have surrounded the intepretation, by some, that the results of this research question the citation advantage offered by OA publishing.  This advantage is:

“generally perceived as a major benefit of OA publishing — the ‘OA citation advantage'”

The item talks about how whilst there has been widespread support for OA, there has not been not widespread practice of OA.   Money was cited as the first disincentive blocking OA uptake, followed by the preference for “established journals with high citation rates.”  This second argument goes back to the long running discussion on how institutes and/or individual scientists are evaluated.

We agree wholeheartedly with the SciDevNet article, when it goes on to discuss the full value of OA journals even if one puts aside the citation aspect for a moment:

“This lies not merely in how they benefit science specialists, but also in making scientific research widely available to those who can neither afford high subscription rates for specialist journals, nor get access to scientific libraries — but whose work or personal interest depend on having access to the global pool of scientific knowledge…

… And as Chan et al. point out [ref Chan article], standards for assessing journal quality and relevance are generally based on “Northern” values that often ignore development needs and marginalise local scholarship”

But what about downloads?  According to the Physics Today blog, “Open access boosts downloads but not citations“, downloads are boosted by OA. Stevan Harnard left a comment on both posts saying “the evidence of the open-access download advantage is growing” and linking to some research to illustrate.

When can being sued for patent infringements be considered a “badge of honour”?

In the world of smartphones and tablet computers apparently.

This was a comment included in a BBC write-up of the current spat between Apple and Samsung over alleged copying of design.  See the item entitled “Apple sues Samsung for ‘copying’ iPhones and iPad” 

In the article the Business Editor, Tim Weber, says:

“In the world of smartphones and tablet computers, being sued for alleged patent infringements could be considered a badge of honour, a sign your products are cutting edge, a threat to rivals…

..these legal machinations are not that much about who wins them. Mobile innovation is accelerating and the window to exploit each new technology is getting smaller. Lawsuits are a chance to sow doubt, distract, slow down the competition.”

Innovative uses for IPRs and their legal processes will never cease to amaze me!

Call for papers: Food security, Health and Impact Knowledge Brokering Event

Interesting event coming up.  1st Africa College International Conference
Food security, Health and Impact Knowledge Brokering, 22nd – 24th June 2011, Devonshire Hall, University of Leeds, UK

The organisers have put out a call for papers (deadline = 2nd May) and they invite poster submissions (deadline = 31st May).

For full details and registration visit the Africa College website.  The goal of the event is stated as:

“…to demonstrate and share lessons on how to translate research results into impact on food security and human health in sub-Saharan Africa. It has two objectives:

  • To determine how the results of basic science and inter-disciplinary research lead to impact on food security and human health.
  • To explore how partnerships between research and development organisations deliver innovation and impact.”

There is a great line up of speakers announced, including a lecture from Dr Monty Jones, Executive Director, Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa(FARA).

Call for papers: Food Sovereignty and New Agricultural Protectionism

From the African Technology Development Forum (ATDF) website is a call for papers for their journal, which is quarterly, free, online and peer-reviewed. They write:

“The Global Food Crisis is not going away. The price peaks of 2008 are likely to return in 2011, but the remedies to address the problem largely remain the same. Many countries vow to fight the problem by invoking the fashionable term ‘Food Sovereignty’. It largely refers to the “right” of peoples to define their own food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries systems, in contrast to having food largely subject to international market forces. In our new ATDF issue we aim to explore the potential impact of the pursuit of national food sovereignty policies on global agricultural production, research and trade protection. Submission deadline is 1 June, 2011.”

Guidelines for authors can be accessed here:
To view and read back issues:

Yahoo!, Italy and liability for content of search engine results

A post on Slashdot that caught my attention: “Yahoo! Liable In Italy For Searchable Content”.  What is this about?  It’s a ruling that took place in Italy regarding Yahoo! and their potential liability for the content of sites included in their search results.

Taken from another article, “Yahoo Found Guilty of Linking in Italy” :

“The judge ruled that Yahoo! is liable for contributory infringement, copyright infringement facilitation, if Yahoo! doesn’t remove search results after it has been notified of privacy violations. Each of the major search engines has had processes in place for years which enable copyright holders to notify the engines of infringement. However, in this court ruling, the search engine becomes a party to the infringement apparently from the moment the notification is submitted.

It remains to be seen how this will play out. Yahoo! and Google can easy argue that any system where results were immediately removed based on a user notification would be subject to abuse. It’s easy to imagine competitors submitting false privacy notifications to remove their competition. The question is then if the search engines should also have to under take due diligence to determine the rightful copyright holder for any content on the web, and if so, to what degree of certainty and in what time frame.”

The Slashdot site contained an interesting string of comments – raising many points about what the outcome of such rulings could be.  It does present some difficult choices…  

If you are interested in further details read the IP Kat write-up which is, as usual, informative and full of useful links! “Search Yahoo! for Elly? Not on your Nellie

New seed for Somaliland farmers

The agricultural sector in Somaliland was virtually destroyed by twenty years of civil war.  There is no input sector, no research and no regulatory environment.  But the Somali Agricultural Technical Group ( is active, and recently delivered a small consignment of filsan, an improved mung bean variety.  Filsan was developed in Somalia before the outbreak of the civil war, and the seed was lost.  When SATG started in 2001, the original seed was retrieved from AVRDC, multiplied by ICRISAT and repatriated to southern Somalia in 2004.

 This historic photograph, taken by me on March 30th shows Dr. Hussein Haji, SATG Executive Director, handing over 5 kg of filsan foundation seed to Ahmed Dahir, of Agro Fafa, an agridealer from the Awdal region of Somaliland.  Agro Fafa will multiply the seed and sell the output to local farmers, providing technical support and training on how to achieve the best results.

Filsan is a high yielding (up to 800kg/ha), early maturing (50 days to harvest) and highly nutritious variety which will play an important role in jump-starting the seed sector in Somaliland.

Collective action by the CGIAR, with support from the EU, has been assisting the efforts of government and development organizations to ensure that farmers in the country are not cut-off from research efforts producing international public goods that can potentially have a positive benefit in the country.

Post written by Peter Bloch