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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 19 September 2017. In this issue:

Sci-Hub, the naming of a parasitic insect, and the end of the Big Deal may truly be nigh

In this excellent post by Joseph Esposito on The Scholarly Kitchen he cites three recent stories from higher education in which pirate website Sci-Hub is quietly playing its part.

  1. The University of Montreal ‘unbundling’ its Big Deal package with Taylor and Francis
  2. The legal battle between German academic libraries and Elsevier
  3. The controversial censoring (and subsequent retraction) of 300 articles in China Quarterly by Cambridge University Press under pressure from the Chinese government.
Sci-Hub played no part in any of these stories, apart from just being there in the background. Academics may censure it, but they also know it’s there if there are no legitimate ways to access content. Which makes it easier now than ever for libraries to home back in on providing access to priority articles knowing that the demand for ‘everything’ has been diminished by circumstance. Especially when you add to this the legitimate activities of Unpaywall, making content posted by authors freely available to all. Put simply, publishers no longer have the monopoly over access to scholarly content.

In the case of CUP and China, Sci-Hub is a thorn in the side of the Chinese government, since Chinese academics can gain access to articles whether or not they’re cut from CUP’s journal.

And what of the parasitic insect? It seems that Sci-Hub’s founder Alexandra Elbakyan has withdrawn access for Russian scientists following fierce criticism of the site. The last straw was the naming of a newly discovered parasitic insect Idiogramma Elbakyanae.

Read these articles for yourself in The Scholarly Kitchen and The Bookseller respectively.

Our Academic Marketing Workshop is the perfect place to catch up on issues like these.


50 shades of conference feedback, hilariously well-observed personality types

Thanks to Tara Brabazon of Flinders University in Australia for posting this on the World.Edu website in July and making me laugh with the clever and witty observations.

Picture the scene. An academic has delivered a conference presentation and invites questions from the floor. Brabazon identifies a number of types who can be relied upon to speak up. Among them the SSD (severe spotlight deprivation) sufferer, the #random, the Impoverished Dowager, and the Labrador.

Anyone who has ever squirmed in embarrassment as a speaker was skewered by a member of their audience will relate to this one. And academic publishers will definitely recognise some of their authors.

If you’re heading off to a conference or two over the coming weeks and see this scenario played out at first hand, spare a thought for what it’s like to be on the stage at the mercy of your peers.

Read the article for yourself.

Our Academic Marketing Workshop is the place to be to re-connect with the needs of your readers.


Game of Thrones, the Copyeditor's Edition

GOT fans, have you noticed the ‘less and fewer’ meme running through the latest series? I love that someone who cares about the correct usage has sneaked this in there, as these video clips very pleasingly show. The Scholarly Kitchen, who brought this to my attention, also helpfully post a reminder of the ‘rules’ for anyone occasionally unclear.

Enjoy for yourself via The Scholarly Kitchen.

Our Copywriting Workshop often includes discussion of how to tread the line between a direct communication style and ‘correct’ grammar, whenever the two appear to clash.


Tip of the week: What we can learn from the macaque and the selfie

In 2011 a crested macaque in Sulawesi took a joyous selfie when he picked up the camera of wildlife photographer David Slater. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) subsequently sued Slater claiming that copyright belonged to the macaque. Last week Slater finally won the legal battle.

There is a serious moral to this story. Sometimes even silly can end up expensive. No matter how freely available the content, don’t take risks by not crediting the legitimate owner. (Though let’s face it, it’s unlikely to be a macaque.)

Missed seeing the selfie in the news last week? Catch it and the article on our Facebook page.




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