Battle of the bills
A bill has been introduced in the US Congress that would give a major boost to the open-access movement. The Federal Research Public Access Act would require federal agencies with an extramural research budget of $100 million (£63 million) or more to make freely available online the final manuscript of papers reporting research they have funded, no later than six months after their journal publication. The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives last week by Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle. He said it would promote greater collaboration among scientists and lead to "more innovative research outcomes and more effective solutions". Its aim contrasts with those of the Research Works Act, introduced in the House in December, which would prevent the US government from imposing open-access mandates. That bill has led thousands of researchers to pledge to boycott the publisher Elsevier, which supports it.
The future of English higher education
Top figures join policy inquiry
Leading figures from the US and UK higher education sectors have agreed to serve on an independent commission looking at the future of the sector in England. The Commission on the Future of Higher Education in England - launched by the Institute for Public Policy Research, a thinktank - is being chaired by University of Warwick vice-chancellor Nigel Thrift. He is one of four institution heads serving on the panel, which aims to follow the Robbins, Dearing and Browne reports by addressing how higher education should develop a policy framework that will tackle the major challenges it faces over the next two decades. It is the latest in a series of independent policy inquiries on higher education launched in the past few weeks.
THE World Reputation Rankings
Expert perspective on excellence
The 2012 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings will be published on 15 March, it was confirmed this week. Drawing on a poll of more than 17,500 experienced academics in 137 countries, the World Reputation Rankings are based on the largest international survey of its kind. "The ranking is based purely on subjective judgement," said Phil Baty, editor of the rankings. "But it is the expert judgement of those who know excellence in teaching and research better than anyone - academics themselves. And there is no doubt that reputation really matters in a competitive global market." The reputation survey data were used to help create the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, published in October 2011, but the poll data are revealed in isolation for the first time in the annual reputation rankings.
Postgraduate degree partnerships
A tale of two doctors
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre has awarded its first two doctoral degrees in collaboration with King's College London and Queen Mary, University of London. The venue has its own in-house academic, Farah Karim-Cooper, and it partners with universities, individual academics and theatre companies to produce new research. Sarah Dustagheer was awarded her degree for her work into the relationship between playwriting and theatre space in early modern London, while Penelope Woods compared the conditions of production and reception at the modern reconstructed Globe, and the first Globe theatre at the beginning of the 17th century.
News about the launch of the Faculty of 1000's radical new open-access journal, F1000 Research, which will rely entirely on post-publication peer review, sparked debate online. A reader writes: "One major concern I have with F1000 is that it is a for-profit company...If a large-scale open-access service becomes very successful and therefore influential and then decides to cash in on that success, it can be very difficult for the academic community to shift to an alternative model or service."