News in brief

October 4, 2012

Open-access publishing

Cheaper by the dozen

A global consortium of particle physicists has moved closer to a deal with publishers to centrally fund open access for papers in its field. The SCOAP3 group of libraries and research funders has agreed how much it will pay 12 major high-energy physics journals in exchange for making all of its members' papers open access. Most particle physicists already post preprint versions of their papers on the open-access server arXiv, but the deal will mean that the majority of published papers will also be freely available. An annual lump sum of EUR10 million (£8 million) will be divided between journals according to their existing charges and the number of articles they publish, so individual researchers will not have to pay article charges. The highest fee - EUR2,000 per article - will be paid to Elsevier's Nuclear Physics B. The three-year deal will come into force in 2014.

Bilateral agreement

Flying down to Sao Paulo, part II

Universities and science minister David Willetts has visited Brazil for the second time in six months as part of efforts to increase partnerships with the country's higher education sector. On 26 September, representatives from Research Councils UK and the Sao Paulo Research Foundation, FAPESP, signed an extension to a 2009 partnership agreement that has allowed funding for collaborative projects through a single application and peer-review process. An Economic and Social Research Council scheme to build links between PhD students in the UK and the state of Sao Paulo was also launched during the visit.

MOOCs

Massive unexpected online offer

Elsevier has made one of its resources available free to students studying an online electronics course. It is the first time that the science publisher has offered any of its 22,000 books and journals free to students on so-called MOOCs - massive open online courses - which allow them to study university courses free online. An online version of the textbook Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits will be available to students of circuits and electronics on the edX platform - an online learning initiative founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A spokesman for Elsevier said its science and technology books division was "in conversation" about making further titles available, but could not say whether there were plans for its journal titles to follow suit.

Tuition-fee rises

Family ties and fiscal fears

Fear of debt may be deterring large numbers of young people from applying to university, a new study has suggested. An Ipsos Mori poll of more than 2,750 state-school pupils found that children of single-parent families were nearly three times as likely to say their family could not afford for them to attend university as those living in two-parent homes. A third of children aged 11 to 16 from single-parent families expressed serious concerns about the cost to their parents of university study compared with 13 per cent of pupils from two-parent homes, according to the survey commissioned by the Sutton Trust. The survey also showed that almost two-thirds of pupils thought highly selective universities were more expensive than other institutions, despite most places charging close to £9,000 a year from next year.

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