What is the answer to the crisis of over-publication of scientific papers?

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9 September 2018 Issue 519 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


What is the answer to the crisis of over-publication of scientific papers?

   In Commentary, Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit say the explosion in scientific publication, which is overwhelming the peer review system, should be addressed by encouraging research and publication only at universities that are designated as research-intensive. Nadine Burquel and Anja Busch say digital initiatives are mostly at an early stage of development in higher education, often due to budget constraints, but universities must and will adapt their teaching and learning to the digital age. Tatiana Belousova highlights India’s recent initiatives to make the country a more attractive study destination for international students but also some of the factors that will deter them from coming. And Anna Coussens, Abidemi James Akindele, Badre Abdeslam, Fridah Kanana and Mona Khoury-Kassabri outline a new project that aims to identify the barriers young scientists in Africa face and to develop strategies to address these in order to keep them in academia for the long term.

   In our World Blog this week, Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya contend that higher education institutions have a critical role to play in driving sustainable development, which deals not only with environmental issues but also economic, social and cultural issues.

   In our section on Academic Freedom, Brendan O’Malley asks if a threat of sanctions by the EU could raise the pressure on Hungary to restore full academic freedom in its higher education sector.

   In Features, Stephen Coan writes about a new book by South African professor Willem Fourie, who calls for closer links between research producers and policy-makers for the successful implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. María Elena Hurtado, prompted by the high visibility of global university rankings in Latin America, asks experts why Latin American universities lagged in world rankings and what should be done about it. And Claire Hansen reports from the United States on an investigation into whether an executive-level diversity position can really help to diversify a university’s faculty.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


China ramps up support for African higher education

Esther Nakkazi

China is to further increase its support for African higher education and vocational training and has pledged to provide 50,000 government scholarships and 50,000 training opportunities for seminars and workshops to Africa – and will invite 2,000 young Africans to visit China for exchanges.


The perils of fieldwork in authoritarian states

Yojana Sharma

‘One size fits all’ recommendations on field research presume the setting to be liberal democratic regimes, but this is not the case in much of Southeast Asia, where doctoral students and researchers in the social and political sciences need more training to deal with the pressures they might face under authoritarian regimes.


Survey reveals overseas China scholars’ self-censorship

Yojana Sharma

Repressive experiences while conducting research on China may be rare but are a "real phenomenon" and a barrier to doing research in the country, leading some scholars to self-censor and others to change or abandon research focus, a new study reveals.


Minister supports international student visa change

Brendan O'Malley

The universities ministers has backed a call by universities for a new visa to allow international students to gain work experience for up to two years after graduation, to enable the United Kingdom to compete more effectively with the United States, Australia and Canada.


Government slashes university intake as population falls

Aimee Chung

Some 116 universities and colleges in South Korea will hear this month that their student intake quota will be reduced – in some cases by up to 35% in the coming year – as the government forces the higher education sector to adjust to demographic decline.


Union proposes better employment for foreign academics

Jan Petter Myklebust

Foreign-born academics in Sweden are disproportionately overqualified for their job or unemployed and action should be taken to make better use of their talent, according to a new analysis. This could generate an estimated US$1.4 billion income for the public purse annually.


Minister moots mandatory study abroad for students

Jan Petter Myklebust

Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, is considering making a student exchange period abroad mandatory rather than the exception it is today, after statistics revealed the percentage of Norwegian students on exchanges abroad in 2017 was lower than in 2010.


Students pin hopes on successful university unbundling

Joy Ndovi

Will the current process of unbundling the University of Malawi into five separate institutions produce the promises of improved efficiency and better student services? Alicia Kamwendo, a bachelor of commerce sophomore at the Malawi Polytechnic certainly hopes so.


Universities have cut degree completion delay by half

Jan Petter Myklebust

Three years after reforms were brought in to cut delays in degree completion time, they have been cut in half. But universities are still under pressure to ensure that students are working full time and that investment in higher education gives value for money.


HE system under pressure as student numbers mount

Azzeddine Bensouiah

On the eve of the academic year in Algeria this month, there are concerns about how the government can meet the expectations of free quality higher education on the part of increasing numbers of university students – this year over 1.7 million.


Student housing increasingly a problem, survey finds

Michael Gardner

The student housing situation in Germany appears to have further worsened, according to a recent survey by the Berlin-based Moses Mendelssohn Institute. Munich appears to be the most expensive city for students, whereas Chemnitz, the scene of recent neo-Nazi riots, has the cheapest accommodation for students.



Too much academic research is being published

Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit

There is a simple answer to the crisis of over-publication of scientific papers. Research and publication should be encouraged only at institutions designated research-intensive and academics at non-research-intensive universities should be properly rewarded for their teaching and service, not research.


Digital transformation still in the early stages

Nadine Burquel and Anja Busch

Higher education institutions will need to adapt what they teach and how they teach in the new digital age. Many are trialling new initiatives, but budget tightening means they are still in the early stages of their digital journey.


Internationalisation ambition faces stiff challenges

Tatiana Belousova

India has announced several initiatives aimed at boosting its universities’ international rankings and image worldwide, with the aim of attracting more international students, but there are many different academic and social factors that will deter them from coming, from outdated curricula to violence against women.


Helping young scientists to achieve their potential

Anna Coussens, Abidemi James Akindele, Badre Abdeslam, Fridah Kanana and Mona Khoury-Kassabri

Young African scientists face a number of barriers, but a new project has identified that leadership skills imparted through targeted training programmes can create incentives for young scientists to stay in academia and pursue long-term careers.



Higher education’s key role in sustainable development

Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya

Higher education institutions have a critical role to play in driving sustainable development forward. But creating a sustainable future is much more than just creating green campuses or implementing recycling efforts or global citizenship initiatives. It also means inclusive education and lifelong learning.



Can EU sanctions threat ease academic freedom crisis?

Brendan O’Malley

As Hungary faces a key vote in the European Parliament, the European University Association has condemned the Hungarian government’s mounting attempts to interfere with academic freedom and the autonomy of the higher education sector, putting it at risk of becoming an “instrument of government”.



New book on SDGs calls for closer research-policy link

Stephen Coan

A government policy-maker needs to find a solution to a water sanitation problem. Simple, tap into the latest research. Problem solved. If only. A new book addresses the frequent disconnect between research producers and policy-makers – a disconnect in urgent need of a solution if the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be achieved.


Could Latin American universities do better in rankings?

María Elena Hurtado

The answer from higher education experts is, ask not why Latin American universities are held back in the rankings, but why rankings do not use methodologies that measure universities’ response to society’s demands and make their methodologies more meaningful to more universities in the world.


Do chief diversity officers drive faculty diversity?

Claire Hansen The Chronicle of Higher Education

When Baylor University, Texas, began considering the creation of a chief-diversity-officer position, many people said the role could help diversify the institution’s faculty. But what influence does an executive-level diversity position really have on faculty demographics? James E West and colleagues investigated.



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Open-access plan could end journal subscriptions

Research funders from France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and eight other European nations have unveiled a radical open-access initiative that could change the face of science publishing in two years – and which has instantly provoked protest from publishers, writes Holly Else for Nature.


Top agri-food universities collaborate to fight hunger

The top five agri-food universities in the world, the University of California, Davis, Cornell University, China Agricultural University, the University of Sao Paulo and Wageningen University and Research, have agreed to collaborate as they look to fight global hunger together, writes Carl Collen for Fruit Net.


AI brain drain as tech giants raid top universities

Britain faces an artificial intelligence ‘brain drain’ as Silicon Valley raids its top universities for talent, data compiled by The Telegraph shows. Around a third of leading machine learning and AI specialists who have left the United Kingdom’s top institutions are currently working at Silicon Valley tech firms, writes Hannah Boland for The Telegraph.


Universities must aid free speech or face funding cuts

Ontario colleges and universities must come up with free speech policies or face funding cuts, the Progressive Conservative provincial government said, delivering on a promise Premier Doug Ford made during the spring election, writes Shawn Jeffords for The Canadian Press.


University of Bath replaces UK’s ‘highest paid’ VC

The University of Bath’s new vice-chancellor is to earn over £200,000 (US$259,000) less than his controversial predecessor, it has emerged. Professor Ian White is replacing Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, who was the highest paid vice-chancellor in the United Kingdom, reports BBC News.


Universities set for new wave of hazing rituals

University hazing rituals – once indelibly associated with Oxbridge drinking societies and United States fraternity houses – are no longer exclusively an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon, with French universities increasingly having to crack down on the practice, writes Catherine Bennett for France 24.


University criticised for pulling transgender study

Brown University has been criticised over its decision to remove news about a controversial study on transgender youth from its website. The paper by Assistant Professor Lisa Littman suggests that gender dysphoria, or a conflict between one's gender identity and sex assigned at birth, occurring around the time of puberty – as opposed to early childhood – could be due to peer pressure or online influences, writes Brooke Sopelaa for NBC News.


Poignant empty chair tribute to imprisoned graduate

It’s more than two months since University of Aberdeen graduate Hanifi Baris was arrested and he is still languishing behind bars in a Turkish prison. But the academic, who completed a PhD dissertation last year before moving to Turkey to work as a lawyer, has not been forgotten by students at his alma mater, writes Kirsten Robertson for The Press and Journal.


University teachers in black bands and badges protest

Faculty members of central universities wore black bands and badges on the Teachers’ Day last Wednesday in protest against the government not acceding to their various demands which included a long-pending demand to revert to the old pension scheme, writes Prakash Kumar for the Deccan Herald.


Work starts on US$81 million Al Ain university campus

Abu Dhabi University has laid the foundation stone for its new campus in Al Ain as construction starts on expanding and enhancing facilities. The new campus with an overall area of 45,000 square metres will cost AED300 million (US$81 million), writes Sam Bridge for Arabian Business.


University probes alleged sexual misconduct by staff

University of Manitoba President David Barnard announced that a number of staff members are on leave due to allegations of sexual misconduct which are being investigated. The announcement came as Barnard stated a commitment to instituting mandatory training for all faculty and staff on sexual violence, consent and power relationships, writes Darren Bernhardt for CBC News.


First woman rector at University of the Aegean

At an amphitheatre of the University of the Aegean located in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, Chrisi Vigilaki became the first woman to be accredited the highest official position in the Greek university; that of Prytanis (the equivalent of rector or chancellor), writes Nick Kampouris for the Greek Reporter.


President’s appointment must abide by constitution

The appointment of the president of the International Islamic University Malaysia must be recommended by the government in accordance with the university’s constitution, said its former president, Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, reports Bernama.


Traditional dress code for Bihar convocations

The days of black gowns are gone; kurta, dhoti or pyjama and Malviya pagri (turban) will now be the dress code for the convocation ceremonies in Bihar universities. All the universities will have a fixed calendar for the convocation. These measures have been approved by newly-appointed Bihar Governor Lalji Tandon, the chancellor of all Bihar universities, writes Faizan Ahmad for The Pioneer.

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