22 May 2009

The missing link and open access

The Guardian newspaper had a number of items on the discovery of Ida - the 'missing link' in the evolution of primates. An interesting piece from one of them was this:
There will be some raised eyebrows in the scientific establishment that Hurum did not opt to publish the scientific description of Ida in either Science or Nature, widely regarded as the two most prestigious scientific journals in the world. Instead he and his team chose for PLoS ONE, an online open-access journal that does not charge people to read its papers.
Hurum said the main reason was to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to read the paper. "I'm paid by the tax payers of Norway to do this research. I'm not paid by Nature or Science and still they charge money for other people to read my scientific results," he says. "This fossil really is part of our history, truly a fossil that's a world heritage. A find like this is something for all human kind."

Now, wouldn't it be a good idea for all scientists to take note of Jørn Hurum's stand?
Here's the paper.

11 May 2009

Jargon and the Local Government Association

Finally, someone in local government (no such wisdom in central government yet!) has decided that the unthinking use of jargon is not a good idea. The Local Government Association has come up with a list of words that it thinks ought not to be used.

Wonderful! Among the words are some of my pet hates, such as 'stakeholder' - which actually means someone who holds the money for parties to a wager - the LGA suggests 'other organizations' will do, but I think that there are alternatives, depending upon what is actually meant - assuming, of course, that the writer has something particular in mind when using the term. 'Typology' gets kicked out, with the comment, 'Why use at all?' - but 'classification' will serve just as well.

'Why use at all?' is attached to many terms, e.g., Mainstreaming, Management capacity, Network model, Overarching, Pathfinder, Peer challenge, Performance Network, Pooled risk and more. No doubt the managers in local government are now desperately trying to find copy-editors to peruse their texts to eliminate these and other words.

But what happens if nothing is left? :-)