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Weekly Intel: ITU wins Danish open access race / Fungus-growing ants

A summary of a few of the latest university news stories specifically for academic Copenhageners

IT university wins Danish race to go 100 per cent open access

As the first Danish university, the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) now has 100 percent of all its research articles ‘open access’ or freely available online.

In a report, the European University Association recently estimated that European universities, by moving to an Open Access system, could save approximately DKK 1.27 billion a year.  At present, half of all scientific journals are in the hands of five large companies (RELX Group (owner of Elsevier), Wiley-Blackwell, Nature, SAGE and Taylor & Francis), who are alleged to skim monopoly-size profits from universities and taxpayers.

»The fact we have achieved this already,« says prorector at ITU Jens Christian Godskesen, »is due to a targeted effort over the last few years, where we have increased the quality of the registration of publications. In many cases, research publications can be accessed directly from ITU’s website. It is in large part due to the effort of all of our researchers and research administration that we are already fulfilling the objective of Denmark’s National Strategy for Open Access.«

With 64 percent, DTU has the second largest share of Open Access publications, followed by CBS with 48 percent.

UCPH open access up, but still only at 40 per cent

Share of University of Copenhagen articles that are Open Access, according to the latest Open Access Indicator.

The University of Copenhagen increased its share of Open Access by 13 percentage points last year, but is still only at 40 per cent according to the data on the Open Access Indicator measurement.

Danish universities are generally getting better at opening access to their scientific publications. The number of scientific articles made freely available on the Internet, has increased by 8 percentage points, from 36 per cent to 44 per cent in a year. The highest degree of open access is science/technology, which will increase by 11 percentage points from 42 per cent to 53 per cent.

21 per cent of articles are blocked for open access, according to the indicator, because the publishers do not permit it, or because they have set embargo periods for their release which go beyond one year. In some cases the embargo holds for several years.

In its latest national strategy for open access from 2018, open access is to be carried out without increasing costs the costs of publication of scientific results.

Finland: Foreign students tangled up in red tape

Applicants from foreign universities are hampered by needless bureaucracy and immigration policy, reports Yle, citing a survey of Finnish universities. Potential students have to wait months for permission to stay in the country, according to representatives of universities.

Higher education could otherwise turn into a ‘money spinner’ for Finland, writes University World News as tuition fees of up to EUR 18,000 per academic year have been required since 2016 for students originating from outside the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

US court: Professors can be fired if teaching style is ‘offensive’

More than three years after a professor sued Louisiana State University for firing her over her unconventional pedagogy, the Fifth United States Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected her appeal.

Enjoy sex »while the sex is good,« Buchanan is alleged to have told the student in front of her classmates. »Just wait until you’re married five years.«

Teresa Buchanan, is a widely published and tenured 20-year veteran who taught in Louisiana State University’s early education programme for teache  education.

She was accused of using the word »pussy«, belittling one of her own students during an assessment meeting, and offering another student condoms while warning her that her grades would suffer if she chose to become a mother. Enjoy sex »while the sex is good,« Buchanan is alleged to have told the student in front of her classmates. »Just wait until you’re married five years.«

The ruling goes against the arguments that students should be prepared for coarse professional environments, or that students’ attention can be kept by using coarse language or discussing taboo topics.

Biodiversity of distant past can now reveal impact of climate

Image: University of CopenhagenPaleontologists in Copenhagen and Helsinki have mapped out biodiversity in the distant past in new detail, now making it possible to measure the impact of climate, writes Phys.org. The scientists’ study has just been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

»As previous calculations of biodiversity change in deep time have been based on a time-binning partitioning divided into 10—11 million year intervals, direct comparisons with climate impacts have not been possible. Our new biodiversity curves provide unprecedentedly high temporal resolution, allowing us to take a very large step towards the understanding and coherence of climate-related and environmental impacts on overall biodiversity—both in relation to species development and extinction event intervals,« says Assistant Professor Christian Mac Ørum of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen.

Fungus-growing ants protect it with antibiotics

Leafcutter ants harvest food for their food – a fungal crop they cultivate and protect using antibiotics.

OK, this is old news.

At least in the sense that the research was published in 2016, but microbial ecologist Linh Anh Cat now writes it up excellently in Forbes.

The University of Copenhagen research was from Sapountzis, Nash, Schiøtt and Boomsma of the Centre for Social Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen.

Leafcutter ants started to farm fungi 55 to 60 million years ago. They don’t consume the leaves they collect. Their food does, and the industrial-scale leave-cutting supports the ants’ farming industry.

Both human and ant agriculture face similar challenges, particularly keeping their crop disease-free. Both humans and ants employ antimicrobial compounds. In fact, previous research found that ants carried antibiotic compounds in specialized structures on the underside of their bodies.

Write to miy@adm.ku.dk if you have any ideas, or suggestions for stories or links on the next Weekly Intel!

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