Price of peer review
A new report estimates that peer review costs UK universities £165 million per year in terms of the time academics spend reviewing others’ manuscripts (roughly 3 million hours). The Value of UK HEIs’ Contribution to the Publishing Process: Summary Report further estimates that it costs another £30 million to employ editors and editorial boards. The report was commissioned by the UK body that negotiates journal subscription prices for UK research libraries, the Joint Information Systems Committee Collections, and was intended to show how much academia already contributes financially to publishing, on top of subscriptions, Jisc Collections’ chief executive Lorraine Estelle told the Times Higher Education (THE). The new report provides “more evidence of how unjustified the hyper-inflationary journal price rises of the past three decades have been,” Phil Sykes, university librarian at the University of Liverpool and chair of Research Libraries UK, told THE.
BP effects worse than predicted?
Although many scientists expected this year’s BP oil spill to cause major damage to the Gulf of Mexico, preliminary surveys were cautiously optimistic, causing some to hope deepwater coral “had perhaps dodged an ecological bullet,” according to the New York Times.
No such luck, suggests a submersible robot cruising the seafloor 7 miles southwest of the well, which found widespread devastation. “I have seen many individual dead coral colonies over the years, but I’ve never seen a site full of dead and dying coral colonies,” Charles Fisher, chief scientist on the gulf expedition, told the newspaper. It’s not yet clear whether the oil killed the coral, but Fisher said the circumstantial evidence points to that conclusion. This is only the first nearby coral site he’s surveyed, and he plans to visit others in December.
And the next president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is…
…James C. Carrington, director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University.
RIP, brucellosis expert
Margaret Meyer, an early pioneer in brucellosis in animals, died at 87 last month from complications due to pulmonary disease, according to the Sacramento Bee. During her four-decade-long career at the University of California, Davis, she traveled the world to investigate and classify the infectious disease, which strikes cattle, bison, and other domestic and wild animals. “She was a leader in publishing information on brucellosis,” Bennie Osburn, dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told the Bee. “It put her out there as one of the top experts in the world.” Meyer also worked to give women more opportunities in academia, telling stories about how her early professors used to give her twice as much work as male students to try to get her to drop out of science.
Germ-zapper bad for pregnancy?
It’s the start of flu season, causing more people to reach for antibacterial soaps, but new research suggests an ingredient could disrupt the metabolism of estrogen, potentially causing problems in pregnancy. In addition to antibacterial soaps and lotions, the chemical, triclosan, is present in hundreds of other popular products, including socks and toothpaste, but a new Environment International paper shows it can hinder estrogen sulfotransferase, which helps metabolize the hormone and transport it to the developing fetus. “We suspect that makes this substance dangerous in pregnancy if enough of the triclosan gets through to the placenta to affect the enzyme,” author Margaret James, a professor and chairwoman of medicinal chemistry in the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, said in a statement.