Scientific journals have to tear down paywall; open access for all

From 2020 all scientific papers resulting from publicly funded research in the Netherlands will be freely available for anyone to read. Eleven countries have signed up for the new rule which was developed by Science Europe, a group of heads of national research funding organisations and the EC European Political Strategy Centre. Plan S, of which the Netherlands has been one of the most vocal supporters, may effectively put scientific journals, which depend on hefty subscription fees and paywalls, out of business. In the Netherlands alone universities wishing to stay up to speed with the latest scientific developments are paying some €40m a year, the Volkskrant said. From January 2020 publicly funded research papers can only be published on open access platforms or open access journals which agree to one-off bill for editing and publishing costs. Prestigious journals, such as Nature and Science, already offer scientists the possibility to buy out their papers and put them on line for free. ‘This was a hybrid model that was only supposed to be temporary. But publishers are continuing to do it and we want to put an end to it,’ research funding organisation NOW spokesman Stan Gielen told the paper. The EU also wants to change the way science is valued and says scientific work should no longer be judged by the journal it is published in. ‘We want to stop looking at where it was published and start looking at what has been published,’ Gielen said.  More >

Fury after mobile phone users film victims

The Dutch Red Cross has launched a campaign to get mobile phone users to think twice before filming people who have been injured in an accident or who have been taken ill. Last Saturday, 45 people were fined for filming an accident on the A58 and earlier in the week police blasted the crowd caught filming paramedics' efforts to save the life of a man who had collapsed in a restaurant in The Hague. 'Filming situations with your phone would appear to have become a reflex for some,' Red Cross spokesman Nico Zuurmond said. 'You could use the time you are spending on filming to dial 112 or offer first aid because it is those few minutes after an accident that are crucial.' Research by the Red Cross shows that almost 90% of the Dutch think it is unacceptable to film people after an accident. The figure comes from an online poll of 700 people. In Germany, broadcaster NOS pointed out, it is illegal to film people who need help without their permission. People who do so can be fined up to €1,000.  More >

AI braindrain depletes Dutch universities

Universities are facing a severe shortage of artificial intelligence lecturers as PhDs opt for jobs outside academia or go abroad, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Monday. At the moment some 90% of AI graduates already find work outside academia and there are fears that a recruitment drive by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States will be powerful pull on the remaining 10%. ‘The MIT will try to get our best graduates,' Maarten de Rijke, director of the new Dutch national institute for artificial intelligence ICAI told the paper. ‘If that happens we won’t have anyone to teach a new generation of scientists.’ AI is a very popular choice among students but, the FD writes, there are too few people to teach them. The combined Amsterdam universities only have a total of 30 lecturers, for example. Some 700 students wanted to do an AI Master’s degree in Amsterdam this year but there were only 200 places. One way of solving the problem would be to up university salaries, De Rijke said. University lecturers earn half that of an AI specialist in industry while in the United States salaries can be five times as high. But, De Rijke says, it is not just better salaries that will persuade people to stay on at the universities. An environment which offers cooperation with talented colleagues, access to the best data and career perspectives is also a major draw. However, he warned, a big hurdle is the lack of affordable housing. Earlier this year European scientists warned that Europe is lagging behind in the global AI race, with China and the US as leading investors, the FD said.  More >

Social science faculty bans mobile phones

Students taking psychology and educational theory at Erasmus University in Rotterdam are banned from using mobile phones and laptops during some lessons, broadcaster RTL reported on Monday. The decision to stop students from using their phones is part of learning 'professional behaviour', the university told the AD. 'If you are working with a client with depression, you can't check your phone either,' educational director Guus Smeets said. Smeets said he expects students to cooperate with the rules, as they will have to do in the future. 'The person who does not react when their tutor asks them to put their phone away will get a bad mark,' he said. Last month educational research group DUO looked into the use of smartphones in school, and found 54% of teachers are angered by their pupils' use of social media during lessons. Nevertheless, 51% think the use of smartphones can enrich education.  More >

'Banks rely on one cyber security firm'

The three biggest Dutch banks are too dependent on a single US cyber security company to protect them against DDoS attacks, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Monday. The paper quotes a report by the government's macro-economic think-tank CPB which says in a new report on cyber crime that giving one player such a strong position is 'worrisome'. 'You can ask whether such a large market concentration is desirable from the point of view of society,' the CPB said. It points out that if the company - Akamai - should itself collapse or be hacked, that the Dutch banking sector could be crippled as well. The CPB says 16 of the world's biggest banks use Akamai, and  that ABN Amro, Rabobank and ING are also all users. However, the banks told the paper that they are not running risks using the US company. 'We use other providers as well as Akamai,' an ING spokesman said. 'And we have our own systems for detecting attacks and fending them off.' ABN Amro and ING both said they use other forms of protection as well. Aiko Pras, a professor in cyber security at Twente University told the paper there are risks in becoming dependent on non-EU providers. 'American companies like Akamai are getting to know our payment traffic systems better and better, while we are losing the expertise,' he said. 'A cyber war is closer than we think.'  More >

Soldaat van Oranje celebrates 2,500 shows

The longest-running Dutch musical, Soldaat van Oranje (soldier of Orange) staged its 2,500 performance on Thursday night night. The musical is based on the true story of resistance hero Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, who was a student at Leiden University when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands. He went underground and fled to England, where he carried out numerous missions in the service of the Dutch monarchy in exile. The musical plays in a rotating 1,100 seat auditorium in a converted aircraft hanger on a Dutch military base. The scenes include a seascape, complete with water, and an aircraft which taxis to a stop. So far, more than 2.7 million people have seen the show, which premiered in October 2010. Everyone at Thursday night's performance was given a commemoration mug. Roelfzema's story was ealier made into a 1977 feature film starring actor Rutger Hauer. Soldaat van Oranje, directed by Paul Verhoeven, is considered to be one of the best Dutch films ever. Roelfzema died in 2007 at the age of 90. The show is scheduled to run until at least January 2019.    More >