Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for July, 2011

Public Eye Northwest’s Guide To Open Access Journals

by Matt Rosenberg July 27th, 2011

(Last updated April 24, 2012). Open access journals. Open science. Remember those terms. You’ll be hearing more of them in coming months and years.

There’s a growing but often hidden body of peer-reviewed scholarly research being conducted in the U.S. (and other nations) by researchers working for government and publicly-funded universities, particularly in the sciences and public health. Some of it appears online in government reports available free to all. But all too often when leading-edge research on important issues and problems in which we all have a stake does appear online, it is hidden behind the pay-walls of professional and academic journals, making it inaccessible and unaffordable to the general public and many writers working in legacy and new media. This is particularly problematic when the research is funded on the public dime. An “abstract” or short summary is all you get for free.

However change is in the air. More peer-reviewed, publicly-funded scholarly research is beginning to show up online and in full, in what are called “open access” journals – which operate on the principle that free distribution of this work is vital to the public interest.

So is accurately translating that work into Plain English, admittedly not always easy. Which is were outfits like ours come in. Our Open Science archive at Public Data Ferret gives a good indication of what’s at stake.

  • Does manadatory menu labeling at large fast food restaurant chains actually compel healthier choices by customers, as King County supposed it would?
  • What about that indoor public smoking ban Washington state voters approved. Did it spell ruination for bars and taverns, as some in the industry predicted?
  • Did a gift incentive program cut high-risk behavior by AIDS-prone Seattle men?
  • How effective was one strategy to try to get more dentists to locate in underserved regions of Washington state?
  • How did a Seattle-Nairobi research team develop a better AIDS tests for African infants?
  • What caused the Haitian cholera epidemic?
  • How serious is Internet addiction among college students, what are its effects and how can the problem be addressed by health professionals? A study including University of Washington students provides some insight.
  • Is highway tolling fair to low-income households in the Seattle region? A University of Washington public affairs and social equity expert takes a close look.
  • What is the effect of vehicle air pollution on birth weight?

To help foster wider sharing of important scholarly research, and in line with the work of our parent organization Public Eye Northwest, we’re establishing a resource page here of selected “open access” journals, and related online resource guides featuring links to many others. Using basic search methods at all of the individual journals, you can locate published work specific to time, place, institution and topic.

OPEN ACCESS JOURNAL RESOURCE GUIDES

Directory of Open Access Journals
E-Scholarship, University of California
Free Medical Journals
Open Access Journals Search Engine
Public Knowledge Project – Open Access Journals Directory
PubMed search engine, National Institutes of Health
PubMedCentral Journal List, National Institutes of Health
U.S. Centers For Disease Control – Publications
University of Washington Libraries – “Research Works” Archive, 2011

SELECTED OPEN ACCESS JOURNALS

Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture
Annals of Gastroenterology
Asia Journal of Global Studies
BioMed Central
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Ecology and Society
Environmental Health Perspectives, National Institute of Environmental Health Science
Information Technologies and International Development
Journal of Family Medicine
Journal of Academic Freedom, American Association of University Professors
Journal of Aging Research
Journal of Emerging Technologies In Web Intelligence
Journal of Transport and Land Use
Library Journal
Malaria Journal
Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights
PLoS One: Accelerating The Publication Of Peer-Reviewed Science
PLoS Medicine, Public Library of Science
Urban Library Journal

Please send links to other open access journals or compendiums of same to matt (at) publiceyenorthwest (dot) org. A friendly warning: there are a welter of sites claiming to index open access journals or open access journal compendiums. But due diligence should precede a recommendation. Does the internal search engine at each open access journal return much that’s of worth on a given topic (pick a major disease, for example). How recent are the articles? Do the referenced journals follow the peer-review process? With what institutions are the authors affiliated? Are the so-called open access journals or university open access hubs really open access? Or is access to text of full articles actually still restricted in many cases?


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Puyallup construction company wins $35 million defense contract

by Administrator July 25th, 2011

The U.S. Department of Defense announced recently that Puyallup, Wash. company Absher Construction has won a $35,275,888 contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu, to build an enlisted personnel housing facility at the U.S. Army’s Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii. The barracks are a 102-year-old installation and home to the Army’s 25th Infantry Division. The company will construct two five-story buildings, each with 100 dwelling units. Absher will work in conjunction with Tetra Tech, of Seattle, the project architect. Absher’s Web site says the total project cost is $74 million. This is not the first U.S. defense contract for Absher. The company has won several separate contracts of more than $40 million apiece to build barracks at Fort Lewis in Pierce County, Wash. and is currently working on a $71 million Bachelors Enlisted Quarters and Parking Facility at Naval Station Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash.

The Department of Defense’s military contract announcements database reveals more.

GAO: EPA still failing to safeguard drinking water

by Andrew Taylor July 22nd, 2011

SUMMARY: The head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s division of Natural Resources and Environment, David Trimble recently testified to a senate committee that the Environmental Protection Agency continues to fail scientifically and procedurally to adequately safeguard the nation’s drinking water, and is giving short shrift to potentially serious public health effects of drinking water contaminants from pesticides, heavy metals and surface runoff. Trimble told Senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee that to meet its responsibilities in implementing the Safe Water Drinking Act, EPA needs to address shortcomings in measuring contaminants, checking data, and providing administrative oversight.

Cascade Natural Gas will pay $425,000 safety fine to state, under proposed settlement

by Kyle Kim July 22nd, 2011

SUMMARY: Cascade Natural Gas Corp. has agreed to pay a $425,000 fine for breaking a number of state and federal gas safety laws and under the proposed settlement announced last week with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, is subject to another $1.8 million in fines if it fails to deliver on additional corrective actions including implementing safety and quality assurance programs, and updating their pipeline maps. Commission staff in March 2011 detailed 364 alleged violations by Cascade following a two-year sequence of safety inspections of its pipeline facilities, in addition to an investigation of an “over-pressure” incident. The gas company admitted to having failed to comply with a number of state and federal rules regarding inspection, monitoring and maintenance of its pipeline network, but Cascade does not concede it committed all of the alleged violations. The settlement must still be formally finalized by the UTC board but Cascade has already agreed to the terms.

UW study urges stronger response to student Net addiction

by Melissa Steffan July 21st, 2011

SUMMARY: A new study by University of Washington researchers of students at UW and the University of Wisconsin finds that Internet addiction among college students may be as common as asthma among children. The study found that 4 in every 100 college students may have an Internet addiction, resulting in sleep loss, poor grades, and decreased home involvement. Moreover, the study found that students with depression were about 24 times more likely than their peers to exhibit problematic Internet usage. This makes Internet addiction a cause for alarm that could require intervention and treatment in some cases. As a result, the authors recommend that pediatricians begin to assess children for signs of Internet addiction more frequently and beginning at a younger age.

CDC: Haitian cholera epidemic imported by Nepalese soldiers

by Melissa Steffan July 20th, 2011

SUMMARY: According to a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, the cholera outbreak in Haiti in October 2010 was caused by contaminated river water downstream from a United Nations military camp for Nepalese soldiers. The study was conducted by  researchers in France and Haiti, and found that Nepalese soldiers in a United Nations camp near the Artibonite River likely imported the cholera accidentally. According to the researchers’ conclusions, determining the origins of the cholera outbreak reduces suspicion that the strains were deliberately imported.

Violent sex offenders never got health study DSHS paid UW for

by Matt Rosenberg July 19th, 2011

SUMMARY: A whistleblower report investigation by the Washington State Auditor’s Office found that the State Department of Social and Health Services paid the University of Washington more than $24,000 for contracted work never performed, to develop recommendations for a health plan for violent sex offenders who have been civilly committed at DSHS’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island following the completion of their prison terms. The contractor delivered only a set of PowerPoint handouts made for another agency, relabeled for DSHS. The department is providing professional counseling to the employee who authorized the unwarranted payments, and is seeking reimbursement from the university.