Heard on the Hill: University Senate considering boycotting publisher Elsevier; newspaper readership program popular at other places, too; KUMC researcher mentioned in LA Times story on Alzheimer’s

Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• KU’s University Senate is mulling a boycott of the academic publisher Elsevier, according to an agenda for the senate’s Executive Committee I received Monday.

If they make that move, they’ll join a whole host of other institutions, too. And it would be another move in favor of open access to academic publications.

People upset with the major publisher of academic journals are bemoaning exorbitant subscription fees, “bundling” of journals and the company’s support of SOPA and PIPA and other legislation that “[restricts] the free exchange of information.”

Here’s the online petition. Some folks at KU — including Danny Anderson, KU’s dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — have already signed on. Anderson, a Spanish professor, has agreed not to publish, referee or do editorial work in the company’s academic journals.

This article does a pretty good job, I think, of summing up the issues folks are raising with the publication.

I’ll be sure to report back on any other news I hear on this front.

• The newspaper readership program in place at KU may be spreading around to other universities, too.

KU students, as you may or may not know, get free copies of the New York Times, the Kansas City Star, USA Today and — best of all — the Lawrence Journal-World.

The program is funded with money from Student Senate. The program goes back at least as far as when I was a student in the early part of the last decade.

According to this article, a similar program at the University of Northern Iowa with the New York Times is just starting up and getting rave reviews.

The students there also get free unrestricted access to the New York Times’ website, which currently restricts users to 30 free articles per month.

I assume that’s the case here, too, though I haven’t checked.

• And speaking of newspapers, Jeffrey Burns, associate director of the KU Medical Center’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, was mentioned in the Los Angeles Times in an article about early signs of Alzheimer’s.

One thing to watch for, he says, is for changes that make it difficult for a parent or loved one to do things that were always easy before.

“That should be a red flag,” he said.

• Just like those newspapers on campus, Heard on the Hill is always free. So is submitting a tip to ahyland@ljworld.com.