25,000 Sign Open-access Petition

Launched May 13, this petition on the White House website calls on the Obama administration to require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research. “Expanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our investment in scientific research,” it says. According to rules for such petitions, the 25,000 signatures entitle petitioners to a response from the administration. Opponents of open access, including publishers and professional societies, argue that it would bankrupt journals. In February, well before the petition was posted, the New York Times reported that the administration would take a “measured approach” and not issue specific recommendations.

NSF Inspectors Uncover Research Misconduct

The National Science Foundation’s Office of the Inspector General described new cases of research misconduct its latest report to Congress. Examples: In the case of a principal investigator at a California company, “The PI’s methodology for obtaining and maintaining reference materials is the sloppiest we recall seeing in the history of this office,” the report says. A New Jersey PI, shown a successful proposal by a colleague, lifted material from it in his own pitch. An Illinois assistant professor was found to have used plagiarized material in three proposals. In a subsequent probe, she “plagiarized text and misrepresented data in a written statement she submitted to the institution’s investigation committee.” A Mississippi professor was found to have a pattern of plagiarism going back to his doctoral dissertation.

High Debt Burden Threatens Home Purchases

Students and recent graduates could find themselves shut out of the market for home mortgages because of high debt. Bloomberg/BusinessWeek, citing an analysis by the advocacy group Young Invincibles, reports that college loan repayments will be counted by banks in calculating a home purchaser’s debt-to-income ratio. If your ratio is too high, “it can be hard, if not impossible, to get a loan.” At close to $1 trillion and rising rapidly, student loan debt is higher than credit card debt.

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Student Loan Rate Extended, Rules Tightened

Source: FinAid.org

Congress has extended the 3.4 percent interest rate on federally-subsidized loans to undergraduates until July 2013. But the extension comes with tighter rules, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported in late June. For example, a student pursuing a degree at a four-year college will no longer be eligible for an interest subsidy after six years. Get more student loan information from the U.S. Department of Education here.

Hybrid, Electric Car Race Draws 25 Student Teams

A record 25 student engineering teams designed, built and then raced hybrid and electric racecars in the April 29 – May 2 Formula Hybrid International Race, now in its sixth year. IEEE’s The Institute reported that teams from Brigham Young University and Universite de Sherbrooke, in Quebec, jointly won first place in the hybrid category. The Canadian team also won the Ford Efficiency Award for the best engineered and executed energy-efficient design.

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