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By 31 December 2020 there had been 82,686,157 cases of covid-19 worldwide and 1,805,002 deaths, and in usa: 19,740,471 cases, 342,002 deaths; .uk: 2,440,202 cases, 72,657 deaths; .au: 28,405 cases, 909 deaths; .nz: 2,162 cases, 25 deaths — JHU. Also see [www].
There were reports indicating that Ministries of Truth were in action with Russia reporting only one third of covid-19 deaths [www], and covid-19 cases in Wuhan being perhaps ten times higher than official figures showed [www]. And in the USA, the Trump adminstration's down-playing of the pandemic and its politicisation of control measures all had the effect of spreading the virus widely in that country.
Also see
"Donald Trump admits to playing down coronavirus danger, according to Bob Woodward book Rage ..." — abc [10/9/2020].
"China jails citizen journalist Zhang Zhan to four years over coronavirus reporting in Wuhan ..." — abc [28/12/2020].
"China clamps down in hidden hunt for coronavirus origin ..." — AP [31/12/2020].
And after some members had initially been refused entry [6 Jan.],
"WHO team probing origin of virus arrive in China ..." — bbc [14/1/2021].

On the price of open access knowledge:
"... From 2021, the publisher [Springer Nature] will charge €9,500, us$11,390 or £8,290 to make a paper open access (OA) in Nature and 32 other journals that currently keep most of their articles behind paywalls and are financed by subscriptions. ... The change was spurred by the 'Plan S' movement, in which funders are mandating that their grant recipients must make their work OA as soon as it is published ..." — [www][24/11/2020] Nature.
'... "The [Nature] fee to me seems incredibly high," he added. The Lancet, which has a higher journal impact factor than Nature, charges an open-access publishing fee of us$5000. "I struggle to believe that Nature's ... editorial policies or production quality are better," Marks wrote. ...' — [www][24/11/2020] J. Brainard in Science. ("... [Science] research articles published after 1997 are available for free (with online registration) one year after they are published i.e. delayed open access" — [www][2020] wikip.)
"... Where an author has chosen to publish open access, which typically involves the upfront payment of an article publishing charge (APC), we will also make their article immediately and freely available upon publication on Science Direct, in perpetuity, with the author's chosen user license attached to it. Elsevier's APC prices are set on a per journal basis, fees range between us$150 and us$6000 [...] excluding tax ..." —[www][2020] Elsevier.
OUP makes it quite hard to find its costs but, for example, Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE) owns up to "... The [APC] charge for Articles, Perspectives, Reviews and Protocols will be us$3,255 / €2,715 / £2,225. ..." — [www][2020] OUP.
Also search the bib for 'research open access' [www].

John le Carre (David Cornell, 19/10/1931-12/12/2020) author of 25 novels died aged 89. He worked for MI5 and MI6 until his literary career took off, notably with his third novel 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' (1963). Many of his books were made into movies and TV series. Cornell's father was a con man and one wonders exactly how this affected the young Cornell and if it contributed to the focus on trust, loyalty, lies and betrayal in his novels. Adam Sisman's 'John le Carre: The Biography' and Cornell's memoir 'The Pigeon Tunnel' shed all the light we are likely to get. It is worth reading both of them.

A new book, 'Gaming the Metrics: Misconduct and Manipulation in Academic Research', edited by Mario Biagioli and Alexandra Lippman, MIT Press, is a savage indictment of the impact-obsessed "audit culture" now widespread in University management. It covers gaming the impact factors, rigging university rankings, rigged peer review, citation rings, predatory journals, and other forms of academic fraud and misconduct. At least I hope that is the book's purpose . . .  maybe it can be used as a self-help guide on how to play the game and get on in the modern University? See [www][11/2020]. #academia #research

For exactly this kind of academic behaviour read about a notorious case below[*], and for the opposite kind read about the mathematician John Horton Conway (1937-2020). There are some starting links below.

[*]Nature: "A US-based biophysicist [Kuo-Chen Chou] who is one of the world's most highly cited researchers has been removed from the editorial board of one journal and barred as a reviewer for another, after repeatedly manipulating the peer-review process to amass citations to his own work. ... asked authors of dozens of papers he was editing to cite a long list of his publications – sometimes more than 50 ..." — [www][6/2/'20], also see [www][13/8/'20] #hindex #academia
There is a whole language to describe this and similar misbehaviour – "coercive citation", "guest authorship", "ghost author", ... — [www][8/'06].
Also see 'Reviewer-coerced citation: case report, update on journal policy and suggestions for future prevention', Bioinformatics, 35(18), pp.3217-3218, Sept. 2019 [www] and
'JTB Editorial Malpractice: A Case Report', Journal of Theoretical Biology, 488, 110171, March 2020 [www] #JTB
Even the inventor of the H-index is having qualms — [www][26/1/'20].

May 2020, some additions to the software [click] for carrying out statistical inference on machine learning problems and based on the Minimum Message Length (MML) principle.

26 April 2020 was the 100th anniversary of the death of legendary Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (22 Dec. 1887 – 26 April 1920). See for example SR@[wikip]. (The film 'The Man Who new Infinity' (2015) is based on the book (1991) of the same name by Robert Kanigel and stars Dev Patel as Ramanujan.)

The mathematician John Horton Conway (26 Dec. 1937 - 11 Apr. 2020) died of complications related to covid-19; the intelligence of the world fell significantly. Here are two obituaries: Princeton [www][14/4/2020] and the New York Times [www][15/4/2020]. Also see JHC@[wikip].
And a friend came across this article [www] in the Grauniad (23/7/2015) by Siobhan Roberts, JHC's biographer ('Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway', 2015).

A novel coronavirus started infecting people in Wuhan, China, during December 2019 or perhaps earlier. Dr Li Wenliang warned Chinese authorities but he was detained by police in January 2020 for spreading false rumours; he died from the disease in early February. The virus was named SARS-CoV-2 due to its similarity to the SARS (2002-2004) virus SARS-CoV, and the disease was named covid-19 (the '19' for 2019). Covid-19 cases soon appeared in other countries around the world. By 26 February China had reported totals of 77,362 cases and 2618 deaths. After much foot-dragging, the WHO finally acknowledged that covid-19 was a global pandemic on 11 March. Countries had already introduced travel bans and restrictions on meetings of large, and then small, groups of people, and on the movement of people, and these became more stringent. By 13 April the USA was leading the race no-one wants to win with 493,000 confirmed cases and 19,000 deaths. #covid-19 #coronavirus

In Australia, the academic year starts in late February when large numbers of foreign students arrive, many from China. Direct arrivals from China were banned, so many spent two weeks in third countries, often in S.E. Asia, before arriving, and the start of the University semester was pushed back to accomodate this. By late March all(?) University teaching and assessment had moved online. It is expected that numbers of new overseas students will be greatly reduced, possibly to zero, for the mid-2020 intake, and that academic year 2021, and even beyond, will be greatly affected. As Glyn Davis Vice-Chancellor of Melbourne University 2005-2018 said last year, "like all mining booms it comes to an end". (All the shiny, expensive new buildings are not all that useful just now.)

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