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Academic energy research
A web log of developing a career in energy research

Date: 20:59 10 12 2013
Subject: Incompatibility between university IP commercialisation and GNU GPL?
Security: Public

This blog post about industry-university collaboration reminded me about the opinion of the free software foundation regarding university software development. However, considering the comment of Mark at 'IP Draughts' (also interesting; another RSS feed added to my list!) suggests that as far as use of free software with university research is concerned, these model research collaboration agreements (specifically § 4.2 use and exploitation of intellectual property) are void, being incompatible with GNU GPL.

Surely people are aware of free software licences these days???

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Date: 16:48 24 12 2013
Subject: early Christmas present
Security: Public

Eventually got a journal article published today (after a rejection by another publisher: not bitter! ;) ). It has it's flaws, but journal article output is the main measure of an academic researcher's activity. Reminiscing, am disappointed that not as much work was done as envisaged, but at least a minor article is evidence something was achieved during the last twelve months.

Now to look forwards for an improvement in 2014!

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Date: 13:47 27 12 2013
Subject: electronic or paper documents?
Security: Public

In reply to this post about comparison between electronic and paper documents:

The comparison made in this web page between internet and paper is flawed. Firstly, kg's is not a unit of measurement, but kg! Where is the source of statement that CO₂ emissions for A4 colour paper to be 100 kg? Is this value based upon life-cycle analysis calculation? The value is apparently based upon delivery to a given destination, but we need to calculate the CO₂ cost of distribution to each individual reader to be able to compare against an individual user who receives an equivalent electronic copy (html, or pdf) via http, ftp or similar transmission protocol via internet. Assuming a broadband internet connection and an electronic document file size of 1MB, the transmission time would be a few seconds and therefore the comparison with 5 minutes of internet connection time is a false analogy.

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Date: 18:25 12 01 2014
Subject: awareness of open access publishing
Security: Public

It's surprising that people assume either a willingness or existing ability to access academic literature. How many people would be interested in a recent study cited in a blog post, about the impact of green VAT via life–cycle analysis, yet are unable to access it? Fortunately, there are open access alternatives, such as recent special issues supplements: life–cycle sustainability and constructions' sustainability

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Date: 12:15 17 01 2014
Subject: if Sweden can do it...
Security: Public

Impressive to read that Sweden has the capability to source the majority of primary energy from renewable sources.

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Date: 14:23 05 02 2014
Subject: energy and shelter
Security: Public

(Imminent Dr) J Love wrote a nice reflective post about her observations about the connections between energy and housing. Since an invitation to comment was made, here goes!

Energy use factors in buildings. It is surprising to claim insufficient studies on energy usage within buildings. The Carbon Trust (do they still exist, post-austerity? ;) ) used to publish "best practice" guides which used to contain benchmark data; presumably measurements were made in order to determine these reference parameters? Similarly, surely the Building Research Establishment has conducted extensive measurements on buildings?

Yes, the eternal debate about disciplinary boundaries, particularly between natural and social sciences. Well, there's a reason that economics is rightfully dismissed as the "dismal science". Hence the commentary about behaviour change with respect to energy consumption. Science researchers have often not got involved in research in which humans are the main object of focus, which is probably why "feedback" effects are subsequently ignored and is an essential component of energy consumption (energy supply to a lesser extent, also).

It could be argued that the continued failure at true intra-disciplinary research within the energy sector is the reason for the absence of a more integrated policy regarding (alleged) climate change, environmental management and human health. "Warmth" policy should really not exist and instead by incorporated into existing health policies; many diseases/illnesses are exacerbated by poor living conditions (too cold, too hot, etc.) that are affected to energy supply infrastructure. To paraphrase, (unproven) climate change should not take priority over short–term environmental management (e.g. air-bourne pollution), the latter has a far greater impact upon human health and overall sustainability. For example, coal–power generation with air pollution control devices to control emissions of mercury, fly ash, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides is more important than diverting resources to bury CO₂ under so–called carbon capture and storage.

So, whatever next JL, good luck!

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Date: 17:25 25 02 2014
Subject: Open social!?
Security: Public

Up to now, E has always disparaged the monolith that is social media and ****book in particular. Thankfully, there are almost always alternatives, but one has to look for them...

Prompted by the recent purchase sell-out of 'whatsapp', decided to renew use of 'Diaspora'. The open access world is now seriously compromised by predatory sub-standard "publishers"; in a recent post about publication of fake, computer-generated(!) papers by conference proceedings publishers. For the record, the post was first read via this Diaspora pod stream post.

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Date: 20:29 27 02 2014
Subject: True colours finally revealed
Security: Public

A list of "predatory" open access journal publishers initiated by Jeffrey Beall was considered to be per se a useful service to the scientific research community, as an aid to determine the credentials of emerging publishers in the absence of appropriate bibliometrics such as 'impact factor'. That was until this blog post mentioned an incredulous attack on the open access concept. Mr Beall published an article that dismisses open access as some sort of quasi-communist European plot to deny freedom of expression. The article is laughable in terms of contradiction, confusion and factual error. It was published open access. :)

The rant reminded of the notorious claim by Mr Ballmer that: "linux is a[n intellectual property] cancer". One can assume that Mr Beall is equally ignorant of open source software.

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Date: 11:58 05 05 2014
Subject: Further academic revolution
Security: Public

Further to an earlier post (see:, temporary academic professors continue to revolt in order to improve relatively poor working conditions.

Since it has been stated before that the situation of temporary academic staff is not "new" news(!), why is the media becoming more aware now of this scenario?

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Date: 12:28 22 07 2014
Subject: Why did I bother with this PhD journey?
Security: Public

Whilst there were no illusions of a research career equating to limitless wealth, it is profoundly depressing to read further confirmation that the market value of research skills is less than £ 30k, with the added luxury of a fixed term duration of barely a year:

BioenNW Interreg IVB Research Associate for Pyrolysis Systems – Pyrofabs
Project Manager (2 Posts) Engineering & Applied ScienceSalary: £27,057
to £28,972 Contract Type: Fixed Term (until 30 September 2015) Basis:
Full Time Closing Date: Sunday 17 August 2014 Interview Date: To be
confirmed Reference: R140233

The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) is seeking to appoint
two Research Associates with a strong experimental background and track
of independent research to work on the thermal processes for biomass
conversion. You will join a world-renowned European Bioenergy Research
Institute and will be working at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary
research problems and industrial applications. The EBRI has developed an
innovative new bioenergy technology that increases the efficiency of
anaerobic digestion by up to 25%. You will be involved in performing the
start-up and preliminary tests of the pyrolysis mobile testing units –
Pyrofabs, in EBRI, and then move to reside in the countries where the
Pyrofabs are to be allocated; liaising with the different project
partners to provide them with the specifications of resources needed for
the demonstration tests; producing a procedure on how to obtain results
from the mass balance calculations and sample analysis; providing
technical advice and facilitate training of BioenNW partner staff on how
to operate the Pyrofabs; producing a Risk Assessment and Safe Operating
Procedure of the Pyrofabs; facilitating the procurement of feedstocks;
organising samples analysis, liaising with external laboratories. The
role will require travelling extensively across Europe between January
and June 2015

You will be a highly a motivated researcher with a proven track record
in delivering solutions for the continued research into pyrolysis
systems. In addition you should have proven expertise in independent
development and designing of specialised equipment and new laboratory
techniques and methodologies whilst having the ability to conduct
independent research and to supervise research staff. Experience of
managing research projects is essential.

You should have a PhD or a similar degree with a strong focus on thermal
processes for biomass conversion.

(source: Jobs at Aston).

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my journal