The Institution of Engineers (India) is a prestigious organisation with more than one million members in 15 engineering disciplines in 114 centers or chapters in India and overseas.

Yet, it doesn’t prefer to publish its journals itself. All of its journals are published by Springer. This concerns me slightly because it helps in maintaining the monopoly that publishing houses have on research publications.

Why do even such large and reputed institutions not choose to publish on their own?

The reason I ask is because I am a self taught engineer and mathematician with well over 20 years of product engineering experience. I have various patents and have sat on global standards committees–mostly for occupant safety systems. I work today as an in-house consultant and I find it difficult to accept that I can contribute to the safety of drivers all over the world and yet when it comes to mathematics I am simply not allowed to participate.

I have shared some of my ideas with professors and others in my field with masters and doctorate degrees with a positive reception and have used said math skills to great success in solving a wide range of problems. I have methods and ideas that I feel can help Americans appreciate mathematics beyond the scope of the classroom but I keep hitting the ‘…you must have a PhD (from an accredited college), wall’. Is there a way for people like me to contribute? Or, should I forget the whole thing and take my knowledge to the grave?

I hope this was specific enough. Thanks in advance.

A member of our department plans to download millions of profiles from a public website. The data is freely accessible after you have logged in, though there is a company behind the website that does have commercial interests and sells premium memberships. The website’s terms and conditions don’t explicitly prohibit mass downloading of information and he claims that his software would simulate normal user behavior, thus not interfering with the normal operations of the site. A preliminary evaluation from our ethics committee suggests that – from an ethical standpoint – everything would be fine as long as he doesn’t publish the dataset (which he doesn’t plan to do) and the data is anonymized. Also, he will aggregate the data, so no information pertaining to individuals will be intelligible.

Still, I am not completely convinced that this study should be done and the final vote is still out. Are there any other things to consider? Could the company operating the website possibly sue the university (or him) for using the data or would that be condoned by an act protecting the freedom of press or anything similar? We are in Germany, so German and EU law applies.

How should I reference images found in public domain in my thesis?

I mean, if it would be copyrighted, I would add a comment a la “reproduced with permission from X”. If it would be under Creative Commons license, I would add a comment “licensed under XY license”.

What about public domain? Should I add some sort of comment to make clear it is public domain? E.g. if I would like to use something from NREL website (http://www.nrel.gov/).

How/where does one get hold of the arguments put forward by lobby groups?

I am currently researching the topic of advertising as it relates to junk food. There are many arguments in favour of regulation/ban in books, papers and websites; however, I am looking for responses to these arguments by the industry. I keep coming across articles claiming that lots of money has been spent lobbying against regulation, but these are almost never referenced. Where should I look for the arguments of lobby groups? This seems like the only place to find the other side of the debate.

This is an area that is quite alien to me so any guidance is appreciated. Also, I’m interested in lobbying in any English-speaking country.