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Should academic publications cost money to access?

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Tommy_Paine
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Joined: Apr 22 2001

I am concerned with the general public's access, and also with the access of people at poorer universities in the third world. It's a question in the back of my mind.

There's different levels of "access" to consider, also.  The type of academic writting, or communication in these kinds of journals is often written, necessarily, for other scientists in the same or related field.  By necessity, the "jargon" might be more of a stumbling block to access by the general public than money.

For example, last week I visited the weather chanel on line, which I haven't for a long time.  They've switched the radar map program, which allows you to zoom into a satelilte map with a high enough resolution that major urban areas show, along with highways.  So, while playing around with it, I noticed it just kept going and going.  So, I "followed" all the way north to a group of islands I've always been kinda curious about, in Hudson Bay, because of their isolation and odd shape-- the Belcher islands.   Sorry for the details, just showing the segues of the mind.  Or what passes for one.  ANYWAY I got curious about the geology, googled it, and came up with a very academic article.  A few paragraphs in, I realized I didn't have the time to really read it, because I'd be investing a good amount of time looking up specialized words.  Which I will get to.  I've done the same when I was curious about the geology of the Bruce Peninsula.   It can be done.   But I wonder how much curiosity outside of the scientific community is stiffled by this kind of obsticle.

This isn't a critique of "ivory tower egg heads".  There's no doubt in my mind that such precise language between scientists in academic papers is unavoidable.  But, it's a barrier nonetheless.

 

 


Tommy_Paine
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Joined: Apr 22 2001

Meanwhile, I have been given a book perhaps more in line with my interests. 

It features lots of cleavage, and even titilates with off the beaten path subjects like pegmatite dikes.  Things like this have always been graben' my attention,  through no fault of mine.  I'm only human.

.... hopefully this thoughtfully given book which is a layman's guide to Ontario geology will give me the necessary background to take on the academic papers on the Belcher Islands and the geology of Nunavit.

 

 

 


Tommy_Paine
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Joined: Apr 22 2001

In keeping with I guess what has turned out to be an experiment featuring an ordinary dullard and academic journals,  I came across some difficulty today.

While tooling around the net looking for this and that, a site that promised a geologic transect across the Grenville orogen (an uplifting subject matter, in my view) came to my attention.   Going to the page, I found it was just an abstract.  But the page lead me on to the National Research Council, which promises (actually, teases is more appropriate)  "Free access to Scientific Journals".   It looks like a promising source, actually, but there doesn't seem to be a one page index where a person can look at all the subjects.  It seems to me if you are looking for information on a particular subject, you'd have to click through every back issue. 

Kinda clumsy.

 


Spectrum
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Joined: Sep 27 2008



Quote:
“Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous. There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist's snobbishness.”
=Albert Einstein

Nothing better then to see how an institute is built from the ground up. Some should think the dialogue of Socrates as he went through the city would be there to pull "the best of out of a pupil" rather then to listen as Socrates did too, "numbed intuitive senses" as he set out to hear from the most intelligent part of us? It would by opinion of him, exist in each of us, and yet, some would think that it all relies on just living in educational rote? Systemic nullifying atrophied adults bereft of the exploratory and inquiring child?


Quote:
“Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was,” Bradbury says, summarizing TV’s content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: “factoids.” He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen. His book still stands as a classic. But one of L.A.’s best-known residents wants it understood that when he wrote it he was far more concerned with the dulling effects of TV on people than he was on the silencing effect of a heavy-handed government. While television has in fact superseded reading for some, at least we can be grateful that firemen still put out fires instead of start them.Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted L.A.’s august Pulitzer honoree says it was never about censorship
By AMY E. BOYLE JOHNSTON Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 7 pm

 

The fact remains that the probable outcome of any position adopted from perspective can be greatly increased by the "amalgamation of information". So in a sense "the universal library is a background source for of all possible outcomes" that can exist and  exists in term of Plato's ideal. Then,  the information had to always exist "out there already" and that we can put it together by being receptive and holding in thought, the lure, and the timing for the next step. More, definitely caught by the Net.

Quote:
Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." - Thomas Alva Edison, Harper's Monthly (September 1932)

Fish food, then becomes good for the soul? Not a "aimless wondering" in some geographical earth location as to pinpoint some information in geological structure, or too,  historically point to express? One book does not make for a whole? The intent, while holding in mind,  has it's most appropriate reward as to what is always brought home as the most appropriate info to roost( while the "hens are nesting" consolatory distillate eggs for new beginnings?) Expectancy and openness,  has it's rewards

Google search box ready....Snobbishness, or Numbed senses, do not make for an appropriate positioning?Smile Should academic publications cost money to access? Would you limit the probabilities for any youthful mind that is willing to give it their all??


500_Apples
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Joined: Jun 3 2006

Tommy_Paine wrote:

I am concerned with the general public's access, and also with the access of people at poorer universities in the third world. It's a question in the back of my mind.

There's different levels of "access" to consider, also.  The type of academic writting, or communication in these kinds of journals is often written, necessarily, for other scientists in the same or related field.  By necessity, the "jargon" might be more of a stumbling block to access by the general public than money.

For example, last week I visited the weather chanel on line, which I haven't for a long time.  They've switched the radar map program, which allows you to zoom into a satelilte map with a high enough resolution that major urban areas show, along with highways.  So, while playing around with it, I noticed it just kept going and going.  So, I "followed" all the way north to a group of islands I've always been kinda curious about, in Hudson Bay, because of their isolation and odd shape-- the Belcher islands.   Sorry for the details, just showing the segues of the mind.  Or what passes for one.  ANYWAY I got curious about the geology, googled it, and came up with a very academic article.  A few paragraphs in, I realized I didn't have the time to really read it, because I'd be investing a good amount of time looking up specialized words.  Which I will get to.  I've done the same when I was curious about the geology of the Bruce Peninsula.   It can be done.   But I wonder how much curiosity outside of the scientific community is stiffled by this kind of obsticle.

This isn't a critique of "ivory tower egg heads".  There's no doubt in my mind that such precise language between scientists in academic papers is unavoidable.  But, it's a barrier nonetheless.

The presence of intrinsic barriers does not justify the additional presence of financial barriers.


Ze
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Joined: Nov 14 2008
Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Former Reddit co-owner arrested for excessive JSTOR downloads

Quote:
Aaron Swartz, the 24-year-old wunderkind who co-authored the RSS specification at age 14 and sold his stake in Reddit to Condé Nast (which also owns Ars Technica) before his 20th birthday, was arrested Tuesday on charges of wire fraud, computer fraud, "unlawfully obtaining information from," and "recklessly damaging" a "protected computer." He is accused of downloading 4.8 million documents from the academic archive JSTOR, in violation of its terms of use, and of evading MIT's efforts to stop him from doing so.

Swartz is a founder of the advocacy organization Demand Progress. In a statement, Demand Progress executive director David Segal blasted the arrest. "It's like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library," he said. Demand Progress also quoted James Jacobs, the Government Documents Librarian at Stanford University, who said that the arrest "undermines academic inquiry and democratic principles." 

According to the complaint, Swartz purchased a laptop in September 2010 and registered it under the name "Gary Host" (username: "ghost") on the MIT network. He then ran a Python script that rapidly downloaded articles from the JSTOR. JSTOR detected the script and blocked his IP address. The complaint alleges that there followed a game of cat and mouse in which Swartz repeatedly changed his IP and MAC address to evade JSTOR and MIT's efforts to block access. Swartz also bought a second laptop to speed up the downloading process. Finally, on October 9, JSTOR gave up and and blocked the entire MIT campus from using JSTOR.

Academic Work Should Be Distributed For Free

 

Quote:
Most likely, the lasting benefit of his actions will be to elevate the salience of the underlying issue on which Lee, Swartz, and I are all in agreement. And here’s the issue. Right now in academic publishing, what you have is basically a lot of donor- and government-financed nonprofit organizations taking outputs with near-zero distribution costs (electronic journal archives) and selling them to each other. For any one institution, this kind of makes sense. A publisher doesn’t want to give up his fees, which are valuable in meeting the costs of producing scholarship. But on net, it’s a mix of pointless and pernicious. Sale of access to journals helps finance scholarship, but it also raises the cost of scholarship. If everything was distributed for free, the whole exact same enterprise could be undertaken with no net financial loss. But there would be huge potential gains. A precocious 17 year-old could have free access to scholarship. So could a researcher living and working in a poor country. Or even an earnest political reporter who’s working on an issue and curious about what political science has to say about it. When I, personally, come across an article I’d like to read but can’t get free access to, my standard practice is to tweet about it and then someone affiliated with a university sends it to me. That’s good for me and, I think, good for the world. But there’s no reason curious people should need to amass thousands of twitter followers before they’re able to gain access to information that’s been produced by non-profit institutions that are supposed to be serving the public interest.

 


ikosmos
Offline
Joined: May 8 2001

Ah, that's what twitter is for.


6079_Smith_W
Online
Joined: Jun 10 2010

Som eof the biggest organizations making money off academic publications have nothing to do with the authors, or the institutions:

http://boingboing.net/2011/04/26/lessig-on-science-co.html

The video is long, but well-worth watching to the end, especially when it gets into the subject of online creativity.

 


6079_Smith_W
Online
Joined: Jun 10 2010

Yet another story of a Canadian researcher prevented from speaking by the Prime Minister's office:

http://letfreedomrain.blogspot.com/2011/07/another-canadian-muzzled-by-h...

Strangely enough, I heard this story just a few minutes ago on on As It Happens. CBC radio, for those of you who no longer tune in.

Clearly whichever gauleiter is in charge of the CBC was not doing his or her job controlling the government's propaganda arm.

 


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

George Monbiot: The Lairds of Learning

Quote:
Who are the most ruthless capitalists in the Western world? Whose monopolistic practices makes WalMart look like a corner shop and Rupert Murdoch look like a socialist? You won’t guess the answer in a month of Sundays. While there are plenty of candidates, my vote goes not to the banks, the oil companies or the health insurers, but – wait for it – to academic publishers. Theirs might sound like a fusty and insignificant sector. It is anything but. Of all corporate scams, the racket they run is most urgently in need of referral to the competition authorities.

Everyone claims to agree that people should be encouraged to understand science and other academic research. Without current knowledge, we cannot make coherent democratic decisions. But the publishers have slapped a padlock and a Keep Out sign on the gates....

What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning.

 


Lachine Scot
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Joined: Jun 19 2010

Great article! One thing I love about Monbiot is that he never sticks to writing about things from the expected point of view :)


Bacchus
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Joined: Dec 8 2003

1 pound for 24 hour access to the Times? Thats a bargain! Espeically considering how much you would pay for a single copy of the newspaper.

 

The academic stuff should be as reasonable


Catchfire
Offline
Joined: Apr 16 2003

Bacchus wrote:
1 pound for 24 hour access to the Times? Thats a bargain!

It's about a quid and a half too much!


Bacchus
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Joined: Dec 8 2003

LOL Only if you dont like the times. If you do, its a bargain and I would be happy if all publications did that.

 

Its reasonable


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

Cracking Open the Scientific Process

The NY Times wrote:
The New England Journal of Medicine marks its 200th anniversary this year with a timeline celebrating the scientific advances first described in its pages: the stethoscope (1816), the use of ether for anesthesia (1846), and disinfecting hands and instruments before surgery (1867), among others.

For centuries, this is how science has operated - through research done in private, then submitted to science and medical journals to be reviewed by peers and published for the benefit of other researchers and the public at large. But to many scientists, the longevity of that process is nothing to celebrate.

The system is hidebound, expensive and elitist, they say. Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, only "if you're stuck with 17th-century technology."


Catchfire
Offline
Joined: Apr 16 2003

 

Elsevier Backs Down, Removes Support For Research Works Act As Elsevier Boycott Grows

Quote:
While it never got as much attention as the GoDaddy boycott, it appears the growing boycott of academics, refusing to publish papers in any Reed Elsevier journal, has caused the company to back down. It has now announced that it no longer supports the Research Works Act. That's the bill -- for which Elsevier was a major backer -- that would bar the government from requiring open and free access (after a period of time) to government-funded research:

Quote:
While we continue to oppose government mandates in this area, Elsevier is withdrawing support for the Research Work Act itself. We hope this will address some of the concerns expressed and help create a less heated and more productive climate for our ongoing discussions with research funders.

Of course, then it immediately complains about the kinds of mandates that the Act would have disallowed:

Quote:
Cooperation and collaboration are critical because different kinds of journals in different fields have different economics and models. Inflexible mandates that do not take those differences into account and do not involve the publisher in decision making can undermine the peer-reviewed journals that serve an essential purpose in the research community. Therefore, while withdrawing support for the Research Works Act, we will continue to join with those many other nonprofit and commercial publishers and scholarly societies that oppose repeated efforts to extend mandates through legislation.

 

That's pretty ridiculous actually. None of these mandates "undermine" these journals in any way -- unless you consider their insane set up (free writing, free editing, full copyright ownership, and subscriptions that cost tens of thousands of dollars) some sort of divine right. The mandates refer to federally funded research, which should be accessible by the public since they paid for the research in the first place. Elsevier doesn't pay for the research. Hell, they don't even pay the researcher for their paper. Or the peer reviewers for their work. So forgive me for not shedding any tears if Elsevier has to learn to adapt to only being able to have the exclusive rights to a paper for a year. 


Rabble_Incognito
Offline
Joined: Feb 21 2012

Fidel wrote:

Cracking Open the Scientific Process

The NY Times wrote:
The New England Journal of Medicine marks its 200th anniversary this year with a timeline celebrating the scientific advances first described in its pages: the stethoscope (1816), the use of ether for anesthesia (1846), and disinfecting hands and instruments before surgery (1867), among others.

For centuries, this is how science has operated - through research done in private, then submitted to science and medical journals to be reviewed by peers and published for the benefit of other researchers and the public at large. But to many scientists, the longevity of that process is nothing to celebrate.

The system is hidebound, expensive and elitist, they say. Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, only "if you're stuck with 17th-century technology."


'Author networks' will conflict with the objectivity you 'think' you get with blind or peer review - humans are social creatures. When you are asking questions that are small (focused and powerful), the world gets a little smaller, and folks know what other folks are doing in the field from conferences and collegial contact, so often one can surmise whose paper is who by glancing at the references and methodology. Not always, but often enough to cast suspicion on the blind/peer review process and the cost for the product provided.
In the days of Gutenberg contact between scholars was limited to the local area - research took time to travel. Now it can be practically instantaneous - interesting that peer review remains so time consuming - is often unpaid - maybe that's why it takes so long (agreed Catchfire) because we don't 'value' the work. Plus, in the days of print you needed expensive equipment centralized. Now it is relatively affordable and decentralized - maybe we need to decentralize academe more and create 'public' review and 'living' documents. Vive McLuhan! Vive the revolution!

 


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