4 Responses to Scientific knowledge, and the “pay to play” culture

  1. Ruth Seeley says:

    Do you think the RNA Biology initiative (asking scientists to post a Wikipedia summary of their work as well, which I would hope would have links to the full reports) will start a trend that resolve this issue?

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/publish_in_wikipedia_or_perish.php

    Now that you mention it though, I seem to recall having no trouble accessing Master’s and PhD theses in my field (English Lit) on microfiche – at no charge – via even public libraries in Canada in the 80s (and certainly I could get them at no charge on microfiche from my university library). Recently I was confronted with a fee for downloading a PDF of Jason Gorss’s thesis, and balked at paying it. Since there’s rarely any sort of immediate commercial application for any of this stuff, why *do* you think it’s becoming more difficult to access rather than less?

  2. Andrew Maynard says:

    The current state of affairs is driven by the publishers. Their revenue comes from selling journals and papers – essentially selling scientific knowledge. And the tougher the publications market gets, the more loath they are to adapt, rather than dig in.

    But I think that over time the information will “leak out” in new ways. The RNA biology initiative is a good example (although “summaries” need to be quite detailed to be useful). The Nanotechnology Environment, Health and Safety Research Virtual Journal run by the folks at the International Council On Nanotechnology also has aspirations to summarize work in a publicly accessible form ( http://icon.rice.edu/virtualjournal.cfm )

    Andrew

  3. McDawg says:

    See “A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access”
    by Peter Suber http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/brief.htm

  4. Andrew Maynard says:

    Thanks McDawg. Interesting to see Peter Suber’s article was posted four years ago – wonder how much things have improved since then.

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