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Medicine Education Science

Why Johnny Can't Speak: a Cost of Paywalled Research 189 189

theodp writes "That there's no easy way for her to get timely, affordable access to taxpayer-funded research that could help her patients leaves speech-language pathologist Cortney Grove, well, speechless. 'Cortney's frustration,' writes the EFF's Adi Kamdar, 'is not uncommon. Much of the research that guides health-related progress is funded by taxpayer dollars through government grants, and yet those who need this information most-practitioners and their patients-cannot afford to access it.' She says, 'In my field we are charged with using scientific evidence to make clinical decisions. Unfortunately, the most pertinent evidence is locked up in the world of academic publishing and I cannot access it without paying upwards of $40 an article. My current research project is not centered around one article, but rather a body of work on a given topic. Accessing all the articles I would like to read will cost me nearly a thousand dollars. So, the sad state of affairs is that I may have to wait 7-10 years for someone to read the information, integrate it with their clinical opinions (biases, agendas, and financial motivations) and publish it in a format I can buy on Amazon. By then, how will my clinical knowledge and skills have changed? How will my clients be served in the meantime? What would I do with the first-hand information that I will not be able to do with the processed, commercialized product that emerges from it in a decade?'"
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Why Johnny Can't Speak: a Cost of Paywalled Research

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  • Re:Simple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:36PM (#45249123)
    It's really as easy as that. If the government funds your research, a minimum requirement should be that it's freely available to anyone who wants it regardless of where else it might be published. It's probably incredibly sad, but I think I probably have more pirated research papers than I do music, movies, or other content. I find it surprising that "free open source" hasn't been widely applied to education in the same way that it has software.
  • Re:Simple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:49PM (#45249183)

    Taxpayer-funded research should be accessible by taxpayers.

    Seems publishers would have no problem with that if taxpayers are also prepared to pay the cost of publication.

    One of my clients is a "legacy" academic journal publisher. They actually offer an open access publication option for researchers where researchers can pay the publishing costs and have their article available freely online. It's priced lower than the open access journals, by the way. Seems they don't get many takers, though.

  • by Theleton (1688778) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @05:44AM (#45250089)

    That said, I think she's exaggerating the situation somewhat. I think she should have a talk with a good reference librarian in her field.

    There's another approach as well, though it's probably more for researchers than practitioners: just ask the authors to send you a copy of the article. It's not like they get royalties from the publisher, so they don't care whether you pay or not. They just want to get their research out there. Plus, every researcher who reads it is someone who might cite it, which they do care about.

  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 27, 2013 @06:40AM (#45250213)

    It's probably incredibly sad, but I think I probably have more pirated research papers than I do music, movies, or other content.

    "Back in the day," piracy was the single most common way to distribute scientific research. In fact, I still have three filing cabinets full of articles I xeroxed either from a library or from a fellow researcher. We call it fair use. The modern system is much better - higher quality type and images, fewer dead trees, and no more $0.10/page xerox fees. All NIH funded research is available for free no more than 1 year after publication. see http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4382101&cid=45249551 [slashdot.org]

    Honestly, every time I see one of these "paywalled research is hurting patients" bits on /. I wonder how the submitter, supposedly a health-care expert, has managed to stay ignorant of the 10-year-old requirement for archiving in PubMed Central and the resulting massive trove of free books and journals at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ [nih.gov]

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