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

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
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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  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bondsbw (888959) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:12PM (#45249015)

    Taxpayer-funded research should be accessible by taxpayers.

    • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:32PM (#45249099)

      Taxpayer-funded research should be accessible by taxpayers.

      It is, technically. By technically I mean, it was published once, in a 'free' publication, sent to a few libraries, and thus the public access requirement was met. But since you'll never find it there because it isn't indexed, searchable, or in any way known... it's effectively useless. See, once again our shitty co(r)p-y(a)-right system fucks us; They make it so if you assemble a collection of works together into a database, that now counts as a unique and copyrightable work unto itself. So... although the study is 'free' to the public... the "doesn't have to drive 500 miles to a library in the boon docks and find it on a shelf" convenience is what they charge for access.

      What we need is a 'google' of science/medical studies. Unfortunately our government's archaic and purposefully not updated methods of publication mean that if you want to get a digital copy... you have to contribute the labor to re-digitalization. Of course, you can get a digital copy... for a small additional processing fee. -_-

      • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @12:06AM (#45249255) Journal

        Whether or not taxpayer-funded research should be accissible to the taxpayers for FREE is a matter to be acertained, but the fact is that it is no longer possible for anyone, including the professional researchers, to know where to find the result of the various facet of related research on a given field.

        It is as if we are back to the pre-Internet days.

        Before Internet, it was a Herculean task to find out if there had been a research carried out on any particular subject, simply because there was no one central database.

        When Internet first arrived, the situation was greatly improved - although there were still no centralized database for all research results, at the very least we could search for it online.

        Now ?

        Not only the research papers are hidden behind paywalled, most of them don't even appear on search queries anymore.

        Paywall does not only representing GREED that is retarding the progress of the human society, it is actually STRANGLING the progress of scientific research.

        • by pepty (1976012)

          Not only the research papers are hidden behind paywalled, most of them don't even appear on search queries anymore.

          Could you elaborate a bit more on that? CAS Scifinder and STN (subscription based services) will get me more granular results than Google Scholar, but I find plenty of paywalled results when I use Google Scholar or PubMed. What is being blocked?

        • I completely agree. Two weeks ago I was looking for a paper and had to pay $35 to read it (actually the company paid, but that's not the point). I felt like I'd been hustled. It definitely does not cost $35 to serve a .PDF on the internet.
          • by iserlohn (49556)

            Socializing costs, privatizing profits. That's how money is made in science (and banking and almost everything else) these days.

            • by Rick Zeman (15628)

              Socializing costs, privatizing profits. That's how money is made in science (and banking and almost everything else) these days.

              And sports stadium funding (at least in the US; that's all I know about). In that case though, they socialize the costs and the risk, and privatize the profits.

        • most of them don't even appear on search queries anymore

          I seriously challenge this point, although I'm no more a fan of paywalls than you are. Abstracts are always available and searchable.

        • Actually, no: for general research, there was Readers' guide to periodical literature, and for specific topics (such as particle physics) there were similar catalog-format databases. You buy the database, you get the periodicals, and you use interlibrary loan.

          Information was much freer back then.

      • And if you couldn't charge for the convenience, there would be none.
      • Re:Simple (Score:4, Informative)

        by nbauman (624611) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @01:31AM (#45249495) Homepage Journal

        You know about PubMed, right? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed [nih.gov]

      • Re:Simple (Score:5, Informative)

        by pepty (1976012) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @01:44AM (#45249551)

        By technically I mean, it was published once, in a 'free' publication, sent to a few libraries, and thus the public access requirement was met. But since you'll never find it there because it isn't indexed, searchable, or in any way known... it's effectively useless.

        What???

        The Policy implements Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008) which states: SEC. 218. The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law. The Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH-funded research. It requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/). The Policy requires that these final peer-reviewed manuscripts be accessible to the public on PubMed Central to help advance science and improve human health.

        NIH/ NSF sponsored research published since 2008 is available on Pubmed for free 12 months after it is first published. Most of the rest you can rent from DeepDyve.com for about a buck an article.

        • by richlv (778496)

          so everybody should be able to parse pubmed, download any new articles, archive and serve them for free ?
          or would you get oritzed ?

          • by toppavak (943659)
            Generally yes [nih.gov], although the specific restrictions may vary. From the link (PMC = PubMed Central):

            The PMC Open Access Subset some or all openaccess content is a part of the total collection of articles in PMC. Articles in the PMC Open Access Subset are still protected by copyright, but are made available under a Creative Commons or similar license that generally allows more liberal redistribution and reuse than a traditional copyrighted work. Note, however, that the license terms are not identical for all of the articles in this subset. Please refer to the license statement in each article for specific terms of use. We also provide a search-by-license feature, described below, which enables finding articles with specific reuse rights.

          • by pepty (1976012)

            so everybody should be able to parse pubmed, download any new articles, archive and serve them for free ? or would you get oritzed ?

            NIH grants free access, not a complete copyright waiver, so most articles aren't available for bulk download. You can search by license type for the ones that are.

            But you want to create a free mirror of a free public service? OK, but since the articles are already publicly available and searchable by date, author, words in title, abstract, or text, patent #, pharmacological action, chemical structure, molecular weight, # of hydrogen bond donors/acceptors, DNA/RNA sequence, amino acid sequence, and about

        • by aurizon (122550)

          I would like to see the time period for free access go to zero, as fast as it can by government edict.
          After all, they started at 12 months in 2008 - why not decrease the wait time from 2008 by one month per year = now 7 months to zero.

          That will give journals time to adjust.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        . Of course, you can get a digital copy... for a small additional processing fee. -_-

        And by small... you mean $2.50 a page to be paid to the outsourced digitization provider?

        (Otherwise known as $50 for a 20-page article)

        • How much of such fees go to the authors? 0%. Zero. Nothing. Nada.

          • by mysidia (191772)

            How much of such fees go to the authors? 0%. Zero. Nothing. Nada.

            Of course.... the work is actually free... the $2.50 per page is just a "nominal" service fee charged by the outside provider for the service of providing the searchable digitized archive of the material, and allowing you to print or copy the material.

            By the way, the clerk of court around here does a similar thing with their digitized legal records --- you can view all you want, but as soon as you want to have a copy made, or print out

      • by MrHanky (141717)

        What we need is a 'google' of science/medical studies. Unfortunately our government's archaic and purposefully not updated methods of publication mean that if you want to get a digital copy... you have to contribute the labor to re-digitalization. Of course, you can get a digital copy... for a small additional processing fee. -_-

        LOL, +5 "insightful" is the new +5, ignorant.

      • by Wootery (1087023)

        It is, technically. By technically I mean, it was published once, in a 'free' publication, sent to a few libraries, and thus the public access requirement was met. But since you'll never find it there because it isn't indexed, searchable, or in any way known... it's effectively useless.

        That thing about US government works being public domain, should apply to academia. I don't know much about the rule - where's the line drawn? Do NASA lock up their papers?

    • No. It should be accessible to all.

      Knowledge is like a road, even though taxpayers funded the building of it, tourists from other countries aren't forbidden to drive on it.

      Luckily, there are some hackers out there who understand this, and work hard to unlock journal articles and books so that the whole world can read them.

      • Re:Simple (Score:5, Informative)

        by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @12:14AM (#45249283)

        you mean like adam schwarz? that didn't end well.

        • I don't mean Adam. I mean others who do the same around the world, but stay anonymous and somewhat more hidden.

          There comes a time when the success of the end goal is more important than the rewards from being known as a champion of the cause. Adam thought it was right to be martyred, he thought copying Rosa Parks' method [wikipedia.org] would bring social change. But change doesn't come from a single person. It comes from unavoidable facts on the ground. To make universal knowledge a reality, it is first necessary to hav

          • To make universal knowledge a reality, it is first necessary to have all books and journals available in torrents and file sharing sites everywhere. When we can all download knowledge as easily as the latest hollywood blockbuster, only *then* can the politicians be convinced to change the laws to agree with what people already expect by that time.

            <sarcasm>Yes, because that's exactly what happened with movies and music.</sarcasm>

            And what the hell are "unavoidable facts on the ground". Sounds like you're talking dog shit.

          • While change doesn't necessarily come from one person, a single person making a public stand can be sufficient for others to gain courage to do the same. Even it doesn't, it can be enough to get people talking in public and that is a good thing

          • by ultranova (717540)

            People and politicians have very little imagination. They can't believe a society can flourish with universal knowledge for all. So they have to be shown, first that the world isn't going to be destroyed if knowledge is free, and second that the benefits to society outweigh the benefits to a few corporate leeches of keeping knowledge locked up.

            Politicians don't really care if a society can flourish. They sought power either because they have some kind of ideology they want to ram down everyone's throats, o

          • To make universal knowledge a reality, it is first necessary to have all books and journals available in torrents and file sharing sites everywhere.

            I knew a researcher from a place around Eastern Europe way. He claimed he had access to a university alumni forum where almost any paper could be requested, and an aluimni working at an institution with access would post the request within hours.

            They are light years ahead of us over there.

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        No. It should be accessible to all.

        Knowledge is like a road, even though taxpayers funded the building of it, tourists from other countries aren't forbidden to drive on it.

        Luckily, there are some hackers out there who understand this, and work hard to unlock journal articles and books so that the whole world can read them.

        It's the new "classified for national security" strategy. It's one thing to keep people from profiting for their efforts, but it's another thing from profiting what was already paid for.

    • 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: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]

        • Re: Simple (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There is a lot of research outside of the NIH. Not everything gets published in PubMed.

          Surprisingly the US isn't the only country in the world, and surprisingly the NIH doesn't fund the entire global research. Even more surprising is that other countries not only exist but do their own research. Shocking I know.

    • 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 aepervius (535155)
        "Seems publishers would have no problem with that if taxpayers are also prepared to pay the cost of publication."

        As learned from the traditional book/eBook publisher, the biggest cost of publication is not the printing, it is the correcting, the formating, and the setting in a correct format. *all* of that is handled during the review, or for the format by the maker of the article. They don't even have to provide advance in money tow rite the article, since the article are given for free. The biggest hur
        • by toppavak (943659)
          Which is why it's fairly costly [plos.org] to publish in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) with publication fees ranging from $1,350 to $2,900. Fortunately most grants allow you to use those funds to pay the submission fees and many universities (at least in the US) have programs that can help support the cost as well.
        • by CRCulver (715279)

          As learned from the traditional book/eBook publisher, the biggest cost of publication is not the printing, it is the correcting, the formating, and the setting in a correct format. *all* of that is handled during the review, or for the format by the maker of the article

          Many journal publishers no longer correct and format your article. Rather, they expect you to send camera-ready text so they can just send it straight to the printer, and they do not provide any hands-on editing. For example, if you are a no

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed. Charging the public again for research the public funded is theft, plain and simple. So is patenting publicly funded research (unless there is a perpetual free license for everybody) or keeping it secret.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Then fund science properly. At the moment the half assed public funding of science means that scientists are highly encouraged to patent their work so that their institutions can profit off it to continue operating. Governments encourage it too, because then they have an excuse to cut funding. Most scientists I've met aren't really interested in patenting and the hassles it involves. They'd all love to submit to open access journals too, but the high publication cost is often not covered by grants (alth

  • by TXISDude (1171607) * on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:20PM (#45249049)
    NIH funded research must be put into PubMed Central, the NIH public portal, within 12 months of publishing in a journal.
    • I don't know the NSF's exact rule, but for the last few years every grant proposal has been required to include a Data Dissemination Plan.

    • by nbauman (624611) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @03:02AM (#45249743) Homepage Journal

      That's right. The journal that Cortney Grove gave as an example, Topics in Language Disorders http://journals.lww.com/topicsinlanguagedisorders/pages/default.aspx [lww.com] , does provide free access to papers funded by NIH, Wellcome Trust and Howard Hughes http://journals.lww.com/topicsinlanguagedisorders/_layouts/oaks.journals/nih.aspx [lww.com]

      I feel for her. I've been in the same situation as her and I've made the same arguments. Years ago it was even worse.

      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.

      (I do similar research, not in speech pathology but often in visual pathology, orthopedic handicaps, etc. She may have different needs, but I track down a lot of papers, with varying degrees of success.)

      You might want to have access to 100 journals, but nobody reads 100 journals cover to cover. I read a half dozen core journals every week, and I got access to a good database and a few journals through a couple of professional organizations. The New York Public Library has a few good databases online free to its cardholders, and the EBSCO Academic (or whatever they call it) has some good journals too. Every week or so I come across a journal that isn't included, so I email the author, or ask my friends. It used to be easy to get into an academic library, but now that universities are monetizing, it's getting difficult (but not impossible). The public library has all kinds of arrangements for ordering papers from other libraries.

      I think I know what Grove is doing. She's reading journal articles, looking at 200 footnotes, and she wants to read the ones that look interesting. I've done it myself. It's the sign (or maybe the vice) of a good scholar.

      Just to get an idea of the kind of articles we're talking about, here's one of the free articles in
      http://journals.lww.com/topicsinlanguagedisorders/Fulltext/2013/01000/Morphological_Awareness_Intervention_in_School_Age.4.aspx?WT.mc_id=HPxADx20100319xMP [lww.com]

      But there's a lot of redundancy. I used to collect a dozen articles, read them, and they all seemed to be saying about the same thing. A review article in the New England Journal of Medicine is about the same as a review article in The Lancet. If you've read one, you don't have to read the other (or the other six). If you can't read it in Topics in Language Disorders, you can probably read it in another dozen journals.

      So (since she's not doing research in an academic institution) she probably doesn't need 100 articles. She needs a professor or librarian or somebody to steer her through the literature and give her a half dozen articles that she should read.

      It's also an exaggeration to say that her clients won't get the benefit of the latest research. A practicing clinical speech therapist doesn't have to follow the basic research and theoretical arguments in the academic journals (although it's nice, and it's the sign of a good practitioner). You should be treating people according to consensus statements and guidelines. A lot of the latest stuff turns out to be wrong.

      You should find everything you need for clinical practice in a half a dozen core journals and a few professional meetings. If you want to be up to date, you have to take continuing education -- no way out of it. And the people who give continuing education courses can guide you through the literature.

      But if she takes the current research that seriously, she should have some academic affiliation, which would also give her library access. Admittedly, some charge exorbitant fees. But some universities used to give free library access to their alumnae, and even if they do charge

      • 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.

        • Most conferences and journals that I've sent work to allow the author to put the pre-print on their own web site. These doesn't have spelling corrections or the journal's formatting, but they have all of the content. It always annoys me when academics don't take advantage of this. I'm not sure if it's the same in medicine, but since it's often the same publishers I wouldn't be surprised if it is.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            Most academics don't have the time or knowledge to maintain a web site. But they're happy to send you things when you e-mail and ask. I've gotten a lot of e-mails from people interested in a couple of papers. It's great to see people interested and the contacts have led to some good discussions, let me see my work being applied in completely new ways in very different fields, and even a few improvements that were or will be contributed back to the publicly available code.

            Medical field journals usually do

            • Even when you have to sign over the copyrights, they almost always grant you the right to give out copies to anyone who asks, as long as you only do it on an individual basis, not in bulk. Anyway, that's been true for every journal I've ever published in.

              • by ceoyoyo (59147)

                True. The OP was talking about posting on a web page though. Even if you do sign over copyright the standard practice of most publishers may be to ignore personal web pages, so long as it's not too blatant, but it's not fun to be the one the publishing industry decides to make an example of (cough) Swartz (cough).

      • That's right. The journal that Cortney Grove gave as an example, Topics in Language Disorders http://journals.lww.com/topicsinlanguagedisorders/pages/default.aspx [lww.com] , does provide free access to papers funded by NIH, Wellcome Trust and Howard Hughes http://journals.lww.com/topicsinlanguagedisorders/_layouts/oaks.journals/nih.aspx [lww.com]

        Nope. Doesn't appear to.

        Here's an example paper which I picked at random from the journal : Differentiating Speech Delay From Disorder: Does it Matter? [lww.com]. There's a paywall on the jour

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        In Canada you only have to go to a library and you have access to anything that any library in the country (and some outside it) have. It doesn't have to be a big library either. The library in my home town of 800 people is hooked into the interlibrary loan system and I used it when I was in high school (decades ago) to get papers and books for science fair projects. It takes a little more organization than clicking through papers Wikipedia style, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, and it's the way

  • Corporations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cphilo (768807) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:23PM (#45249061)
    The United States has become a nation of public financing and private profits.
    • I was going to post, without citation, quotes of Andrew Ryan. Then I thought, "That is exactly what the parasite wants of me."

      So I wait, to see which way the wind is blowing, and which side my bread is buttered on.

  • JSTOR an Entitlement For US DoJ's Ortiz & Holder [slashdot.org]: "If Aaron Swartz downloaded JSTOR documents without paying for them, it would presumably be considered a crime by the USDOJ. But if U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz or U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did the same? Rather than a crime, it would be considered their entitlement, a perk of an elite education that's paid for by their alma maters."

  • by tlambert (566799) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:32PM (#45249101)

    I believe the intent... is that all healthcare practitioners do not have private practices, but are instead employed by large healthcare conglomerates like Connecticut Life, United Healthcare, etc., and that those conglomerates have online access to the journals from their networks.

    As long as you do not hang out your own shingle, and remain a wage-slave to a large corporation, you will have no problem accessing the necessary publications.

    • by fermion (181285)
      This is certainly hyperbole. Conglomerates are not the only ones with libraries. Many doctors are affiliated with universities which also have libraries.They could hire a student part time with the explicit intent of raiding the library. When I was a student I would do this. In most cases if a library does not have the article, ILL will get it.

      In any case the example used in the submission is silly. The speech pathologists is complaining that the articles to do the job costs $1000. I make less than

      • by tlambert (566799)

        In any case the example used in the submission is silly. The speech pathologists is complaining that the articles to do the job costs $1000. I make less than a speech pathologist and I easily spend $1000 a year making sure that I am up to date so that I can keep my job. It is like a few percent of my income. Expenses have to be put in context. If you are billing $100 a patient to medicare, and seeing 10-15 patients a day, it is out of line to expect some of that to be used for professional development?

        Depends. What if she only wants to access articles which are applicable to her private practice, and which don't suck? If the article, which she can't read until she pays for it, fails to meet either of those criteria, does she get a refund?

        Preprint federally funded research should be available online for little or not cost.

        No cost; the cost has already been borne by the tax paying public who paid for the research; what's happening with these journals is that the researcher is double-dipping: once at the public trough, and a second time at the journal trough.

        But an alleged professional whining that they get charged for a valuable product when they charge large amounts for their services, that is just silly.

        As is calling publicly funded

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:54PM (#45249213) Journal

    Nothing yet. I ended up emailing a professor of mine from school, and I'm waiting to hear back from her, while at the same time asking her, "Is there a more reasonable way for me to do this?"

    Some people told me to go to the local medical school library and download the articles from there. I don't know if it's feasible for me to go to a library of a school I don't go to! And at the moment, I don't really know any students who I could ask.

    That should have been the entire article right there.

    Almost all specialty libraries I've heard of offer visitor access or special (paid) access to professionals in affiliated fields.
    It sounds like this Doctor didn't put a lot of effort into trying to find a way around the pay wall.

    I just checked the websites of Medical School libraries in my State and neighboring States,
    they almost all have a way for people unaffiliated with the school to gain onsite access.
    /Though one requires an annual membership and charges extortionist prices for photocopying articles.

    • Re:Libraries (Score:5, Informative)

      by nbauman (624611) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @03:32AM (#45249805) Homepage Journal

      That should have been the entire article right there.

      Almost all specialty libraries I've heard of offer visitor access or special (paid) access to professionals in affiliated fields.
      It sounds like this Doctor didn't put a lot of effort into trying to find a way around the pay wall.

      I just checked the websites of Medical School libraries in my State and neighboring States,
      they almost all have a way for people unaffiliated with the school to gain onsite access. /Though one requires an annual membership and charges extortionist prices for photocopying articles.

      I've been through that in New York City. Most of the medical school libraries in Manhattan don't allow public access. One of them offered to let me use their library for about $2,000 a year. It's a real problem.

      If you actually tried to do it, rather than just looking at their web site, I think you'd find it was difficult to impossible. Unless you happened to find a small friendly library that had everything you needed.

  • If you don't like the fact that the current journals charge the rates that they do you have to take your research to a new journal that doesn't. When enough people do this the present journals will change their policies or be left out of the market.

    Right now your trying to be the tail that wagged the dog. Stop being the tail and start realizing that there are far more academics than journals and organize a new journal. With the Internet it is absurdly easy to communicate with like kind peers and set up a self publishing site for very little money.

    At some point you have to realize that the journals need the academics more than the academics need the journals. A small number of professional journals are holding up millions of academics. Stop being the tail, start being the dog.

    • by paiute (550198) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @12:15AM (#45249289)

      If you don't like the fact that the current journals charge the rates that they do you have to take your research to a new journal that doesn't.

      What is the incentive for me to do this if I am an academic who is trying to get tenure or move to a better position at another university or compete for grants? The major ammunition in the CV of anyone trying to do these things is publications in big name journals.

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        That attitude is why the journals continue to extort large amounts of money. Until academics are willing to put common sense ahead of prestige the problem will continue.

        • Who makes the hiring decisions? If it's other academics who also feel the same way about the paid journals.... there's your problem.

  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @01:44AM (#45249549)
    It's been my experience that access to non-US journals may not be so restricted. I've found relevant articles in UK journals for instance that aren't paywalled when the equivalent US journals were. Not all countries or scientific organizations are as greedy as they often seem to be in the U S. Unfortunately, you may have to find a translator or wing it with translation software if it's not an english-language source, but at least there are a few alternatives out there. And if you're a scientist in the US, you may be able to submit your papers to non-paywalled sources, possibly in addition to the paywalled ones, or host the papers on your own website, etc., making them more accessible. Paywalled sources are not the only game out there, you may just have to dig a little more.
    • by nashv (1479253)

      Firstly, this is not a US-specific problem. Elsevier for example, is Dutch, while the Nature publishing group is UK-based.

      Secondly, the problem is not inability to publish in non-paywalled sources like hosting your own website. The problem is that in order to obtain significant recognition of your work even in a narrow field, the journal makes a huge difference. This is why journals such as Nature, Science, and Cell have impact factors in the mid-30s.

      Despite the discussion here , every academic knows these

  • Most of the material I need to look up is fairly recent and therefore available via preprint archives. Also it is fairly easy to contact authors directly to ask questions, and have colleagues in parts of the world with access to the paid stuff. Basically Springer and their ilk are very much on the wrong side of history. They're dead in the water and all their activity from now on is basically trying to die, not with dignity, but with disgrace, leeching off as much money as can be had before the inevitable d
  • go to a library, or look up the articles and e-Mail the authors for reprints.

  • by dstates (629350) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @06:53AM (#45250269) Homepage

    The proprietary publishers have established an elaborate co-dependency relationship with academics. Academics depend on journal editorships and citations for promotion. Editors get many perks and prestige as a result of being an editor, but the selection of who becomes the editor is up to the publisher. Reviewers get pre-publication access to results. Yes, the reviewers are supposed to hold the information in confidence, but does pre-publication access help them in thinking about which directions to take in their own work? Absolutely. An extensive web of co-dependence has evolved between the proprietary publishers and the academic community.

    Academics generally do not receive royalties from journal articles, but they do from book publications. Who publishes those books? The same publishers that publish the proprietary journals. Who selects which authors will be invited to publish books? The publishers.

    Elite institutions and large university systems negotiate discounted and preferred subscription agreements giving their researchers free access to a wide range of journals, which in turn makes it more attractive for academic "stars" to go to those institutions. The faculty at those schools benefit from these favorable access agreements. Are we surprised that University of California faculty voted against open access?

    It is also not just speech and language research. The majority of work in fields like cancer research is also published in paywalled journals. Cancer patients may not be able to wait a year before articles appear in open access archives.

    The vast majority of academic work is supported by public funding, and charitable foundations support most of what is not government supported. High time to require open access. The academics are not going to do it themselves.

  • Why should this be different than any other medical research. The US medical system is built on companies, hospitals, etc., profiting on people being sick. Why would research and research publications be any different?

    If you want this to change, you need to change the system. It is possible for healthcare to serve the common good instead of the shareholder and still return a yield on investment. It did exactly that until the 1980s.

  • All other posts so far seem to focus on the obvious, i.e. journals are pay-walled, too expensive, researchers/reviewers do all the work, etc, but why is nobody looking for a (legal) solution to the problem? In fact, there is a solution which is really simple and will leave all parties satisfied.

    Researchers do some research and want it published. They want to publish it in a known and respected journal. Let's say the journal is owned by Elsevier, because I know for a fact that my solution will work with this

  • by umafuckit (2980809) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @09:42AM (#45250795)
    I work in academia so I have access to most of the journals I need but not all. When I hit a paywall, I either Google for the PDF (a lot of authors chuck their papers on the web somewhere even if it's "illegal") or I e-mail the authors. Many papers are available free with a year delay. I've never, ever, had to pay at the wall to get a paper I needed. I know the scientific article situation is bad in many ways, but you don't have to wait multiple years for access: use your brain and get it some other way.
  • First, I agree with the premise of the FP. Any publicly funded research should come with an absolutely unavoidable requirement to publish in a form open to everyone for free. I have no problem with dual-publishing, for example in both JAMA and PLoS Medicine - Though in that case, JAMA does have a problem with it and would refuse the submission - But people absolutely must have some way to get at your publicly funded research for free.

    But more seriously, aside from the "public funding" angle of this, how

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