Academic Paywalls 6 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 6 years ago

After reading this opinion piece I got to thinking about this. If you don't know what they are, these are usually journals and other resources written by accredited professionals maintained by an organization. Fees are charged to subscribe to these databases, presumably to handle the upkeep of the servers and such. Alone it's unlikely you'll get access to these- one will have to get access to them through libraries, institutions of higher learning, or their workplaces.

Prices can range on these databases. Typically multiple subscriptions are taken out, and these take up a considerable portion of library's and university budgets currently, leading them to end their subscriptions to some services out to save money during privatization and public services cuts.

The article made some good points regarding the nature of the subscriptions and how essentially these fees have become exorbitant. As the article says about halfway down:

The publishers claim that they have to charge these fees as a result of the costs of production and distribution, and that they add value (in Springer's words) because they "develop journal brands and maintain and improve the digital infrastructure which has revolutionised scientific communication in the past 15 years". But an analysis by Deutsche Bank reaches different conclusions. "We believe the publisher adds relatively little value to the publishing process … if the process really were as complex, costly and value-added as the publishers protest that it is, 40% margins wouldn't be available." Far from assisting the dissemination of research, the big publishers impede it, as their long turnaround times can delay the release of findings by a year or more.

So I guess that leads to the point of this thread. What are your thoughts on these kinds of paywalls or pay-to-use services in the educational and research fields?




NuclearTurboPopeXVII

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#2 6 years ago

They're the bane of my existence. -_-




Octovon

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#3 6 years ago
NuclearTurboPopeXVII;5597001They're the bane of my existence. -_-

^ I know that feeling all too well.

Several of my professors over the course of my university career have made note of how my school pays a ridiculous amount of money to these journals for subscriptions, and it was interesting to read something about it. I've enjoyed the free access I receive for being a student, but I have also seen how much it costs to access those same files when I am not logged in through the school, and it's ridiculous. I've attempted to access articles from journals my school does not currently subscribe to, and the fees to access just a single article (without getting so much as a decent preview or summary) is just stupid.

In a world where tuition goes up every year and the cost of textbooks and even photocopied course packs also increases, it's not too hard to imagine that someone is trying to squeeze more money out of education. The idea that these almost exclusionary subscription fees in some ways restricts the spread of knowledge and ideas is an interesting theory, and I think it's one that has some credibility. An interesting read, thank you.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#4 6 years ago

I think information should be a fundamental right in our societies, necessary to the integrity of democracy. That enfranchisement is meaningless without it. Consequently I view these paywalls in an extremely negative light. If some fee does prove necessary, then the government should pay it from taxes. Really though it should be nationalised - otherwise the private sector's just going to fuck us on it; as they do pretty much everything else.

I don't believe that much - if any - fee is really necessary. Maintaining the infrastructure necessary for access to that sort of information is hardly the most expensive thing that has ever been done and the huge profits these journals make off it is in large part testament to that fact.

I hated them as a student - when the uni provided access to some journals but not all the ones you'd have liked - I hate them even more now as Joe Public.




Nittany Tiger Forum Mod

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#5 6 years ago

I'm getting an error from that link, MercZ.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#6 6 years ago
Commissar MercZ

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#7 6 years ago
Killer Kyle;5597200I'm getting an error from that link, MercZ.

Yeah, it seems to have stuck the forum's address onto that link. I got that fixed, it's the story nem posted after you.

I've been asked by people before if my university has a subscription to a certain database if I can help them with finding a certain article they need. I've done it myself before. It's amazing though with the sheer amount of databases my university is subscribed to for all our different disciplines that there are still black holes they can't access.

It's a great wealth of information, though. Probably won't have access to any of it anymore once I'm done with university though.

Speaking of this I'm reminded of a news story from back in the summer involving an activist involved with this when he was busted for downloading large amounts of articles from JSTOR, with the intent to eventually torrent them on the web.