Paywalls block scientific progress. Research should be open to everyone

Open Access | Scholarly Communication |Academic Journals | Research

To democratise scholarly publishing, individual academics need to take action
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‘It’s a case of either giving broad society access to scientific advances or allowing these breakthroughs to stay locked away for financial gain.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Paywalls, which restrict access to content without a paid subscription, represent a common practice used by academic publishers to block access to scientific research for those who have not paid. This keeps £19.6bn flowing from higher education and science into for-profit publisher bank accounts. My recent documentary, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, uncovered that the largest academic publisher, Elsevier, regularly has a profit margin between 35-40%, which is greater than Google’s. With financial capacity comes power, lobbyists, and the ability to manipulate markets for strategic advantages – things that underfunded universities and libraries in poorer countries do not have.

Furthermore, university librarians are regularly required to sign non-disclosure agreements on their contract-pricing specifics with the largest for-profit publishers. Each contract is tailored specifically to that university based upon a variety of factors: history, endowment, current enrollment. This thwarts any collective discussion around price structures, and gives publishers all the power. Read more…

 

 

 

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Learn to use Legacy RefWorks in Twenty Minutes [tutorial]

Research | Citation tools | Productivity

Published on Oct 18, 2011

 Whether you are new to RefWorks are just need to brush up on the basics, these tutorials will help you learn some basic features to get started using RefWorks

Karen Kashmanian Oates, Ph.D.: The Importance of Basic Research

This is science’s newest Golden Age. Young people today are inspired by generational heroes like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg that were filled in the relative recent past by the likes of Michael Jordan and Mick Jagger. The fact that today’s students can dream of emulating role models who achieved their status using their minds and curiosity is a good thing.

However, there is one significant drawback. The rock star status of today’s scientific celebrities encourages aspiring scientists to focus on the retail possibilities that can result in fast fame and wealth. While understandable, this unwittingly neglects a crucial part of the scientific equation — basic research. Read more…