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Fri Jan 18, 2013, 11:07 AM

The political consequences of academic paywalls


Academic paywalls unwittingly benefit oppressive regimes - at society's expense.

Last Modified: 18 Jan 2013

The suicide of Aaron Swartz, the activist committed to making scholarly research accessible to everyone, has renewed debate about the ethics of academic publishing. Under the current system, academic research is housed in scholarly databases, which charge as much as $50 per article to those without a university affiliation.

The only people who profit from this system are academic publishers. Scholars receive no money from the sale of their articles, and are marginalized by a public who cannot afford to read their work. Ordinary people are denied access to information and prohibited from engaging in scholarly debate.

Academic paywalls are often presented as a moral or financial issue. How can one justify profiting off unpaid labour while denying the public access to research frequently funded through taxpayer dollars? But paywalls also have broader political consequences. Whether or not an article is accessible affects more than just the author or reader. It affects anyone who could potentially benefit from scholarly insight, information or expertise – that is, everyone.

The impact of the paywall is most significant in places where censorship and propaganda reign. When information is power, the paywall privileges the powerful. Dictatorships are the paywall’s unwitting beneficiary.

in full: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/2013117111237863121.html

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Reply The political consequences of academic paywalls (Original post)
Jefferson23 Jan 2013 OP
JDPriestly Jan 2013 #1
Jefferson23 Jan 2013 #2
fasttense Jan 2013 #3

Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 11:40 AM

1. ALL scholarly research should be available to the public at very, very low cost or, preferably,

at no cost at all.

Many Americans do not have access to the kinds of libraries that subscribe to all the journals out there. This is the information age. If we want educated people to educate themselves still further, we need to make it possible for everyone to get access to the scientific and scholarly information they want.

What good is the internet if gossip and second-hand, unexamined ideas abound but the real thoughtful work of the most intelligent among us is too expensive to access?

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 11:51 AM

2. You'll get no argument from me. Keeping a sizeable population dumb has it's advantages

for some...but a tremendous loss overall for society.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 12:20 PM

3. I have had a real problem accessing academic papers in order to work with mushrooms.

I can't afford the $20 to $50 a paper these pay walls require. But trying to find out if pleurotus pulmonarius or agaricus blazei works well with substrate supplements, grain or wood chip spawn or a combination of the 2, hot water or lime pasteurization and average yields per pound of substrate. I finally gave up on researching agaricus blazei because the most recent studies were too costly. Yes some generic information can be obtain from books (like Paul Stamets) but the precise details I was looking for were buried in studies usually found in academic libraries.

I finally began experimenting on my own with some of my mycelium to see the result. There is nothing like recreating the wheel.

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