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Nature Makes Journals Free (As They Should Be)

Posted by Bob Warfield on December 21, 2008

I often find myself researching obscure topics that lead me to scientific journals, at which point I become frustrated as heck.  Many of them force you to pay inordinate fees to access the article.  I know if I just went to the local university’s library I could track down the article for free, but that would be pain of a different kind, requiring a lot of time.  In the end, I have to read the article to know whether I’d like to pay to read it.  And this is supposedly peer-reviewed scientific research, not something being done for a profit.  It just seems wrong to me.  Perhaps you’ve followed the controversy about newspapers, where the online world is eating their lunch and causing tremendous mayhem in the industry.  It’s about high time for this to happen with scientific journals too.  Thinking back to my college days, I would much rather have been able to access all that knowledge via Google search and online than in paper form in a musty old research section of the school library.  That also eliminates the possibility of other students monopolizing (or worse hiding to shift the curve) key materials needed for graded work.

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Tim O’Reilly forwards Dave Gray’s excellent “Free the Facts” presentation

I was pleasantly surprised to read of a journal that requires the research to go up on Wikipedia before they’ll publish.  In this case its the RNA Biology Journal, which is published by Nature.  Scientists all over should simply insist on their work being published to the web as well as to journals.  And don’t even start with journals needed to charge as much as they do to get it out on print.  Maybe they shouldn’t be trying to get it out on print?

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