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Last week we asked you what you think of Facebook’s new Graph Search What Do You Think Of Facebook’s New Graph Search? [MakeUseOf Poll] What Do You Think Of Facebook’s New Graph Search? [MakeUseOf Poll] Introduced two weeks ago, Facebook’s new Graph Search has by now reached many user profiles. If you’ve seen a notification about it and enabled it, you’ve noticed that the entire top bar of your Facebook... Read More . Unfortunately for Facebook, not many people seem to like it. On the other hand, many users haven’t even tried it yet, so there is some hope.

Out of 116 votes in total, the breakdown was as follows: only 5% said they love Facebook’s Search Graph, 15% think it’s pretty cool, another 15% don’t see anything too special about it, 22% just flat out don’t like it, and a full 43% haven’t enabled or tried it yet. This large number might be due to the fact that Search Graph is not yet available for all accounts, and even when it is, it is optional.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

Don’t forget to check out last week’s best comment by Ashwin Ramesh What Do You Think Of Facebook’s New Graph Search? [MakeUseOf Poll] What Do You Think Of Facebook’s New Graph Search? [MakeUseOf Poll] Introduced two weeks ago, Facebook’s new Graph Search has by now reached many user profiles. If you’ve seen a notification about it and enabled it, you’ve noticed that the entire top bar of your Facebook... Read More , who won 150 reward points for his helpful contribution!

This week’s poll question is: Should Academic Articles Be Free Online?

Want to make some extra MakeUseOf reward points? The most useful comment on the poll will be awarded 150 points!

Almost a month ago, a notable tech figure took his own life following a federal arrest. Aaron Swartz was behind things we’ve all heard of like RSS and Reddit, and believed academic journal articles should be free for all. He downloaded thousands of articles using his university log in, and was arrested and charged for it. Now that the dust on this case has settled somewhat, it’s time to take a look at this question again: should government-funded research articles be free for all online? Or does it make sense for them to be paid? While some of you probably never had any use for articles, this is an important question that may affect more than academia. Where do you stand in this matter?

The poll only has three options, but you’re more than welcome to share your opinions on this subject in the comments. Why did you vote like you did?

  1. Natalie
    January 20, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    'Open Knowledge' is the way forward. The most effective way is for all journal articles to be made available using a method similar to wikipedia, via donations to help run the site, so that each can contribute according to their means. This need not be one site, but many following the same model, this doesn't matter. And there is absolutely no need for governments to either fund or in any way restrict knowledge on these sites. Knowledge should not belong to governments. It is not especially more expensive or difficult to do this than setting up any other kind of website. Making knowledge free for all makes sense both ethically, and socially, as it may lead to greater innovation.

  2. Debkumar Bhadra
    February 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I vote for freeing academic articles because that way we can help spread knowledge to every strata of the society and ultimately help education in real sense.

  3. Some Psychologist
    February 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    As a student there is a lot of readily available resources to browse, download as PDF and use to supplement my own endevours. However this is provided by my educational establishment and one is still required to 'log in' in order to have access.
    Although this one log in provides access to multiple databases, the thought still comes to mind: what is stopping all research being stored on one international database?
    Obviously with the excursion of secure government projects, this would provide a superior platform for everyone involved - more so if the database was interwoven with a social network or forum.
    From this users could review the research as it was published, the researchers get noticed and everyone can search for their relevant topic in order to receive all the research.
    In answer to the poll, yes, understandably printed journals must make a revenue. But with a format such as this i personally feel this needs to be a future step. After all, you can't exactly say a social network has never overturned a profound revenue ;)

  4. kuldeep
    February 15, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Research is expensive and beneficial for the whole mankind. Therefore cost should be given by society in the form of taxes.

  5. Richard Otoo
    February 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    knowledge loses relevance when there is no money involved in it's acquisition however i strongly believe that it should be made readily available to desirous persons with little or no money

  6. Heini Pulkkinen
    February 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

    People have already paid them if they are government-funded, so why should pay more? I think that education should be free anytime&anywhere.

  7. Heini Pulkkinen
    February 14, 2013 at 7:34 am

    If academic articles are government-funded, it sounds to me that people have already paid them.
    I think that writers wants people to read them and education should never cost anything.

  8. Guy McDowell
    February 14, 2013 at 4:31 am

    I voted 'Not Sure' and here's why. I bet you're dying to know why.

    Some academic research is entirely funded by private industry to help them solve a problem or meet a need in the business place. Therefore, any discoveries as a result of this research has already been paid for by the corporate sponsor, who will, in turn, try to monetize the results to gain back their research investment and a profit. So, no, that shouldn't be free.

    Some academic research is funded with tax dollars as defence research. The results of that research can have a direct impact on the day to day lives of the citizenry should it get into the wrong hands. So, no...that shouldn't be free.

    Some academic research is funded by public institutions such as universities, colleges and think-tanks.These institutions receive public funds to support the research and I believe the results of that research is the property of the public.

    Does that help qualify my vote of 'Not Sure'?

    • Tina Sieber
      February 14, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Totally does for me. And I agree on all accounts.

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      I generally agree, but your comment opens another can of worms: should businesses and companies really fund scientific researches? Are these published papers really impartial, or do they tend to have an outcome that supports whatever it is the company wanted to find? It's a really sketchy area, and while some important discoveries have been made in this way, I feel that there are many, many problems arising from this business-science relationship, especially when it comes to pharma.

      But I guess this is a different topic altogether. :)

  9. Claire Curtis
    February 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Scholars who are associated with a University have pretty much always had free access to journals, through the University library or an institutional subscription. In effect, the funding model was one of universities contributing to a pool of academic resources.

    This subscription model worked well for print journals, and had the advantage of being able to accommodate corporate subscribers, who were assumed to have deep pockets. But now we have a different world. Individuals, who were aberrations in the old model, are now major consumers of the data. Production overhead - the editorial process - remains the same, but the marginal cost of one individual downloading one article is negligible.

    We need a new funding model.

    As many have already pointed out, subscription dollars do not go to research or researchers. Quite the contrary, the editorial and review process is a separate expense that is often added to a grant proposal. But reviewers are usually not paid; they volunteer as part of their commitment to academia. Because of the charge-per-article shift, there has been some talk of reviewers demanding pay, but that is still mostly seen as something that would create bias in the peer-review system.

    What could we do? I don't know. I do feel that charging to download articles is a poor practice; it subverts the basic concepts that academia is based upon, and introduces bias into the review and editorial system. Editors would eventually be pressured into only publishing articles that make money. By the same token, advertising is not the answer.

    We need a system that recreates the original concept of an academic pool with which to make research results freely available. Brainstorms, anyone?

  10. Jeremy Garnett
    February 12, 2013 at 7:39 am

    This is a loaded question, on par with 'should we pay tax'. It's never that simple. The livelihoods, and research, of the academic can depend on how many papers they can publish, and who those papers are published with. The research can be on-sold and, therefore, can generate further funding for a continuation of studies, equipment, or merely their employment.

    Though certain universities and other organisations are questioning the validity of having pay-for-view research, and may be creating alternatives, the structure of the research industry still depends on that very same system. Even the creation of an alternative can cost money, and may have drastic consequences on the future reputation and, therefore, employment of the academic.

    br />In addition, journals play an important role in the distribution and marketing of a higher quality of research. There can be many studies, and even more results, but without knowing which to rely on, future research is impinged upon, and progress may stall. Across the board, this may not make much of an impact, but in, say, the field of AIDS prevention and treatment, such an event would have a drastic effect on not only 'the taxpayer' but on people all around the world for generations to come.

    These days academic achievement is a world-wide contest, confused from within by economic, political, and sometimes, personal factors. For one study there may be five competing teams, all influenced by their own goals or backers. Journals not only are likely to have the better quality work, they also such as myself to easily index the numerous studies and compare them against one-another. Without the service the journals' provide, I may have a couple of pdf's from local sources, not know of another study, and not be able to get hold of the remaining two.Not only is it easier to find out the political standpoint of a journal, than of a single paper; the existence of numerous journals allows for a standard of quality to be found, between journals, and therefore, between papers.

    Personally, I would prefer to pay for end result and for the possibility of future developments, whilst knowing the standard at which the work can be held; than for numerous bundles of papers, some of which may be sub-standard or biased. I would also prefer to pay higher tax rates, knowing first-hand that the roads would be paved and signposted, then to remove tax and have a confusing mess of wheel-ruts with no direction in sight. I voted no.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      You are adding fair points, Jeremy. So how did you vote?

      While I do agree that the peer-review is necessary and that the journals have their place in exactly the way you describe, there still is an issue with the information not being openly accessibly to everyone. Yes, the good and necessary work needs to be paid for. But the information should be free.

      Free access to information also ensures fair competition between research groups, by the way. I used to work at an institute where we did not have access to all journals. This was in issue, especially when writing our own publications. We had to ask colleagues from other institutes to share papers with us.

      Now this opens a whole other discussion: should there be competition in research? I think some competition is healthy, but working on exactly the same questions and competing for being published first should be discouraged. It's an insane waste of resources. Instead, cooperation should be encouraged.

      Cooperation actually is a requirement for many grants. But it should go much farther. It should not matter who is the first or last author on a paper, for example. There should be much finer ways to determine and reward the contribution to a publication.

  11. Gregori Gualdron
    February 12, 2013 at 3:48 am

    The problem with free knowledge, is that it has become a very lucrative industry. There should be an agreement between students and the Universities, in which one could decide if knoledge that I create can be shared with the world.

  12. Kimberley Matthews
    February 12, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Ah yes! Follow the money.

    I think we all agree that the Internet was designed first as a way for academics to freely share information and that it should keep that basis. Those demanding that they should be paid should be responsible for collecting that money. I suggest start advertising first so that all the people looking for money can work it out amongst themselves. It's bad enough that authors are giving their product away for free, to charge them to do this is absurd.

    Now as to peer review - why not mark an article as preliminary until properly reviewed and signed off by the appropriate reviewer(s) and then mark as finalized when reviewed? I suspect that others interested in the topic will be more than willing to add their comments, questions and suggestions until and even after the work is reviewed.

    Let's face it, the amount of space an article takes up on a server is negligable and an internet server costs relatively little to run, so the amount required to host these services is quite small. Advertising, or preferably non-related sponsorship, could surely cover these expenses. How hard can this be? Talk about using cloud computing effectively! C'mon Cisco, Microsoft, HP. Step up and provide some space! It's a tax write-off!

  13. Yang Yang Li
    February 11, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    The worst part of paying for scholarly articles is when it's your article you're paying to see!

  14. Jerome Gelb
    February 11, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    The vast bulk of journal revenue comes from advertising & institutional sales, both to libraries & to academic departments. Institutional subscriptions cost thousands of dollars per subscription but that affords access to students & academics who cannot pay $35 per published paper to stay current in their fields. The reason why all papers should be free to at least read, is that recently in increased scrutiny of published, peer-reviewed research has revealed far more research fraud & misconduct, than ever suspected. Rigged results, faked references, non-independent or false peer-reviewers, competing conflicts of interest, are rife & the detection of misconduct attracts very little funding or interest. High impact factor journals attract more misconduct & fraud due to their power & prestige & like Universities, engage in reputation management in policing fraud & misconduct. Open source publishing is spreading exponentially but along with rapid growth has come the familiar reputation management & reluctance to discuss, let alone retract, flawed publications. Peer reviewers, journal editors & readers never get to examine de-identified raw data & experts believe that this has led to a false sense of security that it's only "a few bad apples" who eventually get found out anyway. Nothing could be further from the truth! Behind the scenes, lies a bloody battleground, as researchers clamour to be published at all costs......including at the cost of publishing fakery. The establishment of toothless research integrity organisations has had almost no effect on the publication of false or misleading research as once again, raw data remains hidden. Change is happening BUT requires the use of several lines of attack in order that we can trust the veracity of what we read. Mandatory deposit of all Raw Data into freely accessible data repositories is essential & has already begun to be implemented in some areas. When peer reviewers cannot get to see & scrutinise raw data, their conclusions must be suspect & incomplete. Moves are afoot in several locations to legislate to include research fraud & misconduct under the criminal code, with appropriate criminal code penalties, just like those for fraud in other arenas of life. Far too much published research isn't worth the paper it's written on and therefore should definitely not have to be purchased to read. On the contrary, being published should be seen as a privilege, an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to one's field & to humanity. Proper, commercially independent funding of research & researchers should be seen by governments & communities as a crucial investment in future security & prosperity & rather than allowing its corruption by ego, avarice & the almighty dollar, ethical, honestly produced & published research, should be treated as a precious community asset for all to access, enjoy, learn & benefit from.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 12, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      I have seen some of what you describe and could not have summarized the situation any better. Kudos, Jerome!

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Like Tina said, I could not have said it better myself. Very important subject that seems to be largely ignored in the scientific community. Great comment, Jerome!

  15. Paul I
    February 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    This, as with many of this type of issue, is not entirely black or white. I actually voted yes but I also believe that there are some things that are researched under the Government funded umbrella that should not be made public. I do not want to detract from this with a discussion about what that may be or who would police it but I still firmly believe that not everything should be made public. Yes wide open to abuse I agree.

    There is the, perfectly valid, school of thought that if any research is publicly funded it rightfully belongs to us tax payers anyway but never the less some things are better kept out of the public domain. Who has the right to decide what is public and what is not, I do not propose to have an answer to.

    My vote still stands. I do firmly believe that academic articles should be free and available but with reservation.

  16. Damon
    February 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    First it's not free the government is paid by our taxes, so we already paid for it and yes it should be available!

  17. John Monaghan
    February 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Academic knowledge should be free and accessible on the internet. Academics should not be limited when it comes to a free exchange of knowledge as learning comes when you are challenged. In traditional academics, the exchange of information was frequently limited by geography. Our learning centers are now global; educators, students, researchers are now free to reach out to a wider audience. Putting limits on how we reach out is detrimental to growth and this 'challenge'. the fact that the material is already posted internally and not shared to the wider audience is wrong; a severe restriction that needs to be removed.

  18. Fritz Goebel
    February 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Knowledge is not nor should be exclusive. One does not pay royalties to the first person who figured out 2 + 2 = 4.

  19. Dee Wheat
    February 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I think for the most part they should be freely accessible. There is the odd study regarding military developments or things that could be reasonably expected to negatively impact national security that should remain inaccessible but those generally aren't available on open servers anyway.

    Now, more than ever, a person's intelligence level is not accurately reflected by their educational or financial levels and the fact that they cannot afford to buy access in no way reflects their ability to process the information they access. There's a whole new paradigm that the academic world simply has not adjusted to, partly because so many in that world have worked so hard, both in the classroom and outside it, are clinging tightly to the "If you want the better things in life, go to college" philosophy because that's how THEY acquired the knowledge and the access they enjoy.

  20. Antriksh Yadav
    February 11, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    ~93% = Yes.

    What kind of response were you expecting?

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Something like this. :) But I thought it would make for an interesting discussion, which it definitely did.

  21. David Cassenti
    February 11, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I think that, when the research is government funded, that is our taxpayer money at work. In that case, the results should be accessible to the public. When the research is privately funded, it should be up to the group funding the research.

    I think the problem is that many scientific journals charge money for access, and so they view the articles as their material and they feel they should be able to charge for it. THAT is the problem - money hungry companies that take the research and control its publication.

  22. Victor Ong
    February 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Research papers should be free. That's that. Research papers are written as a REQUIREMENT by scientists who receive GRANTS to perform their research. With the amount of money given to them already, they should put out their articles for free; like they were being paid to do so (which they practically are). Information needs to be free to the public, especially after scientists have practically been PAID to perform this research.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      As I stated above Victor, it's not that easy. Scientists are not the ones who charge for their work, it's the journals in which they must publish if they want more grant money. Simply publishing the data on the university website doesn't earn them any credibility and hence won't help them apply for future funding.

      • Victor Ong
        February 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm

        In that case, they still SHOULD be free. The journals don't have to charge money to view a scientific report. There are MANY reputable sites which run ads and are sustaining themselves just fine. No matter the case, journals NEED NOT require money.

  23. android underground
    February 11, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    There are plenty of open access journals out there and some of them have pretty sexy impact factors. PLoS Biology and PNAS are some examples, and these type of journals breed like rabbits. The number of paid journals that open up their content for free 6 months after publication is increasing as well. Six months is like eternity for scientist, but it's not an issue for those who want to see wat science is doing with your tax euros. And then there are all the preprint servers where you can get new papers before they get published by the journals themselves if you don't mind reading things before the spelling errors got zapped.

    Some scientific mafia famiglias kick and scream and behave like it's still 1991, of course. Elsevier is the biggest of 'em, and all scientists looking for a place to publish should avoid their journals like the plague.

    Almost all scientists I know (myself included) wipe their behinds with the small print of the commercial journals and post their published work on their personal websites, so If you bump into a paywall you can often google to a free copy.

    Or pop into your local university library where you can download almost all online science for free.

    If all else fails you can always shoot a mail to the authors themselves. Just avoid the corresponding authors (the last names on the list, usually old professors with no time for anything). Send your mails straight to the first and second authors. These are almost always PhD students and postdocs. Most of them are so happy that someone wants to read their stuff that they'll send you a PDF, even if they have to scan the hardcopy by hand first.

    Paying to read scientific literature is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Sell your Elsevier stock while you can.

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Great comment, and very true. Were someone to send me an email asking to read my only published paper, I would be so happy I would send them a copy in a heartbeat. :)

  24. John in Georgia
    February 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I voted yes, and I do believe in the unfettered access to knowledge. But we live in a Capitalist society and there are costs involved in the production and dissemination of knowledge.

    It is expensive to produce and house academic work. Journals have editorial and production staff that must be paid, even if hard copy production costs are not considered. The pay-to-publish models charge the authors up to $1,500.

    In addition, most professional societies that I have ever been a member of (e.g., Organization of American Historians, Society for American Archaeology, 19th Century Studies Association, etc.) rely on their journals as the greatest inducement to membership and, accordingly, dues revenues.

    I could publish in some new online Internet journal, but why would I want to. My effort is about the same regardless of venue. How will interested readers find it?
    My "reward" in readership and influence impact among my peers is much lower. At least in the humanities and social sciences, on-line publication does not have the weight of the traditional journals of record when tenure or promotion decisions are made.

    Who will guarantee that my work will still be there and accessible five years later? I've had conference papers posted on the web by the organizer vanish when the organizer moved on to a different university.

    Should you have to spend $50 or $100 to read one or two articles, Certainly not,But there needs to be a fair and reasonable way to recover costs.

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      I agree that there costs, but the system as it is now is not set up to help journals pay for the costs, but it based on something archaic. Many journals operate and behave as if they're still huge printed journals, when in fact a lot of the readership comes from their website.

      People need to be paid for their work, that's a given, but I think the whole system needs a close scrutiny and a change.

  25. Scott Macmillan
    February 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    "Something few people realize is that many closed-access journals charge authors, i.e. researchers to have their work published. So the taxpayer pays twice: first for the research and second for the results to be published."
    That is a terrible way for the system to run.There is a need for new standards to be set if the Journals are receiving tax dollars to publish information.

  26. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    February 11, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I feel sad for Aaron. It's sad not to. He's a brilliant mind and I agree wholeheartedly with his actions. It's not infringing any copyright, and by doing so he had aided many curious minds that would hopefully make use of the knowledge.
    Why should the journals ban people from getting the articles freely? If they're afraid people would no longer search for the journals, they're paranoid. If anything, by participating into free knowledge act, they might garner more sympathy and gain more donation for that.

  27. Nikhil Pandey
    February 11, 2013 at 3:37 am

    Yea the academic articles should be online.

  28. juan david gil
    February 11, 2013 at 2:34 am

    wheres the "for the love of god, knowledge and civilization YES" option?

  29. Efi Dreyshner
    February 11, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Not once and not twice, I paid almost 35$ just to get a few research and articles.

  30. Rajaa Chowdhury
    February 11, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I certainly voted "YES" here. However, the question needs to be re-framed as to are the free online academic articles being really utilized. There is no dearth of awesome academic articles in every subject available free of cost for every section of the student community from biggies like Apple and Google, but somehow the visibility seems a bit low on these resources. Lot many people must have heard of of the free iTunesU initiative of Apple, which is one of the greatest and biggest free academic portal from Apple. However, people are of the notion, that you need to own an Apple device, to access the same. It is absolutely not true. Any Windows desktop or laptop user can also utilize this vast resource, totally free of cost. You just need to install the free iTunes software and create a free Apple ID from and you are good to go. Another great resource is by Google through their YouTube Education portal. It is again free, by it seems hardly people are aware of the same. The url is and then by the list-down, we can narrow down the search to K-12, University, lifelong, then subjects and to sub-subjects. So the prime question is not should the online academic articles be free, rather the question should be are we utilizing to the optimum, the free academic articles that already exist.

    • Yaara Lancet
      February 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      You raise an important issue, but I'm not sure if it's the one of utilizing free research, but one of why people would rather pay for journals than use what's already free.

      This is all due to the system mentioned in previous comments, where researchers rely on the journal's reputation, and the entire academia, in fact, relies on the system that's already built. Free research is available, of course, but no serious University researcher will rely on such a research in his government-funded work, or they might lose the funding. The system relies so heavily on itself, it's going to take something big to change it, and that something could be having all online journals go free.

  31. Akhil Kumar
    February 11, 2013 at 12:45 am

    I am not sure if this is right but, why are the researchers paying to get their work published? A website can be created where this can be published and the interested party can read it.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 11, 2013 at 7:06 am

      Yeah. It's a lot better than paying for the closed journals.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 11, 2013 at 8:58 am


      Researchers depend on funding. To get funding, they must show that their previous work was considered good enough to be published in a journal. There are Journals for almost every research topic, but more importantly, different journals have different impact.

      High impact means that work published in this journal is generally cited by a lot of people. It's called impact factor. The higher the impact factor, the better. Journals want to maintain a high impact factor, so they pick work that has the chance to be cited a lot. This is where the peer-review process comes in. Other researchers from the field make sure the research is of high quality etc.

      Researchers obviously want to be published in high impact factor journals, to show their work is of high quality, which guarantees future funding.

      If you publish your data on a website, there is no peer-review process, your impact factor is zero, and your work won't be cited.

      However, there are open access journals that make anything published available to the public for free. They do have a peer-review process (this is a must), but typically they have low impact factors, so it's not very attractive for researchers to publish in these journals.

  32. Rose Fisher
    February 10, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”
    ? James Madison

  33. Jack Schiff
    February 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm
  34. Tina Sieber
    February 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    I don't see any reason why people should be charged to view the results of government-funded research.

    Something few people realize is that many closed-access journals charge authors, i.e. researchers to have their work published. So the taxpayer pays twice: first for the research and second for the results to be published.

    Here is an overview of scientific journals that charge authors:

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 11, 2013 at 7:05 am

      What? I can't believe it! It's absurd that they should pay to get their research (which might be beneficial to many people) to be published. The journals should be honored to publish great works. Thank you for that article.

      • Tina Sieber
        February 11, 2013 at 8:49 am

        Yes, it's absurd, but very common.

        It's very difficult to get scientific work published. There seems to be more results from research than journal space. Especially the high impact journals (journals that publish work that gets cited a lot) can pick and choose the best and even charge authors.

        Moreover, there is huge competition between researchers for who publishes their work first. Many teams work on literally the same topics (huge waste of resources I think). And to guarantee that only quality research gets published, i.e. research that was well done, results that are new and have not been published before, and generally make sense, there is a peer-review process funded by journals. Now, the people who do the peer-review, are typically researchers themselves. Guess what happens if someone wants to publish something they are working on themselves... Also, researchers often accept editorial positions to get a publishing slot, i.e. they can publish easily in that journal without a complicated peer review process.

        This just brings home the point that researchers will do almost anything to get published. Paying for the print costs really isn't that big a deal once your paper finally got accepted after years of work, tons of failed experiments, and convincing someone that your results are worthwhile, i.e. surviving the competition.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          February 11, 2013 at 11:59 am

          Nice explanation. Life sure is hard for everyone, eh? It's kind of scary that someone who works together with you today might be your greatest competitors tomorrow. Not that anyone's at fault with today's system.
          As someone above has pointed out, why not building your own website to publish said research or distribute it via open library?

        • Guille Sainz
          February 11, 2013 at 7:18 pm

          All the more reason to make the results public - ideally, without the peer-review. Instead of competitions, academia should be promoting cooperation and trying to reduce repetitive endeavours. If the information was made readily available, everyone would benefit from the work already done, that perhaps is relatively unknown, and dedicate their energies towards furthering the common good and well-being, which is what it's supposedly all about- not the funding and the fame.

        • Tina Sieber
          February 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm

          While I do think the peer-review process is necessary, I couldn't agree more with everything else you say. The desire for power and fame really gets in the way a little too much.

        • William Henley
          February 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm

          Tina- I mean the peer-review as a prerequisite to publication, by widening the "peer-pool", the reviews would be more universal and more constructive.

        • Claire Curtis
          February 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm

          You can't eliminate peer-review. That is the single most important thing that makes an an academic journal different from a magazine.
          However, choice of reviewers is important; reviewers need to be in the same field, but if they are working on too similar a project, they should recuse themselves from the pool of reviewers. The editor is responsible for selecting appropriate reviewers.

  35. Michael Teague
    February 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Any research that is government funded should be readily available to those people who ultimately paid for it. The taxpayer has an ultimate right to see what his/her tax dollars pay for. If researchers do not want to provide this information free of charge then they should find their own funding source.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm


      I think there is a slight misunderstanding here. It's not the researchers who charge the taxpayer to view the results of their research. It's the journals in which the research was published!

      • Michael Teague
        February 10, 2013 at 11:13 pm

        I understand it is the journals that actually charge for the research but what is stopping the researchers from posting their research on the university website. They could actually set up a system where they could allow peer review of the research instead of allow this at the journals.

        Journal subscriptions are ridiculously expensive. Most are more than $100 annually even if they only publish 4 issues a year.

        I have found when doing research for my employer that even getting access to a single article can cost more than $10. This simply unacceptable if my tax dollars actually paid for the original research.

        • Tina Sieber
          February 11, 2013 at 9:49 am


          It's not as easy as publishing your own work on your own website. Journals have a high reputation with a whole system including impact factors and peer-review processes nicely set up to make researchers depend on them. Researchers depend on that reputation for their own funding.

          Yes, universities could set up this system themselves, but it's costly, complicated, and a lot of work. Maybe a large and reputable research facility could initiate a shift. In fact, some sort of have. Cambridge University Press for example publishes over 300 academic journals. But even there you have to buy the article if you want to read it. At least there is a chance that this money flows back into research.

  36. Moses Gale
    February 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    It makes far more sense for articles to be free, government funded or not.

    If they are government-funded, then they have been paid for by the taxpayer, therefore the taxpayer should be allowed to view it or download it as they wish.
    And even if the viewer doesn't pay tax, it doesn't increase the cost of the article, so I see no reason why they should be made to pay.

    If the article isn't government-funded, then it still makes more sense for there to be no fee. Regulating who gets what is getting increasingly difficult with the presence of the Internet - which isn't necessarily a bad thing - so if viewers are made to pay, they may find some other way of getting the article.
    I think if revenue does need to be generated from an article, methods such as non-intrusive advertising should be employed. This keeps everyone happy.

    • Tina Sieber
      February 11, 2013 at 9:06 am

      Research journals already do publish a lot of ads. That said, those ads are only shown in the printed copies of the journal, not when you download a research paper. Although there may be ads on the website from where you download. Anyways, I think it will be tough for journals to increase their ad revenue. After all, only a small portion of the general population is actually interested in research results, so it's a very tight niche market.

      • Dee Wheat
        February 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

        Tina, I wholeheartedly agree, and I seriously doubt that all the research in the world will actually produce an ad that is non-intrusive LOL.

        One point, though, deserves consideration: one of the reasons that the journals' ability to produce enough revenue from ads to prosper IS that it is so expensive to access the information they offer. If they made it openly accessible, they might very well be able to establish a user base that, while it will never exceed that of Playboy's, just might support their efforts better than one might think. It would take some time, but I honestly think it's a distinct possibility.

      • Dee Wheat
        February 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

        Sorry, the reason they DON'T generate enough revenue from ad sales to prosper.

  37. Elijah Love
    February 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    One shouldn't have to pay to gain knowledge. Preventing people who can't afford access to such articles stops good minds from using the information found within those articles to develop new ideas that have the potential to enhance our understanding of the world.

    • Random Guy
      February 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      Particulary that most academic articles are done by students and professors, so in both cases, it's not a commercial activity. It relies only on intellectual effort and doesn't involve any trading, buying, or selling.

      • Tina Sieber
        February 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm

        That's not entirely true. A lot of research, specifically in the life sciences, requires expensive devices and reagents, so it does very much involve buying. Moreover, researchers often cooperate with companies, sometimes to get free services and other times to get more funding.

        • Aeiluindae
          February 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm

          It is true that research is sometimes expensive to perform. However, it's not the professors or students submitting the papers who are making money by charging exorbitant amounts for online access to a journal article, it's the journals. Researchers get grants from government, the university, and from industry, not from journal sales. Now, having print journals be fairly expensive makes sense because the print runs are very small, even smaller than textbooks, but the online prices are just silly. Maybe "free" isn't the ideal price, because editing and web hosting cost money, but things need to change.

        • Tina Sieber
          February 11, 2013 at 9:02 am

          I completely agree.

          I just wanted to highlight that research isn't free. And as stated below, researchers often have to pay to have their work published. So along with the taxpayer, they are the losers in this whole scheme, as they typically don't earn a lot of money.

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