I just finished Jeff Jarvis’s WWGD. An excellent, if not perfect, read that I highly recommend to colleagues in education. There are some things missing, however, with his chapter on education. He didn’t go far enough.

I am thinking specifically about the role that certain institutions play in the hording of research. For example, when you click here, you are being sent to an article I wrote on the role re-reading plays in schools. (If you haven’t done so yet, click here.) What you see is an abstract. That’s it. There are eight other pages—fairly well-written ones, too, thank you very much—that non-academic colleagues cannot access. (It’s worth mentioning that if Jeff clicks on the link from CUNY, where he teaches, he probably can access the whole article.)

In his section on law, Jarvis points out that there are open-access movements to make the law, cases, and commentary available for free online. Yet, in academia, we are still under the subscription-stranglehold of companies like Proquest, LexisNexus, and JSTOR. For instance, I can’t link you to my entire article because of the business relationships the journals have with the online databases. It’s an old way of doing business that is depriving others from knowledge.

Ideally, I would want academic articles to be free (as Jeff argues news organizations have learned in recent years). But, if not, why not have an iTunes-like 25 cent purchasing of articles. If I need an article, I’d pay for it. Especially if the fee was conveniently low. What’s more, researchers should be getting a cut of the action, which, currently, we don’t. (John Wilinsky addresses some of these issues in his book The Access Principle, available for free as a PDF file from MIT.)

Whether it for free or for cheap, the tyranny of database subscriptions really does deserve disruption.

Please visit me at tomliamlynch.org for more thoughts on education.

Views: 31

Tags: access, journals, learning, online, open, scholarhsip


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