One of the many things that I miss in being a student is the access all the IEEE journals through UP’s academic access. Nothing seems more against the principle of the academe than the way that research isn’t propagated because of cost. See I am interested in alot of things , this is because of an intense curiosity that tries to seek out as much knowledge as my little brain can grok. One of the themes that continously arises is how much progress made in the sciences are due to lateral or expansive grasp of present knowledge.
I use lateral in the way that alot of progress is due to connecting various seemingly independet events into a theory that explains both. I put Einstein’s theories in this category.
The expansive grasp means knowing all the pertinent techniques with respect to your problem. If you read Feynman‘s Nobel Lecture you see whaI mean here. He had a claim that(probably true) that he knew everything about the problem he was trying to solve, which help him connect the dots on the different approaches to the same problem.
Both of these are negatively impacted by the high cost of journals. The amateur/hobbyist is doubly affected , and what are most of us in fields that we are not actively trying to research further are we? Most of us are not experts in everything and some of us (including me) are not even expert in anything. How much progress is not being made because information is not readily available?
If this is a simple case of “It’s always been done like this!”, then I think we need to rethink this. In a way science has progressed. During the time of newton or darwin they rarely collaborated with fellows, but we have progressed far faster because of openly available information. The thing is we are moving ever faster towrds an age where science would either stagnate or reach a point that people call a singularity. Stagnation means that there would be a return to malthus and that is something we cannot let happen, this for me means that we have a duty to ourselves and those that come after us to make sure that the future is aor near the singularity. This calls for cheaper if not free flow of information!
The ridiculous high prices of online journal articles.
I’m a lucky guy! I work for a major UK University and one of the perks of the job is that I (along with every other member of the University) get access to a massive array of academic journals and this is close to priceless as far as I am concerned. I’d rather take a salary cut than lose that particular perk (shhhh, don’t mention this to my bosses) and I don’t even do any formal research!
I have been blogging for almost two years now and one thing I have learned from the whole experience is that the world contains legions of amateur scholars – people who do research for personal rather than professional reasons. These scholars (and I like to think I am one of them) don’t want to publish papers or get qualifications, they simply want to learn about and discuss whatever subject takes their fancy. In my case I focus on subjects such as mathematics and physics since they are (and always have been) the subjects that float my boat and they are also the subjects I studied both at school and at University.