Is there a community consensus about best practices for disseminating subscription-only journal material in threads? Also, what can we do to improve access within the community to primary research? Blasdelb's excellent comment
in the Lenski thread prompted me to ask about this.
posted by Scientist to MetaFilter-Related at 7:33 PM (41 comments total)
6 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes a comment (or less frequently, a post) will heavily feature an article from a scientific journal of some sort. Said articles are quite often restricted to people who have a subscription to said journal through an institution such as a university. These sorts of links can be a bit problematic because they aren't accessible to all, but I feel like this is a community that is often interested in seeing and talking about primary research, and I'd like it if we could talk about ways to help people get access to that.
I feel like Blasdelb (and I've seen others doing this stuff too) sets a good example in the comment linked above. His comment provides open-journal links wherever possible such that there's plenty of meat for people to chew on even if they can't get to the closed journals, and he makes an offer to provide article copies to people on a one-on-one basis. (Which may technically be something that the journal publishers would rather people didn't do, but which is something that researchers do all the time
for each other or for students or colleagues who lack access.)
What are some other things that we could do to help improve access to journal articles? I myself just put a line in my profile offering to at least attempt to provide copies of articles to anybody who MeMails me asking for one relating to a link on this site. Could we maybe think about putting together a list of people who are willing to do this and throwing it up on the Wiki? Perhaps something like this already exists?
Perhaps this thread would also be a good place for people to share tips for finding open-access versions of articles or open-access publications in general. Google Scholar
is a good start here, but I'm sure that others have lots of other sources to recommend.
Finally, is there any feasible way to host articles (Scribd? Coral Cache?) so that people can access them when they might otherwise not be able to? Or is the community/administrative consensus that doing something like that would be crossing a legal line and that one should simply avoid using articles that cannot easily be provided in an open-access format? I would understand that sentiment, but I feel like having access to original research can often really improve quality of discussion and that sometimes not being able to provide access can make it impossible to have an informed discussion about something. I feel like it would be good if we could come up with a general-purpose solution to this problem, but perhaps there just isn't one and we'll have to muddle through as best we can.
Anyway, I wanted to solicit the community's thoughts on this issue and see what ideas people have for improving access to primary research within the MetaFilter community for the purposes of improving discussion and education.