Intellectual Stimulus Plan: Make All Scientific Journal Subscriptions Free

Although I’m not a big fan of Government spending I’d like to offer a suggestion to President Obama and the big spending gang – negotiate an agreement with all the leading scientific journals that will make all scientific papers free or very low cost to anybody.     A big frustration and a possible impediment to innovation is the fact that many science papers are “locked away” by expensive subscription paywalls at leading scientific journals.    One can understand that those journals are struggling to survive and need money, but the current practice of charging exhorbitant fees so only libraries and a handful of specialists can read the leading edge research is misguided at best and intellectual crime at worse.

Since journals operate on what is usually a very low budget, the government could offer very modest amounts – probably something equal to 1.5 to 2 times their current subscription fees to keep the journals ticking and happy.   Authors would be happy to see many times the audience for papers often destined to obscurity.

I think I’d actually favor a “no cost” option that required all research papers funded in any way by any grants or portions of grants  to be made public by the author upon publication,  but the “new” science community seems to be incredibly stubborn about  changes and very protective when territory is threatened so I’m guessing they would likely reject that out of hand, using the argument that the journals should continue to act as a sort of “referee” and organizer of relevant research content.    I think this used to make more sense than now as politics have become too much a part of the research and publications framework (I think mostly in the climate sciences), raising several important issues about publications standards, peer review, and data sharing.

4 thoughts on “Intellectual Stimulus Plan: Make All Scientific Journal Subscriptions Free

  1. The libraries that are currently reading the journals, are they able to lend the journals out? When you suggest the government offer 1.5 to 2 times subscription fees, do you mean have the government purchase more copies in order to increase circulation? I think the idea is interesting, I just don’t understand those two details. What would they call it? Money For Magazines or maybe Jack For Journals?

  2. Great idea Joe…why don’t we start with the ground breaking papers Obama wrote in school? It would be great to make those available…

  3. The Gore/AGW/IPCC crowd actually work hard at preventing AGW skepticism, whether in journals, media, or online. Willie Soon, a Harvard astrophysicist and sun researcher (a bit beyond Al Gore, Harvard alcoholic), produced a number of articles criticizing the IPCC/Mann models. He still claims solar activity, not CO2, accounts for most global warming (–that is, assuming the temp data is correct–still an issue).

    Unfortunately, some petroleum people did contribute some cash to Soon’s research, so the KOS lemmings automatically assumed he was in the pocket of Big Oil, which is not at all a valid argument: simply because Dr. X receives some money from a corporation–or even has support from those villainous repubs– does not prove bias. It’s a concern, but not proof. AGW researchers take money from oil companies as well (Chu worked for BP)). Dr. Soon of course has become public enemy #1 for the Mann/Hansen/IPCC groupies, though he certainly knows more about the atmospheric hard-science than the climate “modellers,” or a Gorean at the KOS party-house.

  4. assumed he was in the pocket of Big Oil, which is not at all a valid argument

    No indeed, though it is now often used to discredit otherwise unassailable research while it’s considered “crackpotty” to suggest that AGW research can also be compromised by agendas.

    Any clear thinking person knows that to view any science methodology and outcomes with a skeptical eye is to practice …. good science. It’s fine to question the motives of any scientist, but more important is to critically examine the assumptions that go into the research itself.

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