Handcuffed Research

Posted on August 9, 2014 by Marko Dimjašević

Courtesy of Victor

Researchers publish their work so as to advance science and exchange ideas with other researchers. It is a crucial part of research, yet it is hindered by copyright laws throughout the world. Researchers face criminal charges and being put to prison for years for sharing research articles. One of the most recent examples of such act is a prison charge against Diego Gomez, a Master’s student in Columbia researching biodiversity. Coming from Croatia, I know accessing research articles is a big issue, especially in countries and at research institutions that cannot afford a ticket to get past a publisher’s paywall.

While Open Access has a noble goal of providing access to research articles for free for everyone, it is not a solution as the Electronic Frontier Foundation is suggesting. It looks like the academic publishing could use a complete reboot, and not just a facelift from the pay-to-read paradigm to the pay-to-publish paradigm, what Open Access is. If Open Access was to be adopted, tax payers would still be paying for research twice, and those with scarce economic resources wouldn’t be able to publish their research.

I wish articles like those by the Electronic Frontier Foundation didn’t fall short of identifying the whole problem because fighting symptoms only is not going to get us far — we will still have the handcuffed research as before.