Reply to post: Re: Arse about face

Don't believe the hype: When that DATA seems just too good


Re: Arse about face

The problem in medical research is that this is considered a public good: the information should be distributed as widely as possible in order that the maximum number of patients (via their doctors) can benefit.

Lengthy further explanation below. TL;DR: Laura's wrong because she doesn't understand the incentives.

The traditional model was "reader pays". Simple: you buy your copy of the Lancet (or NEJM, or whatever) each week/month. However there are a vast number of journals, and no matter how well paid doctors are (not well enough, if you believe people respond to market forces and you look at the GP shortage), we cannot afford to buy all the journals we wish to read: often following up on references from one article is the most useful aspect of reading a paper. So, doctors often are associated with institutions that pay institutional subscriptions: these are charged at a high rate, and often at ridiculous rates - if the journal is good enough it is necessary, and if it is necessary then the limit on the price is very high. This means that 3rd world countries cannot afford to buy important journals: we have restricted the ability for information to be disseminated, which was the original point.

So a new model was invented: author pays: if you're from a rich country, you are expected to pay the costs of publishing your article. (Authors from the 3rd world are usually still subsidised.) This is an open access article: anyone can read it, anywhere in the world, for the cost of their internet access ie as close to free as the journal can manage. Some journals run both models side by side - you can pay to have open access or you don't pay, but your work is hidden behind a firewall.

This cost is usually defrayed for major studies as part of the funding arrangement (ie drug company or other funding body). There are many more papers (due to the "publish or perish" environment in academia) than journals to publish in, as hinted at in the article. Finally "ask for payment"? You're clearly not in medicine; this isn't why people write papers. Fame yes, fortune no.

I would point out in a good article this would have been explained, probably better than I have.

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