# Why do we have to pay for scientific journals/ research papers?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by kira, Nov 15, 2009.

1. ### kiraValued Senior Member

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1,579
I found it very irritating when I typed some keywords in google or scientific search engines (such as ******, ******* ******, etc), and found the right article that I wanted to read, but then I couldn't read the full text because I don't have access to the article (access is protected by publishers). My university library has subscriptions to many journals or scientific papers, but surely the subscriptions are limited to just some numbers of journals because they're very very expensive.

For example, today I wanted to read an article which is related to my study and is available in ******* ****** , but I could not do so because the access is not for free. Fortunately, I was able to contact the author and the author was willing to give me a free copy to my email (and God bless him that he responded quickly). This is not the article that I mean, but just to give you an idea, to be able to get access to this article:

Detection of acetone and isoprene in human breath using a combination of thermal desorption and selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry

you would have to purchase it for $19.95. Many times it would cost me over$30.00 per article.

What I can't comprehend is:
- when I want my paper to be published in a journal, I have to pay to the publisher, so as an author, I don't get any financial benefits, in fact I have to pay for it (to get published)
- when my paper is published, and other people want to download it, they have to pay to the publisher, not to me who actually creates the said intellectual works

Why the system works like this? I don't need any financial benefits from publishing my research work, but I really really feel irritated when I am hindered to get access to other people' works. It's really an intellectual crime done by all publishers...! I am sure I am not the only one who feels like this. Any thoughts?

Last edited: Nov 16, 2009

3. ### kiraValued Senior Member

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In addition to that, as far as I know, people who do peer review (reviewers, i.e people who evaluate whether an article is acceptable to be published or not) do not get any financial benefits from the editor/publisher either. My professor sometimes got request from editors/publishers to review articles, and he said he is not paid for it. So where do the money go if not to the publishers alone? If it is to run the website that is used for publishing the articles, does it take really >$30 for 1 paper...??? Had the price for an article is$1, I would have understood this. This is so so non sense..

5. ### OphioliteValued Senior Member

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The economics may sound weird, but I suspect they are valid. Otherwise the stock of academic publishers would be hugely sought after.

7. ### kiraValued Senior Member

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Thanks for the response. Well, we have no choice but to buy / to get articles, because we need to see what other people have done, so as not to repeat the same works; we also need to quote other people' works in our works to show that we appreciate previous works, that our works is not possible without other people' previous contribution, that we understand the state of the art of such works, etc. So we just have no choice but to buy them. I just wonder, why do we have to pay so much? Let say I need 100 articles to support my works, and each article costs in average $20.00, it means if we don't have at least$2,000, we can't possibly continue our work? Just how many contributions have been hindered by this system?

What really makes me upset also, when I (or my bf, or even our professors) sent our works to publishers, sometimes it got returned with very rude comment (from anonymous reviewers) saying that our English is not acceptable for the journal standard. :bugeye: Well, we have to pay $100-$200 to get our works published, why don't they have at least decency to correct the English? It really doesn't make sense that our months or years of works got rejected just because we make grammatical errors.

p.s.: and when finally they really reject the articles, they don't return our money either :/

Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
8. ### nietzschefanThread KillerValued Senior Member

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I gotta agree with her , it's bullshit.

I would boycott the publishing arm personally and I think you can publish your own PDFs and distribute them without a problem.

9. ### S.A.M.uniquely dreadfulValued Senior Member

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72,822
I'm surprised they have the same intellectual snobbery in Europe that I encountered in the US

My Korean friend was told to practice thinking in English to reach acceptable standards of intellectual discourse. Much of her seminar preparation consisted of speaking words exactly like Americans [I ignored this suggestion when it was made to me] so as to not look incompetent.

Perhaps you should write it in Bahasa and let them translate it.

I totally agree about the ridiculous pricing of papers. Its usually cheaper to email and ask the authors for a copy.

Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
10. ### Agonaces EcbatanaBannedBanned

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4

Why waste your money on contemporary mythology?

11. ### kiraValued Senior Member

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1,579
Nietzsche and S.A.M., I edited (added 1 sentence) in my post #4: "p.s.: and when finally they really reject the articles, they don't return our money either :/"

My bf has 3 times rejection for different articles, and I got 1 time (I am still new), so in total we lose more than $500 already, I am so angry if I remember this Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! (ok, the money was paid by our professors/uni, but still, I am so guilty and embarrased that they would lose money for it!). So can you imagine, we work day and night for these, and we are obliged to publish paper to be able to graduate (my university obliges me to have at least 1 paper accepted and 2 papers submitted before we can ever graduate), but the system is so "§$%&%$§"!!. Fortunately after it got rejected, my paper got accepted in other journal, but this isn't always the case, I am sure. I have no problem at all (in fact I am proud!) whenever I got an email asking a copy of my work. Just few days after my work is published online in 1 journal, I got 2 emails asking me to send them copy of it, I just sent them with ALL pdf file of the original references. They are not European journals, but USA's journals (where my & my bf's works are published and/or rejected), but European (and Thailand) journals are also the same (the ones that I know). My very first paper got rejected with more or less this comment (and ONLY 1 sentence comment from one of the anonymous author: "the English of this paper is a waste of time of any reviewers." I was so sad. Added to that they got$200 from me (my professor) :/. I then asked my friend who lives in the USA to correct the English before I sent it to another journal.

Last edited: Nov 16, 2009

13. ### kiraValued Senior Member

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I can't. In order to graduate, we have to publish our works in journals. In order to publish the works, we have to quote other people' previous works. It's a must. Unless we're able to get all free copies from the original authors. But there are hundreds of other people works that are needed to be read from time to time to make sure that my works have some novelty and so contribute new things to science. And I CAN'T possibly do my work without contribution of other people' work, be it theory or experiment. This is so bull****.

14. ### kiraValued Senior Member

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1,579
Google scholar is just a search engine, in the end it will lead you to publishers website. If you are lucky (like the article was published more than 10 years ago), or somebody happens to reupload them unofficially, you can get free access. However, good works are published in journals with impact factor (quoted by many other works), and they are MOSTLY (according to my experience) not free.

ah crap

16. ### kiraValued Senior Member

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Here is my advice: think 76545354671 times before you decide to enroll in any PhD program, especially if you are not native English speaker, otherwise you'll end up having another PhD (Permanent Head Damage) :|

I wish that I stay in my home country, work in a nice office, get yearly bonus, get settle and have children, and speak or curse in my own language

17. ### kiraValued Senior Member

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Out of curiousity, is my English really that bad? In my article that got rejected, one of the three anonymous reviewers told me that I mixed up the a/an/the badly. Do you people notice it here?

In my native language (Indonesian), we don't have complicated grammars, e.g. no articles (a/an/the), no plural/singular, no tenses (past/present/future)... I can't possibly go back taking English course, I am living in Germany and forced to improve my German, not English. This is so frustating.... is it possible that the reviewers are just jealous with my work?

If I go to shopping mall, I notice that many children (age below 10) speaking so fluent German with their parents, I am sure this is the case with those living in USA (speaking bla bla bla.. bla da bla da bla.. in English). I learn English at schools since like 15 years ago, I can't seem to improve it??

I guess... I need some sleep.. bye :idea:

18. ### EnmosStaff Member

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Well, right now you seem to be leaving them out altogether

If you want I can point out your errors

19. ### ZephyrHumans are ONERegistered Senior Member

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The reason journals can charge so much is that very few people buy individual articles. Usually a university or industrial research lab will subscribe to the journal on behalf of all their students or employees. For example, I can access the article you mentioned via my university's network.

But you are right. Especially with the Internet, the days of traditional journal publishing are limited. Most mathematics papers are now published on arxiv.org - even if the final papers are published in journals you can usually find the preprints there. I wouldn't be surprised if other disciplines follow suit.

There is also the problem of peer review, but there is nothing stopping academics from reviewing one another's work without involving the high charging journals.

20. ### DywyddyrPenguinaciously duckalicious.Valued Senior Member

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Definitely not, you're quite impressive really.
We have (supposed) native English speakers on this forum that have considerably worse skill in English than you do.
But (always a "but" isn't there?

) scientific papers have fairly high standards for (at least) two reasons that I can think of of:

concepts presented may be new and the reader doesn't (shouldn't) need to spend time working out exactly what is meant, and/ or

science uses precise terminology for unfamiliar (i.e. non-everyday concepts) and any slip of language could be taken to mean exactly what it's saying - thus leading the reader to misinterpret the entire article.

21. ### OphioliteValued Senior Member

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Seconded.

Now, what I am not understanding is why you don't have access to at least some of these papers through your university library. I am obviously missing something.

22. ### madanthonywayneMorning in AmericaStaff Member

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12,461
You can usually get access to the abstract without paying. I do agree that the damned articles and scholarly journals are too expensive. I had an article published in Eye (an english ophthalmology journal) and decided against buying a copy of the magazine because it was going to cost me \$100.

23. ### DywyddyrPenguinaciously duckalicious.Valued Senior Member

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You didn't get a complimentary copy?
How bizarre...
I was under the impression from my own experiences that one always received a complimentary copy of anything in which you're published.
Meh, maybe it's just certain magazines/ publications that do so.