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Discussion Starter #1
First off, an obligatory set of comics by PhD Comic's Jorge Cham describing the current situation:






Essentially, over the past three decades the sciences have seen a major move over to open access information. Although, through all this, there is still remarkable support for such publications as Science, Nature, and other reputable journals out there, and scientists (though universities/insitutions or directly) still all pay fees for them.

Well, the professors do. Grad students pay for them via suffering a tortured existence.

Anyhow.

I know Cham was being facetious at the end with the keyboard cat reference, but there are times where I wonder if an open source knowledge base will lack the depth of peer review a more selective base has, and that overall "science" will have a drop in quality or of papers with actual meaning (a reduction in impact factor?). I feel that even though the internet is the future, restricted, paid journals even through online access will still need to be around to some extent to recognize truly astounding or stellar works out there.

While the scientists do submit work for free to these journals, the turn around is a very nice looking reference on their CV and decent enough prestige to offer them an edge in getting a grant, access of which is becoming more pretentious as time goes on (everyone and their dog seems to want to do research these days, and funding has become harder to get in those same 30 years). While I can see where they are going with open source and why it has such support, academia have become a ratmaze of grant seeking desperate PhD grads hoping that some form of politics will help them or hinder competition in getting the money they all desperately need, all while rushing in the hopes of not getting scooped.

Consider the current state of university libraries, and online access to many journals on them. How many of those journals are actually free for view and how many of them are actually only viewed by you thanks to a deal between the publisher and your university/institution.employer? Are students and other professionals making full use of the access they have now?

Is open source THE way to go, or is it only one aspect of an industry which needs these more exclusive, not-so-free journals to exist? There are certaintly positives (everyone can read it, and it's generally easier to access for research), but the question I think is whether journals can survive any sort of transfer over (money is needed for the gatekeeper role, arranging peer review, general publishing and so forth), and whether or not content will remain at the same level of quality.

Yes, I may be playing Devil's Advocate in some spots here. I'm not sure either.
 

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OpenAccess seems like an awesome idea. Talented young teenagers will get a chance to disprove sth written by PhDs. The hierarchical path of being BA, MA then PhD, prof.dr. etc. will completely break up and we may see a bunch of 20 year olds doing leading research. This will also destroy the current, linear education system where you first need to learn the past ideas and theories before you move to the most novel fields and ideas - which is a GOOD thing. Science itself will become more popular. If what the comics describe is reality then scientists would do well to realize how ridiculous and illogical their situation is, and change it. The world can do without editors, it can't do without scientists.

The only downside may be the majority rule. If we grant that most people are hedonists and don't care about things outside of their realm of experience, then I would not be surprised if Astrophysics and other non-earth related disciples seriously fall behind Medicine, Synthetic food making, new infrastructure tech etc. The public may start dictating the rhythm of scientific advance, if OpenAccess becomes an everyday thing like facebook.
 

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But then all the trendy/sexy fields will get even more attention than they are already getting... like string theory, it has been especially popular with the public because of all of these loose metaphysical interpretations and they don't even bring up the fact that string theory thus far has no testable hypotheses and thus is not disprovable!
 
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