Medical Researchers Resort To File Sharing To Get Access To Journal Research
from the those-filthy-pirates dept
While open access journals are certainly becoming a lot more popular and useful, there's still plenty of useful research that's very difficult for many to access. At least in the medical field, it looks like some researchers took a page from various private file sharing communities. Christian Zimmerman points us to a report looking at one such community that had over 100,000 registered users sharing scans and uploads of medical research reports from non-open journals via some basic forum-type software (so not really peer-to-peer... yet). The community that was looked at contained nearly 300,000 postings, with people requesting certain reports, and others delivering them.
Apparently, the system was quite effective, with nearly 83% of requests for certain articles resulting in delivery of the requested article. The analysis notes that the 83% is probably low, as there would likely have been a higher success rate if people making the requests followed the stated rules for making a request (some did not). The analysis also noted that people weren't doing this to get back at the journal publishers, but just to help each other out:
From the participants' comments made in the forums, however, there does not appear to be any vindictiveness on the part of the participants against the journals or holders of copyright, but a mood of togetherness, of openness and sharing, and communal assistance. Most remarkable, is that the activity described in this paper did not occur within closed, secure, password- and firewall-protected environments, but within open environments, easily publicly accessible, and easily searchable and referenced by general search engines such as Google.Though, it should be noted that this particular forum apparently later did go behind a private wall. Still, it's interesting to see the parallel between this and other types of file sharing -- showing, again, that people of all types are recognizing that access to information that's out there should be a given.