Jan 10, 2011

Access hindrances

In Right to Research Coalition entry (Access Around the World: Portugal) comes a piece of an interview made to a medical student, that elicits difficulties of access to scientific publications:
"While my colleagues and I face a variety of challenges in conducting research, the one I hear complaints about most often is lack of access to the scientific articles we need for our work. Indeed, our institutions have paid for access to the majority of the “relevant” publications, but that gives rise to questions such as, what if I need to work from home where I don’t have access? Or what if other colleagues are using the several school computers, which often happens? Or what if I need to use an article published by a “not so relevant” journal (according to the university), which the school doesn’t pay for? We face these problems and many others when trying to access research."
In the above account of a medical research student, and contrary to common beliefs about b-on, different places allow for different access to scientific papers. The papers that allow us to build on the shoulders of giants (OTSOG). If you are in a University campus like ISCTE, or in a State Laboratory like LNEG or in  University of Minho campus, the access you have to full papers differs (paid subscriptions by each institution are not the same, hence the differences in what one has access). And, if you work on the move (while commuting, travelling, etc.) or outside the campus (home, friends house, public internet spot, etc.) you wont be able to access the full papers, unless you find strategies to «go around» this hindrances. This strategies can be quiet simple or more complex: asking someone on the campus to retrieve the papers for you, search in advance and save/print/email, install a VPN (of course you will need more access passwords, local software installed in your computer/mobile/etc, and even security certificates)... or hack the system, are some of this strategies. All of this consumes (a lot of) time and affects personal information management and related tasks.

This entry was motivated by a Google Alert that I just received about open archives that was linked to the above entry. This in turn stimulated me to write about one of the many invisibilities that I've been researching in the past 4 years, and that are still to see the light of day.

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