Free Your Mind

As we talked about here, there has been a movement among mathematicians and other scientists to push back against the the high prices and questionable business practices of certain publishers of research journals.

One complaint was that these publishers were lobbying for the Research Works Act (which, fortunately, died after the bad press).  What’s the RWA?  Like most bills, its Orwellian name hides its true goals.

At the moment, if you’d like to read our own Andy Magid’s article* “Relation modules of prounipotent groups” which appeared in Elsevier’s Journal of Algebra in 1987, then you can buy a copy for a mere $39.95.  And of course that’s only for a .pdf copy of that single article.  If you want the whole journal or a paper copy, then that’s gonna cost extra.

In the age of “information wants to be free” you would expect that taxpayer funded researchers would be required to make their research publicly available.   On the contrary, the RWA would have specifically forbidden any such requirement!

Thanks to Dr. Gower’s blog, we learned that there is currently a petition being organized to ask President Obama to support open access requirements for federally funded research.   Who knows what the impact of such a petition will be, but surely we can hope for something better than paying $40 for a research paper in pure math from 25 years ago**?

* Which was written thanks to the US taxpayers via funding from the NSF.

** As interesting and useful as Dr. Magid’s paper surely is!