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Should access to scientific literature be free?

In an age where a vast amount of scientific literature is accessed online, whether or not this information is available for free becomes a pertinent issue. Many prominent journals are accessible only after purchasing subscriptions, and they are protected by copyright. Other journals are open access, meaning their articles are free and have no restrictions on use. This article presents one piece that discusses when and why open access is important, and a counter-piece that explains why paywalls are a necessary evil.
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The Fallacy of Open-Access Publication

Advocates of open access are quick to bemoan the 'paywall' that keeps people from reading research findings. The adoption of open-access publication does not eradicate the paywall, but instead moves the cost burden in front of researchers themselves. Open access has been around long enough for us to recognise that its cost cannot be borne by the external funding of individual research labs. There are also sincere academic-integrity concerns about scholars paying money to have their work published, especially as many open-access journals are run on a for-profit basis. In a sense, open access is - or can be - payola. The only source of integrity is the faith that the editors are acting honourably.
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Contribution statements and author order on research studies still leave readers guessing

Although many scientific journals try to provide more details about author contributions by requiring explicit statements, such contribution statements get much less attention than authorship order, according to new findings from a Georgia Tech-University of Passau team. The authors found that while researchers evaluating a paper consider contribution statements helpful for understanding the specific skills individual team members brought to the study, they still use author order for deciphering which researchers did how much of the work and deserve most of the credit. Authorship is a topic that looms large on the minds of researchers. Publications play a major role in career advancement at universities and research institutions, and authorship order is a widely used, but imprecise, way of inferring contributions from researchers. In part, the problem with contribution statements is that they aren't always available, and when they are, the statements tend to have no uniform structure.
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Considering Open Access to Expand Availability to Journal Articles

Once faculty members write, submit and have articles published in magazines or journals, copyright is transferred from the author to the publication. This restricts readership to those with access to that specific publication. But with Open Access, that is changing. Open Access is a principle-based movement, largely driven by university professors and librarians, to transform academic publishing so that everyone - not just those affiliated with wealthy institutions - has access to high-quality information found in academic publications.
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Transforming Information Into Knowledge In The Big Data Era

Simplifying access to the right information across the organisation has become the mantra for the successful, research-driven enterprise - but it is only the first step in an enterprise-wide knowledge management strategy. So, how do biomedical and drug discovery researchers effectively transform information into useful knowledge in the Big Data era? The answers lie in how the magnitude of available information is being harnessed and exploited. With at least 50 million scholarly journal articles already filling information pipelines, and more than 2.5 million more added each year, the ways content is discovered and utilised by scientists and technologists working at millions of companies, must evolve.
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