Charity Group Encourages Free Access to Scientific Research

May 27, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. journal (n.) 
[jur-nl] – a magazine that contains reports from experts of a specific field
Example: Doctors keep themselves updated by reading medical journals often.

2. hand over (v.) [hand-oh-ver] – to give
Example: Before I was fired, my boss told me to hand over my I.D.

3. subscribe (v.) [suhb-skrahyb] – to pay money to a company in order to receive their publications (newspapers, magazines, comics, etc.) regularly
Example: He decided to subscribe to Time magazine so that he could receive a copy every week.

4. peer (n.) [peer] – a person with a similar status or condition as others (in terms of age, social status, school level, or qualifications)
Example:  He is well-liked by his peers in school because of his friendly personality.

5. follow in somebody’s footsteps (idiom) [fol-oh][in][suhm-bod-ee, -buhd-ee, -buh-dee][foot-step] – to follow what somebody else has done
Example: Apple’s iPad was so popular that other companies started to follow Apple’s footsteps and create their own tablets.

Read the text below.

One of the world’s largest research charity groups, WellCome Trust, will be launching an online journal called eLife in support of open access to research.

As an open access journal, eLife will allow anybody to view its scientific research articles for free over the Internet.

Currently, if scientists wish to present researches to the public, they usually hand over their work to private publishers. However, people can only access the researches by subscribing to the publishers’ journals.

Many scientists believe this limitation is slowing down the rate at which new discoveries are made.  Additionally, scientists think it is unfair that data from publicly funded research is available only to people who can pay.

So far, 9,200 scientists have said that they will boycott giving researches to one of the biggest private publishing companies, Elsevier. Scientists have posted their support for the boycott on the website Cost of Knowledge, which was put up just for the protest.

Other scientists worry open access journals may have low quality articles. But Robert Kiley of WellCome Trust says that the quality of work will not change just because a journal is free. He argues that even some paid-for journals have low quality.

Meanwhile, Graham Taylor, a director at Britain’s Publishers’ Association, suggests that private publishers may already be in the process of creating open access journals. WellCome Trust itself hopes eLife could encourage paid-for journals to follow in its footsteps.

It may take time, however, before open access becomes an accepted way of publishing scientific research. Only around 50% of scientists have agreed to publish their works in open access journals.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that scientific research should be available to everybody for free? Why or why not?
·         Can you think of some types of information that should not be made available to everybody on the Internet?  Why should these not be published?

Discussion B

·         Have you ever subscribed to any journal magazine or newspaper? If yes, what was it about? If no, have you ever thought about subscribing to one? Why or why not?
·         Would you say that the money people spend on buying or subscribing to journals is well-spent? Why or why not?


May 27, 2012