A Fight for Free Access To Medical Research

“Why is it, a growing number of people are asking, that anyone can download medical nonsense from the Web for free, but citizens must pay to see the results of carefully conducted biomedical research that was financed by their taxes? | The Public Library of Science aims to change that. The organization, founded by a Nobel Prize-winning biologist and two colleagues, is plotting the overthrow of the system by which scientific results are made known to the world — a $9 billion publishing juggernaut with subscription charges that range into thousands of dollars per year.” Rick WeissA Fight for Free Access To Medical Research  (WashPost)

I was at a meeting the other day where a faculty member pooh-poohed the information students can find on the Internet. He was, of course, referring specifically to the bad information on the Internet, but he didn’t specify.

I pointed out that there is nothing wrong with electronic text as a medium — what matters is whether the information has been peer-reviewed. I suggested that students who repeatedly hear their teachers tell them to avoid the Internet are getting only half the message. While it’s true that the costs involved mean that less crap gets printed than gets thrown online, we aren’t doing our jobs as educators if we simply tell students “Stay in the print world because there you’re less likely to come across a document that requires you to use your critical thinking skills to evaluate its credibility.”

Since the Washington Post article on which this blog is based will expire soon, here’s a link to zonker’s comments: “Dissociated Press | Fighting for Access to Taxpayer-funded Research“.