Who actually reads newspaper articles?


Dissemination is a crucial part of the research process, as it is how researchers share their findings with others – whether with fellow researchers, the wider academic community, other cohorts who might potentially feel the impact of these discoveries and, indeed, lay people. community. With this, dissemination in the form of peer-reviewed journal articles is often a primary goal for researchers, since their publications and h-index are essentially “academic currency”. The extent of dissemination, particularly in the context of peer-reviewed journal articles, has been the subject of debate in recent years.

In terms of publishing research in “mainstream” journals, you write an article and have it published at no cost other than your time, effort, and perhaps a grant to conduct the research. The publisher doesn’t really pay either. Which does? The subscribers.

Every day I come across newspapers that I would like to read and I am told that I can, usually, around 30 to 50 dollars. Of course, I’m not going to pay that. I will access it through my institutional credentials. Institutions pay large sums to publishers every year to allow their scholars access to research papers. But what if you are not affiliated with such an institution? What if you just want to read the newspaper out of curiosity or interest? Looks like you are paying or “searching” online for a “free” version.

To some extent, ‘open access publishing’ was conceived as a means of combating this cost to the reader; the breakdown becomes the researcher writes a paper, submits it, and if accepted, will pay to have it published. Fees vary by journal. I was asked between $1,000 and $3,000. The advantage is that the reader does not pay for it – therefore, free access (OA), but neither does the editor. In this case, the damage falls on the researcher.

Of course, the aforementioned relationship between the publisher and the institution takes effect again – there may be an arrangement in which the fee is waived following an agreement between the two (although there seems to be more journals that I can read, free of charge, because as a result of university agreements there are only those that I can submit to free of charge); or a researcher’s grant may pay for the publication. But what if you’re a start career researcher without funding for a particular manuscript? And if you are an unfunded masters or doctorate. student?

In both scenarios, there are ups and downs, and there is much more to this debate than can be expressed in a brief post like this. However, while many arguments end up taking a philosophical route (e.g. who should pay?), I want to focus on two rather practical questions that need to be considered.

First, given the financial structure associated with OA (ie the author pays the journal), isn’t it in favor of the journal publishing more work? Sure. Could this influence the quality of published work? Absolutely. With that, the peer review process remains, but there are still editorial decisions that override those reviews. Now, I’m not saying there’s some kind of conspiracy in the name of OA journals – I’m just saying there are, at the very least, bias towards quantity rather than quality.

With this, there are many OA journals that conduct their business with high regard. On the other hand, there are many predatory OA journals, as well as other more “known” journals that can be a little lax in the quality of what they publish. Any academics reading this will know what I’m talking about.

That last sentence – regarding what academics know, as opposed to what non-academics might know, actually brings us to the next point. Who actually reads these newspapers? Are non-academics? Let’s be realistic and pragmatic about the professional divide. I once tried to fix the water pump in my garage that sends hot water to my house.

After three hours, I gave up because I’m not a plumber! Sure, I can change a tap or unclog a toilet, but there are some things I can’t do without the required skills. Academia is no different. Sure, I’m an academic, but I’m completely lost trying to read and understand the kind of statistical modeling required for an astrophysics paper.

With this, I can read and enjoy space articles that have been summarized and written for secular communities. You can read this kind of spread almost anywhere (just make sure it’s from a credible source!) without paying the magazine’s exorbitant fees. Okay, so maybe non-academics don’t read a lot of primary source research.

But surely other academics read them? Well, you hope they are. But, I know many researchers in fields that have very low readership – nothing to do with the quality of the work – just the nature of the field. As a researcher, I can know how many times my papers have been cited, and I know that there are few that haven’t been cited at all, which makes me wonder how many people have actually Lily their. Using this example, if you paid $10,000 to publish five articles – which no one ever reads, let alone cites, wouldn’t you feel a bit stupid?

I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite or as if I’m anti-OA – I often publish in open access journals – and, in reality, I don’t care. Generally, I choose a journal that best suits my research – and if it’s an open access journal (and I have the funding), so be it.

I stress these points because some people blindly promote OA as if it were an ethical alternative to “traditional” publishing. I can also understand people who are against OA for equally valid ethical concerns. If nobody reads your newspapers, why are you so worried about whether it’s free or not? We do not care? More importantly, why should he somebody pay it?

I am not saying that we should discourage the submission of research to journals outside to fear no one will read it. Peer-reviewed publication is essential to the integrity and credibility of research. It is also our “academic currency”. In the grand scheme of things, none of this “knowledge” is good if no one “knows” about it.

If you’re concerned about access, engage in “non-traditional” outreach strategies (e.g. blogs, social media, podcasts, radio shows, etc.) to supplement your publications (regardless of type of review) so that potentially interested parties are given additional and more accessible opportunities to view your research. Think about avenues that have the potential to reach a large audience and make efforts to use them.


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