The Virtue of Paywalls

Gatekeepers are required in academic publishing to enforce quality, coherance and to lend authority. When anyone can publish anything, as is the case on the Web today, lies and misinformation spread much faster than the truth. People publish opinions as facts, distorted interpretations of data, make general statements based on samples and take things out of context.

Academia is better than this. We value scientific rigour. We value evidence for claims, and repeatability of experiments. Nothing is more important to us than seeking the truth, whole and unbiased. Except tenure or grant funding.

People all over the world write about their experiences, but these are anecdotal. If I want to understand a topic, I read about it in an established journal or conference proceedings. I can tell it's reliable because I have to log in from behind my institution's IP address to access it. It's great that the taxpayers generously cover the cost for me to access material that most of them can't.

Not that they want to. The general public, and even our world leaders, are skeptical of 'experts'. Despite the fact that we have devoted our lives to specialising in one topic so we can understand it to its fullest, so that others don't have to. They deried us as 'out of touch'. Meanwhile continuing to proliferate their gut feelings on social media, spreading nonsense, missing nuance.

It's a good job we can rely on our trusty paywalls to keep the real knowledge separate from all of that.

🏷 academia linked research Open Access paywalls publishing

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