For all that is said about the wealth of information that is freely available on the internet, the fact is that most of it is incomplete, dumbed down, lacking in context or downright wrong.
Individuals spend the best part of 20 years completely oblivious to the existence of journals and the process of peer review and even then we'd be lucky if 10% of those with access to journals (usually through an institution) actually bother to invest in them.
Granted that some journals will be totally inaccessible to those without a solid background in some particular field but by and large exposure is a good thing and there are many areas of research where individuals will benefit directly from having read these.
Where does this come from?
I decided I wanted to read Popular Politics in the Late Medieval City: York and Bruge in The English Historical Review today, mainly because it looks interesting and I'm hoping to invest more time into learning about British and European History. Incidentally I also wouldn't mind tucking into Super Stable Clocks, Nature 500, 505 (29 August 2013) and a number of data analysis and big data journals in order to advance my career.
Now, not being affiliated with an institution that subscribes to these journals means that I would typically have to pay between £5 ($10) and £15 ($25) per article that I read... I could probably spend £100 just to pass an hour by.
- What's being done to address the lockdown on 'higher' education material? I've noticed that the Directory of Open Access Journals publishes open articles and other firms are doing similar, mainly with journals in new fields?
- How could I, as an individual outside of an institution, gain journal access without it costing so much money?