Playing for Team Human today: Jason Schmitt. Jason looks at the big business of for-profit academic publishing in his new documentary Paywall:The Business of Scholarship. Should the the world’s research be locked behind closed doors? Jason makes the case for open access on today’s Team Human.
Jason Schmitt and Douglas Rushkoff discuss the way in which knowledge and scholarship has become locked behind paywalls. The irony of this is that so many of the articles and journals published are written by academics who get little gain out of the time and effort they put in. Schmitt and Rushkoff touch on the open-access work of Aaron Swartz and Alexandra Elbakyan. It is an interesting discussion in a world where many are arguing for more research, yet so much of this research is inaccessible. I remember Karl Trsek, my history teacher in high school, telling me that he continued to maintain a subscription with the university library. I did not understand why this was so important, but now more that ever this is the only means of gaining any sort of access.
I’ve been tweaking my literature review workflow for a while, but as I write up the current section and start planning the remaining sections, I’m finally feeling like I have a handle on things. Today I’m ready to share it with you, in hopes it will make your own writing go more smoothly.
My advice to the group of academics, then, was two-fold. First: recognize that both sides need to be more flexible. Understand that journalists have to have somewhat reductive headlines, and that they operate on deadlines. But also assert, at the beginning, that you are unwilling to provide a soundbite — and want, above all else, to insert nuance, instead of a flat argument, and if they can't deal with that (even if it's just three sentences of complication, instead of one declarative sentence) then you will not do the interview. It's not that academics should request quote approval, it's more that they should be able to reach an agreement with the journalist about the sort of argument to which they're affixing their good name.
Anne Helen Petersen explains how to work with and in journalism to extend the reach of academic ideas.