The Unfortunate Business of Science

The idea for the immediate preceding blog post, “What’s Wrong with the World:  A Paucity of Mindfulness” was motivated by an article in the Washington Post.  I regarded the research to be important enough to go to the source of the article in the journal Science.  Unfortunately, I needed to purchase the article fot $20, which I did.  And I am glad that I did because the newspaper article, as is frequently the case, missed the major importance of the research.

Science is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  The purpose of the organization is to foster science and the dissemination of information about science.  In my view the $20 charge is inconsistent with the goals of the organization.  I should note that the AAAS is not different from other professional organizations in doing so.  Unfortunately professional organizations dedicated to good objectives tend to morph into businesses dedicated to profit.  Strictly speaking these are not profits because the money goes back into the professional organization.  The organizations would argue that this is good for their intended purposes and would argue that researchers with grants could charge these costs to their contracts, which is more having to do with the “business” of science.  Bloggers, like myself, and others interested in science, be they citizens or students, should have ready access to these publications.  Understand that I have nothing against some nominal fee of several dollars to cover costs, but $20 for an electronic reprint of three pages is ridiculous.

There is another issue. is research was funded by the National Science Foundation, so anyone who paid taxes to the United States helped finance this research.  There is a footnote with a URL indicating where the data from the individual studies can be accessed.  This is due to recent laws requiring that the data from funded research should be made available to other researchers.  This policy is both good and just.  Nevertheless, I think that the public should also be entitled to research reports that are either free or at a nominal cost.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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