The second in our series of Open Index stories, Knowledge for All Project Manager Amanda Stevens shares her insights on access to scholarly journal literature.
Full Name: Amanda Stevens
Organization: Knowledge for All
Title: Project Manager
Knowledge for All Username: amanda
Role in the Knowledge for All Project: Staff
As a freelance, self-employed information management consultant, I find myself consistently doing research-oriented work without access to scholarly journal databases. I usually work for non-profit organizations that do not have the funds to pay for subscriptions to scholarly databases.
For me the issue is not so much access to full-text articles, as there is a fair amount of free and open access content available or I can purchase a single article from a publisher if needed, but rather access to a comprehensive search tool. Google Scholar is inadequate because it is not precise enough, and the only way for me to access subscription-based scholarly journal databases is to search on-site as a guest at an academic library. Even then, I have to search in multiple databases to find what I want and learn a new interface each time.
I usually end up borrowing login information from student friends so I can access databases from home, but I worry about a day when I don't have any more student friends. And I worry that on the whole non-profit organizations and other organizations with limited budgets are not getting access to research and data they need to deliver effective services and programming.
My Vision for Change
Ideally everyone will have barrier-free access to scholarly research, regardless of finances or institutional affiliation. This research is publicly funded and researchers provide articles to journal publishers for free, so there is no justification for ridiculously high content and database subscription fees.
I think the biggest challenge to realizing this vision is convincing libraries and researchers to take a risk by challenging commercial publishers and supporting open access alternatives. But with critical mass and cooperation, the vision is achievable.
Why I support Knowledge for All's Open Index
As the only comprehensive, interdisciplinary, open scholarly journal search tool, Knowledge for All provides a significant alternative to commercial databases and a useful compliment to the open access publishing movement's free full-text content. And Knowledge for All's collaborative development model ensures sustainability and relevance to the scholarly community.