[Wikimedia-l] More opportunities for you to access free research databases!

Mark delirium at hackish.org
Sun Aug 12 01:47:00 UTC 2012

On 8/12/12 1:20 AM, David Gerard wrote:
> On 12 August 2012 00:07, Ocaasi Ocaasi <wikiocaasi at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> This is not just a problem with paywalled sources, but *any* source which is not available free *and* online.  Not all of the sources that have been donated are solely pay-for-access; some of them, for example, you would just need a good university library reference section to access.  Yet I don't know if the same concerns would be raised about editors using library reference desks, any printed content for that matter.  Much print content is just as difficult for readers to verify, whether it is available somewhere in the brick-and-mortar world free, or not.
> I think it's a net win for our mission because it gets a summary of
> the knowledge itself into the encyclopedia.
> I would consider it an extremely bad idea for print sources to be
> deprecated. Wikipedia already has enough of a problem with history
> having apparently started in 1995.

This is my general view as well. While I, like everyone else, am annoyed 
at hitting journal paywalls, in practical effect they aren't really any 
worse than academic-press books. You can't get them online, but have to 
head in person to a university library to request a copy. I don't think 
the state of the open-access literature is yet such that we can produce 
a good encyclopedia in many areas if we cite *only* open-access, online 
sources, and exclude everything that is available only in print. But if 
we permit things that can be gotten only in print, then closed-access 
journals are usually no worse than academic-press books: both can be had 
free at a university library, but probably not easily from Amazon or 
your local non-university library.

I do try to prioritize in rough order of accessibility *if* all else is 
equal. Best is available online, second-best is widely available in 
print (low-priced book available in regular libraries), third-best is 
available in most university libraries, and last-best is obscure stuff 
available only in specialist archives. So most closed-access journals 
fall into category #3, which is sub-optimal but often needed.


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