Priceonomics: Why is Science Behind a Paywall?

The Internet was created to help scientists share their research. It seems overdue that scientists take full advantage of its original purpose.

Scientists’ work follows a consistent pattern. They apply for grants, perform their research, and publish the results in a journal. The process is so routine it almost seems inevitable. But what if it’s not the best way to do science?

Although the act of publishing seems to entail sharing your research with the world, most published papers sit behind paywalls. The journals that publish them charge thousands of dollars per subscription, putting access out of reach to all but the most minted universities. Subscription costs have risen dramatically over the past generation. According to critics of the publishers, those increases are the result of the consolidation of journals by private companies who unduly profit off their market share of scientific knowledge.

When we investigated these alleged scrooges of the science world, we discovered that, for their opponents, the battle against this parasitic profiting is only one part of the scientific process that needs to be fixed.

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