Saturday, July 30, 2011

Freedom of Information: Online Education and Open Access



I'm back and holding down the fort temporarily while Dinah's away. After five years of blogging it's a little difficult to find a new topic to get excited about, and no, I'm not going to write about the Norwegian spree killer.

Instead I'm going to put up this YouTube video by law professor James Duane giving a lecture about police interrogations and how anything you say---even when it's true and even when you're innocent---can and will be used against you. I'm posting this link for two reasons: I'm interested in why people confess to crimes they don't commit, and because I think it's incredibly generous of an academician to take the time and effort to give away knowledge to the world at large. I'm a firm believer in open access education. I like the idea of using social media to give anyone a chance to learn something new.

While many people complain about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on medical research and clinical practice, you don't often hear people express concern about the stranglehold the publishing industry has on new medical knowledge. Think about it: if you're a doctor and you practice in an isolated part of the country, with no academic affiliation, how do you get your medical literature? Maybe through a hospital library (if the hospital has one), maybe through a limited number of journals published by a couple organizations you might belong to, but not to the global world of professional publications. And it's going to cost you hundreds of dollars. And pity the forensic professional who wants to get LexisNexis access---even for lawyers this costs thousands of dollars.

This is why I give extra props to organizations like the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law (disclosure: I'm a member, big surprise there!) which has chosen to keep it's journal free and available in full text to the world at large. I'm also a fan of the Public Library of Science and Open Courseware Consortium.

Information wants to be free.

Addendum: I forgot to mention the Google Books project, which is scanning books from various academic libraries. I found this book recently: The Mental Status of Charles Guiteau. Guiteau was the man who assassinated President James Garfield. Most potent quote so far: "Crazy, perhaps, but not so crazy he should not be hung."

13 comments:

aek said...

This is a great topic, ClinkShrink!

Open Culture website is a repository of open culture/course/lecture/discussion/arts.

PubMed searches often display open access review studies and research based articles (will say free access)

Many public libraries include free health related database subscription access, and I would encourage everyone to explore these resources at their leisure. Sometimes, small libraries network to provide a synergistically larger online research presence.

Many universities provide alumni with varying degrees of free access to their research libraries - many times you have to ask in order for the access to be acknowledged and provided. Some universities offer access to everyone - the Harvard University and MIT libraries for example - offer access to many of their online collections.

Finally, writing directly to the authors of studies which do not have open access will sometimes result in them sending you a copy or link to their personal published or working versions.

jesse said...

I would love to comment on the video but will not. Oh no, I goofed, I should have taken the Fifth. Too late.

Sunny CA said...

Interesting post. I hope I never need to use the advice!

I am a high school teacher and am often stymied in finding the information I want because the scientific publications the articles are in require steep annual subscription rates, which I presume are designed for libraries to pay. My school does not even have a library, let alone one that purchases multiple subscriptions I might read. One way around that, I have found, is that I type the author name and article name which I have found in abstract form, and often the author will have their article reposted somewhere else on the web as a download. This is very frustrating for me, though. When I prepare topics for presentation I like to know a lot of "back stories" from the literature and a lot of research I am unable to access.

rob lindeman said...

In the internet age, the stranglehold aint as tight as it used to be. Still access to primary source material is limited. But hey, even publishers gotta make a buck. I don't begrudge them that.

Not having read the book on Guiteau (yet), I would speculate that the 'potent' quotation gets it's power from an underlying truth: that madness is a social assignment. If we want to hang the assassin, we will find a way to make him "sane enough"

Wv - trouscr. Panct leg

rob lindeman said...

Just finished Walter Channing's essay on Guiteau. I commend it to Shrink Rap readers. It is a terrific example of 19th century contempt for so-called insane people.

If you read nothing else, scroll to the last paragraph. There we find what the essayist REALLY feels about his subject. Channing appears to argue that death on the gallows was too good a punishment for Guiteau. It would reflect better on us as a country, Channing claims, if Guiteau had been allowed to rot in an insane asylum for the remainder of his life.

jesse said...

I can't resist. The two videos are fascinating. Thank you, Clink, for posting this. For those of us who thought (I include myself) we knew how to answer questions, Prof. Duane's examples are humbling to say the least. But I didn't say the least, and as Prof. Duane showed it can be your undoing if we say anything at all.

ClinkShrink said...

I think Channing's point was that Guiteau was obviously insane, but the crime was too heinous for people to be willing to accept that:

"Connected with this sense of the eternal fitness of things, still further, is a desire to punish wrong or make the guilty suffer for their crimes, and this feeling also distorts and perverts a sound judgment. Perhaps there has been no instance in the civilized world, where, combined with such universal sympathy for the victim, there has been so little feeling for the doer of the foul deed as in this."

ClinkShrink said...

Jesse: There's also a "Don't Talk to Cops Part 2" on YouTube which I also recommend.

Mary K said...

I use my public library for access to business literature. That's why I'm a big supporter of the public library. If you're near a community college or university, you may be able to pay for access to their physical and electronic libraries as well. Enrolling in a course most always grants you access...Then you can request literature using collaborating libraries if yours doesn't have access.

For other specialty journals, you may find that developing a "co-op" with other specialists may be effective. Each person subscribes to a different journal, then you route the journals so everyone can read.

Frequently, you just need to think creatively in order to get the information.

Exalya said...

Clink - awesome video. Reposted to my facebook. :) Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Where is the video called Don't Talk to Shrinks?

The Alienist said...

Wow! Makes me remember why I decided early that law was not for me. The adversarial game has too many twists and turns. It takes a special kind of twisted mind to learn to play the legal game. (No offense -- one of my best friends is a lawyer.)

Retriever said...

I so agree about the difficulty of getting hold of new medical (and other research/academic literature).

When I was recently writing a book chapter on eating disorders, I had no access to a university library. My public library had an appallingly outdated library, and couldn't guarantee getting me ANY of the books I wanted inter-library loan as they were all in university libraries not public ones. I was able to look up some articles on JStor which we had a subscription to, but the various services under our umbrella subscription were of limited use.

IMHO, the best work-around is to go spend the day at a university medical library with access to all the journals, etc. (subscriptions) and download the articles you want wirelessly to your iPad to refer to while writing a paper later.

But I am exasperated daily by the paywalls. I can't afford to pay $15 or $25 or whatever for a short article that may turn out to be worthless.

Sorry to rant, but IMHO, any writer or researcher worth their salt wants their work shared with others, not locked up behind paywalls. We don't study or theorize about suffering people simply to make money but to understand and hopefully help others ease their sufferings.