Freedom’s Just Another Word For $30 Articles?

Over at Q&E Erin Dillon makes a great point about research that is relevant to this debate between Jay Greene and Eduwonkette — basically that it’s hard as hell to access a lot of the peer-reviewed journal research.   I made a similar point a while ago in terms of getting more work from academia into the policy debates.   But, while Erin is right and it’s a problem, it’s also a good illustration of how different the incentives are inside and outside of academia in terms of what’s recognized and rewarded.  Things work the way they do for a reason.

Update:  Commenter Meadowlark makes an interesting point below, what about libraries?   It’s a fair question and raises, I think, three issues.   First, in the case of federal elected policymakers they do have access to a great library and really strong analysts via the Library of Congress and the Congresssional Research Service.  So they’re getting access to current literature, usually via synthesis, that way.   Second, in the case of think tanks, research organizations, and academia, there is a lot of variance in the extent to which various analysts and writers keep up with the literature in a particular field or sub-field.   But, although the cliche is that people will talk about anything, if you actually were to do a content analysis you’d find that most influential people stick pretty close to their knitting because it’s hard to really stay current and effective on more than a handful of issues.  And while contra Jay Greene I don’t think our information market works especially well in the short term, it does seem to reward that approach over time.  Third, to Meadowlark’s main point that people should go to the library, that’s certainly true as a general principle.  Still, in practice we should also be cognizant that there is a lot of information coming at policymakers these days through various means.  So, if people want their ideas in that mix, they have to affirmatively make that happen by getting them out from behind firewalls and making them accessible both in form and content.   And per my original post above, the incentives in academia still generally work against both of those things right now in addition to the more basic tension between journalism, public affairs, etc…and academic research.

3 Replies to “Freedom’s Just Another Word For $30 Articles?”

  1. Remember libraries? What did we do before the internet? Not being able to access a peer-reviewed article free from one’s easy chair does not–to this reader–seem like the appropriate criteria for policymakers to use when making informed decisions.

    Besides, with a little google searching, one can find free copies of a large share of peer-reviewed articles on the web.

  2. Screw the little stuff. We should be dealing with ideas. We’ve got amazing opportunities for dealing with ideas.

    Let’s talk about building something, and not worry too much about the imperfections of the edusphere.

    If we where we manipulating the stock market or planning the destabilizing of Iran, it would be different. but our mission (should we accept it) is to wrestle with ideas for creating a 21st Century Learning Culture.

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