Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Papers Behind Paywalls

The government, presumably, wants a public that is educated and engaged with current scientific issues. Scientists certainly want this. And a big chunk of the public also wants this.

But when an ordinary member of the public tries to find an academic article that has been referenced by a news story or a university department, what they often find is that the paper in question is stuck behind a paywall.

So the member of the public stays ignorant of the research. Critically, this means they cannot effectively challenge media or government reports that misrepresent research (Daily Mail, I'm looking at you).

BFTF has decided to keep a log of the instances if finds itself stuck on the plebs side a of a firewall, with the intention of using the resulting examples as evidence in what will be a VERY TECTCHY email to those in Government who can change the situation.

While trying to write a report on a recent talk about less-lethal weapons, wanted to read a paper titled "Injuries caused by rubber bullets: A report on 90 patients" (British Journal of Surgery 62 (6): 480–486,Millar, R.; Rutherford, W. H.; Johnston, S.; Malhotra, V. J. (1975), but couldn't, because it is STILL, almost 40 YEARS ON, still behind a paywall. Unbelievable.

While trying to write a post about a lecture on fossils, found that relevant research is out of reach of ordinary citizens (but not anti-science creationist groups)
Relevant paper : Terminal Developments in Ediacaran Embryology, Butterfield, N. J. (2011) Science, 334 (6063). 1655 -1656.

A blog, ironically about the relationship between the public and science, references a paper entitled "Blowin’ in the wind: Short-term weather and belief in anthropogenic climate change" (published in the AMS Journal Weather, Climate, and Society 2013). But when BFTF tried to find the paper, it was hidden behind a paywall.

Trying to get hold of this paper, which was very relevant to a recent talk at Cafe Sci
Stobart, R. and Wijewardane, A. "Exhaust System Heat Exchanger Design for Thermal Energy Recovery in Passenger Vehicle Applications". IMechE, VTMS 10, Vol. 2011, Vehicle Thermal Management System Conference, Warwick, UK, 2011

While trying to write a post about the nano-motor research being undertaken at the University of Oxford (and which featured at the 2012 RS Summer Exhibition), wanted to find out more about the mechanisms involved, the paper below might have helped, but I'll never know as it is stuck behind a paywall.
Direct observation of stepwise movement of a synthetic molecular transporter.
Wickham SFJ et all. Nature Nanotechnology 6,166-169.

Whilst trying to write a post about a public lecture on nanotechnology in Healthcare, had the following issues in finding information:

Double Nanoparticle Layer in a 12th Century Lustreware Decoration: Accident or Technological Mastery?
Philippe Sciau et al., 2009, Journal of Nano Research, 8, 133
Wanted to find out more about the science of lusterware, but the paywall means that I can’t

Materials: Carbon nanotubes in an ancient Damascus sabre.
M. Reibold et al Nature 444, 286 Published online 15 November 2006
Wanted to find out more about the microstructure of Medieval Damascus steel, but the paywall means I couldn't.

Preparation of lotus-leaf-like polystyrene micro- and nanostructure films and its blood compatibility.
J. Mater. Chem., 2009,19, 9025-9029
Wanted to read about synthetic hydrophobic materials, but the paywall means that I couldn't.

Activation of complement by therapeutic liposomes and other lipid excipient-based therapeutic products.
Adv. Drug Delivery Rev. V63, Issue 12, P1020–1030.Janos Szebenia et al
Wanted to read about the mechanism used in one of drugs mentioned in the talk - but the paywall means that I couldn't.

Self-assembly of a nanoscale DNA box with a controllable lid
Nature 459, 73-76 (7 May 2009)
Wanted to read about a box made from DNA mentioned in the talk, but paywall means that I couldn't.

A visit to the outstanding Summer Exhibition at the Royal Society saw BFTF intrigued by a display by the People of the British Isles DNA mapping project. Wanting to find out more, BFTF visited their website. Finding it a bit light on information, clicked on "Papers related to the People of British Isles project" and then on the rather interesting looking "The peopling of Europe and the cautionary tale of Y chromosome lineage R-M269"
SLAM - A paywall hits BFTF in the face. Guess I'll just have to stay ignorant.

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