Monday, June 30, 2014

Hell, yes!

In a Guardian piece on things that annoy climate scientists -- a piece that hit all the usual marks about ignorant politicians, people who don't understand uncertainty, etc. -- was this gem:
The thing that bugs me most about the way climate change is talked about in the media is journalists citing scientific papers without providing a link to the original paper.
Readers often want to get more details or simply check sources, but this is very difficult (or sometimes impossible) if the source is not given. I've raised this a few times, and get lame excuses like 'readers get frustrated when the journals are paywalled' but that's not good enough. Media should provide sources – end of.
-- Professor Richard Betts, chair in Climate Impacts at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK

 Dear God, that irritates me to no end! Not only no link, but often they don't even give you the name of the paper, or the issue of the journal it's in! (Or is going to be in.) It's 2014, cite your fucking sources! Preach it, Dr Betts, preach it!


  1. Hell, yes! For once I agree with Richard Betts :)

    It's not just journalists. More often than not the press release from the research institution doesn't mention the title of the paper or the journal it is (or is about to be) published in, let alone the issue and all the authors.

    1. That is . . . just incomprehensible. What do they think, the press release is gospel and no one needs to look at the original because . . . The unprofessionalism, it burns.

  2. There's of course a somewhat bigger picture. I forget the exact numbers, but the UK spends something like £200 million paying publishing houses to either publish papers or for access (normally through university libraries). These publishing houses make - as I understand it - extremely large profits; much bigger (as a percentage of revenue) than most other major businesses. When open access became an issue, what did the UK do? It decided to give them even more money. In my opinion, one step towards solving this problem is to find a way to make these papers open access without giving even more money to these publishing houses; especially as they do very little of the actual work (the research is publicly funded, the papers are typeset by the authors, the reviewing and editing is typically done for free by the researchers themselves). As much as I agree with Richard Betts (although maybe "end of" is a little absolute :-) ) linking to articles with a £30 access charge is not going to help very much.

  3. I generally manage to find the papers, but I'm used to digging for papers, most people aren't!

    Direct links to the paper, paywalled or not, is the only reasonable thing to do.