In NMFSS yesterday, Gail made this excellent point regarding scholarly articles: “We pay you a little bit to write your article and then we pay a *lot* to the publisher to get it back!”
She’s absolutely right. Our colleges and universities (assuming you’re in academia of course) pay us our wages. And those wages cover our teaching, research, and service. So yeah, she’s right, at the end of the day, a little bit of those wages go toward writing that article. We are not paid by the journal for these submissions, nor do I necessarily think we should be.
This article is then published in an expensive journal, which the library has to buy either in paper copy, or in digital copy, or in both! Without a library account you cannot access this material. Anyone can walk into the library and use it, to be fair, but not everyone has digital access.
I know for a fact that the cost of these journals is problematic for many university libraries, especially in light of state-level budget cuts (for state schools). At a former institution, we were sent a list of journals to be cut one year, and unless we made an incredibly strong case for a particular journal, they were cut at the end of the year.
Why are we limiting information to only those who can afford it? How much farther and faster would knowledge advance if we didn’t exclude people simply because they cannot afford 35 bucks to read an article?