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Why scientific journals are important?

Progress Doesn’t Happen On Its Own

Why scientific journals are important?

Scientific journals do serve a real purpose. What they are doing isn’t free, so somebody has to pay for it.

Paul Romer.

On the other hand for the casual reader it’s an exorbitant price. If somebody has read some sensational claims about a scientific finding and just wants to check out the original paper to know what’s real, then that kind of price is definitely going to stop them. And they probably aren’t going to bother emailing the author either.

That means the sensational claims in the popular press will spread much easier than the underlying scientific results. And I think that’s probably not good for society. The price for reading the scientific paper of course isn’t the only hindrance.

Most of the work producing a scientific journal is done by the scientists, and as far as I know the journals aren’t paying reviewers or authors, so there shouldn’t be all that much cost left needing to be covered by the readers. But if there is only a tiny number of readers, then $35 from each isn’t going to be a lot of money.

As far as I know there exist journals where it’s the authors (or their employers) who pay the cost for the journal, and the journal is then free for all to read. But I am not convinced that model is a good one either.

Why scientific journals are important?