I recall a discussion some months back with a friend of mine who is currently working on his Doctorate in International Relations. He was lamenting the fact that he would be spending countless hours working on his thesis and in all likelihood it would probably only be read by a small handful of people.

Fast-forward to today. I have been working on an essay and I’m attempting to validate some of my key points with research data and it is nearly impossible (unless you are an academic with access to JSTOR or an Athens log-in) to access good content from these resources. The most you can hope for is an abstract.

In fact, it is far easier to access mainstream media articles that make reference to primary research than the primary research itself.

Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

Shouldn’t academic be up-in-arms that they do all this work to develop sophisticated ideas that are heard by a handful of people?

It has been nearly two decades since the Internet became widely available to the American public meaning it has been about two decades that there has been an ICT in place that allows for direct mediated communication between source and audience. What’s more – it has been nearly one decade since we had highly sophisticated search-and-retrieval tools to help the mainstream connect with data.

Why are journal articles still hidden behind these subscription-driven veils? Literally no one outside academia is going to pay money to download one of these papers.

If I were the King of Academia I would immediately do the following:

  1. Convert academic research papers from PDF into more search-friendly HTML;
  2. Remove the subscription-based walls on academic research papers;
  3. Create an ad network that services academic institutions and place advertising throughout the content;
  4. Issue a PRWeb press release with each new research paper – highlighting the key points of the study and making the language and top-line findings more friendly to a broader audience.

At any rate, it is just ridiculous that there is a layer of thought in our society that is buried five-feed underneath the ground and I’ll throw it out there right now – I am willing to offer free consultation and publicity to any academic institution that wants to get serious about publicizing their research findings.