I’m gettng a master’s degree. And in the current course I have one of those professors who act like something’s up their ass whenever someone cites a work that’s not ‘academic’.

For the assignment this week I actually needed to get my hands on some academic papers, because the topic is so uninteresting noone else would bother to write about it. What a nightmare! I’ll tell you why, here’s the process I have to go through to get to only one of these papers:

  • Find the paper I need via google, because the library search engine is crap.
  • Paste the title into the library search engine.
  • Remember to check ‘Computing’, which is down below the search button, or else the following step will need to be repeated.
  • Watch the MetaLib ‘Quick Search’ search the databases for anywhere between 1 and 3 minutes (I’m not kidding).
  • Click on the title of the paper in the search results (assuming the search didn’t crash, which it does sometimes).
  • Scan the following page for 20 seconds looking for anything that remotely sounds like ‘download’ or ‘view’. For this particular paper it turned out to be called “Resource:”
  • Click that link. A popup window opens with MetaLib doing something unspecified for a few seconds. This window is 1/4 of the screen in size and has no navigation buttons.
  • Read the error message in bold: “An error has been encountered. Invalid Parameters”
  • Click on ‘Quick Search’ (in the window with the error). Some long number is pre-filled into the search bar.
  • Select ‘Technology’ in the subject area drop-down and click ‘search’.
  • The thing comes back with a link to the paper you were looking for. Click that.
  • Scan the following page for 20 seconds looking for anything that remotely sounds like ‘download’ or ‘view’. For this particular paper it took a minute.
  • Click the ‘Find it @ Liverpool’ link desguised as a title banner.
  • It says ‘ Full text available via ACM Digital Library’, whatever – click go.
  • A popup window opens, this one 1/6th of the size of my screen. This is the same page I found via google – except now I have the permission to download the paper. Click on the pdf link.
  • PDF downloads.

You see all of the above? That’s for ONE PAPER! It may not even be of any use in my research, I may need to repeat all of the above process 20, 30 times. What sort of a lazy ass moron thinks that I have time for this? In the time it took me to open the academic paper I would have learned everything they found reading the Wikipedia, forums, blogs, wikis, the MSDN, and a hundred other online resources designed to be accessed easier rather than harder. It turns out that on this topic there are no resources except academic, but man am I pissed.

What’s with this pay to access thing anyway? I’d like to know how much money the publishers make charging for access to 15 year old papers. I understand that the peer review process is expensive, that’s fine. Have the papers in the last year, two, five locked up. But for fuck’s sake put anything more than 10 years old in the public domain. If you don’t you will lose your business as people growing up today feel as I do. I will never look for an academic paper when I have a choice. And that means that 10 years from now these publishers and librarians will be out of a job, because of their belief that they are irreplaceable.