Is hiding research behind a paywall immoral?

If you are a scientist, your job is to bring new knowledge into the world. And if you bring new knowledge into the world, it’s immoral to hide it. I heartily wish I’d never done it, and I won’t do it again.

That’s Mike Taylor’s thoughts on publishing research, and I tend to agree. To me, hiding research behind a paywall — particularly publicly funded research — goes against the main purpose of research, which is expanding the knowledge and understanding of mankind. That’s not possible if very few people read it.

I currently have access to a lot of academic articles and research as a graduate student, but I won’t in a few years when I’m done. Most of this research will be ghettoized to academic circles. The knowledge and ideas contained within these academic articles would be relevant to me long after I leave school.

Most of the most eager and curious minds are students, particularly younger ones. And yet k-12 students don’t have access to this information. Is it realistic to expect a sophomore in high school to spend $20 to read an academic article?

But these young minds are exactly the kinds of people who should be influenced by this research and looking to push it forward.

The biggest reason cited for publishing in this closed academic journals is the need for tenure. Well, it’s time tenure commities stopped being part of the problem. Knowledge should be open, and the quality of the research, not the name on the journal should be what ultimately matters.

Personally, I think blogging research might be the best approach and then having this collected into open-access Web journals. This would make finding academic research easy, and would also make it easy to comment on and share. Imagine if academic research went viral on social media?