For Just $29.95 You Can Have Access to Your Own Article for 24 Hours!!!

Help! Is there someone out there who can save me hours of research by explaining how I allowed this to happen to myself? Or how this happened to me?

Here we go: Back in 1991 I submitted an article to the Journal of Popular Culture. To do so, I became a member of The Popular Culture Association and thus received a subscription to the journal.

My article, “Pets and Lovers: The Human-Companion Animal Bond in Contemporary Literary Prose” was published in 1991, the Summer issue, I think.

I wanted to check something in it the other day, and instead of rummaging through the piles, I thought, I’ll just look online.

I have no academic affiliation. If I did, I could log in through my university and read my own work. That isn’t an option.

Moreover, because of W & Co., I can’t even get on the card catalog, let alone access electronic journals,  at the tax-supported state university down the street these days. I’m not talking only about remotely access journals. I can’t see them in person as well.  Some act about protecting our freedoms has led to this absurdity. At least I can still get in the building, but I don’t know how long that will last. [If  a library is  a repository of government documents, it must allow public access to that area at least–or so it was pre-W, anyway.]

But I do have two options to access my own work, for which I received no payment:

I can pay Blackwell/Wiley InterScience $29.95 to have access to my article for 24 whole hours!!!! What a deal! Mind you, this $29.95 gains me a look only at my 14-page contribution, not the entire journal issue in which it appeared.

$29.95. Once more, $29.95.                     

 Thud   Thud   Thud:    that’s the sound of my head banging on the desk edge.

Or I can purchase a year’s membership to The Popular Culture Association for $55 and be able to read any article I want in any of the journal’s issues for a year. Blackwell/Wiley InterScience handles the subscription.

Now I ask you:

1. Did I in 1990 or 1991 really give up all my rights? Did I agree, or more to the point, how could I have agreed to restricting electronic access to my essay?

2. What value  is Blackwell/Wiley InterScience adding to justify charging anyone $29.95 for one day’s access to my work? Who gets this money and why? I can tell you one person who will never see a cent: the creator of the work.

3. How can  Blackwell/WileyScience have the audacity to charge $29.95 for someone to look at 13 pages for one day when there is the option of seeing a whole lot more for a year for $55 (if you are lucky  enough to find this out)?

Can anyone help me understand this?


5 thoughts on “For Just $29.95 You Can Have Access to Your Own Article for 24 Hours!!!”

  1. Kirsten is right about community access — at least in the case of UA-Tuscaloosa. My inability to access the catalog inside Gorgas Library on a previous occasion was because I tried to do so from a computer workstation located in the stacks. I’m pleased to report it is possible to get into the catalog w/o ID if a patron uses one of the computers that are designated for University or community use located on the lobby level. Moreover, it is possible to search for journal articles and to read these on one of those computers.

    Tomorrow I’ll try UA-Huntsville.

  2. Thanks for your insights.

    My remark about a person with a scanner wasn’t clear. I don’t mean that it would ever be acceptable for me to scan in a print journal and post it online. What I question is what labor does Wiley InterScience do that could justify its charges? What does Wiley InterScience do beyond scanning journals?

    Before electronic submissions, journals needed to charge page fees because the typesetting of graphs and figures alone must have been an ordeal. But now if a journal goes all electronic, and accepts only electronic submissions, what is the service that Wiley is charging for? They don’t even have to scan current journals, do they?

    Please, if you could recommend some resources on the history of the emergence of this system, I would be very grateful. There must be another side to the story, but I’m not sure how to go about finding it.

    It is possible to walk into the University of Alabama system’s libraries and read books and print journals in these buildings, but without a University ID, there is no access to the card catalog or to electronic journals (note: I can get to the catalog at home for most state schools [I’m a guest won’t work remotely for UA-Huntsville], but I can’t get through to it at the libraries’ workstations. Would this be an internet vs. intranet issue? I’m going to test this again tonight at Tuscaloosa.).

    So if you know the call number for the book you want, or if you know the citation for the article and it is available as a hard copy, microfilm/fiche, you are in good shape. But you have to come prepared; you have to do your research prep outside the library. Very strange. Nor is there access to WiFi in the library or anywhere on the campus if you don’t have a University ID.

    Is this typical nationwide? When/why did this happen?

  3. Oops. Almost forgot. Re: your comment on my post, a person with a scanner wouldn’t have the law behind them. As in music and movies, copyright is a Very Big Deal for most publishers.

  4. Hi Laurie,

    First off, as an academic librarian it worries me that your local state university doesn’t let local patrons have access to its resources. That’s not normal. There are occasionally some restrictions for those not affiliated with the university (for example, some databases charge us by the “seat” and so we limit access to our students and faculty to be sure that they can get in when they need to), but generally speaking universities allow community patrons access.

    As for the rest, unfortunately, there’s a good chance that you did indeed give up your rights to the article. You’d have to find any paperwork you signed in order to be sure, though. Different publishers handle things differently at various points in time, so the only way to know for sure is to find the agreement.

    Also, because the publisher owns the article, they can charge what they want for access. I’m not saying it’s either right or fair, but it is they way things currently work. It’s also a good part of why many academics and librarians are pushing for open access (and I don’t mean the $3000 version of it, either).

    Given that institutions are slow to change — and that academia and academic publishing are very old and very large institutions and so even slower than some — the open access movement is one that is still very much in its infancy. It has made headway, though. Currently, the results of any scientific research done with federal money must be published in the open access PubMed.

    Given that it’s easier to make these sorts of changes from a here-forward point of view, I’m personally doubtful that older articles such as yours will legally make their way into the sun unless and until their publishers decide to make them freely available.

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