The Overhead Wire on a new model for distributing research

The Overhead Wire writes in the comments to this post:

I chatted with Elsevier Transportation folks at one point about creating an iTunes model for publishing articles so that folks could get them for a $1 a pop. I’d pay a subscription per month to read the ones I wanted if that were the case. After a few email back and forths they started ignoring me.

I think ultimately there needs to be another outlet. I think you discount the role of blogs to a certain extent because you confine blogging to a certain space. If there were transportation blogs that were focused on released research on certain topics, covering all the journals (not just brands re Elsevier, Springer etc) and there were a model where you could purchase the full article for a dollar, you might have more than just academics reading them and create a bigger market. Right now they are holed up in Transportation Libraries. What good does that do the city planner who wants to learn something new but doesn’t have the time to mine the 25 journals that might have an article of interest?

I think this is a very good idea, and I didn’t mean to discount blogs–I obviously think they are worthwhile, since I have one, and I continue to maintain it even though I’m not sure it’s good for me, personally, to keep providing the service.

If we had a blog that collected peer-reviewed material, it would basically be an e-journal, since what separates blogs from journals in my mind are two things a) editors and b) peer review. So it’s less that I discount blogs, and more that if we had those two things that are key to academic rigor (editors and peer review), the distinction between them would largely go away. That wouldn’t bother me. Plenty of blogs have editors, and I think they make all the difference in bringing the content up a notch.

However, I like the current form of the blogosphere, too. It’s a place where people can respond quickly to issues as they arise. You can try out new ideas and be opinionated if you want to. Peer review tends to reign that in, for both good and bad. That’s what I mean by the idea that I think that blogs and journals are complements to each other. I regularly write about research here, to expand on multiple points or to challenge something the authors have concluded.

I very much like the idea of being able to buy papers for a much lower price than the $30 that journals try to hit you with. I really don’t understand the rationale for that.

(Apologies for typos. I haven’t had much coffee yet and I wanted to get this out there this morning.)