Coronavirus and The Paywall Dilemma (Information Series Part II)

As the Coronavirus crisis deepens, quality information is critical to individual, community, state and national preparedness. Staying informed should be easily available in the “digital age”, and it is, but with a considerable cost, both financially and in terms of human health.

Some very large publishers have managed to develop very large revenue streams by restricting access to valuable data. Using paywalls and subscription services, these organisations generate large revenue streams for material they do not author.

As the “middleman” they can charge sizeable access fees which are too costly for most individuals and smaller institutions, especially in developing countries.

Subscriptions also require a large upfront payment, something that’s unattractive to someone simply looking for a particular piece of information.

In recent years, there’s been growing concern around the monetisation of academic research which is:

a) in the best interests of the public

b) funded by the public purse

Europe has been taking a strong stance on ensuring publicly funded academic research be available for free and there has been increased scrutiny around the limitations of paywalls and other subscription-based models when accessing medical and other scientific research.

And Coronavirus has only reinforced the negative impact of paywalls on the dissemination of life-saving information and the real world implications it’s having on people’s ability to find quality research.

Researchers and authors do need to be compensated for their efforts but opportunistic “middle-men” should not be entitled to profiteer off of the hard work of others.

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What Covid-19 Has Taught Us About Knowledge Management (Information Series Part II)

One thing the Coronavirus outbreak has shown us is that getting quality information based on quantitative-based research and professional recommendations is key to ensure the public is well-informed, and fully educated about a wide-scale health issue (or any issue for that matter).

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Subject repositories (or discipline repositories) attempt to collect information based on academic research, about a particular subject or area of interest. They provide a one-stop for quality information, collating educational material, findings and other supporting documentation in a single location. Subject repositories should use well-researched scholarly information and this information should be verified for authenticity and its source should be easily tracked.

Subject repositories are even more important in a decentralised world. Information could be stored and hosted across a number of disparate systems – this is perfect for circumventing the influence over information by nefarious parties who are looking to either control the narrative, or benefit from either playing up or playing down its impact… But by its very nature, decentralised data is difficult to find, search across and extricate meaningful conclusions.

In a decentralised world, subject repositories will be the gathering points for various information from a wide range of sources. It will be more important than ever to attach a pseudonymous path to the original material to ensure both the integrity and truthfulness of the data while also ensuring that the privacy of the source is protected, especially in regimes which single out or punish purveyors of quality, scientific information.

KnowledgeArc Network offers some mind-blowing alternatives to the way ‘the asset of knowledge’ has been managed to date…

When data is archived on a blockchain the information remains:

1. Immutable – the data can never be changed or corrupted

2. Persistent – it will last forever

3. Unique – there is no other information like this, it’s the single source

4. Open – the data is publicly accessible so others can build on the knowledge created

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