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Some Early Observations: Human Connections Vs. Digital Tools

Some Early Observations: Human Connections Vs. Digital Tools

I began recording data related to my article searches yesterday evening. I am already pleasantly surprised at the openness of academics. All of the articles I searched for so far are paywalled. Within minutes of emailing each author to request copies of their papers, I received positive responses, PDFs, and well wishes for my research.

I have kept my emails short and to the point:

  1. the name of the article
  2. my inability to access a copy
  3. and, a request for a copy from the author.

Naturally, the speed at which I received responses is, in part, down to the luck of catching an author while they are logged into their email. But the lack of any hesitation in sharing their work is clear. One author even sent me two versions of his article. This bodes well for the rest of my participation in 30 Days 4 Science. Of course, I am not ruling out the possibility of a negative or more hesitant response.

One challenge that I have encountered so far is difficulty with the Open Access Button. It has not been very responsive, rather buggy, and not of any use to my work on this project as of yet. The search function has not been working for me. There could be any number of issues for this (browser issues, wifi connection, web traffic, etc) so I am not ruling it out as I continue with the project. I have also put in requests for articles via the button. However, the lack of any follow-up or confirmation of a receipt of request from any party  leaves me without any knowledge as to how effective this is. I am keeping an open mind as far as this aspect of the Open Access Button is concerned. It’s a great ideas and I am hoping to get good use out of it for and beyond this project.

Open Access Button Slogan.
Open Access Button Slogan. “Write Email. Press Send. Get Research. Say Thank You” also works.

Actual contact with academics has been a more useful, open and productive method of gaining access to paywalled research. I am taking this a very positive message about the generosity of the majority of scholars regarding the dissemination of their research. And that’s a very nice message to wind down my #OAWeek2016 experience so far.