Limited access to journals in Greece

In a last years Nature News article, the financial situation of Greece was brought up in connection to science by Varvara Trachana. The government is dealing with six years worth of recession and pulling the nations belt tighter on everything. This includes science. The salaries and funds for reagents are frozen, leading to young scientists leaving the country. One devastating consequence of decreased funds in science, is the lack of access to subscription journals. Since the government does not pay for the subscriptions, university scientists are left without the information they need.

I found this highly problematic. For example when preparing all the necessary paperwork for animal experiments, one has to research all possible alternatives to use of animals and make sure the experiment has not already been done. What if you cannot have access to the journals the relevant literature is published in? This situation underlines the need for open access journals. Having all research publications open access as soon as they are published could improve the science done around the world.

“Many Greek researchers, unable to afford personal subscriptions to their favourite journals, are already considering reviving a practice that was common a decade or so ago — contacting friends and colleagues in foreign research centres and asking them to fax or e-mail articles.”                                            -Varvara Trachana, (2013)

The quoted statement above is a bit troubling to me. It seems like requesting the subscription journal articles to be sent by ones colleagues could be the only option for Greek scientists. Could one get into trouble like Aaron Swartz did over making the subscribed content available to others for free? Are there any rules about this?

References:

  • Trachana, V. (2013). Austerity-led brain drain is killing Greek science. Nature 4967445:271 (http://www.nature.com/news/austerity-led-brain-drain-is-killing-greek-science-1.12813)
  • Khier Casino (2014) New Details Surface About Events Leading Up To Prosecution Of Aaron Swartz, in Design and Trend (accessed 4/17/14 at http://www.designntrend.com/articles/12405/20140404/new-details-surface-events-leading-up-prosecution-aaron-swartz.htm)

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