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Universities that bust paywalls?

  1. Jul 24, 2007 #1
    So, I http://heybryan.org/school.edu [Broken] on the sorts of schools that I would like to apply to since it is just about time for me. Originally, I started with the list of 50 schools that had MD/PhD programs as sponsored by NIH, and then narrowed it down to those schools that had good chemical and computer engineering programs, or maybe experimental physics, etc.

    However, recently I have found that I would much rather find those universities that bust paywalls. The importance of universities is not only the social environment wherein professors and other experts and peers can be contacted, but the library. These libraries with thousands of journals and tens of thousands of archived subscriptions are really awesomely important. Not to mention the online databases.

    What schools are focused on busting these paywalls, like EBSCO, Science Direct, ACS, JSTOR, and all of the many other databases that Google Scholar crawls? What university libraries are the most well funded? Which schools are focused on providing information to their students, rather than enforcing nasty copyright violation policies? Not everything can be accessed through the Interlibrary Exchange after all, right?

    BTW, this is a massive cross post, so check out http://heybryan.org/posts/July24th02007.html [Broken] on all of the other forums.

    - Bryan
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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  3. Jul 25, 2007 #2


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    What country are you in?
    In the UK Cambridge, Oxford and London have copyright libraries which in theory receive a copy of everything published in the UK and because of their own large collections generally have good swap deals with other libraries/institutes for things published in other countries.
    There is a blanket copying exemption for all UK universities which lets you make copies for study of everything.

    However - if you are an undergrad this is irrelevant, what you need is a dept library with 20copies of the set text. If you are a postgrad you need a good dept because it attracts seminar speakers and visiting staff from other institutes. In most of physics research by the time anything in your field hits the paper journals it's history. Having said that, good journal collections do help a lot when you are trying to work accross fields and don't need to be at the bleeding edge of all of them.
  4. Jul 25, 2007 #3
    If you are interested in physics, you will probably find that the majority of recent research papers are available at http://arxiv.org. This site hosts unrefereed copies of preprints that people submit themselves.
  5. Jul 25, 2007 #4

    Woah. Awesome. Is this called 'Athens'?

    Yeah, I am well aware of arXiv. It is an awesome website. I also like to use Review Literature in HEP. I have made a post on the web before about important databases, you might want to check it out (I also link to Gary Price's deep web search site there). Very useful stuff. I have been thinking of creating a page on my site to list all databases that I come across, since Price's database listings are nearly six years old now.

    - Bryan
  6. Jul 25, 2007 #5


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    What do you mean by "busting paywalls"?

    When you say, "Which schools are focused on providing information to their students, rather than enforcing nasty copyright violation policies?", I think you will find that, if there are schools that regularly commit crimes they don't advertise it!
  7. Jul 25, 2007 #6
    I think "paywalls" is the original poster's neologism for electronic journals and databases that require either an individual or institutional subscription or charge per-article access fees. This is not a criterion that is likely to differentiate universities--I'm pretty sure every research university (and quite possibly many liberal-arts colleges and teaching universities) will have institutional subscriptions to all of the major electronic journals and databases (ISI, JSTOR, ScienceDirect, etc.). The only differentiation may be the choice of subscriptions (universities or colleges without engineering programs are unlikely to subscribe to engineering-oriented resources like IEEE or ASME) and the extent of subscriptions (research universities will probably have a broader range of institutional subscriptions than liberal-arts colleges or teaching universities).

    I also have a question for the original poster regarding the personal research he has done into prospective universities. I am curious why you are so insistent upon double-majoring in chemical engineering and computer engineering. In practice, there is no overlap between these two disciplines. A double major in chemical engineering and computer science would make more sense, as it would provide unique qualifications to develop molecular dynamics software for protein-folding simulation or rational drug design.
  8. Jul 26, 2007 #7
    Right. (Except it's not my neologism- it's semipopular apparently). I first heard of it on Slashdot on the University of Kansas copyright article (in particular, here).

    When browsing through the indexes of degree programs offered by most universities, I found that chemical engineering provides the biggest range of topics. You get your mathematics, chemistry (inc. analytical chem, (in)organics, etc.), biology, physics, environmental science, maybe toxicology, and loads of other areas of science and research. In fact, chemical engineers are known as the "universal engineers".

    As for computer engineering, and this might sound farfetched to you, but I have been doing computer programming and computer science (though not hardcore algorithm analysis or NP problems) for years now. Three or four years ago I was still very excited about computer science and was thinking that was what I would go into university to study. After a while I realized that the majority of the classes would bore me to tears- operating system design, introductory programming, data structure analysis, networking, algorithmic analysis, etc. etc. Lots of that I already do on my own. I found computer engineering to be a healthy cross between electrical engineering and computer science (which is sort of like applied mathematics)- wherein I would get my microprocessor design, hardware architecture, electrical power infrastructure studies, etc.

    And this does not mean that I am not interested in topics such as, say, drug design- it just means that I think if I studied pharmacology, chemistry, and medicine, that I could apply my knowledge of programming and comp sci to get the task done. Speaking of which, have you seen the awesome bioinformatics.org FAQ?

    - Bryan
  9. Jul 26, 2007 #8
    Thanks for the links, particularly the second one, which was immensely helpful in understanding what it means to "bust a paywall." It is a common practice for academics to publicly post electronic reprints of their papers on the web, thereby "busting the paywall." Most journals allow authors to retain the copyright on their own work, in which case the author is within his/her rights to do this, but I have heard of some journals that claim exclusive copyright over the papers that they publish, in which case this practice is copyright infringement. In any case, individual academics probably have more leverage than universities over the copyright policies of journals. In particular, see this link about the entire editorial board of the Journal of Algorithms resigning and creating a replacement journal, Transactions on Algorithms, because of an unresolved dispute with the publisher.

    I didn't mean to put you on the spot about this--I was just curious, because the topics that differentiate computer engineering from computer science are also the topics that have little or no applicability to chemical engineering.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2007
  10. Jul 26, 2007 #9
    The Journal of Algorithms story is a good one. Thank you for mentioning it.

    Oh, I know you did not mean to put me in the spot. I was just typing and sharing ;) (I apologize if I gave more than necessary.)

    - Bryan
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