The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

leaf

For many of us, the meaning of Thanksgiving usually includes feasting, four-day weekends, football games, floats, family reunions, or a forerunner to Christmas festivities. The “first Thanksgiving,” however, was neither a feast nor a holiday, but a simple gathering. Following the Mayflower’s arrival at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered the lost of 46 of their original 102 colonists. With the help of 91 Indians, the remaining Pilgrims survived the bitter winter and yielded a bountiful harvest in 1621. In celebration, a traditional English harvest festival, lasting three days brought the Pilgrims and natives to unite in a “thanksgiving” observance.

This “thanksgiving” meal would not be celebrated again until June of 1676. On June 29 the community of Charlestown, Massachusetts proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for their good fortune. Ironically, this celebration excluded the Indians, as the colonists’ recognized their recent victory over the “heathen natives.” One hundred years later, in October of 1777, all 13 colonies participated in a one-time “thanksgiving” celebration which commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. It would take a span of over 150 more years to establish Thanksgiving as we celebrate it — George Washington proclaimed it a National holiday in 1789, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November in 1863, and Congress sanctioned it as a legal holiday in 1941.

There’s your history lesson for this holiday break, have a fun, safe, and healthy extended weekend everyone!

Status

Open Access Week Recap

Now that Open Access Week has come to a close, here’s a recap on what you may have missed out on:

  • Free magnets all week outside the LINK
  • Collaborations with Dr. Witte about the Holocaust and Dr. Mitofsky about Open Access textbooks
  • Game day with free games in the library
  • The House on Haunted Hill movie with free popcorn
  • Scavenger Hunt with a $20 VISA card prize

If you missed out that’s a shame but Open Access Week will be back next October. Our hope was that we could’ve educated our students and faculty a little better about what Open Access is and hope you all enjoyed the week.

Don’t forget Open Access is the principal that research should be accessible online, for free, immediately after publication–and is improving the way scholarly information is shared.

The real cost…

So we’ve gone over how we have limited access to scholarly journals and have learned that it is because of such a high cost, now lets look at the real cost…

While students struggle to afford access to crucial journals, the largest publishers continue to make profit margins at and in excess of 30%.

Why do commercial publishers make such high profit margins?  It turns out that the market for academic journals is unlike any other.  The product, journal articles, is produced by researchers, then given to publishers for free in exchange for being published.  After coordinating the peer review process, copy editing, and bundling articles together, publishers charge our campus libraries large fees for access, though universities contribute significantly to the creation of articles.

While publishing certainly has necessary costs, today’s highest journal prices do not reflect the actual costs of publishing.  Rather, these prices reflect publishers’ monopoly over the articles they publish, and the choice of some publishers to take advantage of their position as the sole point of access.  In order to learn and conduct research effectively, students and professors require access to as much of the scholarly record as possible.  So, libraries must subscribe to journals no matter what the price – that is, until they run out of money.
One way to illustrate the effect commercial publishers have had on journal prices is to look at the difference the cost per page between non profit and for profit journals.

Journals published for by for-profit companies  are many times more expensive than those published by  their non-profit counterparts. This result shouldn’t be too surprising: whereas non-profit publishers are usually scholarly societies whose mission is to disseminate knowledge as widely as possible, for-profit publishers’ interest is in maximizing profit.

Finally, it’s important to note that nearly all journals used to be published by scholarly societies, but as commercial publishers have taken over and charged higher prices, as shown in the graph, access to this crucial information has gotten more and more expensive.

When we pay for research to be conducted, we believe that we have a right to the results of that research, especially when making these resources publicly available can have a positive impact for students, patients, doctors, researchers, small businesses, those in developing countries, and everyone else who uses academic research.

Support Open Access!

Open Access Week 2015


The count down has begun…28 days until Open Access Week begins!

This will be the first time Trine University is participating. For those who don’t know, Open Access Week is a week internationally dedicated to teaching people about how scholarly work is published and promoting the idea that all information should be available to everyone, free of charge, and free of copyright and licensing restrictions.

This is important because students are losing already limited access to core academic research – research essential to a complete education.  As a student, it’s no secret that academic journals are crucial to our research, our term papers, and our understanding of both fine details and the larger, overall picture of everything we study.  Yet, students often run into access barriers while to trying to do research, forcing us to settle for what we can get access to, rather than what we need most.

Outside the classroom, limited access to research has a tremendous impact on people’s lives.  When doctors are denied access to medical research, patient outcomes suffer – especially in developing countries where medical professionals have even fewer resources to commit to research access.  Even in business, small companies in cutting-edge fields lose opportunities to innovate when they don’t have access to the most up-to-date research upon which to build.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the way academic research is currently shared is that, even though you — through your taxes and tuition — underwrite a vast portion of research, you’re denied access to the results unless you also pay often very expensive subscription fees.

This week we’ll be focusing on why access to scholarly journals is limited, the high cost of journals, and more.

Stay Tuned!