Med Students Use P2P to Acquire Journal Research

Study investigates increasing use of file-sharing software to make non-open access (NOA) journals, ones requiring payment, available to other medical professionals online.

Oftentimes the debate over the illegal use of P2P software is framed around copyrighted media like movies and music, and never about the exchange of important data like that consumed by medical professionals.

Ken Masters of ITHealthEd conducted a study recently investigating the practice of medical students sharing non-open access (NOA) journals, ones available only through payment, by uploading them to public download sites as facilitated by an unnamed file-sharing website.

He monitored the site over a six-month period which, as of January 10th of this year, had a total of 127,626 registered users whom had created 30,558 threads and 298,280 posts.

What’s of most interest is the “Databases & Journals — Requests and Enquiries” forum which allowed users to request articles from NOA journals. People with access to them would download them and make them available to the requester in either the forum or a “publicly-accessible web site.” Users could request no more than 3 articles per day.

“Although many participants on this site are students, other users have identified themselves as practicing professionals or academic staff,” writes Masters.

Nature seems to have been the most popular publication with 118 articles requested.

Gastronintest Endoscopy Clin N Am had the highest mean number of views with 12.7.

Masters says that there was no overt sense of “vindictiveness” against copyright holders in the forums, but rather “a mood of togetherness, of openness and sharing, and communal assistance.”

Unfortunately for researchers and society alike it seems that since January of this year the site has become private and has frequently been offline.

Stay tuned.

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[Via Ars]