LOEX: Why Does Google Sometimes Ask for Money?

"Leveraging the Economics of Information and Scholarly Communication Process to Enrich Instruction" was the rest of the title of this session presented by Kim Duckett and Scott Warren from NC State University. Their PowerPoint presentation (1.9MB) is available and you should read through the slides because I can't do them justice in this post.

Kim and Scott started with the argument that our students are not savvy enough to know when they have left our discovery tools to access paid content. Students have not made the connection yet, even though they probably have a similar mental model. Students normally don't consider how much money is spent to provide access to electronic journal articles. They go to the library web site and get access to the content for free (with few or little authentication barriers), so it's just like a lot of other content on the open web.

Strategies they have been using successfully with upper level classes…

Start with what students already know about the peer review process and build on their prior knowledge.  Challenge assumptions by asking:

  • Why don't researchers just use blogs?
  • Do all papers submitted get published?
  • Are all journals equal?
  • Do authors get royalties?
  • How much does it cost an author to publish?

Examples of sticker shock were used to further challenge assumptions about how much scholarly content actually costs. This naturally leads to a discussion about why publishers charge so much and why libraries provide access to expensive content. They discuss the various stakeholders in the publishing process: author, publisher, database vendor, and library.

Continued discussion of the invisible web follows, where the concept that Google doesn't make a distinction when indexing content if it is free or free. The crawlers are just discovering content and making a pointer to it available for retrieval. Finally, Scott and Kim were able to leverage the existing mental model of online shopping (buying airline tickets at Expedia or Travelocity) to help the student make the connection between discovery and access.

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