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Scientific paper authors are allowed and “delighted” to send full-text

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

“What’s something that seems obvious within your profession, but the general public seems to misunderstand?” asked @Mantia on Twitter. Fun question. Dr. Holly Witteman (@witteman) replied:

That $35 that scientific journals charge you to read a paper goes 100% to the publisher, 0% to the authors. If you just email us to ask for our papers, we are allowed to send them to you for free, and we will be genuinely delighted to do so. I knew that none of that money goes to authors, but I am fascinated that I did not know that “we are allowed to send them to you for free.”

Great tip to add to my Studying the Pain Studies page. Done.

My answer to the question, regarding science journalism

And, no, it’s not a coincidence that this is my answer, following the cannabis post this week. 😉

All scientific paper conclusions are provisional and there are always caveats. Even robust findings are usually just a piece of the puzzle. Reporting “conclusions” does not imply that they are the Last Word on a topic.

That is obvious to me, and the general public does have some real trouble with it. As an experienced science writer, I should know this and routinely help the reader by spelling out a key caveat or two. And I do often do that! But not always, as with the cannabis post this week. Sometimes it’s because I am not qualified to editorialize … or maybe I just didn’t have the time. And while mentioning a caveat or two isn’t terrible burdensome, I also want to avoid constantly re-hashing the basics of scientific literacy.

PainSci Member Login » Submit your email to unlock member content. If you can’t remember/access your registration email, please contact me. ~ Paul Ingraham, PainSci Publisher