Journal Articles – not just the bane of Grad School!

I don’t think I fully appreciated journal articles until I didn’t have ready access to them anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still have access to my ASHA journals – and I love them and read them frequently. But there is more to research than just what ASHA publishes. Unfortunately for the typical SLP (at least here in the states) those articles and the research they represent is just out of reach.

Yes, I can read abstracts for free…I can even hypothesize what the abstract is about…and if I’m REALLY desperate I can even cite it (unread) as support for whatever theory I have…but that’s not really ethical, is it? (please note: No, I haven’t done this but I have considered whether it would be ethical to do so.)

One thing I learned working on my thesis in grad school is that for every usable article (one that works for your research) there are nearly 50 that are read and discarded. There is no way to get all the pertinent information to determine if it’s appropriate for your research/EBP by just the abstract. Unfortunately you can’t actually READ the article to see if it’s applicable unless you 1) subscribe, 2) pay per article, or 3) beg request an author’s copy.

For instance, I enjoy reading about phonology and the new research that is coming out about phonology is very intriguing for me. A recent #SLPeep tweet talked about an article discussing a study done on children with SLI and Phonological disorders… at least, I think that’s what it’s about – without reading the article I don’t know for sure. I’d love to read it, unfortunately it’s beyond my budget.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I understand the need for publishers to make money and continue to print…I really do. But as a school-based SLP with NO access to journals through my school, it’s very frustrating. I see an article I want to read and can’t get access. Unfortunately, I simply can’t afford to buy all the articles or subscribe to all the journals I would love to read in the hopes that one or two articles are actually pertinent to what I’m doing.

I fully understand and support the need for continuing to stay abreast of current research, implementing Evidence Based Practices in therapy, and expanding the neural network in learning new things…I do. But, I am extremely frustrated at the lack of availability to the very things that will allow me to do just that. I resent being tied to one set of journals (no matter how good they are) and forced to ignore other extremely pertinent research that’s out there.

Unfortunately…I don’t think there’s a good solution. Publishers need paying subscribers to continue to publish…but I do wish I could show my school credentials and get a significant discount. I’d happily pay a small fee for on-line subscriptions…as long as it was a “small” fee dictated by MY pocket-book and not the publishers.

What are your thoughts? How do you, the reader, stay abreast of new research?

Until then…Adventure on!

5 thoughts on “Journal Articles – not just the bane of Grad School!

  1. Mary,
    Great post ! I have thought about this often and so many times have found myself reading abstracts wishing I could afford to dulvge into the whole article. I will admit that in desparation I inquired with my co-workers and was given a login/password to a major university library. In retrospect I’m now feeling guilty, because I’ve always considered myself as being someone who has never stole anything. I’m now thinking maybe this would technically be classified as “stealing”. Anyway, you may have mentioned this, but if you know a colleage who is going to graduate (?) or doctorate (my ex.) school they will often have a subscription/passcode from their school which grants them access to different on-line journal libraries……I just tried a passcode given to me a little over a year ago, and I was still able to log-in. I don’t plan to use it; although, if I get desparate to read something I will admit it would be a little tempting.

  2. Great post, Mary, I totally agree! I am SO fortunate that some Allied Health group that I am automatically a part of in Ontario Canada has recently gotten access to several journals. Not all, but at least more than the whopping ONE I had access to before this. What I used to do is just read the abstract & try to guess 😦 but obviously that wasn’t helpful. I have often heard that you can just outright email an article’s author and they’ll likely send you a copy–never tried this but it’s worth a shot!

  3. Do you have a SLP grad program nearby? Sometimes, if you supervise Graduate Student Clinicians, the school will give you access to their libraries. I have also asked my GSCs to look up articles for me and then we discuss the articles as part of their internship requirements.

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