Saturday, December 22, 2007

Youth violence, media, research, and the uninformed public

There's a new study in the Journal of Social Issues and Policy Review on the relationship of media to youth violence. It makes some interesting suggestions as to the public policy decisions regarding such an important topic. God knows, we've seen our share of horrific events perpetrated by disturbed youth. This is from the Iowa State press release discussing the article:

The authors suggest several public policy alternatives. The first is to provide a public forum for research to be discussed and potential solutions debated to provide legislators an avenue for translating scientific research into publicly accessible language...

That seems like a really excellent suggestion. Of course, I decided to go find the study so that I might be better informed before engaging in public discourse. Yep, you guessed it-- it's pay-per view. You as "ordinary" citizens, without favored access, can get your very own copy of this research from Blackwell Synergy for the bargain price of just $39.

I would suggest that if we are wanting the public to be better informed about research that the first step might be to mandate open-access. It's pretty hard to have effective discourse when the research is inaccessible and otherwise hidden from public view.

Do you think the authors, all land-grant univerity researchers, paid at taxpayer expense, considered publishing their article in an open-access journal? Am I the only one who sees the irony? You make a recommendation that the public needs to be better informed, and then you hide that recommendation behind a firewall where no one can see it.

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