Gatekeeping the Ivory Towers and Paywalls: Outside and Against the Academy.

June 29, 2015

Call it sour grapes, if you like…

Dear Simon Crook

Thank you for your interest in ResearchGate. Unfortunately we were unable to approve your account request.

ResearchGate membership is limited to those who are part of the scientific or academic research community. Based on the information you provided during sign-up, we couldn’t confirm you’re a researcher…


The ResearchGate Team.

It was a bit of a punt, trying to sign up, on a whim. It was a means to get access, for research purposes, to a piece of published work by Flora Samuel from 1999 (here). If I took the time to reapply and supply (an admittedly small) publication list and my alumnus status (as advised by ResearchGate in their rejection email), I’m fairly confident I’d be accepted. However, there’s a principle at stake.

I firmly believe that access to such knowledge should not be dependent upon whether or not you’re a tenured academic, whether or not you’ve been published, whether or not you’ve ever been part of a Higher Education institution. I’m appalled that so much published research is secluded behind paywalls, accessible only if you’re part of the academic system or if you can afford to cough up the money. Aaron Swartz paid the ultimate price for breaking the paywall of JSTOR, a digital library of academic articles, having devised a method for downloading a large number of those articles for public access. The vindictive zeal with which he was pursued by the authorities drove him to take his own life at the age of 26 (see here).

The commodification of knowledge, another stage in the enclosure of the commons.



Samuel, F. 1999. The philosophical city of Rabelais and St Theresa – Le Corbusier and Edouard Trouin’s scheme for St Baume. Literature and Theology 13(2): 111-125.

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