Academic Buddhism is Expensive

A forum for scholastic discussion/debate.

Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:56 am

I just read this article by George Monbiot "The Lairds of Learning":

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/08/29/the-l ... -learning/

He basically explains the big racket that journal publication because has become.

Though academic libraries have been frantically cutting subscriptions to make ends meet, journals now consume 65% of their budgets, which means they have had to reduce the number of books they buy. Journal fees account for a significant component of universities’ costs, which are being passed to their students.


This has prompted me to consider that, in reality, if you want to study academic Buddhism without making use of pirated materials available online, you either need access to a university library or shell out A LOT of money.

Bronkhorst's Greater Magadha (Handbook of Oriental Studies) is a great recent study of the ancient region of Magadha in India, but the book retails for US$189. Going to the library might be a nice option given the cost of such monographs, but then not all libraries have much in the way of Buddhist materials.

So, people on a budget without access to a good library are basically left out standing in the cold.

Unfortunately, the reality is that academia is really just one big racket and blood sucking enterprise coupling with big business. Ideally in the case of Buddhist Studies the books and articles would be available freely. There are a number of places where this is happening, but not everywhere.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5919
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby ratna » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:41 am

Huseng wrote:Bronkhorst's Greater Magadha (Handbook of Oriental Studies) is a great recent study of the ancient region of Magadha in India, but the book retails for US$189. Going to the library might be a nice option given the cost of such monographs, but then not all libraries have much in the way of Buddhist materials.

So, people on a budget without access to a good library are basically left out standing in the cold.


Yeah it's a pity. But there is a possibility to get books like these through an interlibrary loan, which is not too expensive. It makes more sense with expensive monographs than journal articles, though, which are damn too expensive either way if one doesn't have university access.

R
User avatar
ratna
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:32 pm

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby gad rgyangs » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:47 am

Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.
User avatar
gad rgyangs
 
Posts: 777
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:53 pm

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Huifeng » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:41 am

I find that a lot of scholars I meet are more than happy to give me copies of their writings, either digital or paper.

Most of Greater Magadha is on Google Books.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:58 am

Huifeng wrote:I find that a lot of scholars I meet are more than happy to give me copies of their writings, either digital or paper.

And in the "good old days" it used to be the done thing to send requests for reprints to the author of a journal article. Those where the days... :tongue:

:anjali:
Mike
mikenz66
 
Posts: 65
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:10 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Huifeng » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:09 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Huifeng wrote:I find that a lot of scholars I meet are more than happy to give me copies of their writings, either digital or paper.

And in the "good old days" it used to be the done thing to send requests for reprints to the author of a journal article. Those where the days... :tongue:

:anjali:
Mike


I still have a stack of off-prints from a paper that you can have.
But you have to personally come to my office to pick them up! :tongue:

In Buddhist studies, this still happens to a fair degree, at least in my experience.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Huifeng
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:37 am

ratna wrote:Yeah it's a pity. But there is a possibility to get books like these through an interlibrary loan, which is not too expensive. It makes more sense with expensive monographs than journal articles, though, which are damn too expensive either way if one doesn't have university access.

R


The ironic thing is that the authors of journal articles get paid nothing, meanwhile the companies charge an arm and a leg either for access to them or to download individual items. So, you have all these scholars streaming in with articles they want published, and the company (or institution) happily takes them, spends a few minutes editing them, and then without paying a dime to the original authors, publishes everything and makes a killer.

This is really one big racket. It is a throwback to earlier times when the only way to get your research across to others was to publish in printed journals which were in circulation. Nowadays, this isn't necessary because of the internet and e-mail, but the prestige and necessity of publishing in journals is still present. If you don't publish, you perish (i.e., don't keep your job or don't get hired). If you publish your stuff online for free viewing without the sacred "peer review", it counts for nothing.

I think a lot of scholars realize this, but if your livelihood depends on participating as a victim in the racket, you got no choice.

I suspect as time goes on and the humanities gets axed more and more, a lot of would-be professional scholars won't have professional positions, so there won't be the need to cater to the system so much. In the case of Buddhist Studies I imagine most of it will be transferred out of secular institutions into Buddhist organizations because the former won't have the funding or will to provide sufficient support for religious studies, meanwhile the latter will. Buddhist organizations, at least as far as I've seen, seem happy to provide resources free of charge. Even in the case of printed works (like annotated scholarly translations of Buddhist texts), the cost is kept quite reasonable.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5919
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Mr. G » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:00 pm

Article:

Universities have to pay thousands of dollars every year to read their own research online. Blame the broken economics of academic publishing.

This morning, I searched for an article about autism on JSTOR, the online database of academic journals. I have a child on the autistic spectrum, and I like to be aware of the latest research on the topic. I could not access any of the first 200 articles that contained the word "autism." That's because, for the most part, only individuals with a college ID card can read academic journal articles. Everyone else, including journalists, non-affiliated scholars, think tanks and curious individuals, must pay a substantial fee per article, if the articles are available at all.

I later found one article that was available for $38. I'm not sure why one twelve page article costs $38. It takes me about eight minutes to scan a twelve page article. The researcher receives no royalties. Why does it cost so much to read one article?

The answer lies in the antiquated system of academic publishing.

Locked in the Ivory Tower: Why JSTOR Imprisons Academic Research
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
User avatar
Mr. G
 
Posts: 4098
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:36 am
Location: Spaceship Earth

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Indrajala » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:17 pm




Step back and think about this picture. Universities that created this academic content for free must pay to read it. Step back even further. The public -- which has indirectly funded this research with federal and state taxes that support our higher education system -- has virtually no access to this material, since neighborhood libraries cannot afford to pay those subscription costs. Newspapers and think tanks, which could help extend research into the public sphere, are denied free access to the material. Faculty members are rightly bitter that their years of work reaches an audience of a handful, while every year, 150 million attempts to read JSTOR content are denied every year.


Yeah. That's what you get when big business sinks its claws into anything.

The reason tuition has been hiked so much in the last two decades isn't because the profs are getting paid more, but because of nonsense like this.

In my university back home I also noticed how food companies also fight for a piece of the pie. Food services was monopolized by Aramark, a company with a very dodgy history, and Coca-Cola had a monopoly on all drinks sold on campus. University administrators sign such contracts in exchange for grants or whatever.

Higher education is good money for the companies involved.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5919
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:15 am

gad rgyangs wrote:
Ideally in the case of Buddhist Studies the books and articles would be available freely.


ok:

http://en.bookfi.org/book/1155524


Thanks :)
སེམས་རྣམ་པར་གྲོལ་བར་བྱའི་ཕྱིར་བྱམས་པ་བསྒོམ་པར་བྱའོ།
“In order to completely liberate the mind, cultivate loving kindness.” -- Maitribhāvana Sūtra
mañjughoṣamaṇi
 
Posts: 140
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:26 pm

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby tobes » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:32 am

You're on to something Huseng.

I'm concluding that the political economy of academia is increasingly untenable, and ought to be actively resisted.

Intellectual property is only part of the problem - the wider and more pernicious problem is the way institutions configure themselves as corporations, and sell education (and the economic value therein) as a commodity.

Students are now consumers, in a market for the best "product".

Funding follows consumer demand; the strongest demand is for the courses which generate the best future incomes.

Therefore, as we all know, economics departments are flush with funds, philosophy departments are graveyards and sinking ships.

Education, knowledge, understanding, open inquiry, genuine research - these are all utterly subordinate to the real game, which is the value generated from the ownership of intellectual property.

Modern academic institutions are Hobbesian worlds: intense competition for very scarce resources. Genuinely educating people is becoming harder and harder.

Okay, rant over.

:anjali:
User avatar
tobes
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1140
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:02 am

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Indrajala » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:08 pm

tobes wrote:Funding follows consumer demand; the strongest demand is for the courses which generate the best future incomes.


I was in Hong Kong last month and reading the paper I found a special section on education. It was mostly made up of advertisements and articles showcasing all the courses available that provide "skills employers demand" and "career development opportunities". It occurred to me that this is more or less a trans-national issue. In India I saw the same thing, likewise in Japan, and of course in Canada as well. Universities are just diploma mills that are expected to produce trained employees to be put to work in the market economy. The whole system caters to big business.

This is why universities compete with each other for international rankings. It isn't like before when they competed on the football pitch. No, they compete now for rankings and sponsorship.

I think where universities went wrong was having business as a field one could major in. Advertising and marketing are not academic fields. If you want to study the manipulative effect of advertising on human populations, that makes a good study in sociology or psychology, but there shouldn't be business schools in universities.

Therefore, as we all know, economics departments are flush with funds, philosophy departments are graveyards and sinking ships.


Religious studies are getting the short end of the stick, too. With the exception maybe of Islamic Studies for obvious reasons, there is less and less funding for anything related to the study of religion. In my old university they shut down the Religious Studies department and tossed it all in with "Interdisciplinary Studies".


Modern academic institutions are Hobbesian worlds: intense competition for very scarce resources. Genuinely educating people is becoming harder and harder.


I don't think this was always so. This is unfortunate. I speak to older fellows and they tell me "back in their day" they just worked during the summer and could afford tuition, room and board for the following eight months of classes. Nowadays, at least where I come from, even if you work full-time in the summer, you don't have even half what you need (a lot less if you pay for your living expenses out of your earnings). That's why people go into debt, sometimes in the six-digit range. That's another big business: student loans.

But then universities are competitive and falling prey to big business. They insist on having huge computer labs with the latest technology, meanwhile most undergrads just go in there to screw around on Facebook in-between classes. The administrators want to "attract the best talent" and give themselves pay raises. A quarter of a million dollars or a lot more is not unheard of if you're an administrator in a university. Meanwhile the faculty budget gets slashed and they increase tuition for the students.

One glimmer of hope though are these up and coming Buddhist colleges, at least here in Taiwan. If you study Buddhism you don't pay tuition, or if you do your scholarship covers your tuition AND boarding.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5919
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby maybay » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:15 pm

Monasteries are firstly a form of asceticism. Today's university is obviously something else.

You might appreciate Ivan Illich's views.

He also wrote Deschooling Society. I haven't read it. Ideally in the case of my own studies this book would be available freely.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron
User avatar
maybay
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Nemo » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:20 pm

I miss library.nu. They had 600,000 books available online. I downloaded my "The Connected Discourses of the Buddha" there. It was 95$ at the time.

I may have put 20 or so medical textbooks online myself. They were downloaded all over the world. Copyright has gone much too far IMO. Copyright in Canada was originally invented to prevent publishers from overcharging for textbooks. Owning ideas is absurd. It is a side effect of hyper capitalism. In Canada theft is depriving someone of something with the intention of not giving it back. Copying is not theft.

It will get interesting soon. You can download computer files to print 3D objects now. You can download model cars and such. Next will be actual car parts. After that anything you want. Copyright has become the right to keep poor people away from stuff. It is 10 times stronger than it should be. The fact that entire libraries are not digital and available online is very telling. I don't think libraries could be invented now. They are the last survivor of the legacy of shared knowledge.

The blueprint of this physical object (browse under Physibles) was downloaded from the Pirate Bay.
Image
User avatar
Nemo
 
Posts: 634
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:23 am
Location: Canada

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby gad rgyangs » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:38 pm

library.nu is still there you just have enter by the "back door" of gigapedia.info

but actually http://en.bookfi.org/ has most of the same inventory, and eliminates the annoying multiple captchas at library.nu and ifile.it
Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.
User avatar
gad rgyangs
 
Posts: 777
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:53 pm

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby pueraeternus » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:15 pm

gad rgyangs wrote:library.nu is still there you just have enter by the "back door" of gigapedia.info

but actually http://en.bookfi.org/ has most of the same inventory, and eliminates the annoying multiple captchas at library.nu and ifile.it


No, library.nu is gone. The backdoor was working a few days ago, then 2 days ago they disabled all the local accounts. Now even gigapedia.info has removed the link, with a telling message. Ah, impermanence.

Impermanent are compounded things,
prone to rise and fall,
Having risen, they are destroyed,
their passing truest bliss
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true of false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.

- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
User avatar
pueraeternus
 
Posts: 805
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:44 pm

Indian publication texts...what would I do without them...
plwk
 
Posts: 2661
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:41 am

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:49 am

Huseng wrote:This has prompted me to consider that, in reality, if you want to study academic Buddhism without making use of pirated materials available online, you either need access to a university library or shell out A LOT of money.


Even if you have access to university libraries, it still may be necessary for you to go pirate - all depends on the university and its willingness to splash out on the stuff that happens to interest you, I guess. I'm a uni guy, and I know very, very few scholars who never make use of what's illegally available online. And if they don't, it's because they're lazy, or not really into their research anymore.

(The situation pertains to all academic ares of study, btw, not just academic Dharma.)
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .
User avatar
treehuggingoctopus
 
Posts: 588
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:26 pm
Location: Mudhole? Slimy? My home, this is.

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Mr. G » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:02 pm

When research is funded by the taxpayer or by charities, the results should be available to all without charge

PUBLISHING obscure academic journals is that rare thing in the media industry: a licence to print money. An annual subscription to Tetrahedron, a chemistry journal, will cost your university library $20,269; a year of the Journal of Mathematical Sciences will set you back $20,100. In 2011 Elsevier, the biggest academic-journal publisher, made a profit of £768m ($1.2 billion) on revenues of £2.1 billion. Such margins (37%, up from 36% in 2010) are possible because the journals’ content is largely provided free by researchers, and the academics who peer-review their papers are usually unpaid volunteers. The journals are then sold to the very universities that provide the free content and labour. For publicly funded research, the result is that the academics and taxpayers who were responsible for its creation have to pay to read it. This is not merely absurd and unjust; it also hampers education and research.

Read More Here...
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
User avatar
Mr. G
 
Posts: 4098
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:36 am
Location: Spaceship Earth

Re: Academic Buddhism is Expensive

Postby Jikan » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:47 pm

Many academic libraries give alumni access to JSTOR and other databases for a nominal fee. This helps if you're not academic faculty or currently a student, and you have a degree. Ask a librarian at your alma mater.

It may also be cheaper to enroll in a class at a local CC just for library access (tuition & fees may be cheaper than per-article costs)
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 5156
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Next

Return to Academic Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

>