[Originally posted on my Goodreads author blog: January 9, 2018]
Academic papers and journals tend to live behind paywalls. These seldom benefit the actual scholars, those who write or peer-review the materials. The money doesn’t flow to them. And researchers find themselves having to pay a small fortune for access. Sure, if they’re part of well-funded departments, their universities may pick up the tab. But this isn’t always the case, especially for independent scholars or writers who’d like to expand their knowledge without breaking the bank.
Hence I’m a big fan of open-source scholarship. When I was researching The Monster Hunter’s Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Saving Mankind from Vampires, Zombies, Hellhounds, and Other Mythical Beasts, and writing my PhD thesis, I was fortunate enough to have access to the well-stocked library at the University of Manchester. But even so, online resources such as Sacred Texts and Perseus helped a great deal.
I recently learned about Humanities Commons, thanks to a tweet from Ian D. Morris, an academic who specialises in Islamic history. As with those other resources, they attempt to help scholars around the world by providing a repository of paywall-free papers. That cause deserves support. My own foray into academia was limited, meaning I don’t have a stack of published papers to share with them. But I did have my old PhD thesis lying around.
I wasn’t a great academic in my twenties, when I wrote that thesis. Whilst it did earn me the PhD, I’m sure there are numerous blunders in both the scholarship and the quality of writing. But the great thing about historical research is that even mediocre work can help pave the way for other researchers to produce better work. So, it’s up there for anyone who might want to check it out.
If you’re into ancient, medieval, or Victorian history, in particular military, martial arts, or sporting history, it may contain something of interest.
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