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Psychology: Debates · Journals · Psychologists

The Psychology Wiki was started by an English clinical psychologist from the West Midlands, Dr Joe Kiff, in January 2006.

Sitting in his office, in Dudley, some 10 miles from a university library, he had wanted to review the literature on the link between memory and emotion.

On putting the terms into Google search engine he realised:

a) That the 11,500,000+ links are overwhelming.

b) That we are in need of metasites to process the quality of the information for academic purposes.

c) That this task is too large for any one organization.

d) That when he did identify a professional reference access was problematic because:

i) Sites containing the papers required registration.
ii) That many of the journal articles are not on the internet at all.
iii) That there is no free access to much of the important literature.

e) That over 40 journals had citations in the field.

On trying to access these physically he realised:

f) Most of these journals were not held in local libraries, because libraries cannot afford to stock all of the psychology journals that are created each year.

g) That the cost of sending away for reprints of articles from interlibrary loan was prohibitive.

h) That there is an exponential growth in the production of academic material, which cannot be managed on physical paper.

On accessing the current electronic databases he realised:

i) Most of the references were only available as abstracts and are not linked to full text copies. Where the copies are available they are in electronic archives

On going to the electronic archives he realised:

j) There are many original papers there which are not integrated into the literature, and there is no easy mechanism for publicising their existence.

At about the same time he came across this article in [Nature] and it became clear just how the software that wikipedia was using could be called into service to manage the knowledge base of psychology more effectively and resolve many of the issues listed.

So he imagined that in time he could sit at his desk and have immediate access to all the academic references in psychology guided by up to date articles in all the main fields.

The way in which this will be done is gradually being clarified, and clearly there is a lot of work to be done to release the copyright of the papers in many journals. But by working collaboratively we have a prize worth fighting for.