Perhaps one of my friends in the academic Humanities could clear a particular point up for me.
The point is this: as Clarissa has noted, Universities around the world are cutting back on their services in the name of “austerity.” One such budget frequently being slashed is the one for scholarly journal subscriptions. This, sadly, is every bit as true in the sciences as it is the Humanities, but what I can’t understand is why it is such a huge problem. You see, as a physicist, I cannot recall the last time I have actually had cause to read a scholarly journal for the sake of catching-up on cutting-edge research. This is because I read all of my papers on the ArXiv, a website offered by the Cornell University Library upon which physicists (as well as mathematicians, statisticians, quantitative biologists, financial economists and computer scientists) from around the world post the drafts of their papers before publishing them in journals. The advantages of this are multiple; first of all, it adds an extra level of peer input to the publication process; readers can offer constructive criticisms* to the authors before the paper is even submitted for peer review, citations can be checked at a glance, and best of all, it is absolutely free for anyone to look at at their convenience.
Now of course this is not my field, but is there some obvious reason that a similar system could not be implemented for Humanities and Social Science papers?
*That’s how it works in theory. In practice, “constructive criticism” just as frequently consists of “telling the authors that they should cite your paper as a reference.”