I am no stranger to shelling out my money in the pursuit of learning, apart from paying my tuition fees. After all, when I was still studying law, I spent thousands of pesos buying law textbooks. I spend almost a thousand pesos a week–no exaggeration–in photocopying cases to read for grueling, soul-crushing recitations. In graduate school, there are no cases or textbooks to read–at least, for now. If there are any, it’s a rare instance, but there are pages and pages of journal articles to read instead. That didn’t pose a problem for me. After all, I’m a veteran where readings are concerned.
It’s the manner of acquiring them that’s become an issue for me, at least, to a point. While there are sites like Science Direct that offer open access journals, that’s a rarity. Sometimes, when I log in through my university email or office email, I have a better chance of finding and downloading the articles I need, and sometimes I still do not have access to them. Probably because my uni or office doesn’t subscribe to the particular journal where the article I am looking for belongs to. I have also subscribed to sites like JSTOR in order to have greater access to scholarly articles, and in some cases, book chapters. And these sites are…well, costly.
I’ve also spent a good amount of money to purchase journal articles, I have done it twice–both for a term paper. The first time I did that, I was torn between laughing and crying. I have spent over $30 for a single-page review of a publication I was looking for, which provided little detail or insight at all–and it certainly didn’t do anything at all for my term paper. At that time, I remember thinking, “this is a f*cking scam” after getting access to the desired (or not-so-desirable) publication. I don’t know who else feels scammed after finding something like that one-page review–probably it’s just me!
The second publication I purchased was more helpful. It did, after all, help me get a 1.0 (a 4.0 or A in the US grading system; or a first in the UK grading system) in one of the subjects I was enrolled in, so that’s a yay. My $30+ didn’t go down the drain.
For the past few days, I’ve been scouring the internet for related literature that I need for a research proposal that I am revising. It struck me, while searching for these articles, that I do enjoy reading these journal articles. I enjoy reading those scholarly articles as much as I enjoy reading a Supreme Court Reports Annotated case. I promise that I am not kidding, nor sarcastic. I find them to be enjoyable, now that I have the luxury of time to reflect on them.
This is a question I now ask myself: would the “me” four years ago, consider shelling out money for journal articles for…light reading? Maybe, maybe not. I didn’t have the need for it. Ironically though, four years ago, I would have used the money on some utterly useless or inessential item. I don’t know if it’s because I am back in school, or (gasp) because of character development, but my answer would be a different one now. And me being back in school certainly made me rethink my spending habits. After all, my tuition fee comes from my own pocket.
So here’s a short takeaway: treating yourself is okay, just make sure that you don’t overdo it, and your needs come first before your wants, such as…your school readings.
And also, sites that offer huge access to scholarly articles and readings can be expensive, but hell yes, they’re worth it.