Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Cost of Research

I'm in the process of writing a book on the NFL and having been doing some research for the past year, mostly online. It's interesting to me to see how many research sites, especially those belonging to the media, are now charging money to access their files.

Larger papers, like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune have charged for this stuff for some time. The price per article isn't too bad--most sites usually charged around $3-$4--but that can add up quickly. Last fall, I was able to find online versions of almost every issue of The Sporting News for free through an engine called Paper of Record. It was a treasure trove of sports information, but this winter POR has now gone to a pay model and requires a fee for access.

It's certainly understandable why these outlets are now charging money; such is the nature of the business in an uncertain economic environment. But there are at least two pretty good free sites still out there. One, of course, is the Sports Illustrated vault. The SI vault not only offers free access, but also reproduces the entire magazine with advertisements and page numbers.
The other site is the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, which also reproduces its papers from 1884-2007, and it has become an invaluable tool.

I would be interested to know if anyone knows of other free sites out there. Such a list would be helpful to other sports researchers.


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