The “loading dock” is a metaphor in the science policy wonk world for a process by which scientists just sorta drop off information for folks, hoping that they somehow find it useful. Mitchell Berger, a New Jersey public health planner had an letter in Science April 6 placing an interesting twist on the issue:
It is disappointing that, at a time when many political and governmental officials are emphasizing the importance of collaboration, information sharing, and community involvement in pandemic flu planning and preparedness, interested professionals and members of the public are compelled to pay high fees or wait for weeks for an interlibrary loan request to be filled when articles from medical and scientific journals are readily available online and could be easily shared with a broad audience.
Not only must a poor schlub wait at the loading dock for the scientists to dump off something potentially useful, but once they do, the poor schlub must pay. (And not just for the research paper. The poor schlub must pay to read Berger’s letter.)