Who are these ‘open access advocates’?

If you’re at all interested in open access publishing, you probably know that it has a long and complicated history. There are disagreements and differences over strategies, tactics, politics, definitions, motivations, disciplinary approaches, business models and routes to OA. Many words have been spilled over the ‘mess’ that open access has become and the fact that the concept of open access itself has a number of different lineages. The OA ‘movement’ is not therefore a unified movement — nor has it ever been — but is a disparate collection of arguments and projects in favour of freely accessible research.

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Open *By* Whom? On the Meaning of ‘Scholar-Led’

(Cross-posted on the ScholarLed blog)

I write a lot about scholar-led publishing. My thesis explored the differences between scholar-led and policy-based forms of open access, and I’ve recently published an article about early academic-led experiments in e-journal publishing. I love what the ScholarLed consortium is doing for open access and look forward to seeing the infrastructures and forms of governance that the consortium members design and build for open monograph publishing.

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Edited volumes and low-risk open access

As early-career researchers, one of the first things we are told about publishing is not to release our research as part of an edited volume. Chapters in edited volumes are not nearly as valued for career progression as journal articles, even though they may take the same amount of time and care to produce. When I edited a volume on open research data a few years ago, the most common reason for declining to submit a chapter was that it would simply not be valued for career purposes.

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New publication in JASIST

I have recently had an article published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) entitled ‘Revisiting “the 1990s debutante”: Scholar‐led publishing and the prehistory of the open access movement’. The article explores a small number of early scholar-led e-journals and their relevance to open access today.

It is currently freely available on the publisher’s site (though I’m not sure for how long): https://doi.org/10.1002/asi.24306

There is also a postprint available here: https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:27005/

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What is the relationship between the commons and open access publishing?

Why is there an association between open access publishing and ‘the commons’? What is it about the two concepts that implies they are linked? I’m currently researching the relationship between the commons and OA, looking specifically at the application of the literature of the former to our understanding of the latter, and it is not immediately obvious why the two are so connected.

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Why ‘open science’ is actually pretty good politics

How does the word ‘open’ modify terms such as ‘data’, ‘source’ ‘access’ and ‘science’? What is openness actually doing to these terms? This seems to be a subject of continual debate on social media, at conferences and in the scholarly literature. For the most part, it seems that the debate has moved on from the idea that there can be a strict definition of open access, data, etc. — openness thus implies a degree of flexibility of definition and practice. Yet does this fluidity or ambiguity mean that we would be better abandoning terms such as ‘open science’ altogether?

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Governing the scholarly commons: the Radical Open Access Collective

The Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC) is a community of 60+ not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access projects. One of the aims of the collective is to legitimise scholar-led publishing as an important alternative model for open access, while supporting our members and encouraging others to experiment with scholar-led publishing too. The ROAC therefore serves a similar function to other membership organisations such as the Library Publishing Coalition, the Association of European University Presses, and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, all of whom support certain approaches to publishing or kinds of publisher.

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The politics of open access in action

Open access is a movement constituted by conflict and disagreement rather than consensus and harmony. Given just how much disagreement there is about strategies, definitions, goals, etc., it is incredible that open access has successfully transformed the publishing landscape (and looks set to continue to do so). As OA increases in popularity and inevitability, more conflict arises between those from a range of disciplines and positions, and especially those encountering OA for the first time (often through coercive mandates).

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Plan S: what’s the point of policy consultations? (part 2)

Earlier this year I wrote a post about the Plan S open access policy consultation process. I explored what I feel is the purpose of policy consultations, arguing that they are not radical or deliberative democratic exercises but are instead intended to confer a sense of legitimacy to top-down policy mandates:

The consultation process is not necessarily about changing the policy, but about understanding how it can be made palatable to the most important ‘stakeholders’ that will be impacted by it.


In essence, policy consultations are about tweaking and window-dressing. They are a way for policymakers to appear amenable to stakeholder concerns and show that policies have been subject to a certain amount of ‘democratic’ scrutiny.

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Standardisation and difference: the challenges of infrastructures for open access

In the last few years, there has been a marked shift in the debate on open access publishing from a focus on (mere) outputs to one on infrastructures. With terms such as ‘community-led’, ‘the commons’ and ‘governance’ regularly bandied about, advocates for OA are increasingly looking away from commercial publishers and towards infrastructures designed by and for a more accountable set of stakeholders. One exciting new initiative that launched this week is Invest in Open Infrastructures (IOI), a coalition of individuals and organisations looking to sustain and promote open-source alternatives to proprietary infrastructures. IOI describes itself as a ‘global initiative to increase the availability and sustainability of open knowledge infrastructure’.

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