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.

https://www.samuelmoore.org/2019/02/13/plan-s-whats-the-point-of-policy-consultations/

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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Common Struggles: Policy-based vs. scholar-led approaches to open access in the humanities (thesis deposit)

I’ve just made my Ph.D thesis available on Humanities Commons: http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/st5m-cx33

Title: Common Struggles: Policy-based vs. scholar-led approaches to open access in the humanities

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New preprint: scholar-led publishing and the pre-history of the open access movement

I’ve just uploaded a preprint of the article titled ‘Revisiting ‘the 1990s debutante’: scholar-led publishing and the pre-history of the open access movement’ to the Humanities Commons repository. The article is also being submitted to a journal and will no doubt change a great deal before publication. I’ve never shared an unreviewed preprint as a single author before and I thought it would be an interesting experiment.

You can read it here: http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/gty2-w177

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Revisiting the present future of scholarly communication: Bill Readings and the birth of online publishing

There’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Bill Readings. His monograph The University in Ruins is an essential text for anyone interested in critical university studies and the history of the marketised university. In the book, published in 1994, Readings argues that the university is no longer a space for the understanding of culture or knowledge for its own sake, but is instead a corporation driven by the pursuit of ‘excellence’ as defined by rankings and profits. Higher education’s emphasis on excellence has only grown more pernicious since the book was published, something my co-authors and I explored in a paper a few years ago.

Sadly, Bill Readings died in a plane crash before the publication of his monograph aged just 34. This year marks 25 years since his death.*

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No amount of open access will fix the broken job market

Open access has always been promoted for its reputational benefits. The OA citation advantage is one way in which advocates try to convince researchers of the benefits of publicly sharing their work. So too is the increased speed of publication and broader reach of open access research. At the university level, institutional repositories are often framed as a ‘showcase’ for a university’s research quality. In trying to change behaviour towards openness, people are more easily motivated out of self-interest than mere altruism.

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Plan S: ending the unholy alliance between learned societies and subscription publishers?

The Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) is a not-for-profit learned society composed of 35,000 members from across the globe. It describes itself as ‘a charitable organization supporting research and education in molecular life sciences through its journals, fellowships, courses, congress and other activities’. Indeed, in 2017 FEBS awarded €1,375,486 in bursaries, travel grants and fellowships to its members (source). As a charitable organisation, it is understandably keen to avoid any perceived threats to its annual income, hence this article concerning Plan S. The authors write:

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Resisting Amazon’s influence on open access publishing

I was recently given Amazon credit as payment for peer-reviewing a monograph. While this was a nice perk for doing something I probably would have done for free, it is striking to see just how much Amazon impacts on the publishing industry in often unexpected ways. The influence of Amazon on open access — from the big commercials and open science startups to not-for-profit university and scholar-led presses — is at least as pernicious as the predatory practices of large commercial publishers.

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Plan S: how open access can nurture new positive and collective forms of ‘academic freedom’

Following on from my last post on academic freedom and statements of principle, I want to further clarify my thoughts on how academic freedom relates to open access mandates. Paradoxically, despite claiming that objections to open access mandates on the grounds of academic freedom are mere conservatism, it is likely that the coercive aspect of mandates is what perpetuates such objections.

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