Abstract: This thesis makes a contribution to the knowledge of open access through a historically and theoretically informed account of contemporary open access policy in the UK (2010–15). It critiques existing policy by revealing the influence of neoliberal ideology on its creation, and proposes a commons-based approach as an alternative. The historical context in Chapters 2 and 3 shows that access to knowledge has undergone numerous changes over the centuries and the current push to increase access to research, and political controversies around this idea, are part of a long tradition. The exploration of the origins and meanings of ‘openness’ in Chapter 4 enriches the understanding of open access as a concept and makes possible a more nuanced critique of specific instantiations of open access in later chapters. The theoretical heart of the thesis is Chapter 5, in which neoliberalism is analysed with a particular focus on neoliberal conceptions of liberty and openness. The subsequent examination of neoliberal higher education in Chapter 6 is therefore informed by a thorough grounding in the ideology that underlies policymaking in the neoliberal era. This understanding then acts as invaluable context for the analysis of the UK’s open access policy in Chapter 7. By highlighting the neoliberal aspects of open access policy, the political tensions within open access advocacy are shown to have real effects on the way that open access is unfolding. Finally, Chapter 8 proposes the commons as a useful theoretical model for conceptualising a future scholarly publishing ecosystem that is free from neoliberal ideology. An argument is made that a commons-based open access policy is possible, though must be carefully constructed with close attention paid to the power relations that exist between different scholarly communities.
On 4 September 2018, a group of national research funding organizations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), announced the launch of COAlition S, an initiative to make full and immediate Open Access (OA) to research publications a reality. It is built around Plan S, which consists of one target and 10 principles (Science Europe, 2019). The target is:
“By 2020 scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants provided by participating national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms. “
At the same time but in another region of the world AmeliCA was brewing, the extension of REDALYC’s philosophy, knowledge and technology to the Global South (Becerril-Garcia & Aguado-Lopez, 2018). AmeliCA is a multi-institutional community-driven initiative supported by UNESCO that arises in response to the international, regional, national and institutional contexts of Open Access, which seeks a collaborative, sustainable, protected and non-commercial solution for Open Knowledge in Latin America and the Global South (AmeliCA, 2018). This institution of Commons was launched at the Conference of CLACSO on November 21, 2018, in the “UNESCO Special Forum: Democratization of academic knowledge. The challenges for open access to knowledge. “
“The internet has dramatically lowered the cost of copying, including illicit copying. When the web was first weaved in the 1990s, intellectual-property owners found their property had, involuntarily, been turned into a common. Strong new copyright rules and draconian enforcement seemed to be necessary to tame the rebellious digital commoners and reclaim the level of control that had existed in an analogue world.
These arguments found a receptive audience among policymakers worldwide, and copyright’s scope, duration and penalties were dramatically expanded. Over the past two decades new legal rights have allowed “digital fences” to be used to surround copyrighted works, even if those fences interfered with people’s rights, such as to freely use snippets of content (the legal doctrine of “fair dealing,” known as “fair use” in America). Copyright’s restrictions were also misused to curtail competition, block research on cryptography and produce new online monopolies. Again, the “solution” to the tragedy of the commons—property rights—came with hefty costs.
You could consider the growing restrictions around intellectual property as “the second enclosure movement”. The first enclosures were the centuries-long waves of expropriation of English and Scottish common lands, turning them over to a handful of landowners….
Yet just as Hardin’s argument met with pushback from Ostrom and others in the physical context, there has also been powerful intellectual resistance to the second enclosure movement. Most notably, some of the problems of the terrestrial commons do not apply to the intangible versions: it is hard to overfish an idea….
Consider open-source software. It is precisely because the licence guarantees that the commons will remain open, and that each new contribution will be shared under the same terms, that people can commit to using it. Imagine trying to get phone manufacturers to use the Android operating system if Google could take it private at any time….
Furthermore, the proliferation of property rights has its costs. The American legal scholars Michael Heller and Rebecca Eisenberg call it the “anti-commons”: the idea that innovation withers because of too many property rights, patent thickets, exhaustive and exhausting copyright licensing procedures and the like. To take one example, the smartphone in your pocket is covered by between 5,000 and 15,000 patents, and potentially by as many as 250,000 when all related patents are counted. …”
“The announcement of Plan S in September 2018 has triggered a wide-ranging debate over how best to accelerate the shift to open access. The Plan’s ten principles represent a call for the creation of an intellectual commons, to be brought into being through collective action by funders and managed through regulated market mechanisms. As it gathers both momentum and critics, the coalition must grapple with questions of equity, efficiency and sustainability. The work of Elinor Ostrom has shown that successful management of the commons frequently relies on polycentricity and adaptive governance. The Plan S principles must therefore function as an overarching framework within which local actors retain some autonomy, and should remain open to amendment as the scholarly communication landscape evolves….”
“Talk given to the Radical Open Access 2 Conference in Coventry, 27 June 2018 as part of a panel on the commons and care. The talk was published as part of a pamphlet alongside pieces by Joe Deville and Tahani Nadim: https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:19817/
The commons’ is a term routinely employed by advocates of open access publishing to describe the ideal scholarly publishing ecosystem, one comprised entirely of freely available journal articles, books, data and code. Usually undefined, advocates invoke the commons as a good-in-itself, governed by the scholarly community and publicly accessible to all. The term itself is not associated with an identifiable politico-economic ideology, nor does it entail any particular form of organisation or practice. Without further justification, the term ‘commons’ has little meaning beyond referring to the various degrees of community control and/or accessibility associated with certain resources. This paper will illustrate some of the uses (and abuses) of the commons in scholarly publishing, aiming to highlight both the ambiguity of the term and some of the drawbacks of treating the commons as fixed and static entity focused on the production and management of shared resources, as many do. While it certainly relates to resources and their governance, I want to reposition the commons – or ‘commoning’ specifically – as a practice of cultivating and caring for the relationships that exist around the production of shared resources. In reorienting the commons in this way, I will show how an attitude of commoning extends beyond the commons site itself and into the relationships present in other forms of organisation also. This allows us to reposition the commons towards a shared, emancipatory horizon while maintaining the need for a plurality of commons-based practices in publishing and beyond. A progressive and emancipatory commons, I argue, is therefore a space of ‘care-full commoning’….”
“Commons In A Box (CBOX) is a free software project aimed at turning the infrastructure that successfully powers the CUNY Academic Commons into a free, distributable, easy-to-install package. Commons In A Box is a project of the City University of New York and the Graduate Center, CUNY and is made possible by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
CBOX takes the complexity out of creating a Commons site, helping organizations create a space where their members can discuss issues, collaborate on projects, and share their work. CBOX also provides:
- Out-of-the-box functionality with an intuitive set-up that guides site administrators through each step of installation.
- A powerful, responsive, highly customizable theme developed for community engagement, based on PressCrew’s Infinity Theming Engine.
- Responsive design for easy viewing on many devices, including tablets and smartphones.
- Collaborative document creation and file sharing.
- Reply-By-Email functionality for quick, on-the-go communication.
- Compatibility with many other WordPress and BuddyPress themes and plug-ins.
- Expansive wiki options….”
“The three great potentials of open access are a) the de-monopolisation of publishing, b) the de-commodification of academia so that knowledge and not profit are the primary aspect of academic publishing, and c) overcoming the knowledge divide that excludes poor regions and universities from access. But for achieving these aims, we need the right kind of open access models that I call diamond open access. It cannot be denied that there is a significant amount of fake open access that puts profit over knowledge. Publishing is one of the most highly concentrated and monopolised capitalist industries. Elsevier, Springer & Co. are destroying independent academic publishers just like Amazon is destroying your local bookshop. Academia and knowledge ought to be a public service and common good. We do not need green and gold open access, but something much better and precious, namely diamond open access….”
“David Lewis recently proposed (see https://scholarworks.iupui.edu/handle/1805/14063 ) that libraries devote 2.5% of their total budget to support the common infrastructure needed to create the open scholarly commons….
In the early stages of exploring this idea, we want to come to some agreement about what would count as such an investment, and then build a registry that would allow libraries to record their investments in this area, track their investments over time, and compare their investments with like institutions. The registry would also serve as a guide for those looking for ideas for how to make the best investments for their institution, providing a listing of all ‘approved’ ways to invest in open, and as a place for those seeking investment to be discovered. As a first step towards building such a thing, we are crowdsourcing the creation of the inventory of ways to invest. Below you’ll find, organized by Lewis’ categories, a wide range of investments that many of us already make….”
“David Lewis has recently proposed that libraries devote 2.5% of its total budget to support the common infrastructure needed to create the open scholarly commons….In the early stages of exploring this idea, we want to come to some level agreement about what would in fact count as such an investment, and then build a registry that would allow libraries to record their investments in this area, track their investments over time, and compare their investments with like institutions. The registry would also serve as a guide for those looking for ideas for how to make the best investments for their institution, providing a listing of all ‘approved’ ways to invest in open, and as a place for those seeking investment to be discovered. As a first step towards building such a thing, we are crowdsourcing the creation of the inventory of ways to invest….”