Guest Post: Open Access Is a Feminist Issue – Hook & Eye

“Accountable feminist research, research that centres responsibility to the communities our research engages with or speaks to, is attentive to how its tools and methods open out or close down the possibilities for collaboration beyond the university. As a feminist scholar, I have become increasingly convinced that one of the most accountable things we can do in our work is prioritize open access….

it was a genuine shock to me when, in Spring 2019, I attended multiple conferences where colleagues in Humanities disciplines spoke of open access as neoliberalism, the scientization of research, and a devaluation of our intellectual labour. As one friend texted me in the midst of one such conferences: since when is open access neoliberal but paywalling research so that people have to pay for it isn’t? …

It is also true that many of the barriers to embracing open access are also feminist issues. The scholarly publishing world is dominated by women (as is the trade publishing world); journal editing tends to be undervalued and high labour work that is at once vital to academia and also, like most forms of service, barely counted in tenure and promotion processes….

But if we could collectively agree to the fundamental premise that open access is a feminist issue, then our conversations about labour and value and prestige would, by necessity, shift. As Kathleen Fizpatrick so succinctly puts it in Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University, embracing open access as a values-based approach to scholarly communication “does not just serve the goal of undoing [scholarship’s] commercialization or removing it from a market-driven, competition-based economy, but rather is a first step in facilitating public engagement with the knowledge that universities produce” (148). Can feminist scholars agree that part of the mission of publicly-funded universities should be facilitating public engagement with our work? Can we agree that pay-walling and institutionalizing research created on stolen Indigenous land perpetuates settler-colonial understandings of knowledge-as-commodity? Can we agree that the scarcity-driven models of publishing in the most “elite” and “competitive” journals or of valuing the monograph over journal articles (or journal articles over podcast episodes!) is based in a fundamentally patriarchal hierarchy of what knowledge “counts”? …”

Reflections on Global Community Biology of the Future: It is Open, Diverse, and Thriving | PLOS Synthetic Biology Community

“Community biology—a  movement that seems to democratize life sciences through access and diversity—has grown over the last decades.  This is reflected in a thriving population of community labs, like Genspace and BioCurious in the US, and Freak Lab in Thailand and Kumasi Hive in Ghana, and Co-Lab in Denmark—to name a few—that are popping up across the world. I’m reminded that community labs may be to 2019  what computer clubhouses were to the 1980s, when computers were becoming accessible to private citizens and shifting the way we interacted and communicated with technology. Community labs, too, provide an entry point for everyday people—the community—to access, tinker, and play with biology!


Recognizing the potential of community labs to democratize scientific knowledge on a global scale—from what I’ve heard—folks like David Kong, Maria Chavez, JJ Hastings, Scott Pownall, and other global leaders in the field, sought in different ways to convene the community as a way to network, share, and connect.  This may have sparked the first Global Community Bio Summit in 2017 and that brought together hundreds (me included) of biology enthusiasts, educators, and researchers from a number of countries collectively striving to share in the responsibility of building an open and diverse movement for community science. I attended again a few weeks ago as the Bio Summit convened for the third time and, from my experience, the event continues to grow as it draws hundreds of participants across the globe and from every continent….”

Reaping the benefits of Open Data in public health

Abstract:  Open Data is part of a broad global movement that is not only advancing science and scientific communication but also transforming modern society and how decisions are made. What began with a call for Open Science and the rise of online journals has extended to Open Data, based on the premise that if reports on data are open, then the generated or supporting data should be open as well. There have been a number of advances in Open Data over the last decade, spearheaded largely by governments. A real benefit of Open Data is not simply that single databases can be used more widely; it is that these data can also be leveraged, shared and combined with other data. Open Data facilitates scientific collaboration, enriches research and advances analytical capacity to inform decisions. In the human and environmental health realms, for example, the ability to access and combine diverse data can advance early signal detection, improve analysis and evaluation, inform program and policy development, increase capacity for public participation, enable transparency and improve accountability. However, challenges remain. Enormous resources are needed to make the technological shift to open and interoperable databases accessible with common protocols and terminology. Amongst data generators and users, this shift also involves a cultural change: from regarding databases as restricted intellectual property, to considering data as a common good. There is a need to address legal and ethical considerations in making this shift. Finally, along with efforts to modify infrastructure and address the cultural, legal and ethical issues, it is important to share the information equitably and effectively. While there is great potential of the open, timely, equitable and straightforward sharing of data, fully realizing the myriad of benefits of Open Data will depend on how effectively these challenges are addressed.

Kindness, Culture, and Caring: The Open Science Way | HASTAC

“There are lots of ways that the rational, logical, hyper-competitive, winner-take-all, zero-sum, prisoner’s dilemma, nice-guys-finish-last, single-bottom-line, annual-productivity ratchet?—?or add your adjective here?—?mindset is just wrong for sustaining the academy and bad for science. For decades now, the same neo-liberal economic schemes that have been used to reshape how governments budget their funds have also made dramatic and disturbing inroads into university budgets and governance. Open science can show how that trend is a race to the bottom for universities. What do you say, we turn around and go another way?…”

OA price and service transparency Survey

“The views of researchers, librarians, publishers, and funders about ways to increase the transparency of communications about the price of Open Access publishing services are sought in a new industry survey. The results of this survey will help to inform a collaborative project with publishers, funders, and universities to develop a framework for communications. The project is sponsored by the Wellcome Trust in partnership with UKRI on behalf of cOAlition S. You can visit the survey here ….”

The meaning of open | Research Information

“So what is open research today, and what are the near horizons of tomorrow? For Baynes the three key developments in recent years have been the growth in open access publications in journals, research data and open data, and a proliferation of tools, both from start-ups and from funders.  These are only the first steps, however, in an increasingly complex open information landscape which poses challenges to everyone working in the scholarly research lifecycle: funders must encourage open research without dictating researchers’ research practice; researchers must balance personal interest and public good with an increasingly wide range of publishing choices and funder requirements; publishers must provide both innovative services that meet researcher and funder needs without risking the value of the current system; and libraries must both help researchers navigate the complex information ecosystem and increasingly help them measure and demonstrate researchers’ contributions to it. In this rapidly changing environment it is important for organisations to be agile. This, according to Baynes, is what Springer Nature is doing, developing sustainable and agile approaches that encourage open research: ‘We are one of the largest open access publishers, but also one of the most agile. It’s not the set business model, one-size-fits-all approach, it’s very much adapting and understanding what stakeholders want. For example, understanding the barriers, challenges and motivators for researchers to make data more openly available, well described, and fair.’ …”

Toward collaborative open data science in metabolomics using Jupyter Notebooks and cloud computing | SpringerLink

Abstract: Background

A lack of transparency and reporting standards in the scientific community has led to increasing and widespread concerns relating to reproduction and integrity of results. As an omics science, which generates vast amounts of data and relies heavily on data science for deriving biological meaning, metabolomics is highly vulnerable to irreproducibility. The metabolomics community has made substantial efforts to align with FAIR data standards by promoting open data formats, data repositories, online spectral libraries, and metabolite databases. Open data analysis platforms also exist; however, they tend to be inflexible and rely on the user to adequately report their methods and results. To enable FAIR data science in metabolomics, methods and results need to be transparently disseminated in a manner that is rapid, reusable, and fully integrated with the published work. To ensure broad use within the community such a framework also needs to be inclusive and intuitive for both computational novices and experts alike.

Aim of Review

To encourage metabolomics researchers from all backgrounds to take control of their own data science, mould it to their personal requirements, and enthusiastically share resources through open science.

Key Scientific Concepts of Review

This tutorial introduces the concept of interactive web-based computational laboratory notebooks. The reader is guided through a set of experiential tutorials specifically targeted at metabolomics researchers, based around the Jupyter Notebook web application, GitHub data repository, and Binder cloud computing platform.

Collaboration is the key to open access and open science | Times Higher Education (THE)

“Over the past 18 months, university library consortia in Germany, Sweden and California have cancelled their subscriptions to Elsevier journals. This is because we have not yet reached agreement on how to support their objectives, which include making researchers’ published articles immediately open access.

Elsevier deeply regrets this situation. We fully support open access. And we recognise the benefits and importance of open access to many research communities. By sharing our perspective, we hope to build support to move things forward globally….”

Bridging Learned Society Publishing and Open Access: an International Collaboration and Webinar Series – Transitioning Society Publications to OA

“Scholarly or learned societies enable geographically diverse scholars to build and engage with communities that share and discuss ideas and findings, with the aim of promoting knowledge exchange for social value and the common good. Traditionally, societies achieve this convening function through a subscription-based publishing model in which society membership or institutional support affords scholars access to society publications. As global publishing shifts toward open access (OA), societies are wrestling with the need for new revenue streams and publishing strategies not only to ensure cost recovery, but also to sustain other important society functions—like educational programming, grant awards, professional development, and advocacy—once supported by membership or library subscription spends.

New financial models to support learned society publishing have significant implications for society operations and organizational structures, as well as the ability of authors and academic institutions to participate in society publishing. Whereas authors could once publish in society journals for free, many are now being asked to contribute article processing charges to subsidize OA publication costs. And many of the libraries and research organizations that once engaged in large licensing arrangements to provide their affiliates with access to aggregated society journal titles are now left exploring how to repurpose subscription budgets to support both access and publishing, including by undertaking society journal publishing directly. The mileage of these different OA financial models for societies may also vary: OA publishing is a global enterprise, subject to and reflecting different pressures, mandates, and opportunities within local or regional communities. 

Society publishing stakeholders may need support in navigating these contoured pressures. On the heels of Plan S, societies have begun organizing to bring clarity to the emerging OA landscape and its relationship with society publishing needs and infrastructures. In the UK, the Society Publishers’ Coalition (SocPC)—a group of like-minded, not-for-profit learned societies, community publishers, and membership charities who publish—has formed to help societies, funders, and research organizations collectively explore funding solutions that enable OA publication while buttressing core society functions and missions. In the United States, Transitioning Society Publications to OA (TSPOA) is a similar group seeking to connect society publishing stakeholders with support and useful resources related to an OA publishing transition. (Other resources and efforts are also underway. For instance, the Societies and Open Access Research project catalogs OA society journals in an effort, among other things, to help society publishers who have yet to commit to OA find peers at other societies.)…”