Power and the paywall: A Black feminist reflection on the socio-spatial formations of publishing

“Who owns knowledge? How do we disseminate it to benefit societal goals and values that speak norms of justice? Who should have access to knowledge? For whom should knowledge serve? In our time, the highly active landscape of knowledge production via publication, with widespread immediate interconnectivity of scholars around the world, allows for the making of a stronger intellectual community. It can be argued that this one of many impacts of globalization, in that academics are more interconnected than ever before, just as world economies, geopolitics, and global media. Moreover, the scholars who present new knowledges or make visible alternative knowledges come from a wider range of backgrounds than ever before, including non-white/Euro-descendant racial and ethnic groups, working class people, all genders, all sexualities, and non-Western nations. Beyond that, scholars are engaging with a broader body of research subjects and ideas that can transform society in exciting ways.

Understanding this means that theorizing the possibilities of open access is a productive dialogue. The challenges of paywalls are multiple and overlapping. Engaging in such debates calls for deconstructing the value of knowledge repositories guarded behind a pay schedule. There are a number of questions to raise regarding the gatekeeping mechanisms of paywalls: How do paywalls represent a form of power? For what reason do we create a financial barrier to intellectual labor? Aside from hosting intellectual work (in digital and print form), what is the necessity of creating a corporate system that profits from labor that journal hosting bodies are not financially or otherwise accountable to? The perspective in this paper is largely situated in a North American – primarily United States-based – perspective….

Widespread open access publishing would bring about a more just distribution of knowledge within the United States and globally.”

Confederation of Open Access Repositories: Annual Meeting and General Assembly

“Fostering Diversity in Scholarly Communication: expanding and strengthening the role of repositories

Diversity is an important characteristic of any healthy ecosystem, including scholarly communications. Diversity in services, platforms, funding mechanisms, and evaluation measures will allow the system to accommodate the needs of different research communities and support a variety of workflows, languages, scholarly outputs, and research topics.

As we continue on the path towards full and immediate open access (and open scholarship more broadly) we must think about how we can create the conditions that allow diversity to exist and flourish. At COAR we recognize and celebrate the diversity of our community. At the same time, we understand that diversity cannot thrive unless it is fostered in an intentional way, through strong coordination.

This meeting will be an opportunity to discuss how we can use the global repository network to support greater diversity, while also supporting the need for an international system. We will learn more about the current context in Latin America, and raise awareness of other approaches being developed around the world….”

Hacking Diversity | Princeton University Press

“Hacking, as a mode of technical and cultural production, is commonly celebrated for its extraordinary freedoms of creation and circulation. Yet surprisingly few women participate in it: rates of involvement by technologically skilled women are drastically lower in hacking communities than in industry and academia. Hacking Diversity investigates the activists engaged in free and open-source software to understand why, despite their efforts, they fail to achieve the diversity that their ideals support.

Christina Dunbar-Hester shows that within this well-meaning volunteer world, beyond the sway of human resource departments and equal opportunity legislation, members of underrepresented groups face unique challenges. She brings together more than five years of firsthand research: attending software conferences and training events, working on message boards and listservs, and frequenting North American hackerspaces. She explores who participates in voluntaristic technology cultures, to what ends, and with what consequences. Digging deep into the fundamental assumptions underpinning STEM-oriented societies, Dunbar-Hester demonstrates that while the preferred solutions of tech enthusiasts—their “hacks” of projects and cultures—can ameliorate some of the “bugs” within their own communities, these methods come up short for issues of unequal social and economic power. Distributing “diversity” in technical production is not equal to generating justice….”

Are huge genetic databases leaving marginalized people out of their data? | Salon.com

“However, as promising as biobanks might seem, the data may tell only partial or even misleading stories. Criticisms of the project include that the research coming out of the UK Biobank will only benefit certain people, and even then, the usefulness of the health associations found are under question.

Compared to the 2011 UK census, Black, Indian, Pakistani and Chinese participants are all underrepresented in the Biobank by at least one third. David Curtis, at University College London, tested whether this under-representation of ethnic minority groups has any impact on schizophrenia genetics research….”

Are huge genetic databases leaving marginalized people out of their data? | Salon.com

“However, as promising as biobanks might seem, the data may tell only partial or even misleading stories. Criticisms of the project include that the research coming out of the UK Biobank will only benefit certain people, and even then, the usefulness of the health associations found are under question.

Compared to the 2011 UK census, Black, Indian, Pakistani and Chinese participants are all underrepresented in the Biobank by at least one third. David Curtis, at University College London, tested whether this under-representation of ethnic minority groups has any impact on schizophrenia genetics research….”

Co-creating Open Infrastructure to Support Diversity and Equity

“To reframe our priorities in this way requires collective will and coordination across regions and institutions to build new kinds of support for resource reallocation. It further requires institutional courage and political will to declare that open, autonomous, and equitable systems are preferred over “prestigious” Euro-centric research systems that continue to undermine other epistemic communities from around the world. It requires that disciplines and societies prioritize who they have been centering in their research, whose voices they’ve been amplifying, and whose they have been silencing. Supporting the status quo while leaving initiatives that reflect epistemic diversity and knowledge equity as second-tier priorities will result in continued entrenchment of status quo inequities and the marginalization of truly innovative, equitable systems….”

Historians Respond to Plan S: Open Access vs OA Policies Redux – The Scholarly Kitchen

“For years, humanists have been pointing to the multi-dimensional importance of openness and accessibility of scholarship, and the multi-dimensional costs of rigid open access (OA) policies. In late October, the Royal Historical Historical Society (RHS) released a “guidance paper” on “Plan S and the History Journal Landscape.” Authored by RHS president Margot Finn, a distinguished professor at University College London (UCL) and a prolific scholar, this follows the RHS’s April 2019 working paper on Plan S and researchers in history of medicine, and June 2019 paper, responding to Plan S, as well as the society’s long-standing engagement with OA policies, and guidance to researchers, particularly in regards to OA policies vis à vis the Research Excellence Framework (REF). It is relevant that the RHS has supported OA initiatives, including their monograph series, “New Historical Perspectives.”  

The new report brings together important evidence about the state of journals that UK historians are publishing in terms of Plan S compliance, and a survey of journal editors. From public data on publications and publishing (including from the 2014 REF), as well as a survey of more than 100 journal editors from 26 UK and international presses, the report concludes that “unless major shifts occur…in the next few months, it is unlikely that either UKRI or Wellcome Trust-funded History researchers will be able to identify sufficient high-quality journal outlets that  comply with full-scale implementation of Plan S.” The report offers perspectives in discreet chapters on “Plan S:  What Do We Know?” and “Plan S:  What Don’t We Know?” An overview of “Research and Journal Publication in History” is followed by an overview of “Open Access History Journals, DOAJ and Plan S” and then coverage of the RHS survey results, and potential routes to Plan S compliance….”