Making Academia an Open Book? Bibliodiversity and Open Access Publishing | Global Policy Journal

“Journals vary widely in terms of their size and status within their respective disciplines; Prestigious, high impact ones tend to receive higher levels of citation from academics across the world, while others have smaller readerships and have lower impact factors.They can be accessed via commercial or non-commercial journal-hosting sites, with some combining both methods. Large platforms, who index and provide search abilities for journals and the work published in them, tend to be commercial sites. Based within the Global North, these include well-known brands such as Elsevierand SAGE that charge expensive subscription fees to universities in order for their staff and students to access these journals. This is in contrast to non-commercial sites such as AJOL in South Africa, which is a fully ‘open source’ platform that publishes scientific research without using a paywall.

However, the persistence of digital divides mean that not all Higher Education Institutions, nor their staff or students, can access these journals. Many have limited financial resources and technical  infrastructures (such as computers or an internet connection), while others may not have English (the main language of these journals) as their language of instruction.

This results in the production and distribution of academic knowledge being dominated by the Global North. Those without access are often left behind, exacerbating existing digital divides in the educational sector.

Although academics from poorer countries cannot always access this information, they still have important contributions to make to their respective disciplines. Consequently, academia itself has joined the calls for greater ‘open access’ to research in order to address this divide.

The concept of bibliodiversity hails from Latin America and refers to the need for a culturally diverse and balanced range of published materials for generating knowledge. It is said to be threatened when there is an undue focus (or ‘overproduction’) on a limited number of publications, which are often commercial interests. With journals being increasingly accessed online, advocates suggest that publishing platforms should work collaboratively, increasing access to knowledge. Hence, open source platforms like AJOL have been launched with the intention of promoting these open forms of knowledge, albeit that many have a limited budget….”

Archive ouverte HAL – Bibliodiversity in Practice: Developing Community-Owned, Open Infrastructures to Unleash Open Access Publishing



Abstract : Academic publishing is changing. The drive towards open access publishing, which is being powered in the UK by funding bodies (SHERPA Juliet), the requirements of REFs 2021 (UKRI) and 2027 (Hill 2018), and Europe-wide movements such as the recently-announced Plan S (‘About Plan S’), has the potential to shake up established ways of publishing academic research. Within book publishing, the traditional print formats and the conventional ways of disseminating research, which are protected and promoted by a small number of powerful incumbents, are being challenged. Academic publishing, and academic book publishing, is at a crossroads: will it find ways to accommodate open access distribution within its existing structures? Or will new systems of research dissemination be developed? And what might those new systems look like?In this article we look at the main features of the existing monograph publication and distribution ecosystem, and question the suitability of this for open access monographs. We look specifically at some of the key economic characteristics of the monograph publishing market and consider their implications for new infrastructures designed specifically to support open access titles. The key observations are that the production of monographs displays constant returns to scale, and so can (and does) support large numbers of publishing initiatives; at the same time the distribution and discovery systems for monographs display increasing returns to scale and so naturally leads to the emergence of a few large providers. We argue that in order to protect the diversity of players and outputs within the monograph publishing industry in the transition to open access it is important to create open and community-managed infrastructures and revenue flows that both cater for different business models and production workflows and are resistant to take over or control by a single (or small number) of players.