New book out and making the move to Open Access

I received my copy of Reconstructing biotechnologies: Critical social analyses in the mail today. It is from Wageningnen, an academic publisher out of The Netherlands. It is a lovely book, replete with all sorts of fascinating articles about the appropriation and reconstruction of biotechnologies for sustainable rural development. My little essay on wikis fits – as far as I can tell – under the theoretical framework of the book, which is a recombination of STS, social constructivism, critical theory and political economy.

The book is not available online, and seems to carry the regular copyright protections – though I can’t recall signing any copyright waiver or anything. I have recently made the decision not to publish in non-open access journals – despite the heavy weight given to “real” publishing in the academic world (disproportionate to teaching and service to community, that is). I’m not sure if or how I can carry this decision over to any publishing I do in edited collections. It goes without saying that any book of my own that I should ever publish will incorporate copyleft/creative commons/open access values and principles. I copylefted my masters’ thesis before there was a non-code version of Stallman‘s General Public License (Good ol’ Larry Lessig fixed that one with Creative Commons – thank goodness). I have made my unpublished graduate work available online as I go along. As an editorial team member, I proposed that SFUs Communication online grad journal, Stream, be open-access and promote CC licensing.

Now it’s time to apply the same (self-imposed) rule as I build my academic publishing record. This is made pretty easy by the Directory of Open Access Journals, a (mostly searchable) database of free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. Mackenzie Wark, at a talk last year in Montreal, said (in response to my question) that one way to battle copyright (or restrictive IP regimes) was just to ignore it. Post copyrighted material online and to heck with it. I know lots of profs do it – just check their homepages. The term for this in the Open Access lingo is “self-archiving”, and many scholarly journals already support the practice. But I think I’ll try to avoid that altogether and just publish with folks who support open access to public knowledge.

2 Responses to “New book out and making the move to Open Access”

  1. Richard Smith Says:

    Kate writes, commendably, that she is going to publish in open venues, “despite the heavy weight given to “real” publishing in the academic world.”

    Looking back at the 20th century, I would say that this was a true statement, especially when open access was synonymous with online and online was suspect.

    Now, however, I would say that there is scarcely a tenure committee or granting agency who would dare question a publication’s worth BECAUSE it was open access or online. They will, of course, continue to rank publications according to “quality” (peer review, impact factor, etc), but there are no end of open access journals who meet and exceed that bar.

    Seek open access journals out out, support them by submitting articles, and most importantly, cite them so their impact factors grow, too.


  2. colin avolve Says:

    You can also make copies of you published work available on your own website. Brian Martin, a well known STS scholar (activist oriented) at the University of Wollongong (Australia) does so. He provides the text of his submitted work and I believe he gets around copyright issues by the vesion not being exactly the same as the published (from memory). It could also be that as a respected scholar with a history of exposing actions like suppression of dissent and whistelblowing, he is in a stronger position than us soon to be/recent graduates to challenge journals. You might like to contact him to get his take on this—he is very approachable.

    It is a conundrum that i know many have struggled with. I try to follow Brian’s example, including producing written work in accesible language—he is a good influence…

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