Grant, P., 2019. The Board and the Body: Material Constraints and Style in Graphic Narrative. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.4. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.145
del Rey Cabero, E., 2019. Beyond Linearity: Holistic, Multidirectional, Multilinear and Translinear Reading in Comics. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.137
McGovern, M. and Eve, M.P., 2019. Information Labour and Shame in Farmer and Chevli’s Abortion Eve. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.6. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.158
Evans, J., 2019. Challenging Adaptation Studies: A Review of Comics and Adaptation. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.1. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.159
We are always in need of more expert reviewers. If you are a self-defined comics scholar or scholar with an interest in comics, have a PhD or are about to get one, you can do peer review for us.
Please register hereindicating your areas of expertise.
If you are an author interested in submitting an article for consideration to The Comics Grid, you can start by learning about our submission guidelines. We will re-open our call for submissions on the 1st of November 2019.
Es mi opinión que este es un caso que deja claro que cuestiones de infraestructura académica y humanística, que son casos de arquitectura de la información, son casos políticos. El diseño es político. Lo es porque este es un caso de mal diseño de la interface y del archivo, dejando 10 años (y probablemente más años) de trabajo humanísitico a la intemperie, en riesgo constante de accidente y desaparición. Por eso la carta sigue siendo relevante, pues la reaparición de los archivos desaparecidos no soluciona el problema: es hora de llamar a un experto en ciencias de la información (¡un bibliotecario y archivista!) para que ponga en orden las cosas en el sitio del Periódico de Poesía. Su futuro depende de que eso pase.
In my opinion this is a case that proves that issues of academic infrastructure, which are issues of information architecture, are political issues. In other words, information architecture is political. Design is political. It is political because bad interface and archive design are endangering cultural heritage (particularly, but not only, in the Global South). The open letter below is still relevant because the sudden reappearance of the missing archives does not solve the main issue: it is time to call an information professional (a librarian and archivist!) to put things in order at the Periódico de Poesía site. Its future depends on it.]
Los abajo firmantes solicitamos a la UNAM volver a poner a disposición del público el archivo completo del Periódico de Poesía abierta y formalmente en línea, incluyendo todos los números publicados entre 2007 y 2018, los cuales hasta hace poco no aparecían en su archivo en línea, o aparecen/aparecían en locaciones confusas o poco adecuadas del sitio.
The undersigned request UNAM makes the complete archive of Periódico de Poesía (including all the issues published between 2007 and 2018, which until very recently were missing or misplaced) openly available to the public again in an appropriate location within the whole archive.
Texto completo de la carta abierta y firmantes iniciales / Full Open Letter in Spanish and initial signataries:
Periódico de Poesía 2007-2018: Solicitamos volver a poner a disposición del público el archivo completo del Periódico de Poesía en línea de manera formal, segura, sustentable y permanente.
Los abajo firmantes, colaboradores y lectores del Periódico de Poesía de la UNAM entre 2007 y 2018, solicitamos encarecidamente que se vuelva a poner a disposición del público, en formato PDF así como en HTML (ya que el Periódico también publicaba material interactivo) la totalidad de los números publicados en ese periodo, que actualmente no se encuentran donde corresponde, que es en el “Archivo de épocas anteriores de Periódico de Poesía” (http://www.archivopdp.unam.mx/index.php/del-papel-a-pdf).
Habiéndolos publicado ad honorem, los colaboradores entendemos que la única compensación posible por nuestros trabajos es permitir que los lectores, pasados, presentes y futuros, puedan acceder libremente al fruto de nuestros esfuerzos. Así mismo, dada la actual fragilidad del archivo, solicitamos que la UNAM resguarde todos los números del Periódico de Poesía de manera formal en su repositorio institucional, para así asegurar que el contenido esté disponible de manera segura, sustentable y permanente.
Nos sentimos orgullosos de haber colaborado en el Periódico de Poesía y de que nuestra labor sea parte de su patrimonio. Pedimos entonces que la UNAM atienda nuestro reclamo y corrija esta situación.
This year we broke our own record and published a total of 18 articles during 2018. I cannot say it enough: the Journal is only possible because of the work volunteered by our editors, reviewers and authors: thank you all!
I would also like to thank the Open Library of Humanities (https://www.openlibhums.org/) for their ongoing support: without their funding we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.
Here’s a listing of the articles we published during 2018, our 8th volume, by section:
Rageul, A., 2018. On the Pleasure of Coding Interface Narratives. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.3. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.107
Dell’Angelo, T. and DeGenova, M., 2018. “I am a Teacher”: Early Career Teachers in High Needs Schools. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.115
Baudry, J., 2018. Paradoxes of Innovation in French Digital Comics. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.4. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.108
Wysocki, L., 2018. Farting Jellyfish and Synergistic Opportunities: The Story and Evaluation of Newcastle Science Comic. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.6. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.119
Gavaler, C., 2018. Undemocratic Layout: Eight Methods of Accenting Images. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.8. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.102
Verstappen, N., 2018. Prayoon Chanyawongse’s Cartoon Likay: Amalgamating Likay Theatrical Form and Comics into a Unique Thai Genre. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.9. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.121
Kowalewski, H., 2018. Heart is for Love: Cognitive Salience and Visual Metonymies in Comics. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.10. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.117
Zhu, A., Phuong, M. and Giacobbe, P., 2018. The Story of ECT: Behind the Scenes of a Controversial yet Effective Treatment. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.13. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.129
Rifkind, C., 2018. Geneviève Castrée’s Unmade Beds: Graphic Memoir and Digital Afterlives. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.14. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.128
Priego, E. and Wilkins, P., 2018. The Question Concerning Comics as Technology: Gestell and Grid. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.16. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.133
Farinella, M., 2018. Of Microscopes and Metaphors: Visual Analogy as a Scientific Tool. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.18. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.130
Gröppel-Wegener, A., 2018. Raiding the Superhero Wardrobe: A Review of The Superhero Costume – Identity and Disguise in Fact and Fiction. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.1. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.122
Bessette, L.S., 2018. We’re All YA Now: A Review of Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.124
Davies, P.F., 2018. Enacting Graphic Mark-Making: A Review of A Theory of Narrative Drawing. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.7. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.127
Priego, E., 2018. The Comics Page: Scholarly Books Briefly Noted (2017–2018). The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.11. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.136
Murel, J., 2018. On the Significance of the Graphic Novel to Contemporary Literary Studies: A Review of The Cambridge Companion to the Graphic Novel. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.15. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.138
Simmons, T.E., 2018. Unmasked Lex Text: A Review of On Comics and Legal Aesthetics – Multimodality and the Haunted Mask of Knowing. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.17. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.134
Giddens, T., 2018. “I’m Aware that a Lot of these People that I’m Feeling Sorry for are Wankers”: A Conversation with Hannah Berry. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.12. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.132
Other Grid-related News
This year fellow co-conspirator Dr Peter Wilkins and I received an Open Scholarship Award 2018 Honorable Mention for their Comics Grid editorial work. The Open Scholarship Awards are sponsored by the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute and its partners. The announcement was published on 13 April 2018 by the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (University of Victoria, Canada). We were literally honoured.
Featured in Open Insights
I’d also like to hank you to Martin Eve and James Smith from the Open Library of Humanities for interviewing me for their Open Insights series, part of their EmpowOA programme. The URL for the interview is: https://www.openlibhums.org/news/275/. Make sure to follow the #EmpowOA hashtag for the whole series. Find out more about the Open Library of Humanities’ EmpowOA programme here.
Articles received by or after our second yearly editorial deadline (October 2018) have been under review and editorial processes will restart from January 2019.
We completely appreciate scholarly publishing can be a frustrating affair- if you submitted work during 2018 and your submission is still under review (or was accepted but due to be published in 2019) please accept our gratitude for your patience and understanding.
After 8 years we remain a relatively small, volunteer-led scholarly publishing operation, and the volume of submissions this year increased significantly, with 2018 being our busiest year so far, which has meant longer waiting times for authors. This is far from ideal, but we keep working hard to find ways to continue engaging in faster and more efficient and rigorous editorial processes. Thank you once again for bearing with us.
The report ‘Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research’ (Fyfe et al 2017) has been published today.
It’s available for all to download, share and reuse under a CC-BY license from the open access repository Zenodo:
Fyfe, A., et al. (2017), Untangling Academic Publishing: a history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.546100
The 26-page report is a very welcome addition to the ever-growing evidence-based literature documenting the need for academics to enhance the fairer dissemination of their research work and to reclaim and redistribute ownership of academic content from for-profit publishers.
A significant contribution of this report is its historical perspective. The report shows how the business and practice of academic publishing has changed since the late 19th century, which serves as the basis to discuss how in spite of new technologies, publishing models and cultures have been relatively slow to change. It is particularly important that the report, having provided a thoroughly documented historical account of the transformations of scholarly publishing, presents clear and decisive recommendations for key stakeholders such as the government, research agencies, university leaders, learned societies and academics.
Personally, I cannot but be pleased that the recommendations the report makes to university leaders and academics are very similar to points I (and of course others) have made previously in different occasions, myself most recently during a presentation and debate on 20 April 2017 at Roma Tre University.
I hope that everyone interested in scholarly publishing reads the complete report, but I would like to copy and paste below a selection of the recommendations that I believe we should all work harder to communicate (and, of course, actively embrace) within our own professional and disciplinary networks:
To University leaders
Universities should revise their recognition and reward processes to relieve sta from the pressures associated with journal-based metrics (Signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment can serve as a clear signal of intent in this regard, empowering staff to challenge the status quo). These revised processes will give staff increased confidence that their work will be judged on its own merits. In this way universities will enable their academics to take fuller advantage of publisher offerings that combine rigorous peer review with increased speed and value for money
University leaders should introduce measures (such as the UK Scholarly Communications Licence) to ensure that the copyright in academic work is retained by its creator, rather than being transferred in toto to third-party organisations. This is an appropriate rebalancing that will allow researchers to assume greater responsibility in the dissemination of the fruits of their work
University leaders should recognise that, as employers, they are the funders of a large proportion of research in the arts and humanities; with fewer and fewer publishers remaining in the academic book market, universities should shoulder the responsibility for making academic work in those fields known more widely
(Fyfe et al 2017:19)
To the trustees, directors and o cers of mission-driven or discipline-based learned societies (and other representatives of disciplinary scholarly communities):
Learned societies should facilitate discussion and greater awareness among their members about the relationship between academic prestige, the publishing industry, and the circulation of knowledge. To inform such discussions, annual reports should explain the organisation’s rationale for the pricing of its book and journals, and how this is justified by the organisation’s mission
Societies that co-publish journals or book series with third-parties should reflect on whether the mission and business strategy of the co-publisher is a good fit for the society’s scholarly mission
Disciplinary communities should embrace the opportunities for more rapid and widespread circulation of research offered by pre-print servers (such as arXiv and bioRxiv ), and online mega-journals
Learned societies should open discussions with other societies with similar interests, both in the UK and internationally, to consider whether pooling resources could enable the creation of a low-cost, sustainable, online and non-profit-driven model of academic publishing
Those serving as editors of journals and book series, or on editorial boards, should reflect on the ownership and mission of the publishers they are working for, and consider whether they are helping to get the best value for their discipline by serving in these roles
In setting up new journals or book series, academics should seek to work with mission-driven, non- profit-oriented publishers or online platforms
Senior research leaders should leverage their accumulated prestige to enable their more junior co- workers to balance rigour, speed and value for money in their publishing choices
Academics should not sign copyright transfer forms that would give ownership to a profit-oriented publisher if a licence to publish can be granted instead
(Fyfe et al 2017:20)
The report will be launched this evening at the British Academy in London.
Fyfe, Aileen, Coate, Kelly, Curry, Stephen, Lawson, Stuart, Moxham, Noah, & Røstvik, Camilla Mørk. (2017). Untangling Academic Publishing: A history of the relationship between commercial interests, academic prestige and the circulation of research. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.546100
“All that the sharpest Critics of democracy have alleged is true, if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news. Incompetence and aimless-ness, corruption and disloyalty, panic and ultimate disaster must come to any people which is denied an assured access to the facts.”
-Walter Lippmann, . Liberty and the News. Princeton, Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008.
If you are reading this you are very likely to know that Oxford Dictionaries ‘declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international word of the year’. According to the BBC, the OED defines ‘post-truth’ as ‘an adjective relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.’
What most media coverage has not necessarily said is that it was blogger David Roberts who popularised the term; in his blog post titled ‘Post-Truth Politics’, published with dateline of April 1st 2010 (the permalink indicates March 30th 2010) , Roberts wrote:
We live in post-truth politics: a political culture in which politics (public opinion and media narratives) have become almost entirely disconnected from policy (the substance of legislation) (Roberts 2010).
For Roberts, no matter what Democrats did or proposed, Republicans met it “with maximal, united opposition, criticizing it as socialism, tyranny, or appeasement”. This described, indeed, the impossibility of changing perceptions with evidence and to have evidence-based policy.
Since then, the term has escaped the immediate context of US politics to be as widely adopted as ‘filter bubble’. In the UK, ‘post-truth’ was a popular term amongst pundits trying to make sense of the Brexit Referendum before and after it became a reality. In the December 2016 issue of Political Insight [£], Jane Suiter, Director of the Institute of Future Media and Journalism at Dublin City University, defined ‘post-truth politics’ as
where appeals to emotion are dominant and factual rebuttals or fact checks are ignored on the basis that they are mere assertions (Suiter, Political Insight 2016:25).
The announcement from the OED has been made public only 7 days after the result of the US election was confirmed. In a post titled ‘Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook’ (Select All, NYMag, November 9 2016), Max Read wrote:
The most obvious way in which Facebook enabled a Trump victory has been its inability (or refusal) to address the problem of hoax or fake news. Fake news is not a problem unique to Facebook, but Facebook’s enormous audience, and the mechanisms of distribution on which the site relies — i.e., the emotionally charged activity of sharing, and the show-me-more-like-this feedback loop of the news feed algorithm — makes it the only site to support a genuinely lucrative market in which shady publishers arbitrage traffic by enticing people off of Facebook and onto ad-festooned websites, using stories that are alternately made up, incorrect, exaggerated beyond all relationship to truth, or all three (Read 2016).
As we can see the OED’s announcement couldn’t have had better timing. Though ‘post-truth’ and the proliferation of fake news on a massive social network like Facebook are two distinct yet related phenomena, it seems to me it is essential for Higher Education, and particularly academic publishing, to reflect on its own role within a culture where, to quote Suiter again, ‘appeals to emotion are dominant and factual rebuttals or fact checks are ignored on the basis that they are mere assertions.’
In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others.
Visualised in chart the difference in engagement looks like this:
This is, of course, any teacher’s or librarian’s worst nightmare (some parents are worried too). In the last few days, there’s been an endless series of opinion pieces on ‘post-truth’ in relation to the issue of ‘fake news’ on Facebook and the latter’s role in the outcome of the US election. As I write this, many of these pieces keep appearing in an ongoing basis and it’s hard to keep up. Some have even come from Higher Education and scholarly publishing trenches. Andy Smith, for example, does a good job at outlining recent significant developments contributing to a demise of appreciation for expertise. Clever Library and Information Science scholars have pointed out the importance of critical information literacy and the role that libraries can play in this context.
What I perceive to be lacking in some of these pieces, however, is a willingness to recognise, or at least hypothesise more auto-critically, the role that higher education, and particularly scholarly publishing, has or may have played in contributing to the state of affairs perceived to be caused by ‘post-truth’ politics (with the ‘filter bubble’ and algorithmic relevance and ‘fake’ news at its core). The higher education perspective is justifiably shocked at the lack of appreciation for expertise, critical thinking and evidence-led decision-making. It is interesting however that ‘post-truth’ politics have come to be equated with the lack of appreciation (access, consumption, use and reuse) for trustworthy information, represented paradigmatically by the ‘fake’ news on Facebook.
I am interested in how the term ‘truth’ has been interpreted as an objective value, the extreme opposite to what is ‘fake’. From a journalistic perspective, ‘truth’ seems to be the one produced by ‘mainstream news’. One needs not to be into conspiracy theories to recall the work Walter Lippmann did in the 1920s, when he demonstrated serious flaws and bias in information systems, particularly in the authoritative New York Times. From an academic perspective, the ‘truth’ in ‘post-truth’ seems to be the one defined by scientific discourse. Though Michel Foucault’s theorising of the term ‘truth’ changed over the years and sometimes within the same text, it’s hard not to want to go back to the interview titled The political function of the intellectual (1976), where Foucault defines ‘truth’ as
“a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation and functioning of statements […linked] by a circular relation to systems of power which produce it and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which redirect it” (Foucault 1976: 113-114; 14).
Foucault identifies as a key political problem the need to transform the “political, economic, institutional regime of the production of truth” to develop a new “politics of truth.” The need to change this “regime of the production of truth” would imply a transformation of the “system of ordered procedures” and the “circular relation to systems of power which produce and sustain it”.
I believe the higher education sector and scholarly publishing, as one of its main mechanisms for the dissemination of scientific, peer-reviewed, trustworthy information, has failed to adapt to the current (no longer new) information ecosystem. In other words, in spite of strong and sustained efforts towards opening access, scholarly publishing has been more preoccupied with the preservation of its own relatively privileged existence and has avoided to systematically engage in transforming or even intervening in a public politics of ‘truth’. Public opinion does not have the same dynamics today than in the 1920s, but Lippmann and Merz’s assessment that “a sound public opinion cannot exist without access to the news” remains relevant today (Lippmann and Merz, 1920: 1).
In Liberty and the News, Lippmann argued that the crisis of democracy was a consequence of the crisis of journalism, which was unable to fulfill its duties properly. For the 21st century, it seems to me we urgently need more academic research into how ‘post-truth politics’, as a crisis of democracy, has also been a consequence of an academic publishing crisis created by both the lack of wider public open access to trustworthy information and the paucity of a wider, more transparent, researcher-led willingness to consider a more thorough critical transformation of peer review and metrics-led ‘research quality assessment’ processes.
The political consequences of this unwillingness to recognise that the ways we choose to disseminate (or, rather, to restrict the dissemination of) peer-reviewed information has still not generally been self-assessed enough by academia. Instead of going to where the public is, it still debates the pertinence, or even worse, the perceived lack of ‘seriousness‘ of academic presence on social media. According to Martin Eve,
“The cost of subscribing to journals has risen by 300 percent above inflation since 1986 while academic library budgets have only risen by 79 percent” (Martin Eve to Noah Berlatsky, 2014).
This is the case of academic libraries; public libraries face even more drastic budget cuts and challenges. Meanwhile, students, members of the public, everyone with access to the Internet and a basic level of literacy is using Google, Facebook, Twitter, the open Web to access information. Rapidly and for free. In comparison to these tools, scholarly databases and library catalogues are (in general) not only expensive and often undiscoverable through the methods users are familiar with. They are also full of friction, poor usability, confusing interfaces and overcomplicated licensing terms.
Angela Cochran wraps up her post titled ‘What We Can Learn from Fake News’ (15 November 2016) this way:
“People will ultimately gravitate toward sources of information that are truly reliable, and have an allegiance to telling the truth. People will pay for that because they’ll realize they’ll need to have that in our society.”
I guess time will tell if he is correct about that.
I would like to think there is still time for things to change towards a culture of literacy where users ‘gravitate toward sources of information that are truly reliable’. I doubt it. I doubt it because, at least for academic publishing, I see this as one of its fatal flaws. Higher education and scholarly publishing have for too long taken for granted that people will ‘gravitate’ towards them. The economic dimension (the cost of access to Higher Education) cannot be ignored, and we cannot keep assuming that lack of access to educational resources is not also defined by socioeconomic factors. Another aspect is that there are other methods for disseminating evidence-based research that do not depend on restrictive workflows and that to date continue without much official recognition nor reward, and therefore are beyond the reach/practice of those academics lacking the privilege of time and space for non-mandated work.
Traditional publishing has thrived, at the expense of poorer institutions and countries, most academic library budgets and thanks to millions of hours of free researcher labour. An era of what Clay Shirky called ‘algorithmic authority‘ has disrupted, amongst other factors, scholarly publishing’s comfortable reign within the Ivory paywalls of academe. The public are out there, googling, and the information we academics say we wish the public were aware of remains inaccessible or unaffordable to them.
It is time we accept our co-responsibility in fostering a political culture where non-trustworthy information has replaced the authority of evidence-based research. It is time we do more about it. We cannot hope for better times in which ‘people’ will come back to their senses and start appreciating robust scientific thought and processes. Digital literacy and critical research skills in information seeking and assessment are only meaningful if there is access to information in the first place.
We cannot simply sit on our laurels and wait, as we have done for a long time, for the mountain of users to come to us. Crucially, users have needed to be able to afford it (both socially and financially) and we need to recognise that not being able to afford it is one of the key reasons that took us to where we are now.
So ‘post-truth’ is the OED’s international word of the year.
You want to find out what the word means in detail from an authoritative source? You had better start saving up for your OED personal subscription (£215.00 for a year) … *
*Your public library (if it has not been yet defunded and turned into a gym) may provide its users free access to it…
In the social sciences, art and humanities calls for papers for collected editions remain a major form of dissemination of scholarship.
Scholars get very excited about the prospect of getting their work published in collected editions. Often, the conditions of publication are unknown to them until the work has been created, submitted and reviewed.
It is still rare for calls for papers to detail whether the final publication will be softcover or hardback, paywalled or open access, and what type of licensing will be applied to the published work.
It can no longer be assumed that certain publishing conditions are non-negotiable, always-already the default ones. It can no longer be assumed they will be the appropriate ones for all scholars either.
To reflect the current scholarly landscape accurately, and in the spirit of transparency and fairness, complete information about the intended format, licensing conditions and access type should be clearly and prominently included at call for papers stage.
Academia might be the only creative industry where authors do submit work for publication without being fully aware of publisher licensing conditions and access type (we could learn a lot from Morrissey’s Autobiography! Moz seems to have never read a recording deal in advance…). Scholars get so excited about the prospect of getting their work finally published, that, traditionally, the conditions of publication (the conditions detailed in a publication contract, that will determine when, where and how the work will be published, what the author and the publisher will be able to do with the output, etc.) are unknown to them until the work has been created, submitted and reviewed, i.e. once it is rather late to do much about it. Understandably, a final contract cannot be signed until something has been accepted for publication and often it won’t be officially accepted until it’s finished. However, the case I’ll try to make here is for clearly informing authors interested in submitting to a call for papers about the intended conditions of publication (format, access type, licensing type) for the content accepted in response to said call.
This creates a situation of virtual intellectual and creative kidnapping, where the author has lost the freedom to negotiate conditions of publication. The output (journal article, book chapter, monograph, editorial for collected editions, edited collection) has already been created, it has passed peer review, revisions have been made; lots of work by several people went into it and valuable time has spent waiting for it to get finally published. Often the accepted publication will have been already listed in appraisal forms and academic CVs before the output in question has been actually published and a contract has been signed. The author is often disempowered to have a say about what they will be able to do with their own work (for example where and how to share it, translate it, adapt it, etc.) or about who will be able to access it and how.
In the social sciences, art and humanities calls for papers for collected editions remain a major form of dissemination of scholarship. Though some journals in these fields do include clear information about licensing and access type prominently, calls for papers in general still tend not to include information about how the content, if accepted, will be licensed and how and where (in which formats, at what price, open access, paywalled) it will be published. I invite you to take a look at the calls for papers published here. How many calls for papers detail whether the final publication will be softcover or hardback, paywalled or open access, and what type of licensing will be applied to the published work?
The issue of publisher takedown notices (e.g. Elsevier’s) highlights how scholars are keen to share their own published work (including any features added by publishers) on their blogs or social networking sites, but do so seemingly ignoring the licensing conditions they signed or agreed to. Publisher’s policies should be clear to authors before the submission of work, not once they have been broken. If authors wish to disseminate their work in ways publisher policies do not allow, they should be free to either negotiate them in advance or choose a different publisher.
Our disciplines however seem to have somehow relegated licensing and access type to an after thought. As open access mandates from governments, funding bodies and institutions become the rule and not the exception, it is time we start changing this practice and start including licensing and access type information at call for papers stage. Now, it is of course understandable that some editors will not know yet if there will be interest from a range of publishers they might have in consideration, and often what happens is that they wait until they have a body of work so they can make their full proposal. This workflow places academic editors at a disadvantage as well, as they will have already worked hard on compiling and editing a collection (or on ensuring contributions) way before a publisher’s offer detailing conditions has been made.
These positions assume that scholars (editors and authors/contributors) are at the service of publishers and not the other way around. For authors, particularly early career researchers hoping to develop a publications portfolio, the power lies on editors and peer reviewers, themselves dependent on publishers, who most of the times are free to impose conditions that may seem to authors and editors to be ‘the way things are’, i.e. as non-negotiable conditions. In practice, it should be perfectly possible to negotiate these conditions (many authors have done it), if one knows how and one is interested. Luckily for publishers, the conditions are rarely interrogated and even less negotiated. Editors and authors are simply happy to get their work published, and see no option but to sign any standard conditions imposed by the publisher.
Open Access is not only about bringing down the barriers to access and reuse of scholarly publications. Behind it lies the desire to re-connect scholars with the fruits of their own work and to empower them to choose how they want their work to be published (and this implies choosing the conditions for their distribution, accessibility, and reuse).
To reiterate: what has been an after thought, the small print many authors discover once it is too late, should be detailed first thing at call for submissions stage. There is no content without form, and there is no content without the conditions of access and dissemination. I know I am not alone in hoping that more and more colleagues will take into consideration not just editorial reputations and thematic and disciplinary approaches outlined in calls for papers, but how a submission will see the light of day in the end (if it does at all!).
Scholars today know better than ever before that publishing can no longer be the end of the road but the beginning of a conversation. There is a plethora of both legacy and pioneering publishing platforms and scholarly methods of assessment and review available to scholars today. Paywalls and hardbacks are not the only venues for publication anymore. Access and licensing type are not synonyms of research quality: and no single access type has the domain over quality. Scholars should be free to decide where they submit their work for consideration, and should be able to negotiate licensing conditions whenever possible. Scholars should be free to submit their work for consideration wherever they please as long as they have been made aware of the access and licensing type well in advance before submission. Licensing and access type is a factor many authors today have in mind before submitting work, and yet this information remains largely absent from calls for submissions. If the known or tentative publisher(s) are detailed in the call for papers authors can locate their policies via SHERPA/RoMEO, but informing potential contributors of the policies should also be the publishers’ and the editors’ responsibility. If the author ends up having to do detective work to find out something as important as this then something is wrong.
Indeed, the current model of academic publication still remains strongly aligned with paywalled access models, but calls for papers that will paywall accepted submissions (or publish them in expensive hardback editions only) should not take for granted that paywalls and hardbacks are the only available model. Authors today must be informed of complete information and assess, in advance, before even considering making a submission, how and where, under which conditions, their work will be published if accepted. This implies interrogating the current power structure: it should be authors who have the agency to decide. Declaring licensing and access type as small print well after authors have had their work accepted for publication removes authorial agency, and quietly, falsely positions traditional publishing methods as the default.
Colleagues interested in knowing more about negotiating licensing and access conditions may be interested in the following two guides:
Collins, E., Milloy, C., Stone, G., Baker, J., Eve, M. & Priego, E. (2015). Guide to open access monograph publishing for arts, humanities and social science researchers. OAPEN-UK project. Available at http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/12373/.
Collins, H., Milloy, C., Stone, G., Baker, J., Eve, M. & Priego, E. (2013). Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Monograph Authors. 0OpenUK, JISC Collections. Available at http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/11863/
I am not a publishing lawyer nor copyright officer. Needless to say, the information in this post is not legal advice. If you need more details on your author rights or legal advice about what action to take, please contact your publisher, librarian, copyright officer, an adviser or solicitor.
Originally, UKSG stood for the United Kingdom Serials Group. Now that their geographic appeal has grown beyond the UK, and the scope has broadened to include e-books, e-learning and other e-resources as well as serials and e-journals, UKSG have stopped expanding the acronym.
I was honoured to participate in the morning plenary on Tuesday 15 April 2014 9:30-10:30 AM BST. My title was “The Impacts of ‘Impact’: challenges and opportunities of ‘multichannel’ academic work”. You can now see it on UKSG’s YouTube channel… [embedded below].
The conference had a lively backchannel under the #uksglive hashtag. I archived the tweets using Martin Hawksey’s Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet (TAGS).
Some insights from the conference’s backchannel:
Number of tweets in archive started 09/04/2014 17:14:33 BST; last tweet in archive 16/04/2014 18:24:45 BST:
Twitter Activity during the 3 days of the conference:
Top tweeters, 9-16 April 2014:
I have shared the source data on figshare as a CSV file containing tweets tagged with #uksglive from Friday April 11 12-00-51 +0000 2014 to Wednesday April 16 17:24:45 +0000 2014. The dates in the CSV file are GMT (not BST).
The original archive contained tweets dating back to 9 April 2014 but for relevance this dataset concentrates on the main activity immediately before, during and a few hours after the actual conference. Some of the data has been cleaned but duplications and even one or two spam tweets might have remained. The data is shared as is.
Please note there was also some Twitter activity around the conference using the hashtags #uksg and #uksg14, but those tweets were not included in this collection.
If you find this data useful and/or use it for your research, please kindly cite this file as indicated above and share it openly with others. Please feel free to get in touch via Twitter @ernestopriego or by sending me an email via my contact page on this blog.
Research Information published an article based on my UKSG presentation. Read it here.
“In an attempt to make the debate around the costs of open access publishing more evidence based”, the Readme file (14th March 2013) signed by Robert Kiley says, the Wellcome Trust released into the public domain a dataset including details of its open access spend in 2012-2013, “as reported by UK institutions and the Trust’s Major Overseas Programmes in receipt of an OA block grant“.
The Wellcome Trust datatset only includes information when an APC was levied. It includes a column for the name of the publisher, as reported by the institution. As the Wellcome Trust does not impose any name authority control on this field, the same publisher was listed in different ways, including typos, acronyms, joint publisher names, etc. For example, there would be OUP, Oxford University Press, and O.U.P appearing and counting as different publishers. These publisher name inconsistencies were still present in Cameron Neylon’s version of the data as cited above.
I wanted to focus on a few major publishers, and in order to filter them I had to refine the Publisher names inconsistencies a bit. I worked with Cameron Neylon’s version of the dataset and manually refined inconsistencies in the Publisher field (same publishers appeared under different names and spellings and other text formatting issues). I did not refine the journal titles.
I have been looking at that spreadsheet, which reflects the manual refining of the Publisher field I did. As I also tried to explain in my previous post, this ‘refining’ is the result of a human interpretive process, and some of the publisher names that are distinct in that dataset might still be potentially subsumable to other publisher names in the set. Logically, the number of publishers and costs and outputs associated to each publisher will depend on how the Publisher field has been refined; other quantifications and visualisations of the original dataset or other versions that have been refined differently are therefore likely to differ.
After refining the number of publisher names to 101, I focused on 11 publishers from the dataset and obtained totals as well as their maximum and minimum APCs.
I am interested in focusing our attention on the highest and lowest APCs that these 11 publishers levied. I believe they offer a glimpse of the average cost of “Open Access” as currently charged by major academic/scientific publishers. I use scare quotes because most of these publishers (if not all?) do not generally publish born-Open Access journals but so-called “hybrid” journals– that is, traditional subscription-based journals that permit authors –ideally via their funders– to pay a fee to make their article available “Open Access”. [Disclaimer: someone still needs to go journal by journal in the dataset to determine as fact which ones are hybrid journals; I haven’t done this yet].
Different publishers call this option differently (for example Springer’s Open Choice or Taylor & Francis’s Open Select). Whether all these “Open” options clearly offer open licensing allowing not only access in terms of viewing but in terms of reuse still needs to be investigated thoroughly.
As shared in my previous post, the following bar chart visualises the lowest and highest APCs levied by these 11 major publishers (click to enlarge).
Let’s look at the data table, including the corresponding number of published outputs:
[Please note that as explained above these figures are indicative and it is possible that actual numbers vary under a different refining of the Publisher name field.]
Why do I think it’s important to focus on these figures?
For at least two main reasons:
To create awareness through evidence of the price scale of the “Open Access” options offered by hybrid journals from major publishers as paid by the Wellcome Trust (a forward-thinking institution pioneering in their support of Open Access; for their OA policy, go here).
To create awareness of the prevalence of at least three of the publishers, indicating that many scientists still favour them with their work.
It is a truism that “Open Access” was developed in part as a response to “the serials crisis” (on the term, see for example Panitch and Michalak 2005). Major or “legacy” publishers that traditionally have based their business model on institutional subscriptions (toll or paywall) have reacted to Open Access government and institutional mandates by offering “Open” options through Article Processing Charges.
However, these figures reveal what to me at least appears as a mere inversion of the business model, reliant on academic outputs for which considerable funding and/or financial means seems to be taken for granted. The high prices charged to libraries in the paywalled model seem to have been shifted now to the researchers through, ideally, their funding agencies.
It is very important these observations are not misinterpreted as a knee-jerk reaction against all APCs. I edit a journal that charges an APC (and offers its complete waiving as well). Publishing costs money. Enabling Open Access costs money. But does it cost as much as reflected by the APCs in the Wellcome Trust dataset? That is the question.
On the one hand I hope having some awareness of the current hybrid journal APCs charged by major traditional publishers helps provide a point of reference where to judge the current APCs charged by born-Open Access, researcher-led journals like the ones published by Ubiquity Press and other innovative publishers. On the other hand, I believe it is time for those of us involved in enabling Open Access to refine our critical engagement with the term and the current publishing landscape.
The average of all APCs (excluding the £13,000 one for a Palgrave book) in the Wellcome Trust dataset is £1820.01. There is an APC payment for what appears as a single article of £6000. If only all research funders were like the Wellcome Trust. With these rates, who is being excluded from Open Access publishing as currently implemented by the major publishers in scientific/academic publishing? Arts and Humanities research cannot possibly compete. Aren’t we clearly rushing towards a new “OA serials crisis”, where publishing is still dominated by the same major publishers who partly led to the serials crisis in the first place?
Many more questions remain to be asked. Let’s start with those above.
I have deposited on figshare a third alluvial diagram, this time focusing on the country of affiliation of the Principal Investigator/Author of the articles and the geographical area mentioned in the article title.
Like the previous two diagrams the source data is an Altmetric Explorer report I exported on 19 February 2014 including the 25 articles which according to Altmetric were the articles with the highest Altmetric score. Fourteen of those 25 are Open Access articles; 11 are paywalled.
Columns in the diagram correspond to 1) Country of affiliation of the article’s Principal Investigator/Author, 2) Geographical area covered in the title of the article, 3) Journal title 4) Access type.
Nine of the 25 PIs are from the USA; 6 from South Africa; 3 from the UK; 2 from France; 2 from Spain; 1 from Sweden and 1 unknown (author information was paywalled).
Nine of the 25 article titles mentioned the geographical term “South Africa”; 6 “Africa”; 3 “Southern Africa”; 2 “West Africa”; 1 “Central Africa”; 1 “Guinea” and “Africa”; 1 “North Africa” and “Southern Europe”; 1 “Northwest Africa”; and 1 “Southern and Eastern Africa”.
Also as previously indicated source data was deduped and cleaned and non-peer-reviewed outputs were removed from the original export. Source data is likely to change in future reports and it represents the online activity as tracked by Altmetric at that given point in time.
On my blog at HASTAC, I shared a post with some thoughts on the the UK Parliament BIS Committee’s Open Access recommendations (here).
We need to emphasise that Gold OA is completely compatible with institutional repositories. In my opinion a Green-only option that leaves the paywalled business model uninterrogated fails to tackle what I perceive as the biggest obstacle to fairer (legal) access to knowledge.
Mandating Green OA is a positive step in the right direction, but it might merely provide a temporary paliative to what still keeps most (version of record) research inaccessible by many on a timely and sustainable fashion.