The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship seeks submissions for a new special collection:
Translation, Remediation, Spread: The Global Circulation of Comics in Digital Distribution
Editors: Jonathan Evans, Kathleen Dunley and Ernesto Priego
Editors: Jonathan Evans, Kathleen Dunley and Ernesto Priego
Here’s a listing of the articles we have published so far in 2019 in the journal (our 9th volume!) until the 30th of August 2019.
Lipenga, K.J., 2019. The New Normal: Enfreakment in Saga. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.161
Davies, P.F., 2019. New Choices of the Comics Creator. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.3. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.153
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
Hornsby, I., 2019. …Comic Books, Möbius Strips, Philosophy and…. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.7. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.151
Pickering, T., 2019. Diabetes Year One. Drawing my Pathography: Comics, Poetry and the Medical Self. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.8. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.147
Hagan, R.J., 2019. Touch Me/Don’t Touch Me: Representations of Female Archetypes in Ann Nocenti’s Daredevil. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.9. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.148
Misemer, L., 2019. A Historical Approach to Webcomics: Digital Authorship in the Early 2000s. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.10. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.162
Tan, X., 2019. Guoxue Comics: Visualising Philosophical Concepts and Cultural Values through Sequential Narratives. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.11. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.149
Austin, H.J., 2019. “That Old Black Magic”: Noir and Music in Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido’s Blacksad. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.12. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.156
Kottas, L. and Schwarzenbacher, M., 2019. The Comic at the Crossroads: The Semiotics of ‘Voodoo Storytelling’ in The Hole: Consumer Culture Vol. 1. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.13. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.150
Dodds, N., 2019. The Practice of Authentication: Adapting Pilgrimage from Nenthead into a Graphic Memoir. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.14. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.154
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
Christmas, S., 2019. The Citi Exhibition Manga マンガ (British Museum, 2019). The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 9(1), p.15. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.181
As you can see from the list above for us in the journal this year has had a strong focus on the Special Collection: Creating Comics, Creative Comics.
The collection expands on the themes of the symposium held in June 2018 at the University of South Wales, Cardiff.
Edited by Geraint D’Arcy (University of South Wales), Brian Fagence (University of South Wales) and Yours Truly (City, University of London), this collection seeks to explore the dilemmas and potentials of construction and creation, ideology and authorship, philosophies and embodiment, histories and practices. It’s been both a pleasure and an honour to collaborate with Geraint and Brian and all the authors and reviewers.
Articles published in this collection are listed at https://www.comicsgrid.com/collections/special/creating-comics-creative-comics/ .
More articles to come!
Please note that we are currently closed for submissions until 1st November 2019. Please keep an eye on Twitter and our journal web site for news. We are currently working in drafting our new Call for Papers with revised guidelines.
We always need academic reviewers. If you would like to become a peer reviewer, please register, including enough details of your areas of expertise, at https://www.comicsgrid.com/author/register/reviewer/.
[English version below]
[He compartido aquí esta carta abierta para que quede registro de su existencia. Cuando recibí noticia de esta carta, iniciada por Jorge Fondebrider, el 29 de enero, el archivo de los números 2007-2018 del Periódico de Poesía no estaba disponible de manera clara y visible al visitar https://periodicodepoesia.unam.mx/. Para mayor contexto sobre la genealogía de este misterioso caso de archivos desaparecidos y reaparecidos, ver el post de Jorge en https://buenosairespoetry.com/2019/01/30/carta-abierta-las-razones-de-un-texto-y-muchas-firmas-jorge-fondebrider/.
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.
I have shared here this open letter for the record. At the time we began collecting the initial signatures, the 2007-2018 issues of Periódico de Poesía were not clearly and visibly available when visiting https://periodicodepoesia.unam.mx/. A day later, once the word had spread, they suddenly reappeared on its home page. For more context on the genealogy of this strange case of disappeared and reappeared archives, please read Jorge’s post at https://buenosairespoetry.com/2019/01/30/carta-abierta-las-razones-de-un-texto-y-muchas-firmas-jorge-fondebrider/.
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.
Para mayor contexto / more context at: https://buenosairespoetry.com/2019/01/30/carta-abierta-las-razones-de-un-texto-y-muchas-firmas-jorge-fondebrider/
Periódico de Poesía: https://periodicodepoesia.unam.mx/
Texto completo de la carta abierta y firmantes iniciales / Full Open Letter in Spanish and initial signataries:
ADOLFO CASTAÑÓN (México)
ALEJANDRO SANDOVAL ÁVILA (México)
ALEXIS GÓMEZ ROSA (Rep. Dominicana)
ALFONSO ALEGRE (España)
ALFONSO OREJEL SORIA (México)
ALICIA GARCÍA BERGUA (México)
ÁLVARO VALVERDE (España)
ANA FRANCO (México)
ANDRÉS EHRENHAUS (Argentina)
ANNA CROWE (Escocia)
ANTONIO MARTÍN ALBALATE (España)
ARGEL CORPUS (México)
ARMANDO ROA VIAL (Chile)
AURELIO MAJOR (España/México/Canadá)
BÁRBARA BELLOC (Argentina)
BERNARDO RUÍZ (México)
BLANCA STREPPONI (Argentina / Venezuela)
BRENDA RÍOS (México)
CARLA FAESLER (México)
CARLOS LÓPEZ (México)
CARLOS LÓPEZ BELTRÁN (México)
CARLOS MAPES (México)
CARLOS VITALE (Argentina)
CARMEN SÁNCHEZ (México)
CITLALI GUERRERO (México)
CLAUDIA LUNA FUENTES (México)
CLAUDIA MELNIK (Argentina)
CORAL BRACHO (México)
DANA GELINAS (México)
DANIEL GOLDIN HALFON (México)
DARÍO JARAMILLO (Colombia)
DIANA BELLESSI (Argentina)
EDUARDO ESPINA (Uruguay)
EDUARDO GARCÍA AGUILAR (Colombia)
EDUARDO HURTADO (México)
EDUARDO MILÁN (Uruguay/México)
EDUARDO MOGA (España)
EDWARD HIRSCH (Estados Unidos)
ELIOT WEINBERGER (Estados Unidos)
ENRIQUE JUNCOSA (España)
ENRIQUE WINTER (Chile)
ERNESTO PRIEGO (México/Reino Unido)
FABIO JURADO VALENCIA (Colombia)
FABIO MORÁBITO (México)
FERNANDO HERRERA GÓMEZ (Colombia)
FRANCISCO JOSÉ CRUZ (España)
FRANCISCO SEGOVIA (México)
GASTÓN ALEJANDRO MARTÍNEZ SALDIERNA (México)
GERARDO PINA (México)
GOYA GUTIÉRREZ (España)
GUSTAVO GUERRERO (Venezuela)
GWEN KIRKPATRICK (Estados Unidos)
HARRYETTE MULLEN (Estados Unidos)
HÉCTOR CARRETO (México)
HÉLÈNE CARDONA (Estados Unidos/España)
HERMANN BELLINGHAUSEN (México)
HUGH HAZELTON (Estados Unidos)
IGNACIO DI TULIO (Argentina)
INÉS GARLAND (Argentina)
JAN DE JAGER (Argentina)
JOHN BURNSIDE (Escocia)
JORGE AGUILAR MORA (México)
JORGE AULICINO (Argentina – Premio Nacional de Poesía)
JORGE FONDEBRIDER (Argentina)
JORGE VALDÉZ DÍAZ-VÉLEZ (México)
JOSÉ CARLOS CATAÑO (Canarias-Cataluña)
JOSÉ LUIS BOBADILLA (México)
JOSÉ MARÍA ESPINASA (México)
JOSÉ RAMÓN RIPOLL (España)
JUAN ANTONIO MASOLIVER (España)
JUAN ANTONIO MONTIEL (México/España)
JUAN ARABIA (Argentina)
JUAN CARLOS ABRIL (España)
JUAN CARLOS MARSET (España)
JUAN ESMERIO NAVARRO (México)
JULIA PIERA (España)
JULIÁN HERBERT (México)
JULIO ORTEGA (Perú)
KATHERINE SILVER (Estados Unidos)
LOREA CANALES (México)
LUCRECIA ORENSANZ (México)
LUIS ARMENTA MALPICA (México)
LUIS BRAVO (Uruguay)
LUIS CORTES BARGALLÓ (México)
LUIS MIGUEL AGUILAR (México)
MAGNUS WILLIAM-OLSSON (Suecia)
MARCOS RICARDO BARNATÁN (España)
MARÍA RIVERA (México)
MARINA SERRANO (Argentina)
MARIO CAMPAÑA (Ecuador)
MARIO MONTALBETTI (Perú)
MARK SCHAFER (Estados Unidos)
MARTÍN ESPADA (Estados Unidos)
MATT BROGAN (Estados Unidos)
MERCEDES ÁLVAREZ (Argentina)
MICAELA CHIRIF (Perú)
MICHAEL O’LOUGHLIN (Irlanda)
MIGUEL ÁNGEL PETRECCA (Argentina)
MIGUEL ÁNGEL ZAPATA (Perú)
MIGUEL CASADO (España)
PEDRO POITEVIN (Estados Unidos)
RAFAEL JOSÉ DÍAZ (España)
RICHARD GWYN (Gales)
RODICA GRIGORE (Rumania)
RODOLFO MATA (México)
SAMUEL BOSSINI (Argentina)
SERGIO GASPAR (España)
SILVANA FRANZETTI (Argentina)
SILVIA CAMEROTTO (Argentina)
SILVIA EUGENIA CASTILLERO (México)
SONIA HERNÁNDEZ (España)
SUSANA CABUCHI (Argentina)
SUSANNA RAFART (España)
TANYA HUNTINGTON (Estados Unidos)
TERESA ARIJÓN (Argentina)
TOM POW (Escocia)
VERÓNICA GROSSI (México)
VERÓNICA ZONDEK (Chile)
VÍCTOR RODRÍGUEZ NÚÑEZ (Cuba)
W. H. HERBERT (Escocia)
XANATH CARAZA (México)
XIMENA ATRISTAIN LÓPEZ (México)
VICTOR SOTO FERREL (Tijuana, México)
YOLANDA PANTIN (Venezuela)
ZAZIL COLLINS (México)
In anticipation of Open Access Week 2018 (October 22-28 2018), we’d like to invite you to a free and public screening of the documentary film Paywall: The Business of Scholarship (dir. and prod. Jason Schmitt, 2018) at City, University of London, on Wednesday 17 October 2018 from 17:30.
This event is public and free but requires registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/documentary-film-screening-paywall-the-business-of-scholarship-2018-tickets-49845449080
Trailer 1 for Paywall: The Business of Scholarship embedded below:
Watch this and other trailers for the film at https://paywallthemovie.com/trailers.
The screening will be introduced by Yours Truly and hopefully followed by discussion, either there or at the pub.
For other screenings at universities worldwide, keep an eye on the listings at https://paywallthemovie.com/screenings.
A formal complaint to the European Ombudsman has been submitted about the recent announcement that Elsevier has been subcontracted to monitor the future progress of Open Science in Europe.
The published version of the complaint is available open access on Zenodo: http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1305847
The signed complaint was submitted on 5th July 2018, but a second (and third, and possibly fourth?) set of signatures is to be submitted.
More than 1000 colleagues from a variety of countries have signed so far.
Please read the full document and if you agree with the complaint please consider adding your signature to the end of the document here:
We need this information to circulate outside the usual scholarly communications circles, and even within them it would be good to have some more engagement or discussion with these issues. Please help us spread the word.
We are all so busy with work that issues relating to scholarly communications infrastructure (which define the whole academic workflow, including the frameworks and standards for employment and promotion) have been generally outsourced to third-parties or a few expert organisations.
In my opinion this alienation of researchers from the means of scholarly production and assessment works to the full advantage to those who profit from unfair market dominance and opaque decision-making.
In my view signing this complaint may not do much to change things directly, but expressing our legitimate concerns publicly, and leaving relevant documentation of our views in the scholarly record, is the least we can do as responsible scholars.
Jonathan Tennant. (2018, July 5). Complaint to the European Ombudsman about Elsevier and the Open Science Monitor. Zenodo http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1317961
I will be presenting at the event Open Access in the Humanities event that will take place at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana on 22 May 2018.
I will be participating in a panel discussion titled “How to establish open access in Slovenian academic publishing and researching?”.
The information and programme in English is available at http://www.ff.uni-lj.si/an/books/open_access_humanities.
Video streaming will also be available at the web page for the event (link above).
I would like to thank the Open Library of Humanities and the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana for making it possible for me to attend this event.
Don’t miss the accompanying interview on comics scholarship, open peer review, and the future of openlibhums.org/news/275/open access:
We know you are busy. It’s been quite a year for everyone. For us at The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship it’s been a very busy year with submissions all year round.
We’d like to thank you all for your readership and engagement. We are infinitely grateful to all our editors, reviewers and authors: thank you! We would also like to thank the Open Library of Humanities 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 have published so far in 2017 (our 7th volume!), until the 22nd of December:
Ursini, F.-A., (2017). David Bowie’s Influence on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.1. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.95
Ursini, F.-A., (2017). Themes, Focalization and the Flow of Information: The Case of Shingeki no Kyojin. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.83
Juricevic, I., (2017). Aladdin Sane and Close-Up Eye Asymmetry: David Bowie’s Contribution to Comic Book Visual Language. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.4. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.94
Humphrey, A., (2017). The Cult of Krazy Kat: Memory and Recollection in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.8. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.97
Earle, H., (2017). Framing Violence and Serial Murder in My Friend Dahmer and Green River Killer. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.99
Chung, M.-Y., (2017). The Humanity of the Zombie: A Case Study of a Korean Zombie Comic. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.6. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.81
Humphrey, A., (2017). The Cult of Krazy Kat: Memory and Recollection in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.8. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.97
Curtis, N., (2017). Doom’s Law: Spaces of Sovereignty in Marvel’s Secret Wars. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.9. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.90
Nurse, A., (2017). See No Evil, Print No Evil: The Criminalization of Free Speech in DMZ. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.10. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.88
Lee, J., (2017). Black Bleeds and the Sites of a Trauma in GB Tran’s Vietnamerica. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.12. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.104
Martin, C., (2017). With, Against or Beyond Print? Digital Comics in Search of a Specific Status. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.13. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.106
Botes, M., (2017). Using Comics to Communicate Legal Contract Cancellation. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.14. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.100
Fontaine, J., (2017). Illusion, Kayfabe, and Identity Performance in Box Brown and Brandon Easton’s Andre the Giant Graphic Biographies. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.17. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.96
Labarre, N., (2017). Coming to Life: A Review of Movie Comics: Page to Screen/Screen to Page. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.3. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.105
Davies, D., (2017). A Review of Threadbare: Clothes, Sex and Trafficking. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.7. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.110
Godfrey, A.P., (2017). The Ethical Zombie: A Review of The Walking Med: Zombies and The Medical Image. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.11. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.112
Bussone, A., (2017). Experiencing the History of HIV/AIDS: A Review of Taking Turns. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.15. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.116
Clarke Gray, B., (2017). Cap the Chameleon: A Review of Captain America, Masculinity, and Violence. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.16. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.120
Davies, D., (2017). Comics Activism: An Interview with Comics Artist and Activist Kate Evans. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship. 7, p.18. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.114
We were delighted to that Aleisha Ward’s article, “New Zealand Jazz Concerts, the Use and Abuse of Grand Pianos, and One Cartoonist’s Response” won the prestigious Rebecca Coyle Prize this year. Read more about the prize here: https://www.openlibhums.org/news/266/
We also celebrated that Benoît Crucifix’s article, “Witnessing Fukushima Secondhand: Collage, Archive and Travelling Memory in Jacques Ristorcelli’s Les Écrans” won honorary mention at the inaugural Best Online Comics Studies Scholarship Award (BOCSS), announced at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) 2017 at the Lesley University campus.
Many congratulations to both Aleisha and Benoît!
If you submitted work during 2017 and your submission is still under review please accept our gratitude for your patience and understanding. Believe us: we know how frustrating scholarly publishing can be. After 7 years we remain a relatively small operation, and the volume of submissions this year increased significantly, 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.
We are also in constant need for academic reviewers. If you would like to become a peer reviewer, please register, including your areas of expertise, at https://www.comicsgrid.com/author/register/reviewer/.
Special thanks to Peter Wilkins, Nicolas Labarre, Benoît Crucifix , Thom Giddens, Lise Tannahill, Enrique del Rey, Ana Cristina de Lion, Sam Moore, Peter Ford, Abhijit Pathre, Andy Byers, Martin Eve, and Caroline Edwards, who made this such a good year for The Grid.
Here’s looking forward to a 2018 full of open access comics scholarship!
On February 1, 2015, the global information and analytics corporation Elsevier and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) established the agreement UNAM-Elsevier contract DGAJ-DPI-39-081114- 241, which saw the transfer from UNAM to Elsevier for the “production and hosting, advertising and support” of 44 Mexican open access academic journals published by UNAM.
On Saturday 25 November 2017 we published a pre-print that documents said contract and describes a Freedom of Information Request enquiring the total cost of the contract and its corresponding response. It also shares a series of considerations that, based on this case, can be helpful to other institutions that may face similar circumstances in the future. We conclude scholarly publishing and academic self-determination are interdependent and a crucial point of future debate for the future of University presses and Open Access worldwide.
You can download the document from figshare at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.5632657.v1.
Priego, Ernesto; McKiernan, Erin; Posada, Alejandro; Hartley, Ricardo; Rodríguez-ortega, Nuria; Fiormonte, Domenico; Gil, Alex; Logan, Corina; Alperin, Juan Pablo; Mounce, Ross; Eglen, Stephen; Trigueros, Ernesto Miranda; Lawson, Stuart; Gatto, Laurent; Ramos, Adela; Pérez, Natalia (2017): Scholarly Publishing, Freedom of Information and Academic Self-Determination: The UNAM-Elsevier Case. figshare.
My post at the Red de Humanidades Digitales blog: http://humanidadesdigitales.net/blog/2017/08/07/revistas-academicas-elsevier-sciencedirect/#RedHD
An update from 10 August 2017, including the resolution of UNAM’s Transparency Committee, further discussion and a list of references, here: http://humanidadesdigitales.net/blog/2017/08/09/contrato-unam-elsevier-resolucion-del-comite-de-transparencia-de-la-unam/
Version 2 of the source data:
Priego, Ernesto (2017): List of UNAM Journals Under Contract with Elsevier. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3976752.v2
This is a quick follow-up post to this post from yesterday. Please read it first if you haven’t already…
The mere fact that we exist, that we conceive and want something different from what exists, constitutes for us a reason for hoping.”
-Simone Weil, 25 August, 1933 [in Oppression and Liberty, 2001: 23]
So what can we do?
What we can do and what many have been doing is developing academic-led infrastructures. Simon Fraser University’s Public Knowledge Project, CrossRef, ORCID DataCite, and the International DOI Foundation are nonprofits. Initiatives like the University of Southampton’s EPrints, Cornell University’s Arxiv and SocArxiv, the Modern Language Association’s Humanities Commons, or the Open Library of Humanities (to mention just a few of many others) are examples that academic-led projects can develop academic-centred, nonprofit technological infrastructure for scholarly communications.
In Latin America (but not limited to), SciELO and Redalyc are pioneering academic publishing networks with huge potential and that already embrace good practices the rest of the world could learn from.
It is clear that none of the services mentioned above is perfect (what system ever is?) nor do they fully replace by themselves or collectively forprofit infrastructures that many academics have learned to take and adopt for granted. I fear it might be years, maybe decades before academic-led nonprofits can compete at the same level of influence and pervasiveness within the reputational economy of international academia that Elsevier products enjoy more or less across the board. It is also true that due to the historical outsourcing of scholarly communications work to a few main for-profit corporations academia still has rare precious examples of appropriate conditions to actually develop and lead in infrastructure.
So far institutions have been happier buying off-the-shelf products than developing them themselves. The price we are paying is not only financial (the ‘Serials’ crisis goes beyond the subscription costs of the ‘serials’ themselves). We are paying a much higher price, and that is any type of autonomy over the sociotechnological paradigms that always-already define any workflow. We are increasingly losing the power to even discuss where and how to create, publish, distribute, assess, measure, discuss, attribute the work we do.
This thread from yesterday by Kathleen Fitzpatrick offers an insightful summary of what many of us agree should be the desired path of action.
The recommendations made in the report by Fyfe, A., et al. (2017), Untangling Academic Publishing, are on target and deserve wider dissemination internationally (download the report from https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.546100).
Other researchers like Cameron Neylon and Martin Eve have published extensively on academic infrastructure; Force11, as a community, continues being at the forefront of the promotion of researcher-led scholarly communications.
It is indeed essential there is international coordination by academics worldwide. This is, of course, easier said than done. Though academic systems of assessment, recognition, reward, promotion vary from country to country (and sometimes from institution to institution, field to field, department to department, centre to centre) it is essential there is an attempt from academics to understand how the monopolisation of knowledge affects us all.
Academic authors need to be in a position, however, to influence their institutions, via the relevant committees and organisational structures (including, but not limited to, Library services and ‘Research Quality’ managers), to start and continue conversations about the third-party services universities are willing to embrace and pay for.
It seems to me crucial that the ‘advocacy’ (for lack of better term) for researcher-led scholarly communications infrastructure needs to go beyond circles of ‘advocates’ and reach a wider academic community, particularly of higher officials (VPs, Deans, Heads of School), students and ECRs.
Staff in academic libraries are already motivated by the need to provide better, wider, fairer access to their users through more affordable, ethical means. It is colleagues directly involved in RQM committees, as well as Research officers/managers and other University administration officials that work assigning budgets and defining and implementing systems of assessment and reward that need to be willing to be part of the conversations about infrastructures and the transformations to scholarly communications. Academic authors are voicing their views. Who’s listening? That is an important question.
But academics can also do more and be willing to change if they agree things need to change. The ‘inertia’ mentioned in Fitzpatrick’s thread linked above and referred to other colleagues in relation to the docile adoption of Elsevier services is deeply embedded in academic structures of reputation and reward, and essentially a cornerstone of ‘publish or perish’ culture, accelerated and hyperdiversified workloads, furious professional competition in a landscape defined by reputational symbolic value and scarcity.
The critical qualitative analysis of the state of scholarly communications today is often disqualified as ‘ranty’ and ‘angry’, and seen as not pragmatic. Meanwhile, library and educational technology conferences are up to a great extent defined by presentations by representatives of forprofits which are de facto sales pitches or commercial, proprietary software demos. They sell, we buy. We buy, they define.
Meanwhile, a considerable academic author demographic is still motivated to publish, in spite of agreements such as DORA, in ”high impact” journals, and, even worse, research quality assessment/RQM/ARQM committees within universities still actively discourage academics from publishing in ‘non-traditional’ journals or platforms.
The disqualification of qualitative assessments of scholarly culture is in itself the result of the same culture that has allowed international academic work to increasingly outsource its most essential infrastructure to monopolistic third parties.
“Scholarly communications” is the whole cycle of scholarship itself. The separation between the understanding of what kind of infrastructures make academia fuction as such from the work of ‘research’ has only benefited those who provide the ‘solutions’ at high cost to institutions, and who profit excessively from cultural production that is given to them practically for free.
This will sound dramatic and outmoded but it is the ‘blood’ of academics (what they do; their very labour) what oils and fuels a highly profitable market dominated by a few corporations. These companies’ practices are increasingly alienating more academics, institutions and citizens from the work they fund, produce, and discuss.
Today, Elsevier announces its acquisition of bepress. In a move entirely consistent with its strategy to pivot beyond content licensing to preprints, analytics, workflow, and decision-support, Elsevier is now a major if not the foremost single player in the institutional repository landscape. If successful, and there are some risks, this acquisition will position Elsevier as an increasingly dominant player in preprints, continuing its march to adopt and coopt open access.”
This development is just another clear indication that the company I often refer to as ‘The Dutch Giant’ is determined to control as much of the scholarly communications infrastructure worldwide as possible.
Academics (I include here not only ‘researchers’ but also students, editors, librarians, research officers, administrators, repository managers, the whole diversity of roles of everyone involved in the higher education enterprise) should be by now aware that soon it will be very hard to avoid altogether their monopolisation of academic work, even when research outputs have not been published in an Elsevier journal.
This is not, of course, new. Elsevier has for many years not been a mere ‘publisher’ in any traditional sense. They encompass the whole range of activity/behaviour/production in contemporary academia (teaching and institutional marketing/reputation management included). To give the most obvious example, Scopus, indeed “the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books and conference proceedings” is an Elsevier ‘solution’ whose influence already is virtually unavoidable in contemporary academia, regardless of where academic work has been published. The acquisition of Mendeley, the reference management/academic social networking software, also signalled the company’s goal is to profit from academics’ data, all data, in all forms and at all times, in all stages of the research and professional workflow/cycle.
Consider the main list of Elsevier ‘solutions’, as advertised on their main web site:
That’s quite the package, isn’t it? The acquisition of bepress publicised today is indeed a predictable yet particularly alarming development as it clearly demonstrates that Elsevier, which relies heavily on subscriptions for revenue (68% of their total revenue in 2014), understands that the combination of institutional repositories and national open access mandates (that, as in the UK, require researchers selfarchive their publications in their institutions’ repositories) are a viable alternative to the centralisation of academic content, and therefore, as the alternative they can be to subscriptions and APCs, represent a threat. If something competes with their model, it gets acquired.
It has to be said that this is not good news. This is not “exciting”, nor “big” news in a positive sense. It is scary and worrying. A critique of the growing monopolisation of the scholarly communications landscape (the global research market was recently estimated to be worth around $1.7 trillion) is not about tampering innovation nor entrepreneurship. Raising an alarm regarding the increased monopolisation from a for-profit third-party entity of virtually all aspects of academic production is a call to recognising that there are ethical and legal threats to academic freedom and its diversity when for-profit monopolies/oligopolies become the de-facto providers of infrastructure.
This increasingly pervasive control over academic workflows leaves academics and the public disempowered and unable to regain control over the work they produce and fund, and from having a say about who owns the work and all related data, how it is accessed and who gets to profit directly and indirectly from it. That much of that content has been publicly-funded by taxpayers and/or either privately or publicly by universities or funders, makes this development even more alarming.
These are just some quick, rushed, alarmed lines. I am looking forward to continuing the reflections that my colleague Domenico Fiormonte and I have been developing for some time now more thoroughly, and to also collaborate on addressing these threats to academic infrastructural diversity with my colleague Penny Andrews at some point very soon. Watch this space…
[What can we do? A follow-up to this post, here].