Last week, the first big public event discussing the Open Access policy announced in July was held at the Royal Statistical Society by the Academy of Social Sciences. If you are interested, many of the presentations from the event are already available online, with more write-ups to follow, as well as a promised YouTube video of the entire event. The programme promised and delivered a good range of speakers, and not least Dame Janet Finch herself. I went along for the first day, thinking that this might be an open space to learn about the issues and have discussions about the policy, involving a wide range of affected parties.
I did learn a lot, although what I mainly learned was that no one was really prepared to take any real responsibility for a policy to which a lot of eminent and well-informed people had very serious objections. Finch insisted that she had to stick to a brief which did not involve ‘destabilising’ the publishing system. No one was there to answer from either BIS or RCUK, who both adopted the policy immediately upon the publication of the report in July. HEFCE, who have not formally announced a position yet, however indicated at the conference that they are very likely to adopt the RCUK model for REF2020. Continue reading
This is the last in our recent series of posts this week on open access. Pablo covered the big questions and rationales for open access; Colin explored the potential consequences of the current policy direction; David raised serious questions about its fit for social sciences; Nivi highlighted the implications for early career academics and Nathan extended the discussion to the broader problems of academic precarity.
What do we do now? I will not labour over diagnostic points made eloquently and at length elsewhere on this blog (and also in the comments sections). In part, because there just isn’t time. At least in the UK, right now, we are facing a critical juncture where open access policy is being solidified by the Finch ‘Implementation Groups’, and solidified in the wrong direction. Indeed, there is a Academy of Social Sciences Conference in London on 29th and 30th November on the implementation of OA policy, which will likely further reinforce the direction of travel laid out by the Finch Report. Dame Janet Finch is the keynote on the first day, and the second day is ‘aimed at’ publishers, learned societies and their representatives. I am also somewhat concerned at the speed of travel on this, which suggests that Government have not taken the time to seriously reflect on it, and that most wider academic ‘stakeholders’ are being left behind on discussions and decisions which seriously affect all of our futures.
Briefly, though, my concerns around an endorsement of Article Processing Charges mirror questions raised by Colin. Having said that, I am rather more certain/pessimistic than him that these pose a very substantial threat to academic freedom and the overall integrity of the journal system. I am also concerned that they will increase the costs of research without increasing its quality, and waste a lot of academic time as Universities and Departments try to administer them (as will have to happen for most Arts/Humanities/Social Science research which is not funded by grant-money). Finally, I am highly disappointed that nowhere does the Finch Report seriously reflect on possible Government action to further protect copyright over the Version of Record.
So, what is to be done? Continue reading
Posted without comment; thanks James Sadri.
<rant> What I used to dislike about the Iranian elections is what I dislike about all national elections today: they’re all fake. There is a choice but it’s not a meaningful one. With the Iranian elections the argument would be: Ahmadinejad or Karroubi/Mousavi, it doesn’t matter, the real power is with Khamenei the Supreme Leader. So you can elect the Iranian President but you can’t elect the Supreme Leader. Well that’s the situation we’ve all got today, even in the US. There is a Supreme Leader casting a long shadow over every national ‘democratic’ process. You can vote for Obama/Romney, Cameron/Brown/Clegg – whoever – but those are all fake choices, where you’re always choosing between the lesser of two evils, never for the world you really want. You can’t vote to stop 20,000 kids dying today because of lack of access to clean water. You can’t vote to stop all war. You can’t vote for people to have the same freedom of movement regardless of where they’re born. You can’t vote to stop extreme disparities of wealth. You can’t vote to stop climate change. That’s because if you do any of these things at the national level you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Increase labour protection or environmental regulation and the factories and cash will go to our enemies. Increase foreign ‘aid’ and it means less for our struggling people. Try to cap carbon emissions and you’re killing business competitiveness. Our Supreme Leader is national competition. We sacrifice the societies we really want to build – peaceful, harmonious, more equal ones – for violent dysfunctional ones that are hopefully slightly richer than those across the map lines. Nobody seems to question the race to the bottom – we seem only to be focused on being the fastest zombies. The world has globalised yet our politics remains pitifully – pathetically – parochial. So while I’ll be hoping that Romney doesn’t win tomorrow, I’m going to remember that there’s a Supreme Leader out there who’s pissing on all your national elections. And he doesn’t have a beard. </rant>
They say that discretion is the better part of valour. But DfID, or at least its boss, has decided otherwise. It was announced last month that “Aid from Britain will now be badged with a Union Flag when it is sent overseas, as a clear symbol that it comes from the United Kingdom.” In these times of urgently, relentlessly celebrating Britishness in all possible ways, this little ‘tweak’ to development policy may have slipped under the radar.
The ministerial statement in the press release is worth quoting in full, because it is both strange and revealing of a particular – and, I think, regressive – political turn in international development policy:
“For too long, Britain has not received the credit it deserves for the amazing results we achieve in tackling global poverty. Some in the development community have been reluctant to ‘badge’ our aid with the Union Flag.
“I disagree: I believe it is important that aid funded by the British people should be easily and clearly identified as coming from the UK. It is right that people in villages, towns and cities around the world can see by whom aid is provided.
“British aid is achieving results of which everyone in the United Kingdom can be proud. And I am determined that, from now on, Britain will not shy away from celebrating and taking credit for them.” Continue reading
Tuesday 14th February 2012, 5.30pm-7.00pm
Westminster Forum, 5th Floor, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, London W1 (nearest tube Oxford Circus)
Panel with Editors David Chandler and Meera Sabaratnam, followed by publisher’s reception
The 1990s was a weird decade for all kinds of reasons. The dice that were thrown into the air as the Soviet Union retreated landed in a particularly intriguing configuration for those politicians, public functionaries and academics from wealthy countries and institutions concerned with ‘peace’ and ‘development’. Their missions, marginalised for decades under concerns for national (i.e. military) security, were quite suddenly elevated as symbols of the new world order and installed as defining foreign policy priorities of wealthy states. Continue reading