What I do to make OA a reality
“Open access” means making scholarly research work freely available to read and re-use over the internet. A substantial portion of my energy and time in the academy is devoted to this cause, which I believe to be noble, ethical and worthwhile.
Below are some of the things I have done, in practical terms, to advance open access in my field.
- I have worked tirelessly since early 2013 carefully planning and building the business model for the Open Library of Humanities to publish humanities journals in an open-access form without author-facing charges. I am likely to spend a substantial portion of my life on this project. We launched in September 2015 with a seven journals. More are migrating and our library consortium grows by the day. Make no mistake, this is hard, stressful work. But it is working.
- I co-founded and edit[ed] the OA journals Excursions (for postgraduates), Alluvium and Orbit, all of which are still running. The latter two, of which I am solely in charge of the technology, are digitally preserved in CLOCKSS and have DOIs. I paid for most of the infrastructure of these myself. I give the editorial time, particularly to Orbit, freely for the advancement of my discipline.
- I green archive all of my work so that others can read it, even when I face institutional pressure to publish in existing known venues with an unaffordable gold OA option. One piece of my early work, before I understood about green OA archiving, is only 50% available.
- I have published in gold OA journals like SAGE Open (paying the APC myself) and Neo-Victorian Studies (scholar-led, no APC).
- My first book, which I needed for my job, is not open access. I offered the publisher a deal to waive all royalties if they would let me make an embargoed version green OA. They refused and I was not in a strong position. Royalties on all my subsequent books, especially when not OA (which remains possible because, as I note in my own book, OA for books is harder), go to Arthritis Research UK.
- I published a book on open access, in an open-access form, with Cambridge University Press. By publishing through this traditional press many more people who are not already involved in the OA debate encountered the work.
- My book Literature Against Criticism is also OA, published by Open Book Publishers.
- I edited the Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Researchers.
- I have been and/or still am a member of the OAPEN-UK steering committee, the Jisc National Monograph Strategy Group, the SCONUL Strategy Group on Academic Content and Communications, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Access Steering Group, the Jisc Scholarly Communications Advisory Group, the HEFCE Open Access Monographs Expert Reference Panel and the UCP/CDL Mellon Monograph Platform Advisory Committee.
- I have developed XML typesetting software explicitly with the goal of opening up this activity to small scholar-led OA publishers.
- I am active in policy-making circles and debates, lending my time and energy when requested by policy makers to attend and speak on OA. This included giving evidence to the UK government’s panel on OA in 2013. I also frequently write discursive argumentative pieces whenever requested in order to advance debate. In these spaces, words are actions.
- I chair the Open Access Working Group at Birkbeck, University of London.