Danah Boyd rants “Save Scholarly Ideas, Not the Publishing Industry”. This is a well-worn topic here on my blog, but she hits on a useful theme: People with tenure should be leading the charge, but instead it’s mainly young scholars who are working for change in the way we publish research and scholarship:
What pisses me off to no end is that the same Marxist academics who pooh-pooh corporations justify their own commitment to this blood-sucking process with one word: tenure. Not like that is the end of the self-justifications. Even once scholars get tenure, they continue down the same path even when not publishing with students by telling themselves its for promotion or because grants require it or because of any other status-seeking process.
WTF? How did academia become so risk-adverse? The whole point of tenure was to protect radical thinking. But where is the radicalism in academia? I get that there are more important things to protest in the world than scholarly publishing, but why the hell arent academics working together to resist the corporatization and manipulation of the knowledge that they produce? Why arent they collectively teaming up to challenge the status quo? Journal articles arent nothing theyre the very product of our knowledge production process.
Coming from corporate research, Boyd lacks information on this topic. She doesn’t seem aware of the immensity of the open access movement underway or its notable successes. But the comment stream is full of interesting anecdotes and suggestions from academics.
In my view, substituting open access for closed access journals is a necessary but not sufficient change to our system of academic communication. We need to recognize new modes of publication and dissemination of knowledge that are relevant beyond the academy, and we need to formalize credibility in this new, broader context. That would be truly radical.