As announced on twitter, I have decided that every time a paywall or an archive blocks me from reading an academic article, I’m going to tweet it with the hashtag #closed.

I’m a PhD student and so, through my university, have access to a great number of online journals; certainly far more than the general public has. Yet despite this, and despite this material being the raw material for my work, I still come up against inaccessible articles.

This is not to criticize my university’s library. On the contrary, I can fully understand why they can’t possibly subscribe to everything, given their finite budget and the price-gouging of publishers. Even Harvard finds the subscription fees untenable.

My aim is to show that academic publishing is broken even for academia itself. It does not support the work of the academics, librarians, students and researchers who actually produce and curate the content. It follows, I believe, that the best interests of academia are not contrary to those of the larger, global public, of anyone with any interest – but without formal accreditation – in the research carried out in universities. The restrictions in place are for the benefit of the publishers, not the authors, who are denied communication with their peers as well as with any wider audience.

I hope that these tweets will help expose the everyday failure of the current publishing business. Raising the curtain is the prelude to action. In connection with this, it is worth mentioning the fine article by Jeffrey Salaz “Your Paper has just been outsourced” as revealing the production process behind all those expensive journals.

Finally, I want to make a clear commitment to the growing open access movement that wants to free research and knowledge from its proprietary chains. And in this connection it is worth mentioning the forthcoming OAButton project, a tool to track who is being blocked, what is being locked up,  and where else it can be obtained.

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1 Response to #closed

  1. Hi John,
    I’m a photographer with an interest in early modern London. Have worked on coffee-hoiuses and molly-houses when I was doing an MA at Birkbeck a couple of years ago. I am continuing my research on the coffee-houses as I am very interested in the counter-culture that went on in London 1690-1740s approx. I really like the idea of a roll of your roll dishonour re the academic press industry. Being now outside the academy, it can be a real problem getting access to some material.
    I wish you well in your research, lovely blog!

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