Open Access Policy in the UK: From Neoliberalism to the Commons

Author: Stuart Lawson

Abstract: This thesis makes a contribution to the knowledge of open access through a historically and theoretically informed account of contemporary open access policy in the UK (2010–15). It critiques existing policy by revealing the influence of neoliberal ideology on its creation, and proposes a commons-based approach as an alternative. The historical context in Chapters 2 and 3 shows that access to knowledge has undergone numerous changes over the centuries and the current push to increase access to research, and political controversies around this idea, are part of a long tradition. The exploration of the origins and meanings of ‘openness’ in Chapter 4 enriches the understanding of open access as a concept and makes possible a more nuanced critique of specific instantiations of open access in later chapters. The theoretical heart of the thesis is Chapter 5, in which neoliberalism is analysed with a particular focus on neoliberal conceptions of liberty and openness. The subsequent examination of neoliberal higher education in Chapter 6 is therefore informed by a thorough grounding in the ideology that underlies policymaking in the neoliberal era. This understanding then acts as invaluable context for the analysis of the UK’s open access policy in Chapter 7. By highlighting the neoliberal aspects of open access policy, the political tensions within open access advocacy are shown to have real effects on the way that open access is unfolding. Finally, Chapter 8 proposes the commons as a useful theoretical model for conceptualising a future scholarly publishing ecosystem that is free from neoliberal ideology. An argument is made that a commons-based open access policy is possible, though must be carefully constructed with close attention paid to the power relations that exist between different scholarly communities.

Citation: Lawson, Stuart. “Open Access Policy in the UK: From Neoliberalism to the Commons.”


Funder open access platforms – a welcome innovation?

Authors: Tony Ross-Hellauer, Birgit Schmidt, and Bianca Kramer

Abstract: Funding organisations commissioning their own open access publishing platforms is a relatively recent development in the OA environment, with the European Commission following the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation in financing such an initiative. But in what ways, for better or worse, do these new platforms disrupt or complement the scholarly communications landscape? Tony Ross-Hellauer, Birgit Schmidt and Bianca Kramer examine the ethical, organisational, and economic strengths and weaknesses of funder OA platforms to scope the opportunities and threats they present in the transition to OA. While they may help to increase OA uptake, control costs, and lower the administrative burden on researchers, possible unintended consequences include conflicts of interest, difficulties of scale, or potential vendor lock-in.

Citation: Ross-Hellauer, Tony; Schmidt, Birgit; Kramer, Bianca. “Funder open access platforms – a welcome innovation?” LSE Impact Blog. July 4, 2018.


Source: Funder open access platforms – a welcome innovation?

What Happened, or, Impasses and Future Horizons for an Open Anthropology of Work

Authors: Nina Brown, Marcel LaFlamme, Sarah Lyon

Abstract: These words were never supposed to be stuck behind a paywall. That is, this editorial was to have welcomed you, our readers, to the first open-access issue of the Anthropology of Work Review. The fact that we cannot extend such a welcome means that we owe you an explanation. We offer it to ensure that the story does not get lost in buried email threads, but becomes part of the published record that can be consulted by future historians of the discipline. We offer it to inform advocates of open access in other disciplines of the challenges that they, too, may face by operating within the strictures of a larger scholarly society. We offer it to register our disappointment at the outcome of a four-year process that, for all of the urgency that set it into motion, ended up largely reproducing the status quo. Yet we also offer it as a token of our continued commitment to innovating open futures for the anthropology of work, at a time when the simultaneous intensification of demands on workers and the attenuation of protections for them demand wider engagement with this vital field of inquiry.

Citation: Brown, Nina, LaFlamme, Marcel and Lyon, Sarah. “What Happened, or, Impasses and Future Horizons for an Open Anthropology of Work.” Anthropology of Work Review, 39, no. 1 (2018) 44-47. Downloaded from


Source: Rice Digital Scholarship Archive

Understanding Open Knowledge in China: A Chinese Approach to Openness?

Authors: Lucy Montgomery, Xiang Ren

Abstract: This paper examines the development of open knowledge in China through two case studies: the development of Chinese open access (OA) journals, and national-level OA repositories. Open access and open knowledge are emerging as a site of both grass-roots activism, and top-down intervention in the practices of scholarship and scholarly publishing in China. Although the language, vision and strategies of the global open knowledge movement are undoubtedly present, so too are the messy realities of open access and open knowledge innovation in a local context. In attempting to position open access developments in China within a diverse and contested global landscape of open knowledge innovation we draw on Moore’s (2017) conception of open access as a boundary object: an object that is understood differently within individual communities but which maintains enough structure to be understood between communities (Moore 2017; Star and Griesemer 1989). Viewed as a boundary object, the concept of open knowledge is making it possible for China to engage with the global open knowledge movement, as a beneficiary of the innovation of others, and as an open knowledge innovator in its own right.

Citation:Montgomery, L. & Ren, X., (2018). Understanding Open Knowledge in China: A Chinese Approach to Openness?. Cultural Science Journal. 10(1), pp.17–26. DOI:


Source: Cultural Science Journal

Scholarship as an Open Conversation: Utilizing Open Peer Review in Information Literacy Instruction

Authors: Emily Ford

Abstract: This article explores the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy’s frame, Scholarship as a Conversation. This frame asserts that information literate students have the disposition, skills, and knowledge to recognize and participate in disciplinary scholarly conversations. By investigating the peer-review process as part of scholarly conversations, this article provides a brief literature review on peer review in information literacy instruction, and argues that by using open peer review (OPR) models for teaching, library workers can allow students to gain a deeper understanding of scholarly conversations. OPR affords students the ability to begin dismantling the systemic oppression that blinded peer review and the traditional scholarly publishing system reinforce. Finally, the article offers an example classroom activity using OPR to help students enter scholarly conversations, and recognize power and oppression in scholarly publishing.

Citation: Ford, E. (2018).Scholarship as an Open Conversation: Utilizing Open Peer Review in Information Literacy Instruction. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.


Source: In the Library with the Lead Pipe

A Resonant Message: Aligning Scholar Values and Open Access Objectives in OA Policy Outreach to Faculty and Graduate Students

Author: Jane Johnson Otto

AbstractFaculty contribution to the institutional repository is a major limiting factor in the successful provision of open access to scholarship, and thus to the advancement of research productivity and progress. Many have alluded to outreach messages through studies examining faculty concerns that underlie their reluctance to contribute, but specific open access messages demonstrated to resonate most with faculty have not been discussed with sufficient granularity. Indeed, many faculty benefits and concerns are likely either unknown to the faculty themselves, or unspoken, so the literature’s record of faculty benefits and perceptions of open access remains incomplete at best.

How to Cite: Otto, J.J., (2016). A Resonant Message: Aligning Scholar Values and Open Access Objectives in OA Policy Outreach to Faculty and Graduate Students. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication. 4, p.eP2152. DOI:



Source: Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication

Open access in ethics research: an analysis of open access availability and author self-archiving behaviour in light of journal copyright restrictions

Authors: Mikael Laakso, Andrea Polonioli

Abstract: The current state of open access to journal publications within research areas belonging to the humanities has received relatively little research attention. This study provides a detailed mapping of the bibliometric state of open access to journal publications among ethicists, taking into account not only open access publishing in journals directly, but also where and in what form ethicists make their journal articles available elsewhere on the web. As part of the study 297 ethicists affiliated with top-ranking philosophy departments were identified and their journal publication information for the years 2010–2015 were recorded (1682 unique articles). The journal articles were then queried for through Google Scholar in order to establish open access status (web locations, document versions) of each publication record. Publication records belonging to the 20 most frequently used journal outlets (subset of 597 unique articles) were put under closer inspection with regards to alignment with publisher copyright restrictions as well as measuring unused potential to share articles. The results show that slightly over half of recent journal publications are available to read for free. PhilPapers and academic social networks ( and ResearchGate) were found to be key platforms for research dissemination in ethics research. The representation of institutional repositories as providers of access was found to be weak, receiving the second lowest frequency rating among the eight discrete web location categories. Further, the study reveals that ethicists are at the same time prone to copyright infringement and undersharing their scholarly work.

Citation: Laakso, M., & Polonioli, A. (2018) Open access in ethics research: an analysis of open access availability and author self-archiving behaviour in light of journal copyright restrictions. Scientometrics, 1-27. 


Source: Scientometrics

Shadow Libraries

Editor: Joe Karaganis

Authors: Balázs Bodó, Laura Czerniewicz, Miroslaw Filiciak, Mariana Fossatti, Jorge Gemetto, Eve Gray, Evelin Heidel, Joe Karaganis, Lawrence Liang, Pedro Mizukami, Jhessica Reia, Alek Tarkowski

Abstract: Even as middle- and low-income countries expand their higher education systems, their governments are retreating from responsibility for funding and managing this expansion. The public provision of educational materials in these contexts is rare; instead, libraries, faculty, and students are on their own to get what they need. Shadow Libraries explores the new ecosystem of access, charting the flow of educational and research materials from authors to publishers to libraries to students, and from comparatively rich universities to poorer ones. In countries from Russia to Brazil, the weakness of formal models of access was countered by the growth of informal ones. By the early 2000s, the principal form of access to materials was informal copying and sharing. Since then, such unauthorized archives as Libgen, Gigapedia, and Sci-Hub have become global “shadow libraries,” with massive aggregations of downloadable scholarly materials.

The chapters consider experiments with access in a range of middle- and low-income countries, describing, among other things, the Russian samizdat tradition and the connection of illicit copying to resistance to oppression; BiblioFyL, an online archive built by students at the University of Buenos Aires; education policy and the daily practices of students in post-Apartheid South Africa; the politics of access in India; and copy culture in Brazil.

Citation: Karaganis, J (Ed.). (2018). Shadow Libraries. Access to Knowledge in Higher Education. Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Source: MIT Press

Linking impact factor to ‘open access’ charges creates more inequality in academic publishing

Authors: Jeroen Bosman, Bianca Kramer

Abstract: Simply adding an ‘open access’ option to the existing prestige-based journal system at ever increasing costs is not the fundamental change publishing needs.

Citation:  J. Bosman and B. Kramer (2018). “Linking impact factor to ‘open access’ charges creates more inequality in academic publishing.”  Times Higher Education blog. May 16, 2018.  Retrieved from

Source: Times Higher Education blog

Open Access and Global Inclusion: A Look at Cuba

Authors: Jardine, E.,  Garvey, M., & Cho, J. S.

Abstract: According to the open access (OA) movement’s formal statements, global equity and inclusion are among its central concerns. Still in question, however, is whether the scholarly community can make these goals a reality. Though many stakeholders agree on the importance of equity and inclusion as philosophical principles of OA, there also is some disagreement about current approaches to achieve these goals.

This paper aims to summarize some of the current issues surrounding OA, focusing on global north-south differences. This discussion was inspired by our 2016 trip to Havana, Cuba, where we observed such differences first-hand. Even though the situation in Cuba is unique due to the US embargo, the contexts and circumstances we observed there were an extreme case that illustrated information needs and challenges in developing regions more broadly. Some of these challenges are relevant to scholarly communications and within the purview of the OA movement. With OA in the development stages, we’re still in a period of opportunity where we can make choices for better outcomes for everyone.

We start this paper by presenting our observations about OA in Cuba. Then we discuss the larger context of OA in developing regions, including differing perspectives, technological challenges, and issues around scholarly communications. We end by summarizing our observations and recommendations for a more inclusive OA movement

Citation: Jardine, E.,  Garvey, M., & Cho, J. S. (2017). Open access and global inclusion: A look at Cuba [conference paper]. Retrieved from