Friday 10 June 2022

January Event - An Introduction to Radical Open Access Publishing

As someone for whom Open Access is the core of my job I was greatly looking forwards to Sam’s talk and it did not disappoint.

Looking at his background in publishing gives you a nice insight into Sam’s progression from being an editorial assistant at PLOS all the way to Open Book publishers and humanities into launching the Radical Open Access Collective and his academic work with his PhD in Digital Humanities at Kings College London ( it is the different viewpoint of the humanities instead of the STEM focus I have in my work that was happily very well explored in this talk.

Sam works in the OSC as a Scholarly Communication Specialist supporting researchers with open access publishing but on a basis that is slightly different than mine. The MRC CBU is funded by the UKRI with it’s mandated OA policies. Sam works on the wider university basis on why they should be doing it instead of just having to and that is one thing I really wanted to know about.

This also ties in wonderfully with the work of the Radial Open Access collective, a group of small publishers, getting together and working on funding, organisation, advocacy and progression through publishing for publishing, not because you have to do things a certain way.

Bringing people together to help with the under-represented parts of community. It is the northern hemisphere, well-funded governmental bodies and organisations that are setting policy to force us one way and the large publishers are making the most of that change over time.

It does indeed need to be much more scholarly-led not policy led which I totally agree has led us from one form of issue to another, but with higher bills and less choice and freedom for our researchers. And it will only progress further. If UKRI policy is to continue on it’s intended route then all publishers will be Gold OA. With the inherent costs involved in funding that. When I’ve asked what happens at that point I was told then they will work on changing things when they get there.

We need to change things now. And the Radial Open Collective isn’t the one going to be doing that for us, but it is the right mindset at the right time to make changes and has the ideals of how to get people involved in publishing for publishing’s sake, for change in the way researchers work and publish and even get people to actually consider the ethics underpinning their work. From the choices of where you publish, to the totally free editorial and review work that thousands of people in Cambridge do for free on a regular basis. These are things that need to be addressed and tit was really nice to see this being explained and expanded on in this talk.

And I look forward to seeing more of these issues being addressed in projects such as the new Rights Retention policy that the University has recently started.

Post contributed by Kevin Symonds, Research Governance and Information Manager, Cambridge University