Author : Eleanor Masterman
Open access (OA) has widely been touted as a ‘radical’ alternative to the traditional scholarly publishing system, which has faced heavy criticism in the last twenty years for its oligopolistic market and high profit margins.
Yet, this dissertation argues that – especially in scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishing – OA under the ‘author-pays’ model has largely become part of that system, as another revenue stream for the largest commercial publishers.
My study contributes to a growing body of literature that seeks instead to re-politicise OA for the humanities and social sciences (HSS), a sector where the topic is still marked by discussion and debate, by critiquing its subordinance to market logic.
Adopting an explicitly political definition of ‘radical’, this study attempts to answer the question ‘Could open access facilitate a radical approach to academic publishing in the humanities and social sciences?’.
By performing a landscape study of the not-for-profit Radical Open Access Collective (Collective), this dissertation assesses and evaluates the radicalism of various different routes to OA in HSS.
It promotes the benefits of a self-reflexive approach to OA and the Collective’s networked model of smaller presses, while noting that low levels of marketing and indexing are detrimental to its research’s discoverability.
It also highlights that OA practice, even in the Collective, remains unduly influenced by harmful vestiges of the competitive market, notably prestige and academic colonialism.
Finally, this work proposes distinguishing ‘radical open access’ as a specific subsection of the wider OA movement and offers recommendations for a more radical future of HSS publishing.