Academic Publishing Rant follow up

December 30, 2012

blog open access

I recently posted a blog entry that started off as a response to, and supportive of @melissaterras article on using social media to promote research. The post turned into a bit of a rant – sorry! At least this time it is clearly labelled 😉

I really liked the way Melissa had not only promoted her work, but made it available and put a human face on the process of carrying out the research. “That’s worth trying”, I thought. So I looked into the copyright arrangement for the academic  articles I have published to see if I could do the same thing.

It seems that I will not be able to follow Melissa’s example without parting with a lot of money. The publications I have written for are switched on and enlightened* enough to appreciate the benefits of open access journals but require a fee payable by the author in order to make each article available. If I pay the fee any of you can read the research article, criticise it, use it to inform your own research/teaching/learning/whatever.

So by personally paying a thousand quid or so per article I’m even allowed to reply to Francesco who emailed me last week attaching a copy of the paper he’d like to read. Hmmmm.

The research was paid for by the taxpayer, carried out over a year by a team of academic researchers, written up by the team over a couple of months, reviewed (for the publisher) by several academics free of charge (because that’s what academics do), published so that institutions can pay for a subscription to the journal and academics can cite it in the articles they are submitting to the same journals.

The people who paid for it (taxpayer) have to pay to read it. The person/people who wrote it and carried out the research can’t access it or let anyone else have it when asked.  Every sponsor of research projects has to pay a premium so that the researchers working on their project can access the subscription content.

*  Some funders of research now insist on the outputs from research they have paid for are made available open access in the public domain free of cost (good on ya!). Publishers now have a neat way to cover this by asking the writers to pay extra for the publications to be open access, this cost to be passed on to the funders. Thanks.

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 11.12.09

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Update: thanks to an increasing number of publishers adopting more or less limited policies on open access I have managed to collate most of my publications in one place here. Still not all though. As I add to these I hope to blog the process.


  1. So obviously publishing any of your existing work retrospectively isn’t really a viable option. So what are your options from here on? Could you publish through different sources which would enable you to publish material publicly for free?

    • I could publish in open access journals only, although most of these have a fee attached which would have to be written into the funding bid. Not sure yet how well this will sit with funders but will have to find out I think next time I try for funding. Certainly I’d like writings to be more accessible so will look into options.

  2. […] information can be found from Ben Shirley’s article (here), with Forbes and the Guardian having written on the subject […]

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