¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0  The Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, an independent group chaired by professor Dame Janet Finch, was set up in October 2011 to examine how UK-funded research can be made more accessible. It released the report, “Accessibility, sustainability, excellence: How to expand access to research publications”, also known as the “Finch Report” in June 2012. On 16 July 2012, the UK government announced that it has accepted the report’s recommendations. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-open-up-publicly-funded-research and http://www.researchinfonet.org/publish/finch/
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0  These experiments focus on both access and re-use, on a critique of the overly commercial political-economy surrounding publishing, and on establishing both a practical and experimental method. Radical open access can thus be seen as theories or practices of open access that are focused on openness as a means to: critique established systems; rethink the book and the humanist understandings that accompany it; change scholarly practices by focusing on ‘doing’ scholarship differently; explore experimentation, and finally—and perhaps most importantly in this context—to critique the concept and practices of openness, as well as the dichotomies between closed and open, and between the book and the net that keep one being (re-)introduced. The term radical open access was first introduced by Gary Hall at a talk at Columbia University, entitled ‘Radical Open Access in the Humanities’ (2010).
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0  Although divided in its views on what openness is and should be, and how we should go about achieving open access, one can argue that there is such a thing as an open access movement. As Guédon has put it: ‘Open access became a movement after a meeting was convened in Budapest in December 2001 by the Information Program of the Open Society Institute. That meeting witnessed a vigorous debate about definitions, tactics, and strategies, and out of this discussion emerged two approaches which have become familiar to all observers, friends, or foes’ (2004: 315). In order to further the promotion of open access and achieve higher rates of adoption and compliance among the academic community, a number of strategic alliances have been forged between the various proponents of open access. It can be claimed that these alliances (those associated with green open access, for instance) have focused mostly on making the majority if not indeed all of the research accessible online without a paywall (Gratis open access) as their priority. Although they cannot be simply contrasted and opposed to the former (often featuring many of the same participants), other strategic alliances have focused more on gaining the trust of the academic community, trying to take away some of the fears and misunderstandings that exist concerning open, online publishing.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0  For a more detailed description of the reasons why books and book publishing were slow to adopt to open access and open access publishing, see Adema and Hall (2013).
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0  As already discussed in the introduction, this narrative of crisis can be misleading, presupposing an idealised past and the possibility of a teleological move beyond or out of this ‘crisis’. In saying this, I do not intend to dismiss the dire situation in which book publishing finds itself, but I want to emphasise that the scholarly book has never been sustainable and in this sense would be in a ‘perpetual crisis’ (Adema 2010, Copper and Marx, 2014). In this respect Kember’s insights are valuable, where she prefers instead to ‘recognise the genealogy of crisis that is, in effect, no crisis at all, but rather an ongoing, dynamic and antagonistic encounter with all that is considered to be external to the humanities – digitisation and marketisation included’ (Kember, 2014b: 107)
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0  Hall makes a subdivision in discourses concerning open access publishing motives. He distinguishes the liberal, democratising approach; the renewed public sphere approach; and the gift economy approach (Hall 2008a: 197).
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 An argument can be made here, based on the work of Wendy Brown, that it is not so much an ‘open’ politics, as it is the logic of the free or open economy that underlies this governmentality. For one could assert that it is not an open politics which stimulates a neoliberal rhetoric, but the fact that there is a lack of politics altogether within neoliberalist forms of governmentality—following Brown’s analysis of the waning of homo politicus and the rise of homo economicus in neoliberal systems. In this sense the destruction of the democratic imaginary is again not based on an open politics, but on a lack of politics, on the demise of the idea of the demos (Brown et al. 2012).
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0  The list of people critiquing or being critical of ‘openness’ is actually quite extensive, especially if we expand it to works that focus on discourses related to cognitive capitalism and knowledge work. A critical exploration of openness can be found in the following works, among others: Hall (2008a), Broekman et al. (2009), Krikorian and Kapczynski (2010), Luke and Hunsinger (2009) and Morozov (2013).
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0  As Tkacz states: ‘Rather than using the open to look forward, there is a need to look more closely at the specific projects that operate under its name—at their details, emergent relations, consistencies, modes of organising and stabilising, points of difference, and forms of exclusion and inclusion’ (2012: 404). For example, Tkacz has been doing this extensively for Wikipedia; see Tkacz and Lovink (2011).
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0  Similarly, diverse ‘schools of thought’ exist in relation to the concept and practice of ‘open science’, as Fecher and Friesike have argued on the basis of an extensive literary analysis (2013).
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0  This coexistence and entanglement of open and secret knowledge right up until the 18th century has been corroborated by historian Paul David, among others (2008: 9).
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0  The same argument can be made with respect to the current method of hierarchisation according to ‘impact factors’ as part of our modern journal system, where ‘indexed’, high impact journals are the journals that will be bought by libraries and others mostly fall by the wayside. As Guédon explains:
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 No longer was it sufficient to be a good scientist in order to do research; one also had to be part of an institution that could afford to buy the record of the ‘Great Conversation’, i.e. to subscribe to the set of journals defined by SCI. And if one wanted to join the ‘Great Conversation’, simply publishing in a journal recognized as scientific was no longer enough; it had to be a journal included in the SCI set of journals. All the other journals simply disappeared from most radar screens, particular when they could not be ranked according to a new device based on citation counts: the impact factor (IF). (2014: 90–91)
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0  This entanglement of openness and secrecy continued throughout history and is visible, as Vermeir and Margócsy have argued, in the discrepancies between the Mertonian norms of communism and the security concerns of the McCarthy era, as well as in modern biotechnology, a scientific field communicating its findings amid a context of trade secrets and strict confidentiality (2012).
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0  For instance, the protest of diverse groups of humanities scholars in the UK, such as The Council for the Defence of British Universities, The Royal Historical Society, The Political Studies Association, and the editors of 21 history journals attached to the Institute of Historical Research, is directly connected to the implementation of open access in the UK, as set out in the Finch Report, among other places (Boffey 2013, Sabaratnam and Kirby 2012). Also see: http://www.history.ac.uk/news/2012-12-10/statement-position-relation-open-access
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0  For instance, Holmwood sees this as being imminent in the CC-BY license promoted by RCUK (and Finch), where for him an alternative would be a ‘non-commercial share-alike’ license (2013a).
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0  It does not have to be this way. The OAPEN-NL project, for instance, was heavily involved in experimenting with an author-pays model for books. However, their attempts were accompanied by an extensive study on the costs of monographs, in order to make these prices more transparent and to distinguish costs from profits, to promote a fairer subsidy system (Ferwerda et al. 2013).
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0  As Derrida argues, with respect to deconstruction: ‘If there were continual stability, there would be no need for politics, and it is to the extent that stability is not natural, essential or substantial, that politics exists and ethics is possible. Chaos is at once a risk and a chance, and it is here that the possible and the impossible cross each other’ (2003: 86).
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0  The strategies described above that seek to attain critical mass for open access and to stimulate open access book publishing and accessibility by focusing on print-based values and practices, seem hard to combine with a simultaneous critical reflection on these practices. Conducting experiments with the form of electronic books in the digital age might be hard to do if at the same time we might not want to push too far, as this might risk estranging the average humanities scholar from the open access project.
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0  For example, it can be argued that it’s hard to attribute ownership to a text that is co-written, in a wiki environment for instance. This in turns makes it harder for any of its authors to sell it, as they’d need approval from all others. Which in turns makes it harder for the forces of neoliberalism to privatise and commodify it.