UCL Urban Laboratory


Future Univercities final seminar - Platforms: Open Access, Participation, Publishing

29 May 2013, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

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UCL, Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY.

29 May 2013, 6-8pm, UCL, Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY.

'Three Arguments for Open Access', Dr Mike Taylor, Earth Sciences, University of Bristol and The Guardian

'Open Access in the Age of Digital Reproduction (With Apologies to Benjamin)', Professor Johnny Golding, Professor of Philosophy & Fine Art, Director, Centre for Fine Art Research, Birmingham City University

'Ekalavya's Burden: Culture, Context and Copyright in Academic Publishing', Dr Rathna Ramanathan, Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design

Three Arguments for Open Access

Mike P. Taylor

Open-access publication of scholarly papers is increasingly prevalent. It is now required by many funders including the RCUK councils and the Wellcome Trust. But not all researchers welcome it, perhaps in part because it feels imposed from above. We will explore three reasons why, even if the transition period is economically difficult, open access is good news for everyone.

1. Justice. Most researchers are paid to research. Most fundamentally, it is right that the results should be disseminated as the funders wish; and all governments and charities will want the work they pay for to have the broadest possible impact.

2. Unity. The revenue model of subscription publishers is based on limiting access to content. Recent lawsuits show they are prepared to invest resources (and burn goodwill) in preventing unauthorised access. It is tragic when publishers make themselves the enemies of researchers. But this is averted when they are paid to publish, rather than for allowing access through paywalls.

3. Potential. When the inventors of the Web declined to patent its protocols, they opened the door to innovations they themselves had never dreamed of. In the same way, we can't imagine now what advances will emerge from mining and free re-use of open-access research.

Mike Taylor is a mathematician by training, a library software engineer by profession and a vertebrate palaeontologist by avocation - so he combines a unique set of perspectives on academic publishing. In his day-job he designs and builds discovery systems for libraries, managing credentials and proxies to access subscription journals. In his spare time he researches the palaeobiology of sauropod dinosaurs, struggling to access the subscription literature that he needs for this work. An open access advocate, Mike has written for the Guardian, Independent and Times Higher Education. He holds a Ph.D in palaeontology from the University of Portsmouth and is currently an Associate Researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.

Open Access in the Age of Digital Reproduction (with apologies to Benjamin)

Johnny Golding

It would be an odd sentiment to discourage or limit free, open and immediate access to research in all its forms, but particularly at the point of publication, and especially if that research were publicly financed.  So why has such a furore erupted around a seemingly benign insistence on the part of the RCUK and other funding bodies that all publicly funded research be available at point of publication on or after 1 April 2013? And what does it mean, by enshrining this position into all grant applications, that unless one's work receives the rather curious appellations of either a 'green' v 'gold' (trading) routes, the research in question will not be considered of value for the next (2020) REF.  Professor Golding outlines the an argument of what is at stake when 'STEAM' subjects loose their 'A' rating and must be tested along the old formulas that have been used in 'STEM' research for some years.  This includes the ever more interesting solution to the crisis in publishing (and its immediate impact on the finances of the publishing industry) to charge researchers (or their University Departments) from £500 up to £20,000 for the right to publish in certain journals. Open Access: may have to dust off a few copies of Das Capital and Animal Farm alongside Mandelbrot's The Misbehaviour of Markets to figure out precisely what is at stake and why.

Johnny Golding is a philosopher and artist. Director of The Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR) in Birmingham at BCU and holds the Chair as Research Professor of Philosophy & Fine Art at the School of Art-BIAD (Margaret St). Her research covers the curious intersections of fine art, digital, media and electronic arts as thought through (i) ana-materialism and the new materialisms of space/ speed/ curved-time and dimensionality (ii) dirty theory and the erotic logics of sense and (iii) the 'Enlightenment' filtered thorough feminism, queer studies and the wild sciences. Recent publications include: The 9th Technology of Otherness: a certain kind of debt; Ana-Materialism and the Pineal Eye; Fractal Philosophy and The Small Matter of Learning how to Listen (or Attunement as the Task of Art); Conversion on the Road to Damascus: Minority Report on Art; The University Must be Defended; and Assassination of Time (or the birth of zeta physics). Executive Editor of Zetesis: a peer-reviewed journal for contemporary art, philosophy & the wild sciences (ARTicle Press), foregrounding research driven by curiosity, experiment, and risk.

Ekalavya's Burden: Culture, Context and Copyright in Academic Publishing 

Rathna Ramanathan

This talk will explore the concept of the university as evidenced in academic publishing. With the relationship between publisher and university as the central focus, Dr Ramanathan will explore varied culture concepts of copyright, and authorship and discuss different values in the production and dissemination of knowledge in both printed and electronic form.

Rathna Ramanathan is a graphic designer and senior lecturer from Chennai, India now based in London. She runs her own design studio Minus Nine Design and leads the Design & Interaction subject area at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Rathna has a PhD in the History of Graphic Communication and Typography where her research investigated independent publishing in London after the Second World War and its influence on the processes and methods of mainstream publishing practice. Her current research is concerned with the changing forms of language, typography and the book, particularly in the South Asian context and she is lead researcher and designer on the 'Form and Future of the Book in India' project at Harvard University. Rathna is completing (what she hopes is) the final draft of her book titled Cheap Book: Concepts of Piracy in South India.