Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0)


Over the next decade, Open Access (OA) is likely to become the default in scholarly publishing. Yet, as commercial publishers develop new models for capturing revenue (and as policy initiatives like Plan S remain reluctant to challenge their centrality), researchers, librarians, and other concerned observers are beginning to articulate a set of values that critically engages the industry-driven project of broadening access to specialist scholarship. While alternative genealogies exist, conversations about OA in the Global North have largely been concerned with the model of the STEM disciplines, lately shifting to focus on the development of infrastructural fixes that transcend traditional journal formats and enforce the openness of research data and protocols. There has been far less discussion about the political implications of labour and value in OA, particularly as they relate to the defence of what we perceive as increasingly imperiled principles of academic freedom, integrity, and creativity. The undersigned are a group of scholar-publishers based in the humanities and social sciences who are questioning the fairness and scientific tenability of a system of scholarly communication dominated by large commercial publishers. With this manifesto we wish to repoliticise Open Access to challenge existing rapacious practices in academic publishing—namely, often invisible and unremunerated labour, toxic hierarchies of academic prestige, and a bureaucratic ethos that stifles experimentation—and to bear witness to the indifference they are predicated upon. In this manifesto we mobilise an extended notion of research output, which encompasses the work of building and maintaining the systems, processes, and relations of production that make scholarship possible. We believe that the humanities and social sciences are too often disengaged from the public and material afterlives of their scholarship. We worry that our fields are sleepwalking into a new phase of control and capitalisation, to include continued corporate extraction of value and transparency requirements designed by managers, entrepreneurs, and politicians.