Pre-Conference Publication: About Open Access – The Political Economy of Publishing in Anthropology and Beyond

This post originally appeared on the ‘Open Access in Anthropology and Beyond’ blog (

This publication is prior to the conference/workshop FAQs About Open Access – The Political Economy of Publishing in Anthropology and Beyond, held at Medialab-Prado (Madrid) on the 16th and 17th of October 2014. We, as conference conveners and members of the Research Group on Anthropology with a Public Orientation (GIAOP), are interested in the current debates about open access and it is out of that shared interest that this conference emerges. It has been more than a decade since the first declarations for open and free access to publicly-funded scientific knowledge were issued (the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002 and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access one year after). Even though the debate has proliferated with strength in the Anglo-American academia in the last few years, we think that the way in which it has done so is extremely narrow, limited to putting forth proposals for how to make academic publications available online —and generally not questioning the business models and the very academic practices that have led to “capture/enclose” knowledge in the first place.

Click here to see the publication that precedes the workshop/conference

La publicación que aquí presentamos precede a la conferencia/taller Preguntas frecuentes sobre acceso abierto: la economía política de las publicaciones en antropología y las ciencias sociales en general, desarrollada en Medialab-Prado (Madrid) los días 16 y 17 octubre de 2014. Esta conferencia, coordinada por miembros del Grupo de Investigación de Antropología de Orientación Pública (GIAOP) de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, emerge de un interés compartido por los debates recientes en torno al acceso abierto. Hace ya más de una década comenzaron a surgir declaraciones públicas en favor del acceso libre y gratuito al conocimiento científico financiado con fondos públicos (la Budapest Open Access Initiative de 2002 y la Berlin Declaration on Open Access un año más tarde). Si bien en los últimos años el debate ha cobrado fuerza en la academia angloamericana, la forma como se plantea en este ámbito consideramos es reducida, limitándose a ofrecer propuestas sobre cómo hacer disponibles online las publicaciones académicas (evitando por lo general cuestionar los modelos de negocio y las propias prácticas académicas que han llevado a “arrestar/encerrar” el conocimiento en primera instancia).

Haz click aquí para ver/descargar la publicación previa al taller/conferencia

HEFCE open access consultation, July 2013

On 24 July 2013, the Higher Education Funding Council for England launched a major consultation exercise in relation to the post-2014 REF open access proposals. The full document is available at,82784,en.html, and responses are invited by 17.00 on 30 October 2013. Information received during an initial consultation process undertaken earlier this year has informed the proposals, resulting, for example, in the suggestion that a two-year notice period should apply from the announcement of a formal open access policy.

Respondents are asked to address seven main questions, which include the appropriateness of the chosen criteria, the role of institutional repositories, embargo periods and licensing, the research outputs to which the open-access criteria should apply, the above-mentioned notice period, arrangements to ensure that non-UK researchers moving to the UK are not disadvantaged, and the approach to allowing exceptions.

Debating open access

On 1 July 2013, the British Academy published a fascinating collection of essays on ‘Debating open access’ (the book itself is, of course, freely available to download). The volume is a laudable attempt to address a variety of opinions and perspectives. As Chris Wickham and Nigel Vincent note in their introduction:

‘We decided at an early stage when thinking about putting these papers together, in January 2013, that we needed to have as contributors people who thought open access was a good thing, the way forward; people who thought it was a good thing but fraught with practical problems which were ill-understood by some of its advocates; and people who thought it was a bad thing in principle’.

Whether you are new to open access, or already well versed in the arguments pro and con, this is a valuable contribution to the literature.