On November 21, 2012, I successfully defended my doctoral thesis, Freedom for scholarship in the internet age. The post-defence draft will soon be (temporarily) available in the SFU Library's thesis intake system, at https://theses.lib.sfu.ca/thesis/etd7530
A PDF of the whole dissertation can be downloaded from here.
Freedom for Scholarship in the Internet Age examines
distortion in the current scholarly communication system and
alternatives, focusing on the potential of open access. High profits for
a select few scholarly journal publishers in the area of science,
technology, and medicine contrast with other portions of the scholarly
publishing system such as university presses that are struggling to
survive. Two major societal trends, commercialization and irrational
rationalization, are explored as factors in the development of
distortion in the system, as are potential alternatives, including the
commons, state subsidy, DIY publishing, and publishing cooperatives.
Original research presented or summarized includes the quarterly series
The Dramatic Growth of Open Access, an empirical study of economic
possibilities for transition to open access, interviews with scholarly
monograph publishers, and an investigation into the potential for
transition to open access in the field of communication. The
similarities and differences between open access and various Creative
Commons licenses are mapped and analyzed.
The conclusion features a set of recommendations for open access.
Carefully transitioning the primary economic support for scholarly
publishing (academic library budgets) from subscriptions to open access
is seen as central to a successful transition. Open access changes the
form of the commodity with respect to commercial publication, from the
scholarly work per se to the publishing service; a major improvement
that overcomes the trend towards enclosure of information, but not
necessarily the dominance of the commercial sector. A multi-faceted
approach is recommended as optimal to overcome potential vulnerabilities
of any single approach to open access. The open access movement is
advised to be aware of the less understood societal trend of irrational
(or instrumental) rationality, a trend that open access initiatives are
just as vulnerable to as subscriptions or purchase-based systems. The
remedy for irrational rationality recommended is a systemic or holistic
approach. It is recommended that open access be considered part of a
potential for broader societal transformation, based on the Internet’s
capacity to function as an enabler of many to many communication that
could form the basis of either a strong democracy or a decentralized
After the library audit, the thesis will be moved into the SFU Library Institutional Repository, SUMMIT, sometime in 2013.