Supports Open Access

by Paul Maharg on 10/11/2015

All three of my regular readers will know this blog’s commitment Open Access, not just in education (OER), not just in collaboration between institutions, but in Open Access to research as well.  Lingua is one of the foremost journals in the Linguistics community, and published by Elsevier.  Laughably, the website sports the label Supports Open Access.  The editors protested Elsevier’s policies on pricing and requested that it convert the journal to an open-access publication that would be free online under a collective of editors.  Elsevier refused.  Lingua’s entire Board and editors have now resigned in protest at Elsevier’s policies.  They plan to start a new open-access journal.  Peter McPherson, President of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities put the issues well from a US perspective:

As publishers have merged and become more powerful, universities are often paying more for publishers’ markups. The federal government makes massive investments in researchers, staff and facilities to advance knowledge; publishers do not. Universities similarly make big investments in research. University faculty generally are the authors, editors and reviewers of the articles coming out of that research. To get their articles published, faculty usually must transfer significant copyrights to the publishers. Then the publishers sell back to the universities the very content they as a group produced, and at steadily higher subscription prices. The system is fundamentally broken.

Elsevier responded, and you might have thought that they’d get a very public statement of their position correct at first go, but no, it seems misrepresentation just goes with the corporate territory.  For a scathing analysis of Elsevier’s response see Martin Paul Eve’s blog posting. Discussing what’s sustainable (one of Elsevier’s key points), he writes:
They did, of course, make $1.1 billion profit in 2012 on a 36% profit rate. They have just established (correction: leased) new offices in the UK that include basketball courts for their staff, even as our university budgets here face a forecasted cut of 40%. So they may have a different idea, in the mind of shareholders, as to what “sustainable” actually means. I define it as: covering labour, technological and business costs necessary to publishing on a not-for-profit/charitable basis. Not paying for Elsevier to play basketball on our time.
Elsevier’s concept of sustainable is uniquely corporate.  As Martin stated in the last line of his post, ”what is “sustainable” for Elsevier is unsustainable for universities’.   The Open Access and Digital Scholarship blog at Imperial pointed out the parasitical nature of their business model:
John Ulmschneider, Librarian at the Virginia Commonwealth University, estimates that with current price increases the cost for subscription payments would “eat up the entire budget for this entire university in 20 years”. Partly in response to that, VCU has launched its own open access publishing platform.
Of course Elsevier is only the worst case.  As I point out in the six points at the foot of this post, all the major journal publishers are at it.  At a time when an entire nation’s universities have announced a boycott of Elsevier (even though as Stevan Harnad points out the Dutch government’s position is basically a Gold Access one and doesn’t go far enough), and where there is action from a journal’s entire academic staff (Lingua’s six editors, 31 editorial board members), where do you stand, if you’re an academic, on the issue of OA in research?  I’m with Brian Leiter: this needs to happen more.  It’s an example of neoliberalist, corporatist behaviour in the very midst of the university, and we allow it to flourish.  Coincidentally, the second issue of the European Journal of Law and Technology, edited by Abhilash Nair and me, is just out.  Our journal doesn’t have a label that says Supports Open Access.  Instead, we have a paywall of £0.00 to individuals, which for institutions rises to an eye-watering £0.00, while separate articles are downloadable at a prohibitive cost of £0.00, and your library can only purchase rights to it in a bundle of other OA journals such as our sister European Journal of Current Legal Issues at the rip-off sum of £0.00.  Scandalous.


The experiential photograph

by Paul Maharg on 29/09/2015

A couple of folk have asked about the banner photos.  The one above, an autumn photo, was taken at the weekend on the Cuillins, Skye, near the cloud line, from the shoulder of Sron na Ciche, on our way to climb Sgurr Dearg and An Stac (in English, the rather grandiosely-named Inaccessible Pinnacle).  You’re looking at Loch Bhreatail (aka Brittle, but the anglicisation is such a silly rendering of the original Norse name [possibly braed + dalr, ie wide valley] that I prefer the Gaelicised version) and the Sea of the Hebrides, the isle of Canna just visible on the horizon with the hills of Rhum to the left,  and further left and closer to Skye, the north end of the isle of Soay.  A wonderful day.

Last season’s, below, was a late winter photo, taken from the top of a gully Euan and I climbed on Stob Coire Nan Lochan, Glencoe, looking north and west to Loch Leven, and further back, Loch Linnhe and the bridge across the lochs at Ballachulish, just visible.


I’m no photographer — the photos are mostly taken with an iPhone camera, usually on panorama mode (though I notice that the Glencoe photo was taken with Euan’s Canon camera, to get the depth of field right down Loch Linnhe, if I remember, before the clouds closed in).  Just being there was the experiential photograph, where the analogue development process of the experience takes place before the photograph is taken, in planning, imagining the routes, laying out the equipment, packing the rucksack and above all getting physically fit (balance, endurance, core & climbing muscles, etc).  I remember once on holiday in Greece many years ago, when a student, I teamed up in Athens with a Swiss student who was doing the rounds of the Peloponnese sites, like me.  He drew and painted with watercolours.  When we came to a site, Delphi, Sparta, Olympia, Argos, we’d look around, then he’d look for a good view and sit down to sketch, patiently.  Only when he had learned the landscape in this way would he take a photograph of it.  Alas, I have no skill in the visual arts, nor in travel description; climbing has become my way of dwelling upon and memorialising land, sea and sky as they are on the day; and the photograph is an eye-blink of both the experience of getting there and being in it.


Digital Research Literacies, part 2

by Paul Maharg on 04/08/2015

‘Literacies’ might suggest a basic set of competencies, one that’s highly teleological, but I mean the very opposite of it — a complex unbounded, uncertain collection of capabilities, awarenesses and moral positions.  Actually that’s really what literacy is in any case — a hugely complex process.  As an adult education tutor many years ago I found myself learning again and again in one-on-one sessions and small group reading & writing classes just how complex it was, and how much of the process of learning literacy goes on unseen, hidden and largely forgotten, because most of us learn when we are quite young.  As I point out in this post, helping adults to learn literacies was a profound experience because it went to the heart of many social and cultural as well as cognitive processes; and as Freire and others remind us, it’s a democratic and ethical necessity:

[click to continue…]


Digital research literacies

July 30, 2015

Before I head off back to Scotland, am giving a session to ANU College of Law staff on digital research literacies.  I’ve given it in various forms in various places (twice at IALS), but it’s never the same session.  What’s fascinating for me is to watch how the ERA process is beginning to shape around […]

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Post-LETR, what’s the regulatory position on legal education in E+W?

July 29, 2015

In her recent visit to Australian law schools Jane Ching of Nottingham Law School, a co-author of LETR, spent a week as a Visitor at ANU College of Law, and with PEARL staff in particular.  We discussed how Nottingham Law School’s Centre for Legal Education could work closely with PEARL and with other legal educational […]

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Narratives and discourse communities

July 11, 2015

Last week by kind permission of Joshua Neoh I gave a session on Scots law and culture in his Law and Humanities course at ANU  – taking the shape of the rest of the course, it consisted of a one-hour lecture, followed by around 90 mins discussion and questions.  Slides over on Slideshare, and up […]

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CLE conference wrap-up

June 22, 2015

During the final session just blogged by Pamela, Pat Leighton mentioned this was a thought-provoking conference, and she’s right.  There was theory, but there was also a care for  intelligent practice, and this contributed to the tone.  I’ve been to conferences that were edgier, others that were abrasively critical, and some that were distant and […]

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CLE15: Reflections (PH)

June 21, 2015

Our CLE 2015 Conference is drawing to a close.  My co-blogger, Paul, will have the honour of posting our final blog entry, so watch out for that.  In the meantime, we have Prof. Patricia Leighton, co-director of LERN UK, bringing formal proceedings to a graceful close.  LERN has done a huge amount of work in […]

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Access to justice – making it come alive and a reality for students and enabling engaged future practitioners (PM)

June 21, 2015

Liz Curran next, from ANU.  She teaches on the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice there, which has simulations, working in teams, etc.  She still works in legal practice, and publishes widely on integrated service delivery, a2j, ethics, clinical legal education and human rights. She defined the differences between clinics and practical legal education placement programmes.  […]

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CLE15: The Role of Legal Clinics in Access to Justice in Turkish Legal Education

June 21, 2015

Presented by Kilinc Ayse and Akkus Ezgi Fulya from Afyon Kocatepe University in Turkey. Kilinc and Akkus focused on how they are helping their students to develop the skills they will need to support their future clients in accessing the justice system.  In particular, they discussed: the right of access to justice as a legal […]

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