Open access: be careful what you wish for

The UK is moving rapidly toward an open access model for journal publications, planning to require it for REF 2020. Sounds good, right? Information should be freely available to all, shouldn’t it? Well, yes. But the way this is being done is really worrying. It looks like the plan is to charge hefty sums to authors.

Academic freedom is compromised by a ‘pay-to-say’ system, because institutions and academics will have to bid for the funds to publish their work. This means for academics that unless they are rich enough to pay for the publication of their own research, they will have to convince non-expert committees of the value of pre-published work, and compete against other University colleagues for funds. They will be restricted as to what they can publish and where. It is clear that Institutional Publication Committees will have to ration funds in line with pressures for REF and impact, meaning that lots of potentially valuable work will go unfunded.

This approach also assumes that such funds are available in-house; for the majority of cash-strapped universities they will not be, meaning that many of their academics may simply not be able to publish at all in the journals of their choice. Additionally, many non-UK journals may not be Open-Access compliant, preventing UK academics from publishing in them. UK journals will also be under pressure to select research according to whether APCs can be paid, instead of simply taking the best quality research. Overall, a ‘pay-to-say’ system undermines the core principle that expert peer review is the primary filter for publishing in academic journal….

Under the ‘pay-to-say’ system, it is the wealthiest, rather than the best, individuals and institutions who will be able to dominate publishing. This poses serious problems for the overall quality of research output, which is currently underpinned by the principle that the best research emerges on its own academic merit. This will become more deeply entrenched as subsequent rounds of the REF become geared towards the ‘pay-to-say’ model.

More substantially, it poses enormous problems for the academic ‘poor’ – the early career researchers writing PhDs, retired academics, independent scholars, NGO researchers, and anybody at an institution without the inclination to pay for their research. This will suppress the development of academic talent in the long run, suppress the publication of the excellent work that emerges post-retirement, and suppress the work of any scholars outside identified ‘research-intensive’ institutions. This will entrench a plutocracy rather than a meritocracy in the publication of academic research.

(Thanks, A!)

Women and the History of Analytic Philosophy

I will be teaching a new (for me) upper-level History of Analytic Philosophy course in the spring. I’d like to make sure I have some works by women philosophers, including feminist philosophers if possible, on my reading list. Could our readers lend me their expertise and make some suggestions? Some of the topics I plan to cover are listed below, though I’m entirely open to additions or revisions:

Moore on epistemology and analysis

Russell on logic and language

Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

Logical Positivism

(Btw, I’ve already thought of Marie McGinn and/or Cora Diamond for the Wittgenstein stuff.)

Your suggestions are much appreciated!

Feminism philosophy and gender equity

An upcoming conference at the Australian National University poses an important question: What’s the relationship between a discipline’s incorporation of feminist perspectives and its progress towards gender equity goals?

I’ve often wondered about this in Philosophy. Sometimes we want to separate the questions about hostility to feminist work in Philosophy (usually as ‘not really’ philosophy) and under-representation and treatment of women in Philosophy (after all, not all women in Philosophy do work in feminist philosophy). But what if these issues are connected?

Looks like a terrific line up of speakers including several very well known feminist philosophers. I can’t attend the conference–too far away for me–but if someone who reads the blog does, I hope they report back.

Two day workshop: Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences

Feminist scholarship has been central to the international success and prominence of the Australian social sciences. But how effective has feminist critique been in reshaping what counts as authoritative knowledge in the disciplines? This two day workshop interrogates the relationship between the disciplines’ incorporation of feminist perspectives and their progress towards gender equity goals.

Contributors: Jill Blackmore, Dorothy Broom, Lorraine Code, Raewyn Connell, Ann Curthoys, Joy Damousi, Claire Donovan, Moira Gatens, Fiona Jenkins, Carol Johnson, Helen Keane, Katrina Lee-Koo, Ann McGrath, Marian Sawer, Margaret Thornton. Hosted by the Gender Institute and RSSS.

Where: AD Hope Conference Room, Ellery Crescent, ANU

When: Thursday, 13 December 9am- Friday 14 December 5pm


Access: ANU academics, attendance is free, however places are limited.


Desperately Seeking Strategies

By now we are all aware of the “problem that has no name” that plagues philosophy: philosophers are committed egalitarians and philosophers pride themselves on their objectivity, yet philosophy is the least diverse and least gender equitable of all disciplines in the humanities, rivaling those in the STEM areas.  Here at Feminist Philosophers we’ve spent a great deal of time analyzing different aspects and nuances of this issue.  Our efforts towards remedying the problem include the Gendered Conference Campaign (GCC) with which readers are surely familiar by now.  The GCC has led to considerable success and many conference organizers have responded with gratitude and action.

It is our hope that we might make a similar positive impact by attended to another symptom (or cause – or both – who knows!?) of “the woman problem” in philosophy:  all-male philosophy departments (which are usually also all white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cis male departments).  Too many all-male departments persist in philosophy, despite alleged efforts to counter this problem.  How many times have I heard “We really wanted a woman for this position, but there just weren’t any strong female applicants.”  Really?  Wow.

It’s time to consider strategies for making all-male philosophy departments a thing of the past, or at least a rarity.  Obviously, the same strategies we suggest in the GCC will not work here.  Departments are not in control of faculty lines.  Are there, however, any exemplars we might highlight – strategies that have successfully diversified departments?  Are there any effective and/or ingenious strategies in use or in potentia?  Tell us, dear readers, if you know of any.