Technology Justice Bookstand

Based on the theme of this year’s Centre for Postdigital Cultures (CPC) conference, the Post-Publishing research strand within the CPC have curated a selection of openly available publications from members of the Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC) and have brought these together as part of a virtual conference bookstand, which allows conference participants to access further readings around the themes that the conference addresses. This bookstand is based on the model used previously for the ROAC Virtual Book stand:

In 2018, ScholarLed developed a collaborative bookstand to cross-promote the publications of the presses within the consortium, highlighting the ideals and values that sustain their projects: open access, not-for-profit and scholar-led publishing, experimentation, and an ethics of care. The aim of this bookstand (which has subsequently been adopted and adapted by the ROAC) is to advocate these forms of publishing within academic communities in order to showcase the existence of alternative models for open access publishing. ScholarLed and ROAC want to use this to make a public and political statement about how not-for-profit presses can start to collaborate through these kinds of projects.

Through this virtual bookstand we hope to offer an alternative to the promotion of publications at in-person events. Now that academic conferences are being increasingly held in a virtual or hybrid form, we have adapted the bookstand to function online, imagining a virtual book stand that enables the sharing of new publications with attendees across the globe. We’ve also taken care to include non-English language publications and publications from authors in the Global South to highlight the range of research that open access can enable.

Tabisa Mayisela, Shanali C. Govender, & Cheryl Ann Hodgkinson-Williams (2022), Open Learning as a Means of Advancing Social Justice: Cases in Post-School Education and Training in South Africa. African Minds.

Tor Halvorsen, Hilde Ibsen, Henri-Count Evans, & Sharon Penderis (2017), Knowledge for Justice: Critical Perspectives from Southern African-Nordic Research Partnerships. African Minds.

Evode Mukama and Laurent Mkusi, eds. (2019) Ubushakashatsi mu Bumenyi Nyamuntu n’Imibanire y’Abantu. African Minds.

Sandra Iturrieta, ed. (2021) Vivir en tiempos convulsionados: reflexiones sociocríticas para propuestas de intervención social. ariadna ediciones.

Søren Rasmussen (2020), ‘Anarchival Scripts’, Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry.

Monica L. Wendel, Trinidad Jackson, C. Monique Ingram, Tasha Golden, Billie F. Castle, Nida M. Ali, & Ryan Combs (2019), ‘Yet We Live, Strive, and Succeed: Using Photovoice to Understand Community Members’ Experiences of Justice, Safety, Hope, and Racial Equity’, Collaborations: A Journal of Community-based Research and Practice, 2(1), 9.

Vera Eccarius-Kelly & Alison Schaeffing (2022), ‘Digital Storytelling And Visual Representations: Refugees Disrupt Stereotypical Narratives’, Collaborations: A Journal of Community-based Research and Practice, 5(1), 7

Decolonise University of Kent Collective (2020), Towards Decolonising the University: A Kaleidoscope for Empowered Action. Counterpress.

Autistici/Inventati (2017), +KAOS: Ten Years of Hacking and Media Activism. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.

Yiannis Colakides, Marc Garrett, & Inte Gloerich, eds. (2019) State Machines: Reflections and Actions at the Edge of Digital Citizenship, Finance, and Art. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.

Miyarrka Media (2019), Phone & Spear: A Yuta Anthropology. London: Goldsmiths Press.

Precarity Lab (2020), Technoprecarious. London: Goldsmiths Press.

Florence Piron, Samuel Regulus, & Marie Sophie Dibounje Madiba, eds. (2016), Justice cognitive, libre accès et savoirs locaux. Pour une science ouverte juste, au service du développement local durable. Éditions science et bien commun.

Anders la Cour, Janus Hecht, & Maria Kirstine Stilling (2016), ‘A vanishing act: The magical technologies of invisibility in care work’. ephemera: theory & politics in organization, 16(2): 77-96.

Franke Mastrangelo (2020), ‘Mediating resistance: Digital immaterial labor, neoliberal subjectivities, and the struggle for immigrant justice’, ephemera: theory & politics in organization, 20(4).

Raminder Kaur (2022), ‘The Spark that Ignites: Catalytic Signifiers for a Transformative and Performative Planetary Humanism’, darkmatter, 16.

Thao Phan & Scott Wark (2021), ‘What personalisation can do for you! Or: how to do racial discrimination without ‘race’’, Culture Machine: generating research in culture and theory, 20.

Peter Snowdon (2014), ‘The Revolution Will be Uploaded: Vernacular Video and the Arab Spring’, Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research, 6(2): 401-429.

Lawrence R. Frey, Joshua S. Hanan. Critical Rhetoric| Toward Social Justice Activism Critical Rhetoric Scholarship.

Brooke Foucault Welles, Sarah J. Jackson. The Battle for #Baltimore: Networked Counterpublics and the Contested Framing of Urban Unrest.

Mohamed Ben Moussa, Sanaa Benmessaoud, Aziz Doua. Internet Memes as “Tactical” Social Action: A Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis Approach

Michael Dokyum Kim. Advocating “Refugees” for Social Justice: Questioning Victimhood and Voice in NGOs’ Use of Twitter.

Isabelle A. Zaugg, Anushah Hossain, Brendan Molloy. Digitally-disadvantaged languages.

Aisha P.L. Kadiri. Data and Afrofuturism: an emancipated subject?

Hagit Keysar, Elizabeth Calderón Lüning, Andreas Unteidig. Prototypes as Agents of Transition: The case of DIY Wireless Technology for advancing Community Digital Sovereignty.

Pablo Piquinela and Gonzalo Correa. Commons infrastructures: Collaborative design of a political tent as cosmogram.

Elia Apostolopoulou, Dimitrios Bormpoudakis, Alexandros Chatzipavlidis, and others. Radical social innovations and the spatialities of grassroots activism: navigating pathways for tackling inequality and reinventing the commons.

T. Partridge. Resisting ruination: resource sovereignties and socioecological struggles in Cotopaxi, Ecuador.

Laura Doak (2021). Militant Women and ‘National’ Community: The Execution of Isabel Alison and Marion Harvie, 1681.

E. Gabriella Coleman and Christopher M. Kelty (eds), limn, Issue 8: Hacks, Leaks, and Breaches.

Christopher T. Green. Sonic Refusal: Indigenous Belonging without Soundtrack.

Ksenia Ermoshina and Francesca Musiani. Concealing for Freedom: The Making of Encryption, Secure Messaging, and Digital Liberties.

Andreas Birkbak and Irina Papazu (eds.). Democratic Situations.

Nathalia Brichet. An Anthropology of Common Ground. Awkward Encounters in Heritage Work.

Gerald Raunig, Gene Ray and Ulf Wuggenig (eds). Critique of Creativity: Precarity, Subjectivity and Resistance in the ‘Creative Industries’.

Michał Kozłowski, Agnieszka Kurant, Jan Sowa, Krystian Szadkowski and Jakub Szreder (eds). Joy Forever: The Political Economy of Social Creativity.

Monika Kostera. Organize Ourselves! Inspirations and ideas for self-organization and self-management.

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz. The Role of Theory Groups in the Lives of Ideas.

Stevphen Shukaitis. Combination Acts. Notes on Collective Practice in the Undercommons.

Richard Gilman-Opalsky and Stevphen Shukaitis. Riotous Epistemology. Imaginary Power, Art, and Insurrection.

Cornelia Sollfrank (ed.). TThe Beautiful Warriors. Technofeminist Praxis in the Twenty-First Century.

Sandra Ruiz and Hypatia Vourloumis. Formless Formation: Vignettes for the End of this World.

in media res theme week. Representations of Xenophobia, Racism, and Nationalism.

Bernd Bösel and Serjoscha Wiemer (eds). Affective Transformations: Politics—Algorithms—Media.

Marcus Burkhardt, Katja Grashöfer, and Mary Shnayien (eds.). Explorations in Digital Cultures.

On_Culture Issue 12 (2021). Ambiguity: Conditions, Potentials, Limits.

Grace Aneiza Ali (ed.). Liminal Spaces: Migration and Women of the Guyanese Diaspora.

Mark Turin, Claire Wheeler and Eleanor Wilkinson (eds). Oral Literature in the Digital Age: Archiving Orality and Connecting with Communities.

Alberto López Cuenca and Renato Bermúdez Dini (eds.). Más allá del derecho de autor: Otros términos para debatir la propiedad intellectual.

Bill Balaskas and Carolina Rito (eds.). Fabricating Publics: The Dissemination of Culture in the Post-truth Era.

Bernard Stiegler and the Internation Collective (eds). Daniel Ross (ed. & transl.). Bifurcate: There Is No Alternative.

Damian Owen-Board. After the Trojan Horses.

Gretel Van Wieren, Todd Shaw, Beronda Montgomery, and others. Public Philosophy Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2 (2022). Radical Humility. A Forum Discussion for PPJ &  Essays on Ordinary Acts.

Jaime del Val (2022), Ontohackers: Radical Movement Philosophy in the Age of Algorithms. Punctum Books.

Stephanie Polsky (2022), The Dark Posthuman: Dehumanization, Technology, and the Atlantic World. Punctum Books.

Alexanda Juhasz, ed. (2022), My Phone Lies to Me: Fake News Poetry Workshops As Radical Digital Media Literacy Given the Fact of Fake News. Punctum Books.

Martin Paul Eve (2021), Warez: The Infrastructure and Aesthetics of Piracy. Punctum Books.

Alfie Bown & Dan Bristow, eds. (2019), Post Memes: Seizing the Memes of Production. Punctum Books.

Jeff Shantz (2018), Insurrectionary Infrastructures. Punctum Books.

Dorothy Kim & Jesse Stommel, eds. (2018), Disrupting the Digital Humanities. Punctum Books.

Caroline Bassett, Ryan Burns, Russell Glasson, and Kate O’Riordan, eds. (2015), The Tablet Book. REFRAME Books.

Eleni Maragkou (2021), ‘Subverting the Surveilling Gaze: Counter-Forensics as Social Justice’, Soapbox, 15 March 2021.

spheres editorial collective (2019), spheres: journal for digital cultures, #5 Spectres of AI.

K. A. Wisniewski (2018), Textshop Experiments, Vol. 4: From Digital to Print.

Ginger Ko (2022), Power On. the operating system.

Margaret Rhee (2017), Love, Robot, the operating system.

Fredrik Stiernstedt & Anne Kaun (2022), ‘The Prison Media Complex: Labour, Technology and Communication Infrastructures in the Prison System’, triple C: Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 20:1.

Emre Canpolat (2021), ‘Smartphones and Exploitation in the Age of Digital Capitalism: Ordinary Aspects of the Transformation of Everyday Life’, triple C: Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 19:2.

Virtual Book Stand

This post documents our first attempts at creating a virtual book stand for member publications. Available at:

Pop-Up Book Stand

As part of the 2017 OpenAIRE project, “New Platforms for Open Access Book Distribution”, ScholarLed developed a shared book stand, designed to promote Open Access publishing and to present our collective catalogue at conferences, fairs and events. The book stand was designed as a pop-up platform able to be easily transported to and rapidly deployed at relevant conferences attended by conference members. This allows one press to represent the entire collective at a conference, increasing the reach of all participating presses as well as introducing the collective as a non-competitive association of presses. The design of this book stand is available under a CC BY-NC licence, which allows other not-for-profit presses and publishing project to use our step-by-step guide to adapt and develop the stand according to their own needs. The Radical Open Access Collective adapted this low-cost, portable book stand to promote ROAC and ScholarLed members and share our publications at conferences all over the world. As part of this book stand we cross-promote each other’s publications, and promote the ideals and values that sustain our projects: around open access, not-for-profit and scholar-led publishing, experimentation and an ethics of care. Our aim is to advocate these forms of publishing within our academic communities in order to showcase the existence of alternative models for open access publishing. We also want to make a public and political statement about how not-for-profit presses can start to collaborate through these kinds of projects.


A Virtual Book Stand

Now that due to the Covid-19 pandemic our events and conferences have been moving online or are increasingly being completely envisioned online (such as the Open Publishing Fest), we feel the book stand needs to be reimagined too. In many ways, the argument can be made that as all our open access publications are already online and openly available for free, our virtual book stand already exists. For example, the function of a virtual book stand is represented through essential organisations such as the DOAJ, the DOAB, and OAPEN (which also hosts the ScholarLed Collection). However, were these discovery platforms and repositories are crucial for the promotion of open access content, they do not necessarily replace the function of a book stand, and the specific targeted promotion that book stands can do at conferences and events. As such we want to explore what a virtual book stand could be for the ROAC and ScholarLed, and we hope to do so together with our community, so please be in touch if you have any ideas or suggestions on what a virtual book stand could look like and what it should encompass for you. For now we have made a start by updating the ROAC’s Latest Publication page and rebranding it as our Virtual Book Stand. You can find our book stand here:

Governing the Scholarly Commons (part 2)

Back in July we surveyed members of the Radical Open Access Collective on a possible decision-making model of lazy consensus. To quickly recap, lazy consensus is the process by which decisions are taken when no one disagrees with a proposal within a short(ish) window that takes into account numerous time zones and weekends. Anyone can propose an action and this motion can be debated until there are no further disagreements.

The idea of lazy consensus was well received on the mailing list and an interesting discussion ensued about the future our collective governance. Kathleen Fitzpatrick highlighted the need for community building – what she terms ‘social sustainability’ – as crucial to radical forms of collaboration. This underscores the need for ROAC members to get to know one another and to extend generosity and care to one another as far as possible. Joe Deville emphasised this with particular respect to the tone of our discussions, which should be ‘conducted in open, generous, caring ways’. Yet, as Endre Dányi kindly pointed out, there is a ‘certain sense of violence implied in claims about commonness and the common good’. We must be wary of not imposing on each other a predefined set of identities and values that we all share, instead keeping in mind that community itself necessitates difference or un-commonality (what Roberto Esposito would term a ‘common non-belonging’).

Following on from this discussion, one of the first points of action we would like to propose for the ROAC, is to implement the idea of lazy consensus with a 72-hour window for objections, while we will also ensure to stimulate discussion as much as possible. In practice, we do not envision any huge decisions being made about the collective and so it is likely that lazy consensus, as a decision making model, will only be intermittently used . Nonetheless, please feel free to propose ideas for the collective to consider – we really want to keep everything horizontal and informal to the greatest extent we can.

Related to this, during the mailing list discussion Gary Hall shared some helpful thoughts from his experiences helping to run a local community football club (and his reading of Barcelona En Comú’s Fearless Cities). Gary’s advice can be summarised as follows:

  1. Don’t be afraid to take the lead
  2. Ensure a gender balance and diversity from the start.
  3. Have generosity as a key value – collaboration requires individuals to be generous (with their time, energy, attention etc.).
  4. Try to reduce vertical hierarchies by distributing authority among as many people as possible
  5. Try to make it possible for everyone to feel they can contribute

Given that everyone is busy, and it is easy for initiatives like ROAC to lie dormant in particularly busy periods, we felt it would be worth instigating some of these approaches through a member advisory board, which we would like to put forward as our second point of action. The board would help generate and moderate discussion, admit new members and generally be a face of the ROAC in their own geographical/disciplinary area. We are keen to have broad geographical coverage from all across the globe, but we are especially interested in representation from Africa and Latin America (where a number of our members are based). Please email Sam and Janneke if you would like to get involved (and we might also nudge some of you who previously indicated you would be interested in this)! Going forward, and once we have an advisory board established, we can discuss whether we want to formalise this structure more.

Related to this, we are still keen to stimulate discussion on the mailing list by having themes set and moderated by different listserv members each month. Please get in touch if you would be interested in moderating discussions related to the future of scholar-led open access. You do not have to be associated with a member press or project, just interested in what we’re trying to achieve. We would ask that you post a question or topic to the list once a week for a month and then moderate the ensuing discussion. Open access week is of course a good time to start the discussion. Our friends at ScholarLed have been posting daily blog posts on the future of scholar-led publishing infrastructures, so perhaps one of us would like to try to drum up responses to these posts or follow them up for further discussion?

Collaborative Open-Source Bookstand, ROAC flash drives and postcards

The Radical Open Access Collective is always looking for collaborative ways to promote and support our publishing projects. Our members are mostly working academics without the resources of commercial publishers, and so mutual reliance between member presses can be really beneficial. We have always envisaged the ROAC as being a space where we can share resources and cross-promote one another’s work – and conference attendance is the perfect place to try this out.

Our friends at the ScholarLed consortium have been developing resources to further support this. Recently Julien McHardy (Mattering Press) together with Cristina Garriga (My Bookcase), have ‘open-sourced’ the design templates and files they previously created to develop the ScholarLed bookstand. The ROAC have adapted this bookstand to promote both ScholarLed and ROAC member publications. Now that the design of the bookstand is openly available here, other members might be interested in duplicating (elements of) this design to promote their and other presses publications.

This is how the bookstand looks in the wild:

The downloadable zip file on Github contains InDesign templates for all the elements that make up the bookstand, including a template to promote individual books, event lists, info sheets and a template for a bookmark. These items are currently tailored for ScholarLed members but can be easily adapted to suit your own press or project. ScholarLed uses coloured paper maps to present their books on, along with plastic stands to display them.

Flash drives and postcards

To further promote ROAC members publications we have recently ordered branded Radical Open Access Collective flash drives and information postcards (see below). The flash drives will allow us to share member publications with attendees at various conferences. The way we envision this to work is similar to the set-up used for the ‘Book of Books’ in the ScholarLed book stand, in that Sam will send all ROAC members a Dropbox link to a folder where they can upload those of their publications they would like to make available via the flash drives. We will then copy the contents of this Dropbox folder to the flash drives, which we will share with conference attendees who visit the bookstand, allowing them to upload ROAC publications to their personal devices. You can add new publications to the Dropbox folder on a continuous basis if you like, as we will regularly update the contents of the flash drives.

Sam and Janneke will add these flashdrives to the ScholarLed bookstand version currently maintained on behalf of ScholarLed member Open Humanities Press at Coventry University.

In a similar vein you can create your own ROAC branded flash drives (logos available in the Dropbox) and use the Dropbox folder to load them with member publications to promote at your own iteration or adaptation of the ScholarLed bookstand. Similarly, if you would like to produce some ROAC postcards you can also find the InDesign files of the postcards in the Dropbox.

For those of you who lack the funds to create your own flash drives or postcards, we are happy to send some to you but note that we only have a very limited number available at the moment.

There is no obligation whatsoever for you to add your publications to the flash drives of course, but please do let Sam know if you haven’t heard from him (in the next week) and would like access to the Dropbox.

In doing this, the ROAC hopes to raise the profile of alternative forms of publication and share and cross-promote all the excellent work our members are doing. Please do get in touch if you have any other ideas on how we could explore this further!

Governing the scholarly commons: the Radical Open Access Collective

The Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC) is a community of 60+ not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access projects. One of the aims of the collective is to legitimise scholar-led publishing as an important alternative model for open access, while supporting our members and encouraging others to experiment with scholar-led publishing too. The ROAC therefore serves a similar function to other membership organisations such as the Library Publishing Coalition, the Association of European University Presses, and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, all of whom support certain approaches to publishing or kinds of publisher.

Unlike these membership bodies, the ROAC has no formal governance structure, bylaws or committees to help organise our activities. This has made sense while the collective was in its infancy. However, we are particularly interested in further encouraging mutual reliance by experimenting with ways of supporting one another (beyond simple lip service). Perhaps we need a way to encourage this through some kind of light-touch governance.

Mutual reliance for us is more than the mere sharing of advice through the listserv (although this is a key part of it) but implores each press to think about one another as partners or collaborators rather than competitors. This is why the only requirement for joining is a willingness to share with other members of the collective in a horizontal, non-competitive manner. This could be through promoting each other’s activities and publications at conferences, open-sourcing our tools and sharing documentation and other resources openly with the community. In doing this, we hope to resist the general trend towards marketisation in publishing by experimenting with cultures of resilience through shared efforts, all while still maintaining each press’s unique identity.

But these experiments are more than just about publishing – they intend to reveal the possibilities of mutual reliance in higher education (and beyond) so that others may engage in similar practices of collaboration. Janneke Adema, for instance, refers to this process as ‘scaling small’ whereby members engage in practices of horizontal collaboration within the collective and look towards vertical collaboration with other collectives. All of these practices intend to maintain the individual autonomy and identity of each member project while allowing them to benefit from the relationships fostered within the collective.

So the question this blog post wants to explore is: what system of governance will allow the Radical Open Access Collective to best promote the kinds of mutual reliance described so far? Currently the ROAC has no official governance and describes itself as a horizontal and democratic collective. Perhaps this lack of governance is limiting our ability to proactively work with one another as members and to fully explore the potential of mutual reliance. How should we address this?

The membership organisations listed above each have different governance models including highly formalised systems of voting and boards of governance that oversee decision-making. But these organisations usually charge membership fees of hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year and they can therefore spend resources on coming up with adequate processes for accountability and staff to maintain them. While such formalised systems might be fitting for the future, right now it is difficult to see how the ROAC could practically devise, implement and maintain such a system bearing in mind we receive no resources for maintaining the collective (only occasional support) and our members as not-for-profits are not always in a position to pay membership fees. We should therefore look towards more informal collectives to see how they are governed.

One interesting concept I learned about recently was that of ‘lazy consensus’. This is the form of governance employed by The Maintainers – a global research network interested in the concepts of maintenance, infrastructure, and repair – who themselves have borrowed the idea from Apache Rave. Lazy consensus requires members to follow discussions online and to speak out within a given time frame if anyone disagrees with what is being proposed (72 hours is the proposed time to account for numerous time zones). If no one disagrees, and as long as all proposals are made through the same channel, then tacit agreement is assumed. It is a light-touch approach to decision-making in relatively consensual organisations with busy members, as long as members are following the discussions online.

So lazy consensus will only work if there is regular activity or discussion that members of the collective can follow (and so they will see any items tabled for consensus). It requires collectives to get to know one another and to learn about each other’s practices and values, to care for another and to understand our situations. It thus requires commoning: practices of sustained social activity that maintain our projects as shared endeavours. Commoning is a highly situated activity of resource maintenance through community-building. I have theorised elsewhere how commoning is a practice of care for the relationships around shared resources. It does not refer to a specific or reified set of practices but requires us to learn how to get along and help each other out.

Most importantly, then, commoning requires that we know each other. This is why we hope to stimulate more discussion on the listserv. This was also a request from many of the presses we surveyed back in May. To this end, we wanted to suggest that one member takes control of setting topics for discussion for one month at a time (an idea borrowed from the empyre mailing list). One way to further encourage members to do this is by offering the opportunity to do so in their preferred/native language – with an English summary if possible (though this of course wouldn’t be a requirement) – in order to increase linguistic diversity within the community. Presses can then for example post one message for discussion each week and can moderate and encourage responses.

By stimulating discussion, we hope the ROAC will be able to further promote the conditions for reciprocity and trust between members, even if there exist significant differences of opinion. Having regular discussion as a community might allow us to employ concepts such as lazy consensus (and explore other governance structures as needed in combination with this). This might also give us the space to further influencing debates and policies as a collective – e.g. through consultations and general responses to the goings on in the world of open access. We are also interested in exploring the idea of leadership positions and committees – especially if members think this would be beneficia – but for now these two proposals seem like a good way of stimulating activity within the collective.

However, there are many other forms of informal/light-touch governance for horizontal collectives. One of the original inspirations for the Radical Open Access Collective was Open Humanities Press, whose organisational structure involves multiple, self-governing scholarly groups, organized around journals or book series, and includes academics, librarians, publishers, technologists, journal editors, etc., operating as a radically heterogeneous collective. Mattering Press also has a unique horizontal structure involving numerous committees, while meson press formalised their operations as a worker-owned co-operative. We would love to hear if you have any suggestions or yourself participate in any governance structures that might be appropriate for the ROAC, especially those that help promote mutual reliance between members.

In summary, we are seeking members’ opinions on this idea of lazy consensus and generating more of a community through the listserv. Do these light-touch proposals for governance sound workable or helpful? Do we need something more formalised? Are there any other forms of governance we should be considering? We will be reaching out to presses specifically to ask if they would be willing to facilitate and moderate discussion on the listserv for one month, but please do not hesitate to get in touch if you are interested! Look out for another blog post soon on the open-source bookstand for shared promotional activity at events.

The Radical Open Access Collective: updates, events and governance

Since our previous update in October last year, the Radical Open Access Collective has continued to grow and now contains over 60 scholar-led publishing initiatives from around the world, alongside many hundreds of listserv members. With so many new members, it is worth reminding ourselves what the intentions behind the ROAC were. This post provides an update on the activities of the collective and explores what the ROAC might want to focus on in future.

The Radical Open Access Collective is a community of scholar-led, not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access projects. It was formed in 2015 as a way of building connections and mutual reliance between mainly academic-led publishers looking to try something different and self-managed in scholarly communication, as an alternative to the closed down commercial behemoths. Our members come from a variety of geographical and disciplinary contexts, publishing a range of books, journals and experimental material, from small ad-hoc DIY projects to more sustained initiatives. We maintain resources and host a listserv which we use to communicate with our members and to discuss issues around openness, access, and experimental and scholar-led publishing, and through which we aim to stimulate and nurture a community of different forms of publishing.

While Janneke Adema and I (Sam Moore) have been the main ‘organisers’ behind the ROAC – i.e., the ones who add new members to the website, update resources and field general queries – the idea behind the collective itself has always been that as a community it is horizontally governed and democratic in its decision making. The only real criteria for membership has been that the press or project engages in some form of open access publishing (loosely defined) and shares our philosophy of mutual reliance and non-competitive publishing. Yet in practice, the absence of any defined governance system (and Sam and Janneke’s lack of time) has made it hard to do things as a ‘collective’. One of the questions now is: with so many new members, and a clear excitement about alternative forms of open access and scholar-led publishing, what can the Radical Open Access Collective actually do to support its members?

With these ideas in mind, in May we surveyed the Radical Open Access Collective members[i] to better understand their participation in the collective, what they hope to get out of membership and whether these needs are currently being met. We were particularly interested in learning how best to support our members from outside the Global North, where our membership has grown most in the past year, and especially how to promote greater linguistic diversity rather than simply relying on English for all our communications. It was encouraging to see that many of these goals were shared by our members.

We found in the survey that there is clearly a pressing need for the Radical Open Access Collective. Members described how the collective confers a level of legitimacy, solidarity with a movement and a sense of community between other members. They were also positive about the listserv, the resources we share and our desire to work collaboratively for more ethical open access publishing futures. In practice, though, many members had yet to experience any ‘tangible’ benefits from participation and some of our newer members were perhaps unsure of what the collective does. This was particularly alienating for those outside of the Global North who felt a strong sense of detachment from the ROAC community (and maybe assumed that the collective is more active offline than it in fact is). The results highlight that the community aspects are highly valued and need to be nurtured in order to maximise benefits for the ROAC’s members.

We also heard that members were positive about collaborative approaches to marketing and promotion at various conferences around the world (and we received many excellent suggestions for conferences we could attend in the future). The ROAC is non-competitive and encourages its members to work together to promote their activities and not-for-profit community-led approaches to publishing. Members were enthusiastic about this collaborative approach to cross-promotion and encouraged the ROAC to look beyond the collective and build links with other organisations for alternative publishing practices. They also saw the listserv as a valuable source for planning in this regard.

Given the survey findings, Janneke and I have identified two immediate initiatives to focus on (and more for the longer term), which we wanted to outline to the collective in a series of blogposts. The first of which is to identify a light-touch governance model – with input from ROAC members –  that will allow the ROAC to do more by bringing others in to help steer the collective and increase linguistic (and other kinds of) diversity. This may entail better geographical representation, more input from interested parties, or simply help from those who want to stimulate activity on the listserv or who want to contribute to the ROAC information platform. I will be working on issues of governance over the next few months (as part of a book project on the relationship between open access publishing and the commons), but expect a more detailed blogpost on governance and what might best suit the ROAC in the coming weeks.

Secondly, the survey made clear that the ROAC should aim to be more proactive in facilitating collaboration between its members and should provide more tools/resources for them to promote not-for-profit and scholar-led publishing and to showcase its members publications at various online and offline fora.

One idea we had is to build on the fantastic bookcase our friends and colleagues from ScholarLed (all also ROAC members) developed, a version of which is currently held at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University. We have been using this book stand to also promote ROAC publications and initiatives. A key feature of this book stand has always been that is should be ‘open source’ and we are hoping to work with the original designers to put the designs for the book stand online for members to set up their own ROAC or member-branded book stands at events they attend. This is a simple set of printable materials for displaying physical publications and promotional literature at events. We also hope to find funding for a branded flash drive containing member publications that can be distributed at conferences. We will be describing these ideas in more detail in a forthcoming blogpost and would love to see collaborative promotion being adopted by ROAC members and others in the community.

The Bookstand

Radical open access in the wild

Pirate Care conference

Many ROAC members will be attending the Pirate Care conference at Coventry University on 19-20 June – all are welcome to attend. The term Pirate Care condenses two processes that are particularly visible at present. On the one hand, basic care provisions that were previously considered cornerstones of social life are now being pushed towards illegality, as a consequence of geopolitical reordering and the marketisation of social services. At the same time new, technologically-enabled care networks are emerging in opposition to this drive toward illegality. The conference will feature projects providing various forms of pirate care ranging from refugee assistance, healthcare, reproductive care, childcare, access to public transport, access to knowledge, a number of reflections from and on such practices, and a film programme.

Janneke and I also discussed the Radical Open Access Collective or hosted the book stand at the following events:

  • Janneke presented the ROAC most recently as part of a keynote at the Digital Humanities Institute Beirut 2019 (DHIB). Next to the Pirate Care conference, Janneke will bring the book stand with her to the Association for Cultural Studies Summer Institute 2019: The Future of Publics. 22nd – 27th July, Friedrichshafen (Germany)
  • Sam presented a paper entitled ‘‘Sneak into the university and steal what one can’: Locating the commons in small press publishing’ at the Poetics in Commons meeting last month.
  • Radical OA was also an important topic at Critical Issues in Open Access and Scholarly Communications hosted by Goldsmiths on May 24th.
  • Finally, members of the Collective discussed alternative forms of open access at the recent ELPUB meeting in Marseille.

[i] Made possible due to the generous support of the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University, which has provided funding for the ROAC to develop an outreach project

One Year Later

Last year, during open access week, the Radical Open Access Collective re-launched with a new website, a directory of academic-led presses and an information platform for OA (book) publishing. We would like to share with you some of ROAC’s highlights for this year. Let us know if we’ve missed something or if there is anything you would like to add to this overview.

    • The Radical OA Collective grew its membership substantially: at our launch in October last year we had 25+ members, our community now consists of 54 members, Open Access in Media Studies being the latest to join!
    • For Radical OA II we published 7 pamphlets, available during the conference in both print and OA, covering topics such as Metrics Noir, Competition and Collaboration and the Geopolitics of Open. Each pamphlet was edited by a ROAC member or affiliate. The OA versions of the pamphlets are available on the Humanities Commons platform here:[author_facet][]=Post+Office+Press
    • We presented the ROAC at a number of conferences, including: COASP (Vienna), Digital Cultures (Lüneburg), Crossroads in Cultural Studies (Shanghai), OA Monographs (UUK, London), NECS Post-conference: Open Media Studies(Hilversum), Radical Open Access II (Coventry), Beyond APCs Open Aire workshop (The Hague), Open Access Tage (Dresden)
    • The ScholarLed Consortium was formed by 6 members of the ROAC pooling skills and resources to develop open infrastructure, tools, workflows and processes for OA publishing:
    • We organised a bookstand together with our friends from ScholarLed which was set up at the 2nd Radical OA Conference in Coventry and at Crossroads in Cultural Studies in Shanghai. In Coventry we ran 2 short talks alongside the bookstand, and in Shanghai we organised a round table on OA publishing in Cultural Studies.
  • Looking forward, we hope to continue to welcome new members to the collective and develop our suite of tools to encourage and support others to start their own publishing projects. If you run a not-for-profit OA publishing initiative or are interested in starting your own scholar-led publishing project, we encourage you to join the Radical OA mailing list and get involved with the discussion!

    About the ROAC

    Formed in 2015, the Radical OA Collective is a community of scholar-led, not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access projects in the humanities and social sciences. We represent an alternative open access ecosystem and seek to create a different future for open access, one based on experimenting with not-for-profit, scholar-led approaches to publishing. You can read more about the philosophy behind the collective here:

    As a collective, we offer mutual reliance and support for each other’s projects by sharing the knowledge and resources we have acquired. Through our projects we also aim to provide advice, support and encouragement to academics and other not-for-profit entities interested in setting up their own publishing initiatives. Our website contains a Directory of academic-led presses, which showcases the breadth and rich diversity in scholar-led presses currently operating in an international context and across numerous fields, and an Information Portal with links to resources on funding opportunities for open access books, open source publishing tools, guidelines on editing standards, ethical publishing and diversity in publishing, and OA literature useful to not-for-profit publishing endeavours.

The Radical Open Access Collective: Community, Resilience, Collaboration

An Open Insights interview with Janneke Adema and Sam Moore

Reblogged from:

Interviewed by James Smith (OLH)

Janneke Adema and Sam Moore are the authors of a March 2018 UKSG Insights essay entitled Collectivity and collaboration: imagining new forms of communality to create resilience in scholar-led publishing. Today we explore the context behind the Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC), and their thoughts on the complexities of scholar-led open access publishing.

The ROAC is holding the Radical Open Access II – The Ethics of Care conference at Coventry University from 26-27 June 2018.

OLH: Hi Janneke and Sam, thanks for talking to us! To start, how would you summarise the core philosophy of the ROAC?

JA & SM: Thanks for the invitation! We feel that the core philosophy behind the collective is about returning control of publishing to the scholarly community. While the member presses do not represent a unified or homogeneous set of values or practices, they are each interested in practicing a vision of open access that is accountable to (and reflective of) their various communities. This affords experimentation, critique, collaboration and a range of other practices that traditional publishing currently prohibits to a lesser or greater extent. The collective ultimately hopes to offer a mutually supportive, non-hierarchical environment for exploring the futures of open publishing practices.

The collective ultimately hopes to offer a mutually supportive, non-hierarchical environment for exploring the futures of open publishing practices.

Taking this into consideration, some keywords that come to mind with respect to the ROAC’s philosophy are: collaboration, non-competitive, not-for-profit, horizontal (non-hierarchical), scholar-led, ethics of care, diversity, community, experimenting, global justice, affirmative creative critique, performative, progressive, radical, mutually-supportive, mutual reliance, multi-polar, resilience, communality, inclusivity.

OLH: What ethical principles does the ROAC seek to normalise, and what challenges does it face in doing so?

JA & SM: We are not sure “normalise” is the right word here, given the implicit normativity this word brings with it. Ethics, many of us feel, is not something that can be defined in advance or that can be predetermined, we cannot resort to moral criteria or predefined values or truths when it comes to publishing, scholarly communication or openness, for example. A responsible ethical approach to openness, to publishing, to the book, would not presume to know what these are, nore what ethics is, in advance. If anything we feel ethics is, or should be, non-normative: its meaning cannot be predetermined. We also do not follow any set “principles” in this respect; however, our ethics is not relativistic either; instead it responds to specific singular practices and situations, around how openness is implemented and the materiality of the book changes, for example. Our ethics are therefore performative, they arise out of the way we (as scholars, publishers) become with the media we publish.

OLH: Why is being radical a good thing?

JA & SM: Being radical is neither good nor bad, it is a terminology we have adapted to distinguish the specific version of open access we want to promote from more neoliberal or top-down versions, for example. The etymology of “radical” shows it derives from the Latin radix, for root, where it means going back to the origin, to what is essential. For us, radical open access simply represents what we always perceived open access to be, it is a way for us to position ourselves within the wide diversity of meanings open access represents and conjures up.

The etymology of “radical” shows it derives from the Latin radix, for root, where it means going back to the origin, to what is essential.

Being radical does however offer us the chance to present an affirmative counterpoint to the dominant discourses around open access, particularly those promoted by commercial publishers and governmental funders—such as HEFCE and RCUK (now UKRI) in the UK—who tend to be interested in OA inasmuch as it promotes business, transparency, and innovation or merely protects the interests of commercial publishers (see the Finch report, for example). This is how the average humanities and social sciences researcher is likely to encounter OA—as merely representative of a neoliberal ideology and a top down instrumental requirement—and so the ROAC seeks to illustrate that there is an alternative and that OA can have a basis in something both emancipatory and transformative.

OLH: The ROAC is an advocacy group, but it is also a community-builder. How does a strong community translate into a response to the pressing issues of open access?

JA & SM: Because it offers us the opportunity to scale-up or as we have previously argued, to “scale small”—keeping the diversity and independence of the (often small-scale) endeavours of our members intact—both horizontally and vertically. By harnessing the strengths and organizational structures of not-for-profit, independent and scholar-led publishing communities we hope to further facilitate collective efforts through community building and by setting up horizontal alliances. Next to that we hope to enable vertical forms of collaboration with other organisations, collectives, institutions and agencies within scholarly publishing, for example libraries and universities, but also with collectives of artists, technologists and activists. As we have argued elsewhere, we want to explore how we can set up so-called “chains of equivalence” (Laclau) with other movements and struggles that are also dealing with aspects of openness – not just those associated with open knowledge, open science, open data, altmetrics and so on, but also those areas in the Arts and Humanities that conceive digital media more explicitly in terms of power, conflict and violence. Those associated with critical media theory, p2p networks and shadow libraries, for example. We are interested in exploring a plurality of open movements, theories and philosophies in this respect, which may at times conflict and contradict one another, but which can nevertheless contribute to the construction of a common, oppositional horizon.

By harnessing the strengths and organizational structures of not-for-profit, independent and scholar-led publishing communities we hope to further facilitate collective efforts through community building and by setting up horizontal alliances.

In this respect the ROAC also intends to present a unified voice in response to certain issues of advocacy and policy. Having a strong community allows us to discuss and respond to various issues around publishing and openness, around how open access is being implemented for example, highlighting why funders should take alternative, scholar-led publishing initiatives seriously as part of this discussion. Think for example of the recently announced intention of the UKRI in the UK to have a mandatory OA monograph component to the REF after the next. This could present a threat by commercialising and formalising a particularly kind of OA monograph practice in the same way that the current REF policy has done for journal articles (including for example the adaptation of (high) BPCs for monographs, which are unsustainable), which is to say, in accordance with the wishes of commercial publishers. This has already summoned conservative reactions from organisations such as the Royal Historical Society, positioning themselves against this development. Yet, such funder requirement for OA books could also potentially present an opportunity for many presses within the ROAC who already publish OA monographs (such as ROAC members punctum books, Open Book Publishers, and Mattering Press, for example) as well as for scholars looking for options to publish their books in OA without (excessive) BPCs. Making both funders and scholars aware of the existence of these scholar-led models for publishing open access books is of the highest importance here. This is where we would see the ROAC coming in.

OLH: How do you imagine the role of radical experimentation as a tool for humanities open access?

JA & SM: Many of the ROAC member presses would understand the relationship the other way round, that openness affords experimentation and is the reason many OA projects adopt an open approach to begin with. This means that openness is often foundational to radical projects, a natural way of working that permits different kinds of experimentation in certain contexts. Openness is thus not about being more open, for instance, but is rather about being open to change and experimentation—depending on the contingent circumstances, the political and ethical decisions and cuts that need to be made, and so on.

… [B]y experimenting in an open way with the idea and the concept of the book, but also with the materiality and the system of material production surrounding it—which includes our ideas of the material and materiality—we can ask important questions concerning authorship, the fixity of the text, quality, authority and responsibility; issues that lie at the basis of what scholarship is and what the functions of the university should be.

This is why, in foregrounding experimentation, the ROAC reflects a range of practices and ideologies, rather than a single, coherent movement for making research freely available. Experimentation in this respect can be seen as a form of ongoing critique, serving as a means to re-perform our existing institutions and scholarly practices in a more ethical and responsible way. Experimentation thus stands at the basis of a rethinking of scholarly communication and the university in general, and can even potentially be seen as a means to rethink politics itself too. For instance, by experimenting in an open way with the idea and the concept of the book, but also with the materiality and the system of material production surrounding it—which includes our ideas of the material and materiality—we can ask important questions concerning authorship, the fixity of the text, quality, authority and responsibility; issues that lie at the basis of what scholarship is and what the functions of the university should be.

OLH: How does a radical approach to open access empower researchers in the Global South, and those outside of traditional institutional frameworks?

JA & SM: We would rather emphasise the opposite: it is researchers in the Global South and those outside or on the fringes of institutions (so-called para-academics) that empower the open access movement and scholarly publishing more in general. Dominique Babini has for example stressed that “the international community would do well to follow the examples of initiatives in Latin America, where open access is already the norm and where costs are shared among members of scholarly communities to ensure lasting impact”. In Latin America, Babini points out, the cost of publishing has always been an integral part of the cost of research, where it is universities and academic societies, not commercial publishers that predominantly publish journals and books. There is also the example of sustainable publishing platforms and models developed here, based on cost sharing, in opposition to the commercial enclosures APCs impose for example. Think of portals such as SciELO and Redalyc, but also the organisation (and ROAC member) Babini represents,CLACSO, which brings together hundreds of research centres and graduate schools in the social sciences and humanities, predominantly in Latin American countries.

… [I]t is researchers in the Global South and those outside or on the fringes of institutions (so-called para-academics) that empower the open access movement and scholarly publishing more in general.

From the perspective of being outside of established structures, we also need to acknowledge the essential role shadow libraries and guerrilla open access play in providing access to research in a global context, where for example LibGen and Sci-Hub have achieved with relative ease what the open access movement has for decades been striving for: quick and easy and near universal access to the results of scholarly research.

OLH: Open source tools and open access publishing are intertwined. What needs to be free and open for smaller initiatives to thrive?

JA & SM: If possible the entire production process (open that is, nothing is free), although we appreciate we will always be implicated in commercial, profit-driven, proprietary structures, platforms and models to some extent. It is about making strategic choices on the basis of what we, or better said, the ROAC’s members, think is important. Sometimes this means using proprietary software, sometimes it includes publishing in a closed way. There are no pre-set answers or guidelines here, although there are now many open-source options for scholar-publishers to choose from. Future work of the ROAC will be, based on the information portal we have already set up, to further collate many of these options and to develop a toolkit of advice so that other communities can start their own publishing projects too.

In many ways we’re heading in the wrong direction with increased control of the means of production by large corporate entities.

That said, the current push for centrally-controlled walled gardens, such as those being developed by Elsevier (see e.g. this article by Posada and Chen) and Springer-Nature, is very disturbing. Publishers now seek to lock users into their ecosystems, monetising not just user intellectual property but their interaction data too. In many ways we’re heading in the wrong direction with increased control of the means of production by large corporate entities. A perhaps missed opportunity to counteract this is the recent tender call for the European Commission Open Research Publishing Platformthat does not specifically require open infrastructure to protect against corporate capture.

Nonetheless, instead of centralised and one-size-fits all publishing platforms, we would like to emphasise the value of decentralised ecosystems of small open source publishing projects, where platforms are often based on implementing a specific model or solution aimed to solve the crisis in academic publishing. This kind of imposed uniformity could lead to a loss of control of certain aspects of the publishing process and threaten the independence and individuality of small experimental projects. This is why the ROAC intends to complement library-based and university press publishing projects that share a more decentralised vision, and urges funders to support a biodiversity of publishing projects and models.

OLH: What are your views on volunteerist labour in publishing? Is this something for which people should always be paid or is unpaid publishing work acceptable?

JA & SM: Our feeling is that academic publishing is already sustained by (and couldn’t exist without) large amounts of volunteer labour contributed by academic editors, reviewers, copyeditors and interns. Presses in the ROAC simply divert some of this labour from commercial publishing (and encourages other academics to do the same) towards something more transformative, that is truly in the communities interest as well as community-owned and controlled. Yet labour is not a zero-sum game and will be always be a site of struggle between individual commitments as part of the traditional publishing industry, due to the prestige this confers, and collective commitments to transforming this system through experimentation into alternatives. Ultimately we want to make the appeal that publishing should be valued as both an integral aspect of research and something for which scholars should be paid as part of their academic positions.

Ultimately we want to make the appeal that publishing should be valued as both an integral aspect of research and something for which scholars should be paid as part of their academic positions.

That said, many of our initiatives are currently committed to paying their designers, typesetters and proofreaders, interns, or other people they do work with, fairly (whilst they often don’t receive a wage themselves). On the other hand, members of the ROAC have also been critical of applying a market logic or a logic of calculation to all the relationships within research and communication. There are different ways than mere monetary ones in which we can recognise the contributions of the various agencies involved in the publishing process.

The ROAC also aims to decrease the amount of volunteer labour in publishing to some extent by enabling scholar-led and not-for-profit projects to work closer together and to encourage them to, as a community, share amongst themselves, tools, best practices and information that might aid with working more efficiently, including information on how to obtain funds and grants to subsidise publishing projects. To encourage this, we have set up the Radical Open Access mailing list, which we use to discuss issues around the politics and ethics of publishing, and to share best practices and strategies amongst each other.

OLH: Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Janneke and Sam!

Join us again soon for more #EmpowOA Open Insights.

Registration for Radical Open Access II – The Ethics of Care now open

Radical Open Access II – The Ethics of Care

Two days of critical discussion about creating a more diverse and equitable future for open access

The Post Office
Coventry University
June 26-27 2018 

Organised by Coventry University’s postdigital arts and humanities research studio The Post Office, a project of the Centre for Postdigital Cultures

Find out more at:

Attendance and participation is free of charge but registration is mandatory. Register here:

Co-curators: Culture Machine, Mattering Press, Memory of the World/Public Library, meson press, Open Humanities Press, punctum books, POP

Speakers: Denisse Albornoz, Janneke Adema, Laurie Allen, Angel Octavio Alvarez Solís, Bodó Balázs, Kirsten Bell, George Chen, Jill Claassen, Joe Deville, Maddalena Fragnito, Valeria Graziano, Eileen Joy, Chris Kelty, Christopher Long, Kaja Marczewska, Frances McDonald, Gabriela Méndez-Cota, Samuel Moore, Tahani Nadim, Christopher Newfield, Sebastian Nordhoff, Lena Nyahodza, Alejandro Posada, Reggie Raju, Václav Štětka, Whitney Trettien

Radical Open Access II is about developing an ethics of care. Care with regard to:

  • our means of creating, publishing and communicating research;
  • our working conditions;
  • our relations with others.

Radical Open Access II aims to move the debate over open access on from two issues in particular:

THE QUESTION OF ACCESS. At first sight it may seem rather odd for a conference on open access to want to move on from this question. But as Sci-Hub, aaaarg, libgen et al. show, the debate over access has largely been won by shadow-libraries, who are providing quick and easy access to vast amounts of published research. Too much of the debate over ‘legitimate’ forms of open access now seems to be about how to use the provision of access to research as a means of exercising forms of governmental and commercial control (via audits, metrics, discourses of transparency and so on).

THE OA MOVEMENT’S RELUCTANCE TO ENGAGE RIGOROUSLY WITH THE KIND OF CONCERNS THAT ARE BEING DISCUSSED ELSEWHERE IN SOCIETY. This includes climate change, the environment, and the damage that humans are doing to the planet (i.e. the Anthropocene). But it also takes in debates over different forms:

  • of organising labour (e.g. platform cooperativism);
  • of working – such as those associated with ideas of post-work, the sharing and gig economies, and Universal Basic Income;
  • of being together – see the rise of interest in the Commons, and in experiments with horizontalist, leaderless ways of self-organizing such as those associated with the Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and the Dakota Standing Rock Sioux protests.


In 2015 the inaugural international Radical Open Access Conference addressed an urgent question: how should we set about reclaiming open access from its corporate take-over, evident not least in the rise of A/BPC models based on the charging of exorbitant, unaffordable and unsustainable publishing fees from scholars and their institutions? The conference saw participants calling for the creation of new forms of communality, designed to support the building of commons-based open access publishing infrastructures, and promote a more diverse, not-for-profit eco-system of scholarly communication. With these calls in mind, the Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC) was formed immediately following the 2015 conference as a horizontal alliance between like-minded groups dedicated to the sharing of skills, tools and expertise. Since then it has grown to a community of over 40 scholar-led, not-for-profit presses, journals and other projects. The members of this alliance are all invested in reimaging publishing. And what’s more, are committed to doing so in a context where debates over access—which in many respects have been resolved by the emergence of shadow libraries such as Sci-Hub—are increasingly giving way to concerns over the commercial hegemony of academic publishing. So much so that the issue addressed by the 2015 conference—how can open access be taken back from its corporate take-over? —now seems more urgent than ever.

In June 2018, Coventry University’s postdigital arts and humanities research studio, The Post Office, will convene a second Radical Open Access conference, examining the ways in which open access is being rendered further complicit with neoliberalism’s audit culture of evaluation, measurement, impact and accountability. Witness the way open access has become a top-down requirement – quite literally a ‘mandate’ – rather than a bottom-up scholar-led movement for change. Taking as its theme The Ethics of Care, the concern of this second conference will be on moving away from those market-driven incentives that are frequently used to justify open access, to focus instead on the values that underpin many of the radical open access community’s experiments in open publishing and scholarly communication. In particular, it will follow the lead of Mattering Press, a founding member of the ROAC, in exploring how an ethics of care can help to counter the calculative logic that otherwise permeates academic publishing.

What would a commitment to more ethical forms of publishing look like? Would such an ethics of care highlight the importance of:

  • Making publishing more diverse and equitable – geographically, but also with respect to issues of class, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality?
  • Nurturing new and historically under-represented cultures of knowledge – those associated with early career, precariously employed and para-academics, or located outside the global North and West?
  • Ensuring everyone is able to have a voice – not least those writing on niche or avant-garde topics or who are conducting hybrid, multimodal, post-literary forms of research, and who are currently underserved by our profit-focused commercial publishing system?

Indeed, for many members of the ROAC, a commitment to ethics entails understanding publishing very much as a complex, multi-agential, relational practice, and thus recognising that we have a responsibility to all those involved in the publishing process. Caring for the relationships involved throughout this process is essential, from rewarding or otherwise acknowledging people fairly for their labour, wherever possible, to redirecting our volunteer efforts away from commercial profit-driven entities in favour of supporting more progressive not-for-profit forms of publishing. But it also includes taking care of the nonhuman: not just the published object itself, but all those animals, plants and minerals that help to make up the scholarly communication eco-system.

Radical Open Access II is community-driven, and is being co-organised and co-curated by various members of the ROAC in a collaborative manner. It includes panels on topics as diverse as: Predatory Publishing; The Geopolitics of Open; Competition and Cooperation; Humane Metrics/Metrics Noir; Guerrilla Open Access; The Poethics of Scholarship; and Care for the Commons. The conference is free to attend and will also be live streamed for those who are unable to be there in person.

Collectivity and Collaboration in Scholar-led Publishing

New article out in Insights by Janneke Adema and Samuel Moore, which discusses the potential of new forms of communality for scholar-led publishing using the Radical Open Access Collective as a case study.

The article is available on the journal website here: (where you can also leave comments in the margins) and you can find the abstract below.

Collectivity and collaboration: imagining new forms of communality to create resilience in scholar-led publishing

Authors: Janneke AdemaSamuel A. Moore 


The Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC) is a community of scholar-led, not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access (OA) projects. The collective promotes a progressive vision for open access based on mutual alliances between the 45+ member presses and projects seeking to offer an alternative to commercial and legacy models of publishing. This article presents a case study of the collective, highlighting how it harnesses the strengths and organizational structures of not-for-profit, independent and scholar-led publishing communities by 1) further facilitating collective efforts through horizontal alliances, and by 2) enabling vertical forms of collaboration with other agencies and organizations within scholarly publishing. It provides a background to the origins of the ROAC, its members, its publishing models on display and its future plans, and highlights the importance of experimenting with and promoting new forms of communality in not-for-profit OA publishing.

How to Cite: Adema, J. & Moore, S.A., (2018). Collectivity and collaboration: imagining new forms of communality to create resilience in scholar-led publishing. Insights. 31(1), p.3. DOI:

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The Radical OA Collective: building alliances for a progressive, scholar-led commons

Underneath a blogpost Samuel Moore and Janneke Adema wrote, which was originally published on the LSE Impact Blog, here.

The Radical Open Access Collective launched its new website earlier this week. Open access has always been about more than just improving access to research, and Janneke Adema and Samuel A. Moore here highlight what the Radical OA Collective can offer. A focus on experimentation with new forms of publishing and authorship; the promotion of traditionally underrepresented cultures, languages, and publics; and an understanding of publishing as a relational practice, highlighting and caring for the relationships involved throughout the process, all form part of the Radical OA Collective’s underlying philosophy.

This week saw the launch of a new website for the Radical Open Access Collective, a vibrant community of presses, journals, publishing projects, and organisations all invested in not-for-profit and scholar-led forms of academic publishing. The members of this collective showcase the wide variety of alternative forms and models of open access publishing currently experimented with, mainly in the humanities and social sciences. This in a context where, although open access is now finally gaining ground, the spirit of experimentation that originally fuelled this movement is being progressively sidelined by a growing reliance on and implementation of specific, market-driven open access publishing models (particularly those connected to exorbitant article and book processing charges); models which do not necessarily suit, support or sustain open access publishing in the humanities and social sciences, but which do serve commercial stakeholders’ interests and the current publishing status quo.

The Radical OA Collective reminds us that experimentation with new forms of publishing remains essential, and that open access has always been about more than just improving access to research. As a movement open access has also focused on exploring and promoting not-for-profit, institutional and academic-led publishing alternatives, for example. This is to provide a counterpoint to the commercial legacy system and the vast profits it extracts from our scholarly research and communication interactions. This system has posed specific risks to specialised book publishing in the humanities, to the publication of books by early-career researchers, and to the dissemination of research from those working in the global south or writing in languages other than English; all of which, although essential to sustaining the scholarly conversation, often lack a direct market appeal. To counter this the Radical OA Collective highlights the importance of making publishing more diverse, equitable, and open to change, where it wants to ensure that new and underrepresented cultures of knowledge are able to have a voice. Members of the collective therefore work together to champion the variety of alternative models for scholarly communication that currently exist, and the collective is keen to build alliances with other initiatives interested in building a collaborative and non-competitive publishing ecosystem; one which supports a progressive and multi-polar knowledge commons.

During open access week, we’d like to highlight three examples of what radical open access, and the Radical OA Collective specifically, brings to open access.

1. A focus on experimentation

Members of the collective do not shy away from asking difficult questions about what publishing is and, with that, what it can become. Many initiatives within the collective see their publishing projects as an extension of their own critical work and a way to explore different modes of publishing, often deterred by our (still very paper-centric) established publishing forms and practices. As such they have been keen to experiment with publication forms, models, processes, relations, and agencies, cutting through the stabilisations within scholarly publishing–from the fixed book to the single author–that, often uncritically, have become disciplinary norms. This open-ended critical experimenting has become a guiding principle for many initiatives to explore the potentially more politically and ethically progressive possibilities made possible by technological developments and digital tools; to investigate how these might impact on the ways in which research will be conducted, disseminated and consumed in the future. As an ongoing critical process, experimenting can therefore be seen as a form of intervention into the object-formation and increasing marketisation of publishing and academia.

Many of the projects involved in the collective see open access as essential to enabling these new forms of (digital) experimentation. This may be through communal authoring and editing of wiki books (see Open Humanities Press’ Living Books about Life series); anonymous or collective authorship (in the case of an Uncertain Commons, for example); or multimodal or digital-only publications, publishing platforms and software (including ground-breaking initiatives such as Vectors and Scalar, but also newer projects, such as electric press and Textshop Experiments) next to projects that want to focus on what openness means for images and visual forms of communication (i.e. Photomediations Machine) for example. But alongside experiments such as these we also want to highlight projects that aim to cut across both disciplinary boundaries and distinctions between practice and theory (for example Goldsmiths Press, which also focuses on publishing literary and artistic works), as well as scholarly communities that are experimenting with the creation of new communities and social networks to share research and establish cross-disciplinary alliances (from MediaCommons Press, to The BABEL Working Group and Humanities Commons).

2. Underrepresented cultures

One of the main motivations underlying the Radical OA Collective concerns the promotion of diversity and equitability within academic publishing, and this entails the creation of environments where traditionally underrepresented cultures can fully participate. This includes presses and alliances that promote publishing and collaboration in specific regions; for example CLACSO, which brings together hundreds of research centres and graduate schools in the social sciences and humanities, predominantly in Latin American countries, or African Minds, which, next to publishing works from African academics or organisations, has conducted in depth research on the state of the university press in Africa. Members also promote publishing in different languages; see, for example, Éditions Science et Bien Commun, a Quebec-based press publishing research by and for francophone countries in the Global South, or meson press, which (next to books in English) is keen to publish and translate media theory books in German.

There is also a focus on providing opportunities to early-career researchers to publish, and not only to publish but to help them directly with the publishing process and familiarise themselves with it. Mattering Press, which originates from a peer-support group of early-career researchers, in particular wants to stimulate those at the beginning of their academic careers, as do publications such as Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry, dedicated to the publication of writings and creative works by degree-seeking students. punctum books is well-known for providing space for the publication of works of so-called “para-academic” theorists and practitioners, often independent or precariously employed researchers or those in so-called “alt-ac” positions. These projects and the collective as a whole are dedicated to opening up scholarship to publics that are new or currently underserved, including those writing on niche topics or conducting experimental research for which the commercial publishing market doesn’t always provide a space.

3. Ethics of care

One of the things for which the Radical OA Collective stands out is its members’ focus on the ethics and politics of publishing. For example, many initiatives foreground an ethics of care, as part of which publishing is understood as a relational practice, highlighting and caring for the relationships involved throughout the publishing process, from authors, editors and reviewers to typesetters, copy-editors, indexers and beyond. This involves, amongst others, paying, rewarding or otherwise acknowledging people fairly for their labour wherever possible, while ensuring that the efforts of volunteers are not exploited or overly relied upon. Well aware of the high amounts of volunteer labour that academic-led initiatives depend on, the collective has made this one of its focal points, writing about and discussing the diverse forms of labour academic publishing relies upon, arguing for it to be valued more in various ways (that are not necessarily monetary).  A focus on labour issues is all the more important in a predominantly commercial publishing environment, given the large amounts of academic volunteer labour (from peer reviewing to editing, to liking and bookmarking and building relationships in exchange for usage data in SSRNs) that is needed to sustain it and maintain the exorbitant profits its stakeholders have come to expect.

The Radical OA Collective therefore seeks to redirect this volunteer labour where possible towards more progressive forms of publishing, for example by shifting it away from commercial profit-driven publishers and gifting it to developing not-for-profit open access projects instead. Related to this is a commitment to taking time and care with regard to the published object itself, something that is often lacking in profit-oriented modes of publishing. But perhaps most important, as Eileen Joy of punctum books writes, is for the collective to care for “ourselves and each other” in the face of marketised cultures of higher education that require researchers to work long hours and think of themselves as “brands”:

“This would be to think of Community, or the Collective, as a sort of ‘mutual admiration society’, but also as a Convalescent Ward, in which ‘taking care’ (of ourselves and each other) would be more important than ‘performing’ according to so-called ‘professional’ standards and protocols.”

Next to bringing together this community of people eager to change publishing, to make it better and more just, the collective wants to support other academics eager to set up their own presses and projects, or those disillusioned with the commercial solutions currently on offer. We share advice and offer support from those within the community who have already gained experience with publishing in this manner and are willing to help others in a horizontal and non-competitive manner. We have started to formalise this through the creation of an information portal with links to resources on funding opportunities for open access books, open-source publishing tools, guidelines on editing standards, ethical publishing and diversity in publishing, and OA literature useful to not-for-profit publishing endeavours. We want to turn this into a toolkit for not-for-profit publishers in the future (and this will be of use not only to academic-led presses, but hopefully also to university presses, and library-run and society publishers, for example). We have also set up a directory of academic-led presses, to help legitimise this form of publishing as a “model” and make scholars aware that there are publishing alternatives out there.

If you run a not-for-profit OA publishing initiative or are interested in starting your own scholar-led publishing project, we encourage you to join the Radical OA mailing list and help us further build this supportive and inclusive publishing environment.

Reblog: Taking back control

Car Wars

  1. Zero Tolerance

Dear Parents,

I hate to start the year with bad news, but I’d rather it be this than a letter of condolence to a parent whose child has been killed in a senseless wreck.