Why do you want to be published? Open Access and making a difference

In this guest blog post about the publication of her book ‘Being a scholar in the digital era‘ with Jessie Daniels, Polly Thistlethwaite reflects on why she believes information should be able to be widely accessed and shows how publishers can help to make this happen.

Chapter 2 of Being a scholar in the digital era is free to download here (pdf), or from the Policy Press website during October. Subsequent chapters will be available over the coming months.


Polly Thistlethwaite

Jessie Daniels’ second book Cyber Racism came out in 2009, published by an academic press that sold books mostly to academic libraries in paper and ebook formats that were entirely closed, locked behind paywalls. Interested readers had to either buy a copy or be affiliated with university libraries to get it.

Then, Jessie discovered the whole world of ‘torrents’. This is the practice that students call ‘ripping’ but what publishers call ‘illegal downloads’. She notified her publisher about the unauthorized downloads, but the publisher, to her surprise, didn’t intervene. She scoured the websites to find contacts herself and emailed site owners to take down unauthorized copies of her book. One person in the UK had posted the book on his blog. Jessie contacted the administrator of the blog network to point to this violation of their terms of service and asked that the copy be taken down. It was. Time passed…

Eventually and happily, Jessie was invited to appear as a guest to discuss her book on the Black Talk Radio Network. All was well until the guy from the UK who had posted her book on his blog, called the radio show during her interview. He challenged Jessie and gave her a hard time for demanding the take down of her book. She was embarrassed by his provocative attention to this, primarily by his question, “Why are you doing this work? Do you want to be read, or are you doing it to make money?”

“She wanted her work to be read by anyone who wanted to read what she wrote.”

For Jessie, the answer was simple: She wrote to be read and to make a difference. She wrote about what mattered to her, and she wanted her work to be read by anyone who wanted to read what she wrote. As anyone familiar with academic publishing knows well, money involved is not enough to be motivating. Her academic publisher, as is the going practice, shared only very modest royalties for her work.

Moved by this caller, she started posting her work on the open web at Academia dot E-D-U. Since then, she’s posted her work on her university’s institutional repository, CUNY Academic Works.
We want Being a Scholar in the Digital Era to reach a wide audience. Making our writing available openly is the only way to reach all the readers we want to reach, particularly those not able to purchase our book or who are not affiliated with a well-endowed academic library. It is consistent with the values we both share to make our scholarly work open so it can make a difference in the world. This book is about how we can change the way scholarly work is distributed for the public good, and publishing work openly is key.

“Make scholarly work open so it can make a difference in the world.”

We are grateful to have found a collaborative publisher in Policy Press. ‘Chapter 2: Being a Scholar Activist Then and Now’ of the book is freely available online during October.

Subsequent chapters will be made freely available over the next six months. Watch out for announcements from Policy Press on Twitter @policypress, Facebook, LinkedIn and via the blog.

Policy Press are keen to work with our authors to find innovate ways to reach readers. Please visit our website for more information about our open access options, to download free sample chapters of many of our books and to discover free journal articles.

Being a scholar in the digital era [FC]Being scholar in the digital era can be purchased here from the Policy Press website for special 20% discounted price £15.99.

Follow the authors on Twitter: @JessieNYC and @MissReadings

Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

If you liked this post you might also be interested in….. Is access to information a basic human right? by Jessie Daniels and Polly Thistlethwaite

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Image copyright: Nghiem Long (5392906091), Flickr Creative Commons

1 Response to “Why do you want to be published? Open Access and making a difference”

  1. 1 Open Access FREE content for #openaccess week | Policy Press Blog Trackback on October 20, 2016 at 2:41 pm

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