‘The most audacious and specific plan for knowledge, freedom and a better world’: Developing radical pathways to free, open journals

Paul Maharg, Abhilash Nair, Catherine Easton


Developments in digital technology have the potential to transform academic journal publishing.  Academic research can now be disseminated directly to academic networks and the wider public, in theory bypassing the need for traditional journal publishing structures, conventional journal publishers and their associated commercial practices and cost structures. Cost is a particularly pressing issue for Higher Education (HE) globally.  In the last few decades the strategies adopted by journal publishers have led to increasingly steep and unsustainable costs for our academic libraries, the centralisation of publishing power in the hands of a few conglomerates, and the corporatisation of metricised data that overwhelmingly profits corporate capital and that has largely been developed through the donated labour of academics, librarians and academic institutions.  In this article we explore briefly the history of scholarly communications shifts, and the implications of digital publication for law libraries and law journals.  We argue for a change of ownership in the means of production and analyse some of the obstacles to achieving this.  We show how radical Open Access (OA) alternatives can work, based upon a case study of two existing OA journals, and we conclude with measures by which radical OA journals can be increased within the cultures of legal research.  

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