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The writing's on the firewall : assessing the promise of open access journal publishing for a public… Weedon, Gavin 2013-01-28

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The writing’s on the firewall: Assessing the promise of open access journal publishing for a public sociology of sport Gavin Weedon School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia Notice: This is the author’s version of an article due for publication in the Sociology of Sport Journal (published by Human Kinetics) in June 2013. The article has been fully  peer-reviewed, though appears here in its pre-publication format in lieu of the publisher’s version of record. Abstract The process of digitization has transformed the ways in which content is reproduced and circulated online, rupturing long held distinctions between production and consumption in the (virtual) public sphere. In accordance with these developments over the past fifteen years, proponents for open access publishing in higher education have argued that  the (not yet  absolute) transition from physical to digital modes of journal production opens up  unprecedented opportunities for redressing the restrictive terms of ownership and access currently perpetuated within an increasingly untenable journal publishing industry. Through this article, I advocate that the sociology of sport community  hastens to question, challenge and reimagine its position within this industry in anticipation of a reformed publishing landscape. The impetus for the paper is to ask not whether sociologists of sport should or should not publish open access, but rather as open access publishing inevitably comes to pass in some form, what say will the field’s associations, societies and members have in these changes, and how might they help  invigorate a public sociology of sport? 1  Imagine a world where anyone can instantly access all of the world's scholarly  knowledge-as profound a change as the invention of the printing press. Technically, this  is within reach. All that is needed is a little imagination, to reconsider the economics of        scholarly communications from a poetic viewpoint.        - Heather Morrison, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.  A synopsis of the political economy of academic publishing makes for paradoxical reading. Research designed, conducted, analyzed and written by academics, is then reviewed voluntarily  by peers and, if deemed worthy of publication, disseminated predominantly amongst that particular scholarly community. The need for external publishers in this process was traditionally  predicated on their ownership  of and expertise in operating printing presses. However, following the (not yet absolute) transition to the digital production of journals in the past fifteen years, journal publishers now focus on adding value by electronically formatting articles; supporting the editorial and peer review process; ostensibly facilitating access to articles via online search engines; and marketing and advertising scholarship back to their primary markets of university libraries and scholarly communities. Academics have long played an active part in fostering and maintaining these conditions, which are thought to give credence, integrity and coverage to the research we produce. Yet there has been growing recognition across various disciplines in the past decade that-be it unwittingly, entrepreneurially, or in resignation- academics enter restrictive relationships with commercial journal publishers which harbour salient implications for the value, fidelity  and impact of scholarly research (Barnett and low,  2 1996; Bergstrom, 2001; Harnad, 2012; Gibson and Klocker, 2004; Morrison, 2011; Pirie, 2009; Striphas, 2002, 2010).  Critical appraisals of these conditions are well rehearsed among advocates of open access publishing, which in its various forms promises to make academic research freely accessible to all user groups online. The crux of the supporting argument for open access publishing is simple: digitization, a process which has undermined the authority of exclusive intellectual property rights upon which the commercial journal publishing model is founded, promises global access to and exchange of academic research. Given that this is now technologically possible, any suspension of the mandating of open access is both impractical and unethical, as academic research is, or could be, a public resource as opposed to a private commodity, and exists for the social and economic benefit of whole societies, rather than predominantly  scholarly communities and publishers. The sociology of sport is not uniquely positioned by  these developments, despite its common billing as being triply marginalized by its disciplinary (sociological), methodological (qualitative) and empirical (sporting) tendencies, but the restrictive terms of ownership and access perpetuated within the journal publishing industry do resonate across a host of issues (re)currently besetting the field.  This article is intended as a contribution to a critical political economy of academic publishing in a digital age, and as an advocation that the sociology  of sport community hastens to question, challenge and reimagine its position within the publishing industry in anticipation of a reformed publishing landscape. It therefore follows a trend of critical reflexivity  in the sociology of sport in the past decade which has raised substantive issues surrounding the future of the field. A recurring theme in this literature is the need to reconcile epistemological divisions in 3 kinesiology, or sport  science (Andrews, 2008; Vertinsky, 2009), as is the pervasiveness of an objectivist orthodoxy in assessments of the ‘value’ of research under the neoliberal rationality  of the corporate university (Murray, Holmes, Perron, and Rail, 2007; Silk Bush and Andrews, 2010). Silk, Bush and Andrews (2010, p. 108), for instance, condemn a perceived conformity to predominating positivist epistemologies within and beyond higher education and identifiable among “certain sections” of the sociology of sport community, which they see as threatening to stifle the field’s “critical and political potentialities.” For these authors, a constellation of institutional, epistemological and political pressures and constraints means that “the very existence and continuance of the sociology of sport is imperiled perhaps more than ever at the present time” (Silk, Bush and Andrews, 2010, p. 106). Similarly, in his reflections on the challenges facing the field, Bairner (2012, p. 115) concurred that “the sociology of sport  [must] be defended against the tyranny of the natural sciences,” but stressed that this project “must not be disaggregated from the requirements to fight for greater acceptance from mainstream sociology  and to address our own shortcomings by  extending the sociology of sport in potentially exciting ways.” Within these accounts we see the sociology of sport  positioned in conflict with the natural (kinesiological) sciences, in subordination to the ‘parent’ discipline, and potentially undermined by the “painfully introspective” views of those who promote limited and limiting conceptions of the role and purpose of the field (Bairner, 2012, p. 107).  In addition to these external constraints and internal shortcomings, which are clearly relevant to other disciplines and fields across the social sciences and humanities and have precedents in the sociology  of sport’s own relatively short history (cf. Malcolm, 2012), kindred debates have (re)surfaced in recent years surrounding the public role and responsibilities of  4 academics. Following Burawoy’s (2005) influential comments on public sociology, several sociologists of sport have highlighted the absence and importance of sporting public intellectuals to communicate (the value of) what critical sport scholars do (Atkinson, 2011; Bairner, 2009, 2012; Carrington, 2007; Donnelly, Atkinson, Boyle and Szto, 2011; Malcolm, 2012). For Rojek (interviewed in Blackshaw, 2012, p. 325), someone well placed to speak across mainstream sociology  and the sociology of sport and leisure, the problem with the former is that “sociologists today  only really write for themselves,” and thereby fail to engage with the public in a language or format which resonates with their social reality. Relatedly, and this is a view shared by Bairner in regard to sociologists of sport, Rojek believes that  sociologists have been poor to adapt to the opportunities provided by  social media, blogs, and other forms of televisual and online communication as a means of public engagement (see also Wilson, 2007). These contentions are debatable, and I would stress the need to conceive of and seek out the diverse and dispersed array of public intellectual endeavors, and indeed publics, when appraising the wider engagement of any field of study. Nevertheless, looming in the background to these discussions of public access to and engagement with research is the specter of the academic publishing industry, the predominant conditions of which currently impede the main channels of dissemination and communication for most academics: our journals.  In seeking to strike some dialogue with this critically reflexive literature and the issues it engages, I argue that the political economy of commercial journal publishing, in which research is bound by intellectual property rights and enclosed behind paywalls, not only  restricts the circulation of scholarship but harbors pejorative implications for how academics conceive of themselves, their research, their peers, and their publics (cf. Sparkes, 2007). Following a critical 5 appraisal of the lucrative hegemony of corporate journal publishers which amplifies and extends the concerns of Coakley, Markula, Sugden and Wenner (2011), I maintain that the advent of open access publishing online represents a moment, and provides a platform, for extending the field in “potentially  exciting new ways” (Bairner, 2012, p. 115) which may involve redefining our relationships with publishers, and reimagining the role and operations of our societies and associations. This would require and engender the mobilization of a sporting public intellectual voice; a collective vocalization manifesting through existing societies and associations, rather than individual scholars, which represents and advocates on behalf of the interests of the sociology of sport community.  To be clear, I do not believe open access publishing to be an instant or absolute remedy for the challenges facing the sociology of sport, or the social sciences and humanities more broadly. But it does at the very least present an alternative to the pervading crisis narrative in these domains. For whereas many scholars have become accustomed to lamenting the overwhelming economic, political and socio-cultural barriers to bringing about  meaningful change in their respective research endeavors, the collective position of academics as a mostly captive market under the current conditions of journal publishing-producing, assessing and consuming our own research-may constitute a position of strength in challenging and reimagining this system. Accumulation by dispossession: Issues of access and ownership in the journal publishing industry  6  There are estimated to be in excess of 25,000 academic journals currently  in circulation worldwide, with approximations in some countries, such as China, thought to be conservative (The Finch Report, 2012). Though the rates of growth vary across disciplines, Striphas (2010) has calculated that in the past  century the number of peer-reviewed scholarly journals has doubled about every twenty years. This is largely explained by the expansion of higher education throughout the second half of the twentieth century, and the subsequent need for more (and more diverse) platforms for scholarship, as well as the digitization of these platforms over the past fifteen years. Out of these developments has emerged an academic journal publishing industry-as it must now be regarded-worth around £1 billion to the UK economy alone (Pirie, 2009).  This proliferation of individual journals has lead to the concentration of the number, and market share, of select publishers. Over 60 per cent of academic journal titles are now owned by corporations, with four firms-Reed Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and Informa/Taylor Francis-publishing around 6,000 titles between them (Striphas, 2010). In the social scientific study of sport, three publishers own the vast  majority  of English language titles-Human Kinetics, Sage, and Informa/Taylor Francis (which includes Routledge)-with the latter listing most of these. Predictably, as the ownership of scholarly  journals has become largely concentrated in the hands of a few commercial publishers, subscription costs have risen significantly. In the social sciences and humanities, the average cost of journal subscriptions increased collectively by 127 per cent between 1990 and 2000, and respectively  by 74 and 68 per cent between 2001 and 2006 (Pirie, 2009). Moreover, in stark comparison with the generally lower subscription prices and profit rates of university presses, major commercial publishers have announced astonishing profit margins in recent years, often between 25 and 45 per cent. For example, Informa PLC, which 7 acquired Taylor Francis in 2004, announced revenue of £1,266 billion in 2010, 25.5 per cent of which was adjusted operating profit  (Informa PLC Annual Report, 2010). These figures are spread across Informa’s various commercial interests, though in their 2010 annual report they state that their “academic division, which provides books and journals to university  libraries and the wider academic market, accounts for 25% of Group revenue and 35% of the adjusted operating profit” (p. 12). At a time when universities are increasingly required to do ‘more with less’ in accordance with the neoliberal doctrine of efficiency and accountability, select corporate publishers are securing a level of profits which “clearly illustrates a lack of effective competition” in the marketplace (Pirie, 2009, p. 38). Demonstrating their undoubted awareness of the financial pressures within higher education, Informa PLC reassured their shareholders that “we remain sensitive to the demands of an academic environment with significant budgetary pressure and we have worked closely  with our customers to secure 2011 revenue” (Informa PLC Annual Report, 2010, p. 12).  The scope of problems within the political economy of academic knowledge far breach the financial ‘sensitivity’ of higher education in the twenty first century, and become apparent when reflecting on what exactly is being sold in the journal publishing industry, to whom, and on what terms. Academic research is developed in dialogue with centuries of scholarly  knowledge. The premise, though not teleological and always bound by historical and cultural context, is that scholars build on the work of others in pursuit of meaningful knowledge about the world. Following David Harvey’s (2003, p. 146) notion of “accumulation by dispossession”-which itself builds on Marx’s writing on primitive accumulation as a requisite for capitalist expansion-we can conceive of the commodification of this knowledge by commercial publishers as entailing the  8 “appropriation and co-optation of pre-existing cultural and social achievements” for private consumption. Accumulation by dispossession comprises “the conversion of various forms of property  rights (common, collective, state, etc.) into exclusive private property  rights; the suppression of rights to the commons; the commodification of labour power and the suppression of alternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption” (Harvey, 2003, p. 145). This process involves seizing a public resource such as academic research, restricting access to and taking full ownership of it, and then releasing it back into the “privatized mainstream of capital accumulation” (Harvey, 2003, p. 149). Typically, when signing a copyright agreement in which the intellectual property rights to research are relinquished to the publisher, these are the terms to which academics consent.  In its full, egregious form, accumulation by dispossession is described by Harvey (2003, p. 148) as encompassing the “commodification of cultural forms, histories, and intellectual creativity” and the ensuing “corporatization and privatization of hitherto public assets (such as universities),” resulting in the enclosure of the commons. This enclosure is achieved through the “avid protection of technological advantages” (Harvey, 2003, p. 98), that is, via the harnessing and strict enforcement of intellectual property rights. While the copyrighting of creative material is a longstanding mode of capital accumulation, the advent of the digital commons in the past fifteen years has undermined the binaries upon which the exchange relationship between producers and consumers is founded, resulting in a putative crisis of intellectual property rights. As Rojek (2005, p. 358) has noted, “the expansion of the web in the 1990s introduced unprecedented levels of de-regulation,” weakening “the power of creative producers, and the corporations that represent them, to assert copyright by vastly  multiplying opportunities for 9 exchange and reproduction.” The recording industry, for example, has been deeply effected by the rise of the digital commons and, more specifically, internet exchange systems which have allowed users to “make file transfers without the requirement for a central server to regulate the exchange,” thus permitting the “free down-loading of copyrighted materials” (Rojek, 2005, p. 358). The initial response of the recording industry  was the pursuit of policy, litigation, encryption technologies, and the fostering of what Rojek (2005, p. 360) called a “menacing climate of fear” among suppliers and users of copyrighted material, in the hope of somehow curtailing the ubiquitous exchange of content online. Corporate journal publishers, though not faced with the same type or level of demand as the recording industries, have experimented with implementing digital rights management techniques and encryption software to restrict the sharing of published articles (Striphas, 2010). This technology controls dissemination by  locking downloaded articles to hard drives and limiting or even prohibiting their circulation, further diminishing the ownership rights of researchers and the possibility of access for all user groups.  Whereas Rojek (2005) described file sharing online as a leisure practice characterized by the opportunistic infringement of copyright  and an anti-corporatist ethos of resistance among users, the primary customers for journal publishers are not individual users, but university libraries, who occupy a subjugated position in negotiations for journal access. This is largely due to the ‘inelasticity’ of the journal ‘product.’ Journals are considered inelastic as they are not directly  substitutable for one another; even if two journals have distinct disciplinary or empirical commonalities, such as the International Review for the Sociology of Sport and the Sociology of Sport Journal, each journal has is distinguished by its own mission, genealogy, prestige-its own reputational capital or brand value-which render it unique. Clearly, for example, it would be seen  10 as unacceptable by scholars were a university library  to cancel subscription to one journal on the grounds of price, in favor of another, somehow similar title. Relatedly, publishers often employ strategies such as the ‘bundling’ technique when selling to libraries, in which a discounted package of journals is offered including a ‘must have’ title and, typically, several lesser known or less prestigious titles. Although this can give valuable exposure to fledgling journals and, in principle, offers reduced prices to university libraries, the “inelasticity of the market demands that university  librarians make unfavorable concessions to large journal publishers” (Striphas, 2010, p. 15). The bargaining power of libraries seeking to secure subscriptions for titles is thereby undermined by the necessity of those titles to researchers, and many library budgets have been severely stretched through this period of unprecedented rises in both the price and quantity of journals (Morrison, 2011).  An important distinction should be drawn here between journals affiliated to societies or associations, and those with no affiliation other than to a publisher. The latter is the dominant publishing model within and beyond the sociology of sport, but  two of the foremost journals in the field-the International Review for the Sociology of Sport and the Sociology of Sport Journal- are affiliated to associations and have entered into differing relationships with their respective publishers over time. Whereas a proportion of subscription fees and back-catalogue revenue derived from the IRSS is paid as royalties to the International Sociology of Sport Association (E. Pike, ISSA President, Personal Communication, November 15, 2012), the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport does not profit from subscriptions to its title, SSJ, which is owned outright by Human Kinetics (Brenda Riemer, NASSS Treasurer, Personal Communication, December 19, 2012). The relationship between Sage and the International 11 Sociology of Sport Association certainly appears preferable, but in both instances the budgets of university libraries-themselves often supported through taxation-are used to purchase research developed within higher education through labor paid for via universities. Those who regard research as a public and publicly  funded resource may not see any  difference given that  in both models the profits exit higher education and research is typically enclosed behind a paywall.  The argument follows that publishers do not see value in seeking wider audiences outside of their captive market of university libraries, and the scholarly  communities whom require library resources. As most academic research is at least in part funded through taxation, and as access to this research requires subscription costs to individual journals, all potential users outside of universities must pay  twice in order to access scholarship. According to Pirie (2009), publics and universities outside of core capitalist economies are the worst  serviced populations under these conditions, as the price of any one journal subscription is enough to prohibit individual purchases for the vast  majority  of people and institutions in poor regions of the world. There are patently  substantive ethical issues associated with, for example, research on sport and international development which is published in enclosed (pay-to-access) journals, particularly when this research aims to contribute to policy and community  development in poor countries and is undertaken collaboratively  with affected individuals, communities and institutions. This is exacerbated when one considers the monies increasingly  being put towards sport policy development in countries that do not, cannot subscribe to the myriad research articles which might (and are often designed to) inform such decisions.  While this is unquestionably a judicious and relevant concern, where research is published for the benefit of any population outside of the academy, including the general public  12 and businesses in core capitalist economies, the problem of journal access remains. As Morrison (2011, p. 5) has argued:  If the university library is forced to pay large sums to access scholarly journals or do  without, so are the pharmaceutical company, the oil company, and the entrepreneur who  is looking for new environmentally friendly business ideas. This reframes the issue as not one of capitalist  hegemony per se, but of a few commercial publishers excluding almost all of those who fund research, including businesses, from benefitting from the findings and analyses. Thus, while it should not  be presupposed that Western journals are or will in the future be the gold standard of academic research for scholars across the globe, or that it is in the best interest of all academics to publish in Western journals (Morrison, 2011), the current terms of access remain exclusionary to most of those within and outside of core capitalist economies.  Although the digitization of journals has no doubt made searching for articles more efficient for academics, when signing copyright agreements with commercial journal publishers academics typically forgo ownership of their research, along with the likelihood of that research being read by  the vast majority of students, peers and publics. For those aspiring to reach a wider audience through their scholarship, and for the public resonance of academic discourse in a digital age of ubiquitous and near instantaneous exchange of information, the repercussions of this expediency  are severe. However, it would be remiss to suggest that all academics and disciplines are uniformly positioned and effected by the political economy of academic journal publishing. 13 Sporting public sociology and the ethos of publishing  Beware of what opens the university to the outside and the bottomless, but also of what,  closing in on itself, would create only  an illusion of closure, would make the  university available to any sort of interest, or else render it  perfectly useless. Beware of        ends; but what would a university be without ends?            Jacques Derrida - The Principle of Reason: The University in the Eyes of its Pupils.  In the foregoing passage, Derrida follows Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger and numerous others in highlighting the paradox of the university; an institution which requires the support and legitimation of industries, government and publics in order to challenge and criticize them, while providing research and skilled labour for their interests and continuation (Hearn, 2010). The role and status of the academic has been (re)constituted through these historical tensions and carries the added complication of requiring critical distance from affiliated institutions in order to fully embrace and exercise academic freedom (cf. Sugden, 2011). More specifically, Derrida (1983, p. 18) is warning against the presence of a “theoretico-political hierarchy” in universities which, by emphasizing the primacy of either philosophical or instrumental ways of knowing, falsely dichotomizes reason and action-theory and practice-in the enactment of knowledge. Those working within departments of kinesiology or sport science will no doubt recognize the implications of these epistemological divisions, particularly in the recent push for ‘health’- related and ‘evidence-based’ research (Andrews, 2008; Ingham, 1997; Murray, Holmes, Perron and Rail, 2007; Silk, Bush and Andrews, 2010; Vertinsky, 2009). Though the corporate university and its neoliberal orthodoxy are often the judicious focus of critique for swaying Derrida’s hierarchy of knowledge towards rationalized, objectivist and fiscally-oriented  14 approaches to research (Angus, 2007; Rutherford, 2005), the academic publishing industry plays no small part in this process.  The most prominent thesis put forward in recent work on the positioning of academics within the scholarly  publishing industry is one of alienated academic labour. For Striphas (2010), this explanation applies in both the Marxian conception of alienation, insofar as the product of the researcher’s labor is objectified by  publishers in the pursuit of surplus value; and legally, in that the intellectual property  rights of the research produced by academics are usually forgone as part of the journal publishing process. The researcher consequently becomes estranged from the process of deciding the trajectory of her research article after copyright is relinquished, and potentially from fellow researchers in a competitive marketplace. Striphas (2010, p. 6) has elaborated that “the extreme sense of urgency” which surrounds the actual signing of publishing agreements is not only “incommensurate with the time it takes for most academic articles to appear in print,” but also serves to hasten and induce the signing of contracts where scholars might otherwise take time and (collegial or legal) advice reflecting on terms and conditions. These issues are exacerbated when considered alongside the significant imbalance in the respective contributions of authors and publishers in the production of scholarly knowledge, and in light of the fact that when signing publishing contracts, academics often “allow journal publishers to disavow liability  in matters of copyright infringement, obscenity, and so forth...thereby endowing them with deep ownership rights over material for which they accept only shallow legal responsibilities” (Striphas, 2010, p. 6).  While the contention that academics are alienated from their labour through the forgoing of intellectual property rights is persuasive, disheartening, and patently  evident in its legal 15 application, it  is important not to essentialize or homogenize academics as a subjugated collective. That is to say, although unified as a captive market  within and through the political economy of journal publishing, divisions within fields such as the sociology  of sport  surrounding the roles and responsibilities of its members may be of greatest consequence for conceiving of and mobilizing journal reform. Towards such movements, I maintain that perspectives at both ends of Derrida’s (1983, p. 18) “theoretico-political hierarchy”-those who are seen to work ‘too closely’ with and towards societal or personal ‘ends,’ and those whose scholarly conservatism renders them highly  sceptical of public engagement-should be eschewed if the advent of open access publishing is to invigorate a public sociology of sport.  There is an obvious correlation between the restrictive terms of ownership  and access within the journal publishing industry, as discussed above, and the need and desire for academics to engage with publics: by  enclosing research behind prohibitive paywalls, dialogue between academic research and publics, including domestic and international colleagues and students who might read and benefit from that  research, is stifled. But it is also important to consider the crucial ways in which the notion of research as a private endeavor, bound by intellectual property laws, published in enclosed domains, and (mostly quantitatively) evaluated by universities when appraising individual academic performance, mutually influences how academics conceive of themselves, their scholarship, their peers, and their publics (cf. Sparkes, 2007). The career trajectory of an academic-from scholarship applications and teaching assistantships in graduate school to job openings, promotion and the granting of tenure-increasingly takes place in accordance with a neoliberal rationality, privileging principles such as competitiveness, accountability, efficiency and the primacy of individual freedom and success (Rutherford, 2005).  16 Bairner (2012, p. 105), for instance, observed that in the United Kingdom, where the Research Excellence Framework (successor to the Research Assessment Exercise) seeks to ostensibly calculate the ‘impact’ of scholarly  research, “most young scholars are obliged to work according to a schedule centered on peer-reviewed output and funding applications (themselves often responses to government-led initiatives as to what constitutes meaningful research).”  In this constellation of neoliberal rationality, corporatized higher education and the constraints of the publishing industry, the ‘promotional’ (Wernick, 1991) academic subject  is constituted and rewarded, as the pressures and directives from publishers, university administrators, and wider neoliberal trends are necessarily  harnessed by  academics in pursuit of professional, individual objectives. As many sociologists of sport will no doubt attest, a promotional approach to scholarship can follow the institutional requirement to publish a certain number of articles in journals with a particular ‘impact’ factor rating, or attain external funding for research, in order to ensure job security  and career development; it can also comprise succumbing to the allure of commercial opportunities where these compromise or supersede scholarly integrity. Consequently, those who are seen to work closely with and in the interests of unscrupulous organizations such as FIFA or the IOC, to uncritically  endorse utopian discourses surrounding sport in relation to, for example, its health benefits or humanitarian capacities, or to publish for publishing’s sake, are often framed as promoting their own professional interests ahead of critically engaging with the problems of our (sporting) times (cf. Jennings, 2011; Sugden and Tomlinson, 1999).  Many academics are now well versed in lamenting the managerial turn in higher education and its consequences for the ethos of scholarly activity (Angus, 2007), but the role of 17 the publishing industry in supporting and even driving these pressures is less commonly acknowledged. The demands of university administrators for higher quantities of publication would not be possible if that demand was not so warmly obliged by a journal publishing industry that, as I have already outlined, drives and benefits financially from the proliferation of academic content despite contributing very little to the process of knowledge production. The question of whether there is an intellectual need for ever increasing platforms for scholarship is divisive, particularly given the institutional demands and personal implications for individual academics to ‘publish or perish,’ but there can be no question as to who is currently profiting from this production of demand for published research. The annual publication of ten issues of Sport in Society by Taylor Francis since 2009, up from three issues in 2005, is a case in point.  Nevertheless, what appears as particularly  problematic about the promotional approach to academic labor is not competitiveness, ambition or any  desire to promote one’s work, but adherence to the ethos of neoliberalism, which incentivizes individuality  as opposed to collegiality, views publishing as an end in itself rather than part of a wider dialogue with peers and publics in pursuit of positive social change, and by not rewarding oppositional political and civic engagement, renders these activities at  best peripheral and, at worst, irrelevant. To be clear, I do not wish to polarize the promotional academic subject  against the ‘pure’ spirit of those who actively resist  or circumvent this approach to scholarship, as to do so most likely  distorts the experiences of the majority. It is more plausibly the case that many academics are aware to varying extent of these constraints and find they must ‘play the publishing game,’ including the attainment of external funding, at the same time as furthering their own research and activist agendas. It is also likely that some of those who have been or stand to be rewarded by the current  18 publishing system may see themselves as being ‘incentivized’ to resist reform so as to preserve their acquired status within it.  In contradistinction to the problems synonymous with a promotional publishing ethos, there is an enduring conservatism in academia concerned that public engagement will necessarily diminish the integrity and status of scholarly research and activities (Dunning, 2004; Malcolm, 2012). Malcolm (2012, p. 136) has recently argued that in contributions to and attempts at popular writing, and via the critiques of ‘mainstream’ sporting commentators, “the public work of sociologists of sport has largely  had negative consequences for the subdiscipline.” Malcolm’s (2012) perspective is weighted by  longstanding debates concerning the public role and responsibilities of universities and academics, and is premised on the notion that “the skills which sociologists develop through training give them a uniquely  informed view of the world” (p. 137) which should be shared, but not under conditions which might “risk their ideas appearing indistinct and, at worst...risk denigration” (p. 149). While recognizing that it is “morally  unjustifiable” for “researchers to claim informed insight on the one hand while simultaneously  denying the practical consequences of these insights to the citizens who fund them,” Malcolm (2012, p. 137) noted that “because scholarly writing is qualitatively different from popular writing, the literary  expression required to communicate beyond academia may serve to obscure nuances or simplify complex ideas and thus undermine the scholarly integrity of work.” He recommends that in the future, “sociologists of sport should retain editorial control over their public work” (Malcolm, 2012, p. 149) so as to avoid that work being disparaged or overly-simplified by  outside commentators without the opportunity for academics to mount an equally public response. 19  Although I have some sympathy with Malcolm’s contention, coming via Talcott Parsons, that academics have a ‘uniquely  informed view of the world,’ I would stress that this privileged view is from somewhere, not panoramic or value-free, and that at present many of the interest groups about whom sociologists of sport write do not-often cannot-read our work, and thus see that ‘somewhere’ as peripheral to sport itself. I am not suggesting that sociologists of sport pander to popular, journalistic or institutional demand for particular forms of writing and research, as I concur with Malcolm and many others that this would threaten the distinctiveness and value of the field. My  point is that in a world where content is frequently  reproduced, circulated and encoded with particular meanings and interpretations, it is futile to think that any body of knowledge which hopes to enter and a/effect the (virtual) public sphere could retain the sacrosanct status long synonymous with academic research. Indeed, perhaps only by ensuring that this research remains insular and cyclical, hidden behind publishers’ paywalls and written in (often but not always) necessarily distinct language, could this status be preserved. Reform of the political economy in which academic research currently circulates might help dissociate academic discourse from the lofty and sacrosanct status its historical elitism and insularity conveys; the challenge, following Derrida (1983, p. 19), is to enhance access to, engagement with, and the impact of critical scholarship on sport, without allowing it to circulate so freely as to be “available to any sort of interest,” scarcely  distinguishable from the abundance of (sporting) content and commentators online.  While there is an important role to be played by individual academics who by choice or chance take on the mantle of public sociologists of sport, a sporting public intellectual voice is needed to: negotiate improved terms of ownership and access with major corporate publishers;  20 reconsider the need for external journal publishers in a digital age; provide a public platform for scholarship  and public intellectual artifacts; eschew the pitfalls of promotional and conservative approaches to publishing and public engagement; and to continually advocate for the interests and value of the sociology of sport community. This collective vocalization would logically come from scholarly societies and associations, such the International Sociology of Sport Association and the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, in which academics are already assembled in networks through which their relationships with publishers and publics might be challenged and redefined. As Atkinson (2011, p. 141) has argued, “the survival of the ‘sociology  of sport’ subdiscipline...may very well depend upon a new sense of praxis and communitas among us.” “The tallest and broadest hurdle” in this pursuit, he continued, “is ultimately  one of our collective commitments to engaged intervention and willingness to openly take sides in the process of policy development and reformation” (Atkinson, 2011, p. 141). This might start with the policies and reformation of these societies and associations, in terms of their capacity to negotiate greater ownership  rights to research, potentially  host journals, and foster relationships with those whose knowledge and expertise is currently valued within sporting fields “to help public sociology convey important messages to multiple publics” (Bairner, 2009, p. 127). These societies may also present a (virtual) forum for engaging with organic (sporting) intellectuals (Gramsci, 1971; Bairner, 2009) in order to help  co-create, legitimate and disseminate our analyses, concerns and recommendations. This would all require, of course, that such individuals and institutions are able to freely access what sociologists of sport have to say. Open access publishing models 21  In 2007, Brian Wilson argued that the advent of communications technology  possesses immense revolutionary potential for sociologists of sport in our research and activist efforts. This contention comes via the work of Dyer-Witheford (1999) and Hardt and Negri (2004) who, to simplify, contend that the transnational networks which have risen to facilitate the global circulation of capital also represent routes through which resistance movements can be coordinated. Wilson (2007, p. 465) concluded that “the current moment in history”, characterized in part by the contours of global capitalism and widespread access to communications technology, “allows for unprecedented levels of transnational activism” which could inform a revolutionary  moment in the sociology  of sport. While this remains the case in our respective research programmes, the advent of the open access movement this past decade presents the possibility of connecting the international sociology of sport community  and its publics through reforming its position within the journal publishing industry.  The umbrella term ‘open access’ comprises various publishing models which provide unrestricted online access to scholarly  articles, and are mostly free to users. These are difficult to demarcate as academics increasingly  use personal websites, blogs and other online formats to share their scholarly research and ideas, and there is overlap  between different models. The Finch Report-produced in June 2012 by a Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings commissioned by the UK government-identifies four main strands of open access publishing. These are: green open access (where articles can be freely  accessed via electronic repositories after publication); gold open access (where publication costs are paid for by or on behalf of the author to ‘purchase’ free access for readers); gratis open access (where the paywall to access articles online is removed); and libre open access (where the paywall to access  22 articles and all other publisher restrictions and embargoes are removed). Advocates for each of these models agree that scholarly research should be freely  available to access; predictably, the crucial points of divergence surround who should cover publication costs, and the extent to which the interests and services of journal publishers should be heeded or maintained.  The green open access model is predicated on the international trend towards electronic repositories-free-to-access archives in which authors can store their research and retrieve that of others. These are predominantly  hosted by universities and research centres, and tend to be facilitated by site-specific search engines which allow visitors to search for uploaded documents by specific criteria (key words, subjects, and so forth). The premise of green open access is that all researchers are required to self-archive their articles-as a final draft or as the publisher’s version of record-in one of these repositories. To support this model, certain “funding agencies, universities, and research institutions are resisting enclosure of scholarly articles by  developing and implementing policies requiring [green] open access to the research that they support” (Morrison, 2011, p. 16). An increasingly popular example of an electronic repository befitting this approach is the ‘Social Science Research Network’, which espouses the aims and ethos of green open access by  facilitating the dissemination of working papers, abstracts and full text articles. Currently, uploading articles to such repositories can be prohibited by publisher embargoes, but  this model otherwise returns at least some ownership  rights to authors and provides access for institutions and individuals who cannot afford subscription costs.  Alternatively, the gold open access model requires that production costs are paid for by  or on behalf of the article’s author, thereby shifting the source of funding from the consumers to the producers of research. This model currently  accounts for an estimated 10% of peer-reviewed 23 journals worldwide (Harnad, 2012). The ‘Directory  of Open Access Journals’ caters for this model by collating articles already published through and made open access by journal publishers. At the time of writing, forty one sports-related journals are accessible through this repository, deriving from countries as diverse and dispersed as Bosnia, Brazil, Columbia, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The obvious question is who exactly  pays for gold open access, and how? In the natural sciences research grants have been used to cover publication fees (or Article Processing Charges), which are generally around £1,000 and can be as high as £2,500 in certain journals per article accepted (Harnad, 2012; Pirie, 2009). In July 2012, the UK government announced that it would be adopting the recommendations of the Finch Report (2012, p. 89), which conceives of the entire open access movement “as a shift from a reader-pays to an author-pays system,” that is, to a gold open access model. Despite the initial enthusiasm following this announcement, I am inclined to agree with Harnard’s (2012) view that the Finch Report “looks superficially  as if it were supporting OA, but is strongly biased in favor of the interests of the publishing industry over the interests of UK research,” or indeed the respective and collective research interests of other countries. Instead of supporting the continued, systematic, institutional mandating of green open access with the aim of 100% compliance across universities and research funding bodies, the recommendations of the Finch Report will retain the services and subscription fees of commercial publishers, cost an estimated £50m annually in additional UK public spending to cover gold publication fees, and undo much of the good work undertaken by green open access advocates and mandates this past decade.  24  Of the many  questions this Report raises, perhaps the most exasperating is why, as is problematic under current conditions, additional public research funds should “be used to support private profit-making firms, such as Biomedcentral, when the evidence would suggest that non-commercial bodies (such as university-presses) are capable of producing journals just  as efficiently” (Pirie, 2009, p. 47)? And why were more radical possibilities, such as the gratis and libre open access models, not afforded due consideration by the Working Group? One explanation is  that in both the green and gold models, researchers continue to publish through an established journal publisher before either archiving versions of their work in open access electronic repositories (green) or having their article become open access via the publisher’s platform before possibly entering a repository (gold). In both cases the current subscription- based model is retained, at least in the short term, which would have been the desired outcome for the publishers present in the Working Group. Of course, if the green open access mandate succeeded in requiring all academics to upload their articles to repositories following publication, then university libraries would have leverage to at least negotiate, and even to threaten cancellation on the grounds of, extortionate journal subscriptions. Thus green open access can be seen as a sustainable process which would eventually  force publishers to scale down their operations, and in turn their profit margins, while making scholarly research open access in both the short and long term.  A further issue which is particularly germane to the sociology  of sport  concerns who is able to publish under the gold open access model. In the social sciences and humanities, where government funding has evaporated in the UK and beyond, and areas of academic enquiry which do not have “demonstrable economic impacts” are being marginalized (Curtis, 2009, cited in 25 Silk, Bush and Andrews, 2010, p. 106), the current and future existence of funds to pay for gold open access is questionable. If the opportunity to make research open access rests on the existence and accrual of research grants and current government funding, then this would place a great deal of power (or a great  deal more power) at  the behest of those parties to define whose research is worth amplifying beyond the confines of the academy, or indeed worth doing at all. Gold open access certainly does little to discourage the ‘promotional’ approach to research discussed earlier, and where this is not  already the case may elevate the securing of research grants above all other academic responsibilities. Put another way, if the cost of gold open access is the restriction of open contribution to journals, by all academics, for public consumption, then it may be a “cure which is actually worse than the disease” (Price, quoted in Times Higher Education,  June 28, 2012).  Ironically, and crucially, the dismissal of gratis and libre publishing models in the Finch Report betrays the promise of collaborative, subsidized approaches to publishing. The Report fails to engage with or fully recognize the peripheral contribution of publishers to the production of academic knowledge, that the vast majority of the labour in this process is undertaken voluntarily  (or, rather, as part of an academic’s scholarly duty and professional development), or that in the context set  out  here, the profit margins currently enjoyed by  major corporate publishers are exorbitant. As such, it does not pursue the possibility of redirecting the funds of university libraries to enable societies and associations to host journals, improve electronic repositories, and subsidize the editorial costs of journal production, ergo bypassing commercial publishers and unburdening higher education of the weight of extortionate subscription fees. There are many  non-profit  open access journals which have been founded on this logic, such as  26 the fledgling Journal of Sport for Development, but  without subsidy from higher education (or, perhaps more ominously, elsewhere) these titles struggle to operate financially. The JSFD does not charge authors publication fees and uses free software to minimize production costs, but is currently seeking funding to ensure sustainability. Nonetheless, while I join in commending the efforts and ideals of the JSFD founders and contributors, the burgeoning  plethora of open access journals-including those preemptively founded by major corporate publishers-essentially fuel the proliferation of journals. The growth of such platforms for scholarship  thus makes feasible the institutional pressure to publish more as an end in itself, breeding conformity to the (il)logics of impact factor ratings and various research assessment exercises. The promise of open access publishing is not more journals, or more research-it  lies in public access to and engagement with research, and the positive implications of this mutuality for whole communities.  Although it is easy to critique here the fetishization of the journal commodity, veiling as it can the contributions of academic labor which actually produce research, non-profit open access journals remain likely to be positioned subordinately to established titles in the eyes of many, including tenure review committees, funding agencies, some academics, and perhaps publics. Open access journals are doubly marginalized insofar as they are new titles, often lacking editorial and authorial input from established academics, and tend to carry  a certain stigma partly on account of a perceived lack of rigor or clarity in their peer-review procedures. Although this can change over time, initially low impact factor ratings and a shortage of the credibility conveyed by established contributors mostly results in the cyclical undermining of these titles. Or, to paraphrase, the mechanisms by  which academics are (self-)assessed within the nexus adjoining higher education, the publishing industry and neoliberal orthodoxy  work to inhibit the 27 development of alternative modes of knowledge production and dissemination among the very academics who are best placed to mobilize journal reform. The political economy of academic publishing insidiously affects, and mutually  constitutes the politics of academic research, helping to organize the principles by which academics value themselves, their scholarship and that of others.  As a graduate student trying to balance a commitment to critical research and public engagement with engulfing institutional pressures to secure grant money and write more to get a job and keep it, I find myself channeling Andrew Sparkes’ cathartic, impassioned narration of audit culture in universities when reminding myself, convincing myself that “despite what  many might have you believe, you are not your CV. You are so much more than your CV.” At the same time, I cannot instantly alter my implication within the (il)logics of the university-publishing industry nexus, and am conscious that any  proposals towards reform must account for the inseparability of publishing from scholarly  career development, without slipping into a state of resigned passivity.  The success of open access journals is therefore initially  dependent on the legitimacy granted to them by established academics, whose editorial and authorial contributions help foster the necessary prestige for a new title, and in the long term, the structural transformation of the publishing industry  to redistribute funds in their direction. The radical prospect of boycotting commercial publishers in favor of newly founded, non-profit open access journals promises a revolutionary  overhaul of the publishing industry and the categorical redressing of ownership and access issues, but would require agreement among academics en masse in order to realize these ambitions, and would probably be accompanied by great  turmoil for individuals and scholarly fields. The mandating of green open access, on the other hand, appears a sustainable  28 strategy for journal reform. Yet in discussions of this nature, it should be borne in mind that these are not necessarily incompatible strategies. Towards a timely debate in the sociology of sport  Since this article was first conceived in late 2011, a series of events have altered its tone and the trajectory of its argument. An internet blackout in January 2012 saw Wikipedia, Wordpress and numerous other sites shut down for 24 hours to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property  Act (PIPA), the mandating of which are believed to harbour adverse (and ominously  vaguely defined) implications for the open and uncensored circulation of content online. Harvard University’s public encouragement of their academics to withdraw from journals which enclose research and to make their work publicly available was by no means the first instance of such resistance from universities or academics, but served the important purpose of drawing international media attention to extortionate journal subscription fees. The publication of the Finch Report in June, and its UK government approval just a month later, has heightened public scrutiny of the untenable political economy of academic research and galvanized support for journal reform. Open access in some form or guise seems inevitable: the question is whether and through what channels academics and scholarly  communities will be represented in decisions as to what form it takes.  The sociology  of sport is not alone in the challenges and opportunities presented by  open access, nor is it capable alone of mobilizing journal industry reform, but it can make preparations to ensure that its members, and (would-be) publics, benefit from the changes already taking shape. Following and extending a trend set in other disciplines and scholarly fields, my 29 suggestion is for the sociology of sport  community to found and host an electronic repository, or mediate between established repositories and readerships through the website of a society or association. In terms of precedents, those researching in physics, mathematics and related fields have been self-archiving to ‘arXiv’ since its founding by Paul Ginsparg in 1991. The site is now hosted by  Cornell University library and comprises more than 2 million articles. On a smaller scale, ‘E-LIS’ is maintained by an international voluntary  team of librarians and provides a virtual space for uploading, searching, and accessing library and information science research. The aforementioned ‘Social Science Research Network’ is an apt home for sociology of sport research, though the site currently plays host only to a handful of such articles. Furthermore, many sociologists of sport no doubt upload to their respective institutional repositories or, increasingly, link to their work on personal or university websites.  In any case, and acknowledging the virtues of these techniques and technologies, I am envisioning a localized, field-specific online site for collating not only scholarship, but other public intellectual artifacts such as interviews, documentaries, blog postings, magazine articles and so forth. This would allow the sociology  of sport to demonstrate the distinctiveness of (and rich plurality  within) its approach within what I foresee being a fruitful medium located between the individual online presence of the public intellectual, and the potentially cluttered organization of social science or university  repositories. By bringing this content  under the umbrella of the sociology  of sport (which should not in anyway preclude the hosting or sharing of these materials elsewhere), the public accessibility of the field is enriched without compromising the integrity of its scholarly activity.  30  This proposal is in part a response to a recurrent criticism of green open access: that electronic repositories are difficult to find and can be awkward to navigate. Those uninitiated in submitting to and operating these archives might  be dissuaded from persevering with them, particularly with other sources of knowledge so readily available online. The founding of a repository  or online mediating facility specifically for the sociology of sport-perhaps in collaboration with neighboring fields such as sport history-might therefore require and engender thinking in more specific terms about who the desired publics might be. This should not be an exercise to exclude potential visitors or readerships, but rather to invite the attentions of sporting organizations and stakeholder groups to this repository, that in turn might then link visitors to their websites to this sociology of sport repository and facilitate access for readers who may have been either unaware of, or had limited access to, the field’s particular approach(es) to understanding and improving sport. After all, no open access advocate should be under the illusion that its mandating will instantly  conjure a fresh audience for (sporting) scholarly work. Embracing open access publishing and simply uploading research to this forum so as accessibility increases dramatically would equate to moving from one extreme to another, from the traditional insularity of academic discourse to being lost in the clutter of online communication.  In addition to the challenge of improving accessibility (ease of use) as well as access (right of use) to sociology of sport research, which I believe a field-specific repository will go some way to meeting, there is also the question of uploading such ‘content’ to a repository. This may seem a strange way to speak about academic research, but as long as the current  publishing model remains predominant then whether one has the authorial ‘right’ or ‘license’ to upload their 31 work to a repository raises the question of intellectual property ownership. In addition to its readership and the history of related discussions around publishing at NASSS, a significant part of my decision to publish this article with the Sociology of Sport Journal lies in the terms of Human Kinetics’ publishing agreement. In transferring copyright to Human Kinetics, contributors to SSJ reserve “The right to post an electronic version of the finalized article on the authors’ own web site or web site(s) or other electronic repositories controlled by the authors’ institution, provided that the electronic version is in PDF or other image capturing format.” This expressly permits authors to upload their work to external platforms, but limits these to personal websites or ‘electronic repositories controlled by the authors’ institution.’ To fall in line with these terms, the NASSS website might link to articles which contributors to SSJ and related, contemporary  titles have uploaded to their respective institutional repositories, thereby connecting readerships to research which has been made open access, but remains largely inaccessible. Whereas a repository which has no preestablished regional affiliation, aside from that of a supporting university or research centre, may be more befitting the international reach and aspirations of the sociology of sport and the promise of open access, the publishing terms set by Human Kinetics appear to make NASSS, or rather its website, a viable virtual hub to mediate between institutional repositories and readerships at least in the near future. Other publishers relinquish far less, and can be far less clear in their terms of use for the transfer of copyright, and a priority  for all academics irrespective of the trajectory of the open access movement should be to challenge embargoes on ownership  rights where these impede on the uploading and open circulation of research.  32  Actioning this proposal need not render the field ‘accountable’ to ‘the public’ in a way which would compromise its intellectual integrity, unless one subscribes to the view that any (attempt to engender) dialogue with publics is necessarily detrimental to scholarly  work. For in addition to inviting publics to the sociology of sport ‘conversation,’ a sporting public intellectual voice could enable sociologists of sport to ‘speak back’ to other sporting commentators, including those who are critical of or misrepresent the field. An example of where this might have been useful recently  played out on the NASSSListserv, in which Peter Donnelly sought to contextualize an article on Title IX which appeared in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper on August 10, 2012. In brief, the article quoted two sociologists of sport-Cheryl Cooky  and Mary Jo Kane-in relation to the impact of Title IX and, following a series of (at  times confrontational) exchanges on the NASSSListserv, Cooky posted her view that the journalist had falsely polarized her perspective on the matter against those of Kane. Several contributors to the exchange recognized its value and stated their appreciation of the NASSS community  as a site for such dialogue, but the communication was internal to (a small portion of) the sociology of sport community. Readers of the Globe and Mail may have been interested in and potentially benefitted from reading Donnelly’s historical contextualization of Title IX’s origins, Pfister’s positing of a ‘European perspective’ on sports funding, and Cooky’s inside track on how the article was researched and constructed by the Globe and Mail journalist. Moreover, the founding of a (virtual) space, and a collective voice, to which journalists might also link for this important context, detail and so forth, would enable the field to “exhibit greater collective consciousness” and to “illustrate the subdiscipline’s collective knowledge gains, rather than be concerned to forward the work of individuals” (Malcolm, 2012, p. 149). It would of course be beyond the 33 control of the field as to how the content hosted in this space is utilized or interpreted once it enters the circuit  of online communication, but I see it as preferable to be vulnerably involved, rather than indignantly insular, in the world of sport.  Discussions around publishing formats in the sociology of sport community have surfaced at various points in the past  decade, and some members will have reservations about my advocations here. For instance, some have argued that “building an edifice of professional sociological achievement is like building on quicksand” (Barnes, 1981, cited in Malcolm, 2012, p. 138), as the dissemination of sociological ideas into the public realm can counterproductively establish these ideas as ‘common sense,’ despite their contextual contingency. Others might be perturbed by  existing commercial publisher embargoes which prohibit uploading to a repository and related authorial rights, though to reiterate, these need to be challenged individually  and collectively by academics under any  movement towards reform. If the sociology of sport community  democratically decides to take another route in regards to its position within the publishing industry, and even if that decision deviates little from current conditions, then that will itself be the consequence of the mobilizing and exercising of a sporting public intellectual voice. My hope is that the field does not passively  accept or belatedly  react to the proposals being put forward by (the UK) government or publishers which, in the ominous case of gold open access, offer minimal concessions on current publishing terms and may even prove detrimental to fields pursuing critical, qualitative, social scientific, sporting, or otherwise marginalized research. In ensuing debates surrounding whether to undertake what  could be a revolutionary  transition to open access publishing for a public sociology of sport, it would therefore be wise to heed Pirie’s (2009, p .55) suggestion that  scholarly communities should ask  34 not “whether reform is likely  to create an ideal system, but rather whether reform promises a significant improvement on that which currently exists.” Acknowledgements Thank you to all of those who have taken the time to read and discuss this work with me over the course of 2012. Heather Morrison, a fountain of knowledge on all things open access, has been an invaluable ally, and many professors and graduate students within the sociology of sport community have also enriched this paper through provocative, constructive dialogue. References Andrews, D. (2008). Kinesiology’s Inconvenient Truth and the Physical Cultural Studies Imperative. Quest 60: 46-63. Angus, I. (2007). Academic Freedom in the Corporate University. In: M. 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