May 1st is Open-Access Anthropology day. My contribution to this day:
It is well past time to knock down the closed walls of the Ivory Tower.
Years ago, I worked on a project called The Public Knowledge Project. The principal investigator, Dr. John Willinsky, was actually a professor of literacy (and a distinguished one at that). John realized that university-based research was not getting into the hands of those outside the academy because academic journals are subscription only, for the most part.
John’s vision, and the vision of others, is to open up this research, make it available to people outside the university, and thereby make research much more meaningful, useful, and worthy.
I wholeheartedly agree. A former colleague of mine, Riva Soucie, has taken up the cause by founding New Social Inquiry, a open-access journal that is not only available for free, but is also ACCESSIBLE to non-researchers. Contexts magazine is also moving toward open-access research by offering regularly updated blogs (my favourite is the Visual Sociology blog).
Open-access isn’t just about open-source (although that’s part of it). It also means writing in accessible language and contextualizing the research for people who are not inside the academy.This is why I write this blog and why I call on all academics to blow down that Ivory Tower, and get out there. As Hubert Blumer once said in his famous article “What’s wrong with social theory?”:
Let us renounce the practice of taking in each other’s laundry.
Well put, Herbert!