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Why the Radical Open Access Collective is Not Taking Part in Scholastica's 'Academic-Led Publishing Day'

Members of the Radical Open Access Collective (ROAC) recently received an email from Scholastica, asking whether we as a collective would like to take part in an 'Academic-Led Publishing Day' they are initiating. Having discussed this informally with several of our members, we have decided not to take part in this day as a collective. The reasons for this decision are outlined in the response to Scholastic's invitation below (drafted by Janneke Adema and Samuel Moore). We do not want to speak on behalf of individual members in this matter, though, so if anyone in the ROAC is interested in taking part individually they can of course do so. 


Dear Danielle (who was writing to us on behalf of Scholastica),

Thank you for your invitation to take part in 'Academic-Led Publishing Day'. There are various reasons why, from a radical open access perspective, we would refuse to be involved in such a day. Let us set out some of these reasons.

First of all we feel the name of your proposed event is problematic. None of the organisations mentioned in your invitation - Library Publishing Coalition, Michigan Publishing, Ubiquity Press, the University of California Press - are academic-led (or scholar-led if you prefer that term). The exception is Ubiquity Press, which is however operating predominantly as a commercial service and infrastructure provider. Looking at the organisations you list this seems very much an 'academy-led' event, and we suggest you perhaps change the name accordingly (i.e. to 'Academy-Led Publishing Day'). 

We feel words are important here; and all the more so given a true 'Academic-Led Publishing Day' would indeed be one that is initiated, organised and 'owned' by academic-led publishing initiatives themselves, rather than commercial service providers such as Scholastica.

The Radical Open Access Collective promotes community ownership of research (as you say you do). The difference is that for us this includes ownership and custodianship of open publishing infrastructures. To this end we have set up an information portal which lists open source publishing software and platforms as open and non-commercial alternatives to the services that Scholastica and Ubiquity provide. We feel taking part in an  'Academic-Led Publishing Day'—which we would like to emphasise is not actually academic-led at all but initiated by Scholastica, a for-profit intermediary—would, as it is currently conceived, be to indirectly promote the commercial services you provide. We acknowledge some presses may choose to use Scholastica's services and benefit from them. As a collective, however, we aim to promote and seek alliances with non-profit and open alternatives instead. 

We would very much like to support an 'Academic-Led Publishing Day', if it were indeed initiated from the bottom-up by scholar-led publishing initiatives, and we very much support those not-for-profit organisations that are taking part in this event. We also don’t want to speak for individual members of the Radical Open Access Collective, and would not wish to discourage them from taking part in this event if that is what they want to do. (We will forward your invitation to our mailing list.) Still, as a collective, we choose to pass on this one. We hope you understand.


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