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[BOAI] EVENT: Why Are We Not Boycotting

From: Gary Hall <mail AT>
Date: Fri, 27 Nov 2015 09:05:58 +0000

*Why Are We Not Boycotting*

Coventry University

Tuesday 8th December 2015


Ellen Terry Building room ET130


Janneke Adema – Chair (Coventry University, UK)

Pascal Aventurier (INRA, France)

Kathleen Fitzpatrick (MLA/Coventry University, US)

Gary Hall (Coventry University, UK)

David Parry (Saint Joseph’s University, US)

Organised by /The/ /Centre for Disruptive Media/: <>



With over 36 million visitors each month, the San 
Francisco-based platform-capitalist company is hugely 
popular with researchers. Its founder and CEO Richard Price maintains 
it is the ‘largest social-publishing network for scientists 
<>’, and ‘larger 
than all its competitors put together 
<>’. Yet posting 
on is far from being ethically and politically equivalent 
to using an institutional open access repository, which is how it is 
often understood by academics.’s financial rationale rests on the ability of the 
venture-capital-funded professional entrepreneurs who run it to monetize 
the data flows generated by researchers. can thus be seen 
to have a parasitical relationship to a public education system from 
which state funding is steadily being withdrawn. Its business model 
depends on academics largely educated and researching in the latter 
system, labouring for for free to help build its 
privately-owned for-profit platform by providing the aggregated input, 
data and attention value.

To date over 15,000 researchers have taken a stand against the publisher 
Elsevier by adding their name to the list on the Cost of Knowledge 
<> website demanding they change how they 
operate. Just recently 6 editors and 31 editorial-board members of one 
of Elsevier's journals, /Lingua/, went so far as to resign, leading to 
calls for a boycott and for support for /Glossa/, the open access 
journal they plan to start instead. By contrast, the business 
practices of have gone largely uncontested.

This is all the more surprising given that when Elsevier bought the 
academic social network Mendeley in 2013 (it was suggested 
<> at 
the time that Elsevier was mainly interested in acquiring Mendeley’s 
user data), many academics deleted their profiles out of protest. Yet 
generating revenue from the exploitation of user data is exactly the 
business model underlying academic social networks such as

This event will address the following questions:

  * Why have researchers been so ready to campaign against for-profit
    academic publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and
    Taylor & Francis/Informa, but not against for-profit platforms such
    as ResearchGate and Google Scholar?
  * Should academics refrain from providing free labour for these
    publishing companies too?
  * Are there non-profit alternatives to such commercial platforms
    academics should support instead?
  * Could they take inspiration from the editors of /Lingua /(now
    /Glossa/) and start their own scholar-owned and controlled platform
    cooperatives for the sharing of research?
  * Or are such ‘technologies of the self’ or ‘political technologies
    of individuals’, as we might call them following Michel Foucault,
    merely part of a wider process by which academics are being
    transformed into connected individuals who endeavour to generate
    social, public and professional value by acting as
    microentrepreneurs of their own selves and lives?

*About the speakers*

Janneke Adema is Research Fellow in Digital Media at Coventry 
University. She has published in numerouspeer-reviewed journals and 
edited books including /New Formations; New Media & Society/; /The 
International Journal of Cultural Studies/; /New Review of Academic 
Librarianship/; /LOGOS: The Journal of the World Book Community; 
/and/ Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy/. She blogs at Open 

Pascal Aventurier has been leading the Regional Scientific Information 
Team at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research’s (INRA, 
France) PACA Centre since 2002. He is also co-leader of the scientific 
information technology group. His focus is on research data, linked open 
data, open science, knowledge management and controlled vocabularies, as 
well as researching digital and social tool practices. His team is also 
exploring the evolution of social networks for academic use. His recent 
piece on ‘Academic social networks: challenges and opportunities’, is 
available here:

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Scholarly Communication at the MLA, 
and visiting professor at Coventry University. The author of /Planned 
<> (2011) 
she is also co-founder of the digital scholarly networkMediaCommons 
<>. Her recent piece on, ‘Academia. Not Edu’, is available 

Gary Hall is Professor of Media and Performing Arts, Coventry 
University, UK, and co-founder of Open Humanities Press. His new 
monograph, /Pirate Philosophy/, is forthcoming from MIT Press in early 
2016. His recent piece on, ‘What Does’s 
Success Mean for Open Access?’,is available here:

David Parry joined Saint Joseph's University in the Fall of 2013. His 
work focuses on understanding the complex social and cultural 
transformations brought about by the development of the digital network. 
He is particularly interested in understanding how the internet 
transforms political power and democracy. He also researches and is an 
advocate for Open Access Research. His work can be found at <>.


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