ELT Heavyweight Titles: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants with Green Open Access

open_accessmoses

While reading an article in the news today, Nine reasons only a tool would buy the Apple watch, it reminded me of something I’d come across last month. I’d almost fallen out of bed upon opening up my email that morning on seeing a forwarded post, originally from the British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) discussion list it had made its way to the BALEAP discussion list. A marketing blurb for an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) publication compilation by Routledge at the staggering price of – wait for it – $1465 / £840. Annotated bibliographies can be useful but this four-volume compilation with an editor’s introduction to each volume seems to be worth more than its salt. But no comments of surprise from anyone on the BALEAP members-only d-list…life as normal it seems in the global north of well-resourced EAP teaching, learning and research…carry on regardless.

Good as gold, but stupid as mud
He’ll carry on regardless
They’ll bleed his heart ’til there’s no more blood
But carry on regardless

The Beautiful South – Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)

But wait, before you hit that Recommend to Librarian tab on the Routledge website, doesn’t your library already subscribe to most of the journals on that solid gold EAP compilation list of titles that make up the four volumes? Let’s take a closer look at the journals that make up the bulk of this EAP compilation by Routledge. Well known tier 1 publications in the world of ELT: TESOL Quarterly (Wiley), Modern Language Journal (Wiley), Studies in Higher Education (Taylor & Francis – Routledge), Journal of Second Language Writing (Elsevier),  English for Specific Purposes (Elsevier, formerly the ESP Journal), Journal of English for Academic Purposes (Elsevier).

All of these commercial publishers have signed onto Green Open Access Self-Archiving policy – check the links above for information on how authors can self-archive peer-reviewed post publication versions of their articles with the already granted permissions of these journals. If an author has funding of a couple of thousand dollars she can opt for Gold Open Access with many of these same journals, whereby her article will be openly available via the journal in its final .pdf-formatted version. Very few tier 1 ELT journals offer what we refer to as Diamond Open Access where all articles are openly available at the time of publication without a fee. Language Learning & Technology is an excellent example of Diamond Open Access in ELT.

Let’s get back to Green Open Access as this is the main focus of this post. In these times of austerity even if you are fortunate enough to belong to a university with a healthy library budget chances are your librarian won’t see the point in providing further monetary kickback to the titles on the Routledge EAP list for journals your library already subscribes to. If your library can’t afford to subscribe to these journals, or you simply don’t have access to a library like many people the world over working in ELT, you’ll want to know that the policies around Green Open Access for authors to voluntarily self-archive their publications have been put in place for people exactly in your situation – to increase access to research in your field. A growing number of Green Open Access publications can be found on authors’ personal webpages, in institutional open scholarship repositories, in disciplinarian archives, and via research sharing sites like Academia.edu and ResearchGate.

There may in some cases be an embargo period of 1 to 2 years before authors can self-archive a postpub Open Access version of their articles but all of the journal titles on this Routledge list are well out of any embargo periods. Even the majority of books from commercial publishers in this compilation allow Open Access self-archiving of at least one chapter. And, sure, authors need to link to the publisher’s homepage and the DOI of the article or book, acknowledging the final published source.

The important point here is for authors to be savvy about copyright, and to negotiate in advance, if necessary, with publishers to ensure the right to publish articles on their personal websites, employee-affiliated sites or to distribute them individually via emails to interested readers.

How comfortable are the shoulders of ELT giants?

So, the onus here is on the author knowing her rights and her responsibilities. A win-win situation it would seem, where journal impact is positively correlated to an increase in number of citations – a genuine possibility with Open Access. Truth be told though, some ELT researchers do self-archive their papers and chapters following the affordances of Green Open Access policy but others just never seem to get round to it. Your guess is as good as mine as to why this is…

Isaac Newton via Wikiquote
Isaac Newton via Wikiquote

Spikes of Villainy via TVtropes.org
Spikes of Villainy via TVtropes.org

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants – Isaac Newton.

Because new ideas must be situated  in relation to assimilated disciplinary knowledge, the most influential new ideas are often those that most closely follow the old ones – Ken Hyland. 

One Sri Lankan scholar tells the story of having to choose between writing his article submission by hand or on an ancient typewriter with a threadbare ribbon. He had paper only because he had bribed someone for it. EuroAmerican editors are rarely aware of the deep challenges facing scholars from countries outside of Europe and North America – Wendy Laura Belcher citing Suresh Canagarajah.

By opening access to our publications we also create the conditions of widening participation for our colleagues who are teaching and trying to do research in under-resourced contexts, primarily in the global south. The ELT world depends on this voluntary act of self-archiving from ELT researchers who publish in commercial journals to grow our field in ways that properly represent all the people involved with ELT. And, even though there are a growing number of free Open Access journal options for ELT researchers to publish with, which is great to see, we could still see a lot more in the way of self-archiving from the subscription-based ELT heavyweight titles that still tend to dominate and attract the big names in our field.

Thanks to David Wiley and his recent keynote address, Thoughts on Open at the SUNY COTE summit, for giving me this idea about the levels of discomfort experienced in trying to stand on the shoulders of giants in one’s field, whether we are talking about outputs from research or resources for learning and teaching.

I want my love, my joy, my laugh, my smile, my needs
Not in the star signs
Or the palm that she reads
I want my sun-drenched, wind-swept Ingrid Bergman kiss [replace kiss with Open Access – it kinda rhymes!]
Not in the next life
I want it in this
I want it in this

The Beautiful South – Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)

 

References

Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications Inc.

Canagarajah, A. Suresh. 2002. A Geopolitics of Academic Writing. Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburg Press.

Hyland, Ken. 2004. Disciplinary Discourses: Social Interactions in Academic Writing. Michigan Classics Edition. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

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