About the Collective

Formed in 2015, the Radical Open Access Collective is a community of scholar-led, not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access projects. Now consisting of more than 70 members, we promote a progressive vision for open publishing in the humanities and social sciences. What we have in common is an understanding of open access as being characterised by a spirit of ongoing creative experimentation. We also share a willingness to subject some of our most established scholarly communication practices to creative critique, together with the institutions that sustain them (the university, the library, the publishing house and so on). The collective thus offers a radical ‘alternative’ to the conservative versions of open access that are currently being put forward by commercially-oriented presses, funders and policy makers.

Our mutually-supportive community is made up of publishers, theorists, scholars, librarians, technology specialists, activists and others, from different fields and backgrounds, both inside and outside of the university. We work together to champion some of the most intellectually and politically exciting ways of achieving open access that are currently available internationally. At the same time, as part of our refusal to concede open access to the forces of conservativism and the market, the collective attempts to strengthen alliances between the open access movement and related struggles that are likewise concerned with the right to access, copy, distribute, sell and (re)use artistic, cultural and academic research works and other materials. This includes, but is not limited to, those associated with FLOSS, p2p file sharing, platform cooperativism and so-called internet piracy.

You can read more about the philosophy behind radical open access here.

What we do

Just as the members of the Radical Open Access Collective are diverse, so our objectives are numerous. As a community we work to:

  • Provide an alternative to the legacy model of commercial publishing. By showcasing the wide variety of non-commercial, not-for-profit and/or commons-based models for the creation and dissemination of academic knowledge that are currently available, we endeavour to help generate and sustain diversity within the publishing ecology. As such we take serious our collective responsibility to rethink the material practices and social relations of scholarly communication in a continuous manner. In working ‘against the grain’ like this, many of the publishing projects set up by our members diverge signficantly from the importance that is generally attached in mainstream open access debates to the development of centralised (one-size-fits-all) platforms, APCs and sustainable business models. (For us, the main issue concerns scholarly communication — not business models);
  • Further legitimise scholar-led publishing as a publishing ‘model’. To achieve this we intend to develop the Radical Open Access Collective into a body capable of representing independent scholarly presses and journals to research councils and other agencies. This strategy will enable us to support and strengthen community building among our members and to lobby on their behalf as a collective;
  • Stimulate knowledge sharing and exchange among the different members of the collective. This includes providing advice and support as well as encouraging academics and others to set-up their own publishing initiatives. The latter involves providing them with the resources, tools, and expertise (regarding design, software, copyright licensing and other legal issues) that is necessary to do so, based on the body of knowledge that has already been built up by those within the collective;
  • Produce an information and resources portal for open access and scholarly-led publishing initiatives in HSS. This information portal will be a community-driven information platform and will be based on the sharing of skills and information that is already available within the Radical Open Access community.

The current members of the collective are listed on the members page. To support communication between our fellow communards we run a mailing list which you can sign up for here.

The Radical Open Access mailing list is an informal location for discussing specific queries, strategising, working out issues of governance and planning events and workshops related to radical open access publishing.

New participants to the collective are welcome and members are encouraged to support one another through the mailing list and in person. We aim to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for scholar-led presses and publishing initiatives.