On Thursday I learned that have been awarded a one year post-doctoral research fellowship – something I’m overjoyed about. This means that I will be able to spend the next year researching stuff that I’m really interested in (the use of violence in defence of animals and the environment). Great.
However, yesterday I discovered that this post-doc position is funded by in large part by the income generated by the publication of an academic journal. The deal done with a publisher by the society that will fund my research pays not only for my fellowship, but also for two PhD studentships, a big conference, numerous smaller seminars and events, honoraria for journal editors, and other grants to students. Indeed, I learned today that a friend not long ago received a grant from the society to help with his PhD costs.
So, the publication of this journal funds quite a lot of research and dissemination activity, and helps contribute to a flourishing research community. It also provides a lifeline for struggling students to complete their research.
All of this means, that if the journal becomes open access, something being seriously considered by the society, then a lot of the funding stream that pays for all of this research, and provides development opportunities for early-career scholars, will dry up.
Before I knew this I had, unreflectively considered open access to be an unambiguously good thing: now I’m not so sure.