Who’s Devouring Whom? Preventing Publishing Predation

So hi, I’m Dorothea Salo. I’m a librarian, and I teach in the Information School at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Thank you so much for inviting me to share Open Access Week with you here at Loyola! It’s just about my favorite week of the year. I’m happy to come to Loyola specifically because of how long you’ve been paying attention to open access in general and Open Access Week in particular. I looked at your history of Open Access Week programs; you’ve had some amazing people here and I’m honored to become one of that number this year. Seriously, Loyola should pat itself on the back—no, I mean it, go ahead, pat yourself on the back—lots of places aren’t nearly this interested or this aware.

The first thing I want to do is validate some feelings that I suspect are being felt in this room. Lucky us, we’re sitting in a time of rapid and quite titanic change in how scholarly conversations happen and how research is published and how those publications are circulated and recorded for posterity. It is seriously a jungle out there! And since so much about an academic career is rooted in publication, all this change generates a lot of career anxiety. It’s like the world is changing out from under us, all the rules we’re familiar with are in flux, and what are we supposed to do, right? If you’re anxious, I want to tell you you’re not alone. Of course you’re not, how could you be? So I want to say, this stuff is not changing at you; it’s just changing. And I hope by the time I’m done today you start to understand some reasons that it’s changing, and even why you might want to help that change along.

I organized this talk around a question: who’s eating whom? If you think I chose this theme because so-called “predatory publishing” is back in the news, you’re absolutely right, congratulations! I totally intend to talk about that. But what I really want to do today is expand your sense of what predatory behavior in scholarly communication is, okay? Because a lot of past and present predation—and there really isn’t a better word for it, I like the word “predation” a lot here—tends to slide under a lot of people’s radar. You don’t see it happening, you don’t see its victims, you don’t think about its effects on your colleagues, on your students, on your discipline, on research generally, on the world generally. Lots of things just become “the way things are,” no matter how predatory they actually are if you look at them closely. I know we have some librarians in this room, so I just want to say, don’t get smug, librarians. We like to think this is our turf, we’re awesome, we get this right. But some of us are as clueless as the most newbie graduate student ever, and a lot of us are a lot lazier about open access than we ought to be, and we need, as a profession, to do better than that.

Now, the danger of framing things in this predator-prey way is, everybody in scholarly communication is feeling like prey right now! Right? We all feel like minnows being chased by sharks here! There isn’t anybody in this system who doesn’t feel like they’re lunch. So for the duration of this talk, I’m asking everybody in this room to entertain the notion that maybe, just maybe you too are a predator. Maybe some of the things you yourself do hurt others in the system. Maybe you enable predation—maybe you yourself don’t eat the cute minnow, but you lead the shark to it, or you chase it a lot so it gets tired out and a shark eats it. I don’t want to beat this metaphor into the ground—um, probably too late there—but I want us to recognize and own the things we ourselves do that cause harm to others in the system. I want us to believe that maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. I want us to affirm today that scholarly communication is our system and we can change it for the better—maybe we can go vegetarian, as it were. Borrowing a line from Disney and blessing fair use for my ability to do that: Fish are friends, not food!

In other words, no honey badgers here today, okay? For those not up on their internet memes, honey badgers are incredibly predatory, and they famously don’t care about anything or anybody. Honey badger don’t care! Come on, I’m from Madison, badgers were inevitable. But no, no honey badgers here; Loyola really does care. I took this straight off your website, the mission page: “a profound commitment to the poor”—including, I hope and believe, the information-poor—“and to issues of social responsibility and justice. Ignatius believed that it is imperative to act upon what is learned—to use our values in service to humanity.” Wow, I love this. I love it so much. It is beautiful and brilliant and very librarianly and I love it. I want to add this to it: anybody acting as a publishing predator has lost sight of social responsibility, justice, and service to humanity. I firmly believe this. And we’re all predators sometimes, right? I just said that. So we all have some work to do to reconnect our publication-related behaviors with this mission. Here’s a few examples of what I mean.

Here’s predatory behavior for you. Want to read this article? Fork over 30 bucks to get past the paywall, buster. This one actually hit me personally. I wanted to read this article because it’s dead on point for a course I teach, but our library doesn’t subscribe to this journal. I didn’t want to read this article so badly that I was going to pay 30 bucks for it, much less make my students do so, so I just didn’t read it. Paywalls are predatory behavior! My students and I fell prey to this particular one. Chances are, most people in this room have fallen prey to other paywalls.

But I want to suggest also that the authors of this article, Marjit, Sharma, Sarkar, and Krishnamurthy, got turned into lunch by this paywall. They didn’t write this article for me not to read it! They don’t get anything out of keeping it away from me and my students! The authors are certainly not seeing any of that thirty bucks! They want to be paid in intangibles like reuse and citation and credit, but because I can’t actually read this, I can’t reuse it, and I won’t have any reason to credit or cite the authors, right? So the authors become lunch too. Every time the normal cycles of teaching and research and learning get eaten up like this, it makes me sad and angry. Maybe you too? It’s not okay.

On Twitter there’s this little acronym, “tl;dr,” that stands for “too long, didn’t read.” I’ve seen a couple of knockoffs of that acronym calling out paywalls. This one, “bp;dr,” stands for “behind paywall; didn’t read.” I’ve also seen “pw;dr” for just “paywall, didn’t read.” Every time somebody doesn’t read something because of a paywall, there’s predatory behavior somewhere, somebody’s becoming somebody else’s information lunch. And speaking of Twitter, the #icanhazpdf hashtag is also a thing, and in my book it’s just more evidence of how broken everything is. However you want to abbreviate or hashtag it, this is not okay. Nobody wins when people who care about our research get turned away by a paywall! And this happens all the time. It happens to us here in academe. It happens to our students. It happens to K-12 educators and their students. It happens to public librarians trying to guide people to good information. It happens to practitioners out in the world trying to apply research to real-world problems, it happens to policymakers, citizen scientists and citizen humanists, grant agencies and grant reviewers, journalists… all kinds of people with all kinds of legitimate interest in reading research!

And it shouldn’t happen. This is not service to humanity, this is not care for the poor, this is not social responsibility and it’s not justice.

An objection I sometimes hear from faculty to this line of thinking is that hey, they’ve got access to whatever they need, so obviously nobody’s being predatory, the system works, it’s all good. That’s just the most predatory thing I’ve ever heard! It’s basically “forget you, I got mine!” and it’s not an attitude I expect here at Loyola. And a thing I’ll ask you to do, because you are more enlightened than this, is to please challenge this when you hear it from your colleagues at other institutions. It’s just so predatory and so wrong.

Now, the way we supposedly get past the paywalls is through libraries, right? Libraries pay for access, publishers get paid for access, everybody gets access, everybody loves the publishers and librarians who make it possible, everybody wins.

Really? Everybody wins? Does everybody in this room feel like they’re a winner under this system? Seriously, I’m a librarian and I don’t feel like I’m winning! Look, let me just lay it out there, libraries are not the fix here, and partly that’s our own fault. Even those who can get into an academic library in the first place—and let’s not forget that’s not everybody—even a ginormous library system like the one where I work doesn’t have access to everything everybody needs. Am I right? So “library as access solution” is just not working, if it ever did, and it’s not going to start working again any time soon, sorry. It’s not that we librarians aren’t trying; we totally are. It’s that the whole game is rigged against us, and we need help and support to fix it. In other words, libraries are lunch. We have been lunch for the last 30 or 40 years, we’re still lunch, and if we’re going to stop being lunch without becoming predators, we have to change too.

Faculty, we need your understanding and your help to do that. When you blaze into your librarian’s office yelling about the latest journal cancellations, you’re being predatory. Instead, ask for the price, the usage numbers, and our cancellation rationale. We’ll show you. Librarians, when you just cave in to the faculty member who blazed into your office yelling about the latest cancellations, you are being predatory. Who are you eating? Other campus denizens who need materials that your library can’t buy because you’re catering to the people who yell the loudest. It’s not fair and it’s not okay, and all it does in the long run is get more people yelling at us because we’ve taught them that’s how to get what they want.

Here’s what we’re up against. Library budgets are flat as a pancake most places, and even where they’re rising, they’re not rising as fast as regular inflation, never mind actual journal-price inflation, which is leaps and bounds higher than general inflation. So libraries have been losing purchasing power by leaps and bounds, and all the money in the world wouldn’t actually catch us up. At the same time, the scholarly literature is only getting bigger! And explaining what happened here would take me more time than I have today, so I won’t—trust me, I could go on for hours; I teach a summer course where I actually do!

I will say that we have all been predators. We’ve all played the honey badger and decided not to care. We have all let this predatory system persist. Librarians signed on to Big Deals that were only ever going to blow up in everybody’s face. Faculty steadfastly refused to pay attention to what was going on except to blame librarians. Administrators wrongly thought that just giving libraries more money would solve the paywall problem. Publishers and aggregators have been playing some seriously ugly and cynical games with non-disclosure agreements and pricing. It’s just fail all around. And here’s the kicker—no, really, this is unbelievable but it’s true, people have done the math here: the money already in the system is plenty enough to do the actual work of publishing the literature. That money is just disappearing into the wrong pockets, not to mention being misspent to prop up paywalls.

Part of the problem is that reward schemes in journal-based academe don’t reward some things that they should. They don’t reward openness, and they don’t reward evidence that people actually read or used or cited your specific stuff. They reward publishing in journals with high Journal Impact Factors, and there are a million reasons Journal Impact Factor is total predation, but one of them is that high impact-factor journals tend to be paywalled. If you reward impact factor, you’re rewarding predatory paywalls. That’s changing, thank goodness, but there’s another reason to walk away from impact factor, too. Who falls prey to impact factor? Who gets eaten for lunch? Younger scholars pre-tenure, that’s who. The stupid pointless inaccurate impact-factor chase destroys promising research careers. That’s evil. And it’s entirely within academe’s control; you can’t blame this one on librarians or publishers.

Oh, except when librarians act exactly like academe—and yes, I happen to know there’s at least one Chicagoland academic library that relies on impact-factor based “prestige” for judging their librarians for tenure. You know who you are. Shame on you. Walk out of here determined to set a better example, please. Look, this goes for everybody, if your tenure and promotion guidelines even mention Journal Impact Factor, if your department uses it to assess your people and their work, I want you to walk out of here today vowing to change that, because it’s predatory in and of itself, and it feeds into other kinds of predation. If you rely on Journal Impact Factor, you are the predator.

It’s these predatory priorities in how we assess scholars that lead pretty directly to a lot of gross scammy behaviors in the journal market. Let me be totally clear here: so-called journals trying to scam author-side fees are totally a thing, but they are not common and not hard to avoid if you’re paying attention:

  • Did they spam your email? Walk away.
  • Home page mention Ulrich’s or Google Scholar? Walk away.
  • Catch them in a lie? Walk away.
  • Not in doaj.org’s list? Walk away.
  • Walk faster if it’s on DOAJ’s list of journals that lie about being DOAJ members.

They’re also not the only predatory scam artists out there. We have drug companies buying up journals to fool clinicians into prescribing particular drugs. We have coercive citation, “cite our journals or we won’t publish you,” which is totally predatory and wrong. We have vanity one-author toll-access journals, I kid you not, and it’s amazing how long they last before anybody does anything about them. And we have giant multinational corporations making 30% to 40% profit margins—profit! that’s pure profit!—telling universities and libraries with limited and still-decreasing budgets “hey, how about another giant price increase this year?” Now that’s predatory.

That article that came out, something like 80 million dollars supposedly heading to scam open-access journals? Trust me, I’d love to see the scammers gone too, but 80 million is a drop in the ocean, folks. It’s a rounding error against the multinational journal publishers’ profit margins. Be outraged! This is outrageous! But train your outrage where it’ll do the most good, okay?

Here’s what a system that doesn’t chow down on potential readers looks like: you find a journal article on the web that looks interesting, you download it or just read it right on the page, end of story. It should be that simple, right? Because who needs the hassle of anything else.

I encourage everyone to take a look at the so-called “altmetrics” movement, which is expanding our understanding of scholarly impact well beyond Journal Impact Factor, in ways that are respectful of the power of open access. Here’s an example, from one of my own articles published a couple of years ago in an open-access journal, and just as a disclaimer I’m now on this journal’s editorial board. You can’t read the text I’ve circled here, it’s too small, so I’ll just tell you that this article went wild on Twitter, over 200 tweets. Who saw them? Well, just adding up the number of followers on the tweeting accounts, you get over 312,000 followers. Now, of course the real number isn’t anywhere near that high because of Twitter follower overlap, and of course not everybody who sees a tweet is going to click through and read the article. But stick with me for a thought experiment here: if one-tenth of one percent of that upper bound, those 300,000 tweeters, found the article this way and actually read it, that’s over 300 readers! Let’s get wild here, if it’s one whole entire percent? That’s 3000 readers! Another article I wrote back in 2008 I put in the institutional repository I was running at the time, so I had access to its download stats. When I left to join the iSchool four years ago, it had something like 14,000 pageviews. Think this kind of math could make a difference to a tenure and promotion committee? I think it might. I surely think it ought to.

The numbers are kind of a sideline, though. What makes me happy about this is that I know for certain that anybody who saw a tweet about my article and was curious enough to click through could immediately download and read it. No paywalls, no nonsense, nothing in the way, exactly as it should be. Now me, I’m lucky enough not to be tenure-track, so I have the luxury of being in the publishing game purely to make a difference. Open access helps me do that. Paywalls would just eat my readership for lunch.

Now, not everybody is going to care about Twitter specifically. That’s okay! Be critical of what’s being measured and what it means. That’s awesome and you should do that; everybody else sure is. Altmetrics is way more than Twitter, fortunately. Just please, make sure you’re turning the same critical eye on the very-possibly-predatory metrics you’re already using, like impact factor. Don’t let that stuff escape scrutiny.

So, on another topic, does anyone recognize this young man? He’s Jack Andraka, who while he was in high school designed a new inexpensive cancer test based almost entirely on open-access research literature. Now, here’s the thing. Do you know who the next Jack Andraka is, in your discipline? Because it’s an educator’s dream, finding and influencing a brilliant new talent, right? Do you know where the next Jack Andraka goes to school? Do you know what journals the next Jack Andraka’s school library has access to? Well, yes, you probably do, it’s coterminous with “open access journals” because be real, high school libraries can’t afford journal paywalls. Do you even know what country the next Jack Andraka will come from? Odds are good it won’t even be the US! And there are lots of countries with, I must and do believe, lots of Jack Andrakas in them, whose access to the journal literature is unbelievably worse than it is here.

I don’t know who or where the next Jack Andraka is either. I also don’t know how many potential Jack Andrakas can’t become Jack Andraka because their research, their inquiry, their curiosity, their drive, gets eaten alive by predatory paywalls. So in a very real way, we don’t get more Jack Andraka-style wins until there’s a lot more open access. I think we as a society want those wins, I really do.

Anyone recognize this young man? His name was Aaron Swartz, and he tragically took his own life after becoming the target of federal prosecution over an attempted mass download of the JSTOR journal database. Now, I don’t want to say that lack of open access is solely or uniquely at fault for how the system chewed up and spat out Aaron Swartz. That would be ludicrously overstating the case. The social and technical and legal structures we’ve built up around scholarly paywalls did contribute, however, and all of us in academe—faculty, publishers, librarians, content vendors—need to recognize and own that part of the fail. I would like this never to happen again. With open access, I sure hope it wouldn’t need to.

Because this kind of predation is still happening, now, today—does anyone recognize this man? His name is Diego Gómez, he’s a dissertator, and he is facing a ruinous lawsuit in Colombia because he scanned and posted a dissertation online that was so important to his work he thought everyone should be able to read it. Now, Colombian copyright law is out of control, it’s even worse than ours, which is bad enough. But even beyond that, Diego Gómez would not even be in trouble in a world of open access! He wouldn’t have to post a PDF of a thesis that wasn’t his, he could just link to it! And again, isn’t it supposed to be that easy to acknowledge and credit our good influences?

In passing, it’s interesting to me that this is happening to Gómez over a dissertation specifically, because it’s exactly with dissertations that a lot of universities and a lot of young scholars are experimenting with open access. And the world hasn’t come to an end, the sky has not fallen, nobody’s been eaten by sharks that I’m aware. If anything, what I usually hear is great stories about young scholars making connections with established scholars over an open dissertation, open dissertations leading to unexpected-but-welcome publishing deals, undergrads and new grad students understanding the research process better because of open dissertations—I couldn’t ask for a better illustration of how amazingly useful and helpful open is.

So here we are. We want more open access because we want a system that isn’t turning willing readers and willing writers into lunch. So… why aren’t we there yet?

It boils down to what economists call—say it with me if you know it—a collective action problem. Basically, there are lots of stakeholders who want to see a less lunchy system. Students. Teachers. Researchers. Librarians. Policymakers and lawmakers. Research funders. Even some publishers, though not all. But no stakeholder can do it all alone, just too many moving parts and way too much inertia in this system for that! So it’s really easy for everybody to just sit back and say, hey, vegetarianism would be great, no more predators would be great, but there’s nothing I can do myself that will make a difference, so let somebody else do something. I won’t say nobody does anything, because we wouldn’t even be here today if a lot of people weren’t doing a lot of things, but a lot of people do nothing, so nobody can actually do enough.

So now what? How do we stop the predation? How do we push past the collective action problem? Well, that’s what Open Access Week is about, really—and when Loyola’s mission says that Ignatius believed in action, taking action to open access to more research is what it’s about.

What it amounts to is, there are a million excuses in the naked academy for not pursuing open access, and I have heard them all. You cannot surprise me; I’ve been doing this for a decade.

  • That’ll never work in my discipline!
  • But tenure! But promotion!
  • Oh, just give the library more money so they’ll shut up.
  • Who’s paying for this anyway?
  • I don’t know what a repository is, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have one.
  • But that’s work, and I’m too busy.
  • Well, my work isn’t really ready yet…
  • OMG copyright!
  • I heard it’s all a scam.

Maybe that’s how you feel. Maybe you are totally willing to make excuses to me when I can’t get to an article I want to read and maybe use in my teaching. Maybe you’re okay making excuses to Jack Andraka, or Diego Gómez! But I’m not, and I don’t think anybody in the academy should be. That is not what we are about here, especially this week. We’re about action.

There’s lots of ways to take action! You can take action as an author, as an editor or reviewer, as a good departmental citizen or a good university citizen, or as a good citizen generally, out there in the world of politics and advocacy. I’m going to make a couple-three specific suggestions, but you don’t have to follow them; they’re just ideas! Got a better way? Go for it! No matter what anybody tells you—and yes, I know there’s a lot of zealots out there and I wish there weren’t too—as long as you’re legal, there’s no wrong way to be open.

No matter where you are or what you do at Loyola, there’s something you can do. At base, there’s this: you can learn and you can teach. Because the collective action problem is real. Nobody can flip the switch to open alone; if it was that easy we’d have done it already. So make sure nobody’s alone! Let’s do this together.

Back in Madison over the summer this year, some folks started up a monthly open meetup—low-stakes, low-commitment, just interested people talking and teaching and learning from one another. It’s not a huge group. Yet. I mean, it hasn’t even been six months yet, these things take time! But it’s the right people gathering for the right reasons and I love that; I’m super-happy about this. (I’m allowed to say that. I didn’t organize this; I just go to the meetings and help out with the Twitter account.)

Could you do this here? Of course you could, and you’re so lucky to be in Chicago, because it’s dead easy to build a critical mass here! Just off the top of my head there’s a half-dozen people right here in Chicago who know their way around this stuff and are great facilitators. So go to it, monthly meetup, hopefully over deepdish pizza because this is Chicago, right? (In Wisconsin it’s about cheese.) You can do this!

You don’t have to stop at, or even start from, open access to the journal literature! Maybe you’re about open licensing, making sure the scary wing of the copyright-holder party doesn’t take over the entire cultural and scholarly universe, hello there Trade Pacific Partnership. If that’s you, I am with you! We need this kind of legal infrastructure to make open access work.

Or maybe you publish books rather than articles. I won’t lie, open access to books is a long way behind journal articles because the economic structures are different and so the solutions have to be too to some extent, but it’s starting to happen; we’re starting to figure out how to pay for it—I’m serious, just in the last month two or three major reports have come out about new models for sustaining monographs—and you can be part of that! I hope you’ll consider it.

Oh, and while I’m on the topic of the humanities, I hear two common excuses for why open-access humanities journals haven’t been happening. One of them is “our journals aren’t expensive! why should we have to change?” And here’s the thing about that: you’re right. You’re totally right; your journal prices are rounding errors. But that doesn’t get you off the predatory hook, sorry, because the big multinationals publishing science journals and making obscene profits are hiding behind you, claiming they’re just the same as you. They’re also eating you for lunch, of course, because the money libraries are paying to the big multinationals isn’t paying for books, but seriously, retire this excuse, okay? You’re just helping to rationalize a predatory system that’s eating you for lunch. Come on, I know you’re smarter than that.

The other excuse is “we don’t have big grants, how will we pay author-side fees?” And that’s based on the weird idea that author-side fees are the only way to pay for open-access journals. That’s not true. That’s never been true. I honestly don’t know why anybody believes this! The Open Library of the Humanities just launched with seven journals (soon, I am told, to expand), and it’s tremendously exciting. If you edit a humanities journal, if you’re thinking about starting one, give OLH a look. It’s open access designed for the humanities, without author-side fees.

Librarians in this room: I am bitterly ashamed to say that I checked the OLH supporter list and I didn’t see one single Chicago-area institution on it. Come on, y’all, if we don’t want to be predatory free-riders, if we’re serious about open access in general and open access to the humanities in particular, this is the best way I know to put our money where our mouths are. When you leave this room—or even before, I don’t mind if you use your mobile tech while I’m talking—make an appointment to talk with whoever does collection development in the humanities in your library. Let’s get some Chicago dollars floating toward OLH and Knowledge Unlatched and projects like that.

Faculty, you can do the same thing! Don’t yell—yelling is predatory and not cool—but suggest to your librarians that these are places you want to see library dollars going. The amazing Leslie Chan of Toronto—great human being, read up on him if you don’t know him—Leslie once suggested what he calls the “one percent solution.” And you can probably guess what that means just from the name, right? Take one measly percent of the library’s collections budget and toss it toward open access; it’ll make a greater difference than you can imagine. So take that home and think it over, too. One percent. Just one percent.

If you’re into open textbooks, open educational resources, we are totally friends, you and I! I am all in favor of keeping Pearson from devouring the universe, because frankly Pearson scares me. This here is the Open Textbook Library from Minnesota, and they’re looking for textbook reviewers from all over, so pitch in! And if an open textbook can work for you, please adopt one; this and OpenStax are great places to start looking.

Or maybe your thing is open data. We are still friends! Open data is my thing too!

Or maybe, librarians, archivists, and humanists, you’re interested in opening up the amazing wealth of unique material in local collections through digitization and open metadata. Great! I am with you! I’m a Community Representative for the Digital Public Library of America, which is trying to do just what I just said, so ask me anything about it after we’re done here. I think this opportunity is amazing, and I’m so pleased that so many libraries and archives and museums and personal collectors are getting involved! So there’s lots of ways to open up more wins. Please learn about them, this week and beyond. I think you’ll find a niche you’ll like.

For now, though, circling back around to the scholarly-journal literature…

If you create academic things? I’m asking you to make one of those things open this week. Just one. If you can do that with a journal article you’ve written, great! Legally, please—if you need help figuring out where you are with copyright, the librarians here or wherever you are can help you. But look, it doesn’t have to be a journal article, it can be anything academic you’ve made and hold rights to that would help other people. Normally I’d tell you I will pledge this alongside you, but I have a little bit of a problem there, namely that everything I’ve ever published that I hold rights to is already open, one way or another, and a whole lot of other stuff I’ve done besides.

Come join me in making work open. I’ve done some regrettable things during my career, but there’s one thing I have never regretted for an instant, and that’s making my work open. It has opened so many doors, created so many opportunities for me, introduced me to so many amazing people, some of whom have said to me, “I only got to read your article because it was open access, and it really helped me, so thank you.” What’s to regret about that, right? So join me. Jump in, the water’s fine and there are no sharks in it! Let open work for you too.

Now, you need to put your work someplace where it’ll stay there, okay? Not just any old web server—anything can happen to them and usually does—but someplace that somebody beyond you has a commitment to and will take serious care of. Time is the great devourer, especially of all things digital, and we’ll all retire someday, right?

Here is your library’s commitment to making your work open for the long haul, the long now, tomorrow and tomorrow and on into the future. This is Loyola University Chicago’s eCommons, and it’s run by your librarians here at Loyola. So I’m asking you to join your librarians in their commitment to making Loyola a more open place. To that end, here’s that goal for you again: by the end of this week, I want everybody in this room, every single one of you, to add your one thing, whatever it is, to Loyola eCommons. Can I get the Loyola librarians in this room to raise their hands? Okay, thanks. These are the folks you go to for help putting in your one thing.

One more thing. I’d like each of you to sign up one other person at Loyola this week. Just one. And convince that person to put one piece of work in. Just one! Because each one teaching one, that is how we get past the collective action problem.

As a department, I need you to fix your tenure and promotion practices, especially if they depend on Journal Impact Factor, which is utterly predatory. And humanities folks, if you’re still so fixated on print books that you can’t even imagine worthwhile scholarship in any other form, I don’t even know what to say to you except stop that, it’s 2015, come on! The Modern Language Association has guidelines for you; it’s time to implement them.

As an institution, it’s Loyola’s job to dream big, set the big goals. Here’s the one I’d suggest, just for starters: “Loyola wants no one interested in Loyola research
to be turned away by a paywall.” Then figure out how to get there! I know it’s tempting to just be reactive, or even to resent all this because you don’t want it imposed on you. I’m asking you today to be bigger people and a better university than that. Own open access. Own it yourselves, as an institution. Adopt this goal, or one like it, and own it, and make it happen.

That will take a lot of talking and a lot of work—that’s just life in the academy—but others have walked this road before you, and plenty of them are happy to walk alongside you, because we all win when we’re not being eaten alive by paywalls. I believe Loyola can do this. This is not something I say about every institution—I’ve been doing this for ten years; it’s been hard and I’m incredibly cynical, sorry. But Loyola has the right mission and the right people and the right preparation. I look forward to seeing what you accomplish!

Thanks again for inviting me, and I’m happy to answer questions!