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Open Access Publishing: The Oligopoly of Big Publishing Firms, or the Possibility of Alternative Models?

2021.09.20 | European Universities – Critical Futures

Date Fri 22 Oct
Time 12:00 13:00
Location Online (Zoom)


Press here to register for the event



Date: Friday 22nd of October 2021, on zoom

Time:  11am-12pm (British summer time)

12-13h (Central European Time)


Issues as stake

Surviving in a bibliometric economy: Perspectives on Open Access journal publishing from the majority world

David Mills, University of Oxford


The term Open Access is invoked as a normative principle and used to describe a model of scholarly publishing. In both uses, its meanings are multiply contested. This presentation explores the adoption of Open Access by commercial academic publishers who cater for scholarly communities across the majority world, charging authors APCs (Article Processing Charges). I trace the critiques of their work, set out the changing political economy of Open Access, and assess the implications of attempts to decolonise the currently dominant global publishing and citation infrastructures.


Promising ways forward

The  Berghahn and Libraria’s ‘Subscribe to Open (S2O)’ model.

Vivian Berghahn, Berghahn Books


The publishing industry has become dominated by a small number of very large companies that make very large profits (often on the back of publicly funded research, peer reviewing and editing). Open access publishing was meant to be the promising way forward but the most prevalent models have the unintended consequences of making the big publishers bigger, more dominant and profitable, and making publishing more inequitable. The presentation will set out how a further open access model called PlanS works and how it aims to achieve some of the original purposes of open access publishing and address north-south inequalities.    

Dr David Mills is Associate Professor at the Department of Education, University of Oxford

David Mills is Deputy Director of the Centre for Global Higher Education, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Education at Oxford. Recent research on publishing practices in the African academy has focused on the impact of the ‘predatory publishing’ discourses promoted by elite science journals and publishers, and the way global publishing infrastructures are reshaping regional knowledge ecosystems.


Vivian Berghahn is Managing Director and Journals Editorial Director at Berghahn Books. Founded in 1994, Berghahn Books is an independent publisher of distinguished scholarly books and journals in the humanities and social sciences. 

The webinar is part of a webinar series on Alternative conditions for knowledge creation: Invitation to an explorative journey, organised by Dr Eva Hartmann and the Critical Higher Education research group at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge and Professor Sue Wright of the Centre for Higher Education Futures (Aarhus University). The webinar series explores key issues at stake and possible solutions to address them in number of fields. The overall idea is to identify the necessary conditions for the creation of alternative knowledge.