Alison Mudditt, PLOS Chief Executive Officer, recently published a post about reimagining scholarly communications as more equitable and just. In her post, she reflects on the particular challenges of 2020, noting her own privilege: “I can comfortably work from home, my organization has proven itself to be creative and resilient, and my close circle of family and friends are all doing fairly well. At the same time, there have been many moments when events have pierced that bubble of security and I’ve felt wrong-footed, uncomfortable, frustrated, angry, guilty and deeply saddened.”
Hearing the call for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd this summer, she notes the importance of open access while calling for scholarly communication organizations to work towards “broad-scale systemic change” through a “deep engagement with our role (individually and organizationally) in perpetuating inequity.” She urges organizations, including libraries, to move beyond merely pledging “equity and diversity in our organizations and a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders.” She argues,
The current system of scholarly communication was created by the Global North and for the Global North. Not surprisingly, this has created deep inequities that reflect historic power structures. Unless we examine our part in this, we are not doing enough. We need to act to permanently and fundamentally disrupt the status quo.
She points out how the drive to promote Gold OA and the concomitant APC model “risks hardwiring the exclusion of many researchers, especially in the Global South. Far from being ‘transformative’, these deals run the risk of locking in the high cost of subscriptions into an open future and of reinforcing the market dominance of the biggest players as subscription funds simply flow in full to new deal models, further entrenching existing inequalities.”
Mudditt urges publishers to interrogate the ways they perpetuate systemic inequalities, and she calls for shared values and purposes and to be more meaningfully community-centered — to truly listen and listen to those we serve.
This post is of interest to DH library professionals similarly engaged in self-reflection about the ways we reify structural inequality — from the tools we use and teach to the handling of digitized cultural heritage materials.