Category Archives: Global MLA

#MLA15: A First Look. Comparison with #MLA14

Thank you to everyone who attended our MLA and Data panel in Vancouver. I had a great time at the conference in spite of being ill. I was gladly suprised by the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the conference. I regretted not being well enough to attend all the panels I had meant to attend; this meant I could not say hi to a number of people I’ve been meaning to meet in person for a number of years now. Such is life: “between the idea/And the reality/Between the motion/And the act/Falls the Shadow.”

I have finished cleaning the data from my #MLA15 archive; some deduplication remains to be done but in the meanwhile I thought I’d share a quick comparison between the number of tweets during conference days last year and this year:

mla14-15 comparison

I still need to look at how the numbers of unique users in the same period of time compare between 2014 and 2015, but in the meanwhile, at least according to the latest version of my dataset, there was a considerable increase in the tweet volume, from 21,915 tweets in 2014 (conference days only) to 23,609 tweets in 2015 (conference days only), ie. 1694 tweets more.

Once again the usual caveat, the map is not the territory, these numbers represent the dataset in question.

More, I hope, soon.

Open Access: Getting Things Right

I reblog here a post I published on my home site earlier today. I thought it could potentially reach a different audience if I share it here as well.

Cameron Neylon published a very interesting and timely opinion piece on the Times Higher Education titled “Let’s get this right” (28 March 2013).

[Unfortunately, as frequent readers of THE online will know, registered users of the site can be blocked from viewing more articles if they have exceeded their allowed quota… which is not ideal, particularly considering the subject debated. Hence this post].

Cameron’s article is short and to the point, and I cannot but agree with him in his call to 1) not associate ‘Green’ and ‘Gold’ with specific buisness models, by which he means whether Article Processing Charges are implemented or not, 2) refer to the ‘Gold’ and ‘Green’ options as publication channels, and 3) use robust evidence when advocating Open Access.

He writes:

[…]the terms “green” and “gold” have very specific technical meanings. They refer to mechanisms of access: “green” means access provided through repositories to author manuscripts; and “gold” means access provided to the final published version of papers in journals.

They explicitly do not refer to business models. Gold does not necessarily mean that article fees apply. The majority of outlets registered on the Directory of Open Access Journals website do not charge any fee, and some of these are very prestigious in their fields. According to a definitive 2012 study by Mikael Laakso and Bo-Christer Björk of the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, at least 30 per cent and possibly as many as 60 per cent of articles made immediately accessible on publication are in journals that do not charge article fees. Yet, over the past 12 months, reports, arguments and parliamentary questions have all uncritically repeated the assumption that public access through journals entails such fees.


The terms “green” and “gold” are now so debased that we should simply stop using them. Let’s talk instead about channels of publication, repositories and journals, and new blends that blur these distinctions. Let’s talk about the services we want and whether they are best delivered by commercial providers or by the community: peer review, copy editing, archiving and indexing. And let’s talk about the full range of sustainable open-access models and how they are appropriate, or not, in different research domains and settings.

Perhaps more importantly, Cameron calls for the use of robust evidence when lobbying for Open Access, some of which already exists. He is entirely correct that “for a robust scholarly debate to proceed, we need more evidence to be published and reviewed.” (Some of us think here: “Yes! For the win! If I only there were funding/more time and channels available to me to do this!”)

I hurried a comment to his article, which I have copied and pasted below, with some minor corrections I could not do at the THE interface:

Cameron is right to call for a correct use of the terminology. I would say though that what is “poisoning the debate” is not necessarily an imprecise usage (or rather, understanding or application) of ‘Green’ and ‘Gold’, but a certain unwillingness to

  1. have engaged with open access before it became a governmental imposition and
  2. accept that open access always-already posits that the traditional business model of paid-subscription or paywalled journals is not working.

To be honest even I may have myself referred to ‘Green’ and ‘Gold’ as ‘business models’ within the context of [discussions around] the Finch report, but not because I ignore the fact that as Cameron rightly points out they do not necessarily refer to specific business models per se if by that we understand the charging of article processing fees (or not). Why has this equation of ‘Gold’ Open Access and the paying fees has taken place?

In the traditional and conservative discoursive universe around the Finch report, at least as I have experienced it online and in now dozens of academic workshops, lectures and conferences I have attended in the last year, there are no journals other than the traditional journals that would not embrace open access unless they charge APCs (this is a generalisation of course, since not all traditional journals will/would go this route. Of course there are those journals, but my point is that one of the problems is precisely that instead of thinking of other journals rather than the ones that traditionally imposed a paid-subscription model, when some people think of going ‘Gold’ they are thinking of publishing in those same (often ‘legacy’)  journals that have been or will be ‘forced’ to offer an open access model).

For many, ‘Gold’ equals ‘Unpayable APCs For Which Almost Nobody Have Funding For’. In my view, this (alas, incorrect and biased) definition is rooted in this unwillingness to interrogate the academic publishing system as a whole, including the reasons why people publish in paid-subscription journals in the first place, and the many years in which the structural inequality of access to academic knowledge (by limiting access to many outside a few elite institutions in the ‘developed’ West, fee waivers and discounts or not) remained largely unquestioned.

So yes indeed, ‘Green’ and ‘Gold’ do not equal ‘business models’ if by that we mean whether authors will have to pay to publish or not. As I have already suggested the question is why this definition has become so widespread, and I would suggest one reason is the lack of imagination and even courage to dare a more thorough transformation of the academic publishing landscape.

This does not mean that OA advocacy of this type is calling for the ‘destruction’ of academic publishing as we have known it, as some anti OA colleagues may suggest. On the contrary, it means calling for a realistic, intelligent, ethical renovation of the sector in the context of the radical transformations to the conditions of production and reproducibility of academic knowledge in the age of the Web.

Indeed, equating Gold OA with paying APCs is incorrect and it undermines the OA ethos, because it merely shifts the economic burden from libraries to individual authors. This is not the point, and it is only bound to promote a kind of inequality which OA also seeks to tackle.

In the end, Open Access is more than an ethical stance, it is a technology and a specific redefinition of traditional publishing business models, because it poses that charging ridiculously expensive institutional subscription fees is not fit for purpose because (amongst other reasons) it alienates non-elite academics and non-elite-academic taxpayers, leaving them in many cases without access to content that either discusses their own situation, was authored by them or was funded indirectly through their taxes.

Proposing that publicly-funded research should be openly-accessible by the taxpayers who funded such research is an ethical proposition but it is also a particular kind of business model. Proposing that academic publishing currently has a business model which is very likely to become unsustainable and that in many cases exploits the labour of academics and that therefore something has to be done is a call for the discovery of new business models.

New business models often require radical exercises of imagination: we cannot make a successful transition to OA by leaving things as they are, reacting by imposition rather than will, and without a desire (importantly, from Early Career Researchers as well) to interrogate the most-obvious foundations of academic publishing, and innovate accordingly.

This is a quick blog post and therefore not an academic article. It is an opinion piece and it should be interpreted with that framework in mind.

Around the DH World in 80 Days

Global Outlook DH  banner

I have copied and pasted below a message sent by Alex Gil. I added some hyperlinks for context. Links open in new windows/tabs. Apologies for cross-posting.

“It is my pleasure to introduce to you one of our first pilot projects at GO::DH, Around DH in 80 Days!

[Global list:]

AroundDH hopes to be a fun way to introduce the work of colleagues around the world to those who are just starting out. Everyday for 80 days we will visit a group or projects across the globe. An editorial board will select a total of 80 groups or projects, one for each day. Groups in the list will be approached to describe themselves and highlight their work in 200 words or less. We will do our best to bring attention to digital scholarship outside of Canada, Europe, the US and Japan. In that sense, we are departing from a broad and inclusive vision of DH. Besides the audience of new comers, the global scope of the tour should also attract some of the more seasoned DH’ers. The greatest challenge of the editorial board is to balance the geographical margins with the greatest-hits of the northern mainstream. The greatest hope of the project is to paint enough of a broad picture of digital humanities to redefine it in the process. Thus, AroundDH can be read not only as a tour of the globe, but also as a dance around the periphery of DH.

The project began as an email experiment. One email was sent daily from my outbox to all the librarians in the H&H division at Columbia with the subject “The DH Daily.” Everyday, our librarians, who are in the middle of a 2-year professional development program to become the consultation arm of our Digital Humanities Center at Columbia, would visit a different DH center or project. Others outside of Columbia heard about the experiment and wanted to be included in the email list. The appeal was the small dosages. Like the librarians, the rise of DH across the land has brought crowds of DH-curious academic professionals and students to our doors asking where do I begin?’ At the same time that the emails were going out, I was slowly but surely becoming part of the conversations around Global Outlook DH. There we were trying to discover as much as we could about the world outside the fields of vision of the member-nations of the ADHO. Eventually these two sets of concerns blend into one, and thus was born the idea for Around DH in 80 days.

The project is currently being developed by Ryan Cordell’s Doing Digital Humanities graduate class (#s13dh). You are still welcome to contribute to our global list. After Ryan’s class develops the first stage of the project, the project will be passed around the world for refinement. Around DH indeed!”

Global Monitoring Report Releases New Policy Paper

UNESCO’s Global Mornitoring Report ( has released a new policy paper, “Private sector should boost finance for education.” [Click on title to download PDF].

There’s also an excellent write-up and commentary on the World Education Blog (

Thought it would be interesting to MLA members.

En Español y en Inglés: Global DH/HD Globales

Spanish announcement followed by English.

En nombre de la Alianza de Organizaciones de Humanidades Digitales (o Humanística Digital) (ADHO por sus siglas en inglés), es un placer anunciar la creación de nuestro primer Grupo de Interés Especial: Perspectivas Globales a las Humanidades Digitales (GO: DH por sus siglas en inglés) y a invitarles a participar.

GO: DH es una comunidad de intereses cuyo propósito es superar las barreras que limitan la comunicación y colaboración entre investigadorxs y estudiantes de los sectores del arte digital, las humanidades, o herencia cultural en economías de alto, medio y bajo nivel de desarrollo.

Las actividades centrales del GO: DH son el descubrimiento, construcción de comunidades, investigación y promoción. Su objetivo es vincular las fortalezas, intereses, habilidades y experiencias complementarias de sus participantes a través de proyectos especiales, eventos, acciones promocionales, y al apoyar la colaboración entre individuos, proyectos e instituciones. Se funda en el principio de que este trabajo se está haciendo en muchos países y regiones y tenemos que aprender mucho de modo mutuo.

La participación en el GO: DH está abierta a todas las personas que compartan estos objetivos. Si tienes interes en participar, puedes visitar la web del GO: DH, unirte a la lista de correo y/o seguirnos en Facebook o Twitter (@globaloutlookdh).

Spanish text is a slightly-modified version of the translation kindly provided by Yasmín Portales Machado.

The Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) is an umbrella organisation whose goals are to promote and support digital research and teaching across arts and humanities disciplines, drawing together humanists engaged in digital and computer-assisted research, teaching, creation, dissemination, and beyond, in all areas reflected by its diverse membership. (Read more about the ADHO here).

The ADHO has announced  the creation of its first Special Interest Group (SIG): Global Outlook::Digital Humanities (GO::DH).

GO::DH is a Community of Interest whose purpose is to address barriers that hinder communication and collaboration among researchers and students of the Digital Arts, Humanities, and Cultural Heritage sectors across and between High, Mid, and Low Income Economies.

The core activities of GO::DH are Discovery, Community-Building, Research, and Advocacy. Its goal is to leverage the complementary strengths, interests, abilities, and experiences of participants through special projects and events, profile and publicity activity, and by encouraging collaboration among individuals, projects, and institutions. It is not an aid programme. Instead it recognises that work is being done in many countries and regions and that we all have much to learn from each other.

Participation in GO::DH is open to all who share its aims. If you are interested in participating in this initiative, you can visit the GO::DH website, join the GO::DH mailing list (, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@globaloutlookdh).


Please help us spread the word in any way you can. Every little helps. If you know other languages apart from English do spread the word as well. This is a community effort and it will only achieve its true goal if we make it reach those we don’t already know of or those who don’t already know of us. Thank you.

On a related note, you might be interested in reading my interview with Alex Gil, who is part of the GO::DH group, at 4Humanities.