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Tension and Risk in Open Scholarship: A Conversation

Scholarly Publishing and Open Access plus a stylized book with the open access symbol

We use “open” as though it is free of ideology, ignoring how much “openness,” particularly as it’s used by technologists, is closely intertwined with “meritocracy” — this notion, a false one, that “open” wipes away inequalities, institutions, biases, history, that “open” “levels the playing field.”  -Audrey Waters, From Open to Justice

Spurred by the need to make research and education accessible to all, the open movement has gained ground as the Internet evolved to enable easy sharing of different forms of media and scholarship. Open practices are enabling faculty, staff and students at educational institutions in British Columbia and beyond to reduce barriers to research and education by opening their classrooms, incorporating new resources and perspectives, broadly sharing their data, and contributing to public knowledge. But the adoption of open scholarship cannot be assumed to free of biases and conflicts, and the impacts of open practices can differ depending on the context of those practices. Unaddressed tensions caused by “openness” can lead scholars, students, and community members to feel alienated, exploited, or unheard. Unexamined risks can lead to unintended outcomes for any open endeavours. 

Within these intersections lies an opportunity for open scholarship: to directly examine and acknowledge the tensions and risks inherent in openness, and to thereby create a space in which dialogue is generated and understanding of openness is deepened.  

Please join BCIT, SFU and UBC in celebrating International Open Access Week for a panel that examines the threads running through different tensions in the open movements, including: 

  • Indigenous & Traditional Knowledge: Open scholarship may not be respectful of community authority, ownership, and norms of knowledge sharing.
  • Ethics and Privacy: Open scholarship may complicate the impacts of human participants in research, retrospective digitization, and students’ right to privacy.
  • Student-faculty relationships: Affordability conversations around open educational resources may lead to tensions around faculty motivation to provide the best learning resources. Open pedagogies can create risks for students: are they supported and what rights do they have in terms of their privacy, copyright, and consent?
  • Accessibility and inclusivity: Open practices may lead to digital redlining for individuals and communities and may not be truly accessible for everyone.
  • Instructor-Institution relationships: Open practices may allow the appropriation of instructors’ and adjuncts’ work putting their value at risk.

Featured speakers include:

  • Amanda Coolidge (BCcampus)
  • Sue Doner (Camosun College)
  • David Gaertner (First Nations and Indigenous Studies, UBC)
  • Jessica Gallinger (SFU Library)
  • Christina Illnitichi (AMS, UBC)
  • Lisa Nathan (School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, UBC)

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