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The ambiguity of Open Science

A conversation with Richard Poynder about the complexity of the open-access landscape and the need for ongoing discussion and collaboration.

Published onMar 20, 2023
The ambiguity of Open Science

Richard Poynder has been observing and reporting on the evolution of the open access (OA) movement for twenty-two years now (e.g. here).

Richard and Jo discuss various topics of Open Science and Open Access, including the challenges of funding open access, the role of government in promoting open access, and the need for more transparency in the publishing industry. They also touch on the potential unintended consequences of policy changes and the importance of values in academia. Overall, the conversation highlights the complexity of the open-access landscape and the need for ongoing discussion and collaboration to address these issues.

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Richard Poynder’s profile



Leading OA advocate Stevan Harnad has described Richard as the “chronicler, conscience, and gadfly laureate” of the OA movement.

Commenting on one of his articles on the former FriendFeed, on the other hand, a critic remarked: “Printed it off, skimmed it and stuck it into the shredder.”

The divergent views on Richard’s work are perhaps a consequence of its impartiality. In 2008, in a joint statement (with Stevan Harnad) in support of Richard’s journalism, the de facto leader of the OA movement Peter Suber commented: “He is widely respected for his independence, even-handedness, analysis, careful interviews, and detailed research.”

Richard’s work has been widely cited, including in a 2011 report on peer review in scientific publications by the British House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

In December 2011, Richard took on the role of moderator of the Global Open Access List (GOAL), the successor to the American Scientist Open Access (AmSci) Forum, which began in 1998.

In his time Richard has contributed to a wide range of specialist, national and international publications, including the Wall Street Journal Europe, Financial Times, Guardian and Telegraph.

He has also edited and co-authored two books: Hidden Value (1999) and Caught in a Web, Intellectual Property in Cyberspace (2000), and contributed to radio programmes.

Much of Richard’s writing on open access has appeared on his blog Open & Shut, although he publishes less frequently today. On Open & Shut can be found many interviews with OA advocates, plus essays on OA and commentary on the movement.

He has also published a series of interviews (The Basement Interviews) with leading advocates of other free and open movements, including Richard Jefferson, Richard Stallman, Lawrence Lessig, Jay Rosen, and Joe Trippi.

For his critical comments and investigations, Richard has been variously praised, criticised, and at times even threatened.

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