The relationship between pirate scholarly communication and open education – a beginning

Over the coming weeks I will be writing a series of posts about the relationship between pirate scholarly communication and open education as part of module H818 – The Networked Practitioner, that I am taking with The Open University.

I’ll start by providing some definitions of these terms.

By pirate scholarly communication, I mean online services, mechanisms and/or practices that provide illegal access to traditionally published scholarly literature in the form of journal articles, conference proceedings, books and so on. This content would usually have to be paid for but is made available for free via pirate scholarly communication. Examples of pirate scholarly communication include LibGen, Sci-Hub, Reddit Scholar, #icanhazpdf and AAAAAARG.

Openness in education can be seen broadly as “the adoption of measures to encourage widespread access to and participation in education” (Bell et al. 1993, p.2) but, in the current context, open education is often understood specifically as a movement that “encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment”.

I will be examining these two phenomena, raising issues and asking questions in order to consider, among other things:

•   The extent to which pirate scholarly communication can be considered open education
•    The boundaries of open education
•    What role legality plays in open education
•    Whether pirate scholarly communication poses a threat to open education
•    The extent to which pirate scholarly communication can be considered innovative

Bibliography

Bell, R. 1930-, Tight, M. & Society for Research into Higher Education., S.E.-S. and O.U.P. imprint, 1993. Open universities : a British tradition?, Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.