Author: Jutta Heider
Abstract: Increasingly open access emerges as an issue that researchers, universities, and various infrastructure providers, such as libraries and academic publishers, have to relate to. Commonly policies requiring open access are framed as expanding access to information and hence as being part of a democratization of society and knowledge production processes. However, there are also other aspects that are part of the way in which open access is commonly imagined in the various policy documents, declarations, and institutional demands that often go unnoticed. This essay wants to foreground some of these issues by asking the overarching question: “What is the problem that open access is seen to solve represented to be?” The paper will discuss how demands to open up access to research align also with an administrative enclosure and managerial processes of control and evaluation. It will show that while demands for free and open access to research publications – created or compiled in research processes funded by public money – are seen as contributing to the knowledge base for advancing society for a common good and in that sense framed as part of a liberating discourse, these demands are also expression of a shift of control of the science community to invisible research infrastructures and to an apparatus of administration as well as subscribing to an ideal of entrepreneurialism as well as continuing a problematic and much criticized understanding of Western science as universal.