Open access to scholarly knowledge in the digital eraOpinion

Open access to scholarly knowledge in the digital era (section 2): Knowledge cultures

This article introduces section 2 of a series of articles summarising the book Reassembling Scholarly Communications: Histories, Infrastructures, and Global Politics of Open Access.

The four chapters of the second section of this series focus on knowledge cultures; the ways in which we think about knowledge itself, and how this shapes our understandings of digital and open transformations of research publishing.

2.1 – Insights for today from the historical origins of modern copyright

Turning back to the Statute of Anne from 1710, John Willinsky details the ways in which the original purpose of copyright — in the encouragement of learning — has been lost. He asks if we can we once again find the advantages for learning among the play of scholarly publishing commercial interests, knowing that this was the original intent of copyright law and is no less worthy a goal today?

2.2 – How does a format make a public?

Robin de Mourat, Donato Ricci, and Bruno Latour explore how different scholarly formats can be used to embark on new ways of gathering collectives of scholars and practitioners around an area of research interest. In doing so, they draw on the experiences of their project An Inquiry into Modes of Existence (AIME). They describe the collectives of scholars and practitioners as “transdisciplinary publics.”

2.3 – The evolving role of readers in peer review

David Pontille and Didier Torny look at the emergence of new arrangements between dissemination and validation in peer review, and how they are being shaped by citation, commenting, sharing, and examining. These technologies have existed for a long time, but are now being more and more treated as integral to open peer review.

2.4 – Intersections between artistic making and scientific knowing

Finally for the section on knowledge cultures, Pamela H. Smith, Tianna Helena Uchacz, Naomi Rosenkranz, and Claire Conklin Sabel advise that studying the genre of “how-to” texts as a platform for a new type of communication of knowledge in the past provides an opportunity to bridge the modern communities of artists, historians, and scientists by fostering scholarly communication and collaboration around materials and the techniques of engaging with the material world. They support this with the case study of the Making and Knowing Project, which explores historical and methodological intersections between artistic making and scientific knowing.

Next part (chapter 2.1): Insights for today from the historical origins of modern copyright.

Article source: This article is an edited summary drawn from the Introduction of the book Reassembling scholarly communications: Histories, infrastructures, and global politics of Open Access1 which has been published by MIT Press under a CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license.

Article license: This article is published under a CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license.


  1. Eve, M. P., & Gray, J. (Eds.) (2020). Reassembling scholarly communications: Histories, infrastructures, and global politics of Open Access. MIT Press.
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Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (, and a knowledge management (KM), environmental management, and project management professional. He is a PhD candidate in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group at Wageningen University and Research, and holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction. His expertise and experience includes knowledge management (KM), environmental management, project management, stakeholder engagement, teaching and training, communications, research, and writing and editing. With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee an award-winning $77.4 million western Sydney river recovery program, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support the sustainable management of landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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