Live-blogging the 2009 Vancouver PKP Conference

Category — Research Themed Sessions

New Forms and Forums: How Press Cooperatives are Launched and Why it’s a Good Thing: The Session Blog


Freire Project



  • Dr. Shirley Steinberg – McGill University. Director, The Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy. Bio
  • David Smith  – Technical Manager, The Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy. Bio

July 9, 2009, 4:00-pm-4:30 pm. SFU Harbour Centre. Rm 7000

Session Overview

Through McGIll University’s Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy, Dr. Steinberg and Mr. Smith have worked to help other centres with similar interests publish  open access scholarly work as well as create communication networks to take advantage of social networking and other less formal publishing opportunities.

Dr. Steinberg spoke about the creative aspects of going from a journal in one’s mind to actually creating an open access journal. She noted that when working with associations, if they already had a print journal then it was a relatively easy transition to an open access online journal. However,  the challenge is much greater for groups that don’t have previous experience creating a journal.

Dr. Steinberg illustrated her talk with the example helping Australian educators with the creation of a new journal: antipodes: a journal of critical southern education. Similar to Canada, the Australian educators face considerable challenges based on the difficulty in physically getting people together to communicate. Additionally, their government insists on a strict hierarchically tiered referred journal system. In this case, Dr. Steinberg noted that they focused first on creating a network of critical educators before they  concentrated on creating the journal. As a result of , in addition to the community having a focus on critical pedagogy, they also had the common goal of discussing new models for peer refereed journals.

Mr. Smith continued the talk with some of the more technical as well as social networking aspects of their project. He started by commenting on a number of inspiring aspect from John Willinsky’s keynote address. Mr Smith noted that the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy (IJCP)  uses the Open Journal System (OJS).  But he pointed out that the journal is difficult to find from the Centre’s website since they are struggling with the best way to present the link (conceptually) between them.

Furthermore, Mr. Smith commented that the centre’s site is still being developed and they are trying to make it a better tool to connect people. Mr. Smith commented that they would like the site to be more than just a repository for formal scholarly work (e.g. referred journal) and that they are interested in promoting less formal  but still very valuable modes of communication as well (e.g. blogs, wikis, forums). As an example of the benefit of these social networking possibilities, Mr. Smith provided an anecdote about an educator from St. Lucia whom he has become familiar with through the Centre’s website.

Discussion and audience questions

  • Dr. Steinberg responded to an audience question saying that if the local scholars were not already grounded in possible economic models for open access journals that she would help them work through various options.
  • One audience member asked about the possibility of integrating Drupal with the OJS, and Mr. Smith answered that he is very enthusiastic about the possibilities of connecting the two.
  • Dr. John Willinsky commented that these presentations reminded him that the importance is far greater than the journals only being free. He sees these examples as highlighting  the importance of the networking and criticism opportunities that help to contribute to to creating a critical culture.
  • Another audience member commented that that there appears to be a relationship between more people submitting to the open access journals and more them doing more reviewing. That is, they are reviewing more work than they were before.

Related Links

July 9, 2009   Comments Off on New Forms and Forums: How Press Cooperatives are Launched and Why it’s a Good Thing: The Session Blog

Being an Open Access Press – the First Two Years: The Session Blog

Photo by C Gratham at PKP 2009

Photo by C Gratham at PKP 2009


  • Dr. Frits Pannekoek – President, Athabasca University, Bio
  • Walter Hildebrandt, Director, AU Press, Bio
  • Kathy Killoh – Journals and Digital Coordinator, AU Press, Bio
  • Shubhash Wasti – IT Systems Coordinator, AU Press, Bio

July 9, 2009, 11:30-am-12:30 pm. SFU Harbour Centre. Rm 1900


Athabasca University’s scholarly press, AU Press,  focusses on the dissemination of knowledge and research through open access digital journals and monographs and  through new electronic media.

Session Overview

The presenters illustrated Athabasca University’s journey over the past two years since the creation of their open access scholarly press: AU Press.

Part I – Views from above (Dr. Frits Pannekoek)

Dr. Pannekoek opened the presentation by reminding the audience that AU is fundamentally dedicated to removing all the barriers to learning and that they support the range of “open” initiatives in education including open educational resources, open data, open source software, as well as the  open access to scholarly work that is the primary work of AU Press.

1) International and National Context for Open Access

Dr. Pannekoek cautioned the audience that while they are advocates of open access, this view was not uniformly shared by all, as he was recently reminded while attending  the World Conference on Higher Education  in his role as president of the International Council on Open and Distance Education (ICDE).  Consequently, Dr Pannekoek believes that “we’ve got a big fight on our hands”, and  he listed the following issues  as significant barriers to further support for open access:

  • Support – the prevailing notion that  digitized materials never have adequate level of support
  • Quality –  the common assumption that the best model for learning lies in the traditional craft model (one-on-one relationship between professor and student)
  • Fraud – the fear of being plagiarised
  • Imperialism – the view in some quarters that the open access movement is another form of imperialism because it is largely controlled by the North

Dr. Pannekoek also summarized how people are reacting to the open access movement. In particular, he noted that we will face increasing regulation of the flows of knowledge (e.g. through funding structures) as well as commercial publishers who change their economic models to include more services that have traditionally been regarded as the domain of the universities themselves.

2) Philosophy behind starting up an open access university press

Dr. Pannekoek says it comes down to the basic question of “What can we do with the resources we have?”  Athabasca University spends upwards of 70% of their budget on academic salaries so they decided to use their resources to value what those people do and produce.

3) Open access business model

Athabasca introduced the “1% solution”. Here they  identified 1% of the budget in each area and dedicated it to scholarly communication and publishing. While they do solicit support from other areas, Dr. Pannekoek stressed the importance of looking within our own institutions for funding structures.

Part II – Not Either Or (Walter Hildebrandt)

Mr. Hildebrandt focused on six of issues important to the AU Press. First, he brought up the ideological issues related to open access publishing. These include considering the commoditization, privatization, and corporate control of knowledge in light of the public right to access publicly funded research. Next, he recapped the barriers and issues upon starting the AU Press. Here he recapped creating a charter, mandate, vision statement and goals and reviewed their funding arrangement. He also spoke of the initial skepticism at Athabasca University about expected revenue and of  potential  negative impacts of royalties of print publications.

Mr. Hildebrandt reminded the audience that AU Press publishes not just print or digitally, but both, and that they focus on certain areas of specialization. Thus far, their publications include twenty books, six journals, one website, and numerous author interviews, and  he very proudly pointed out AU Press’s four award winning books.

Next, Mr. Hildebrandt  reviewed some of their authors’ responses to open access monograph publishing. The concerns focused on issues around royalties and copyright control. On the positive side, authors reported increased citations and were encouraged that SSHRC encourages open access dissemination. But ultimately, as Dr. Hildebrandt says, people would “rather be read than not read”.

Mr. Hildebrandt concluded his part of the presentation  by touching on the future plans for the AU Press. By the year 2011 they plan to publish 30-35 books per year, more websites, more podcasts and videos , and to partner with other similar minded institutions.

Digital Publishing (Kathy Killoh)

Ms. Killoh focused on some of the details of AU Press publishing. First, she differentiated AU Press’s mandate of open access publishing from cutting edge e-publishing. For AU Press, open access publishing doesn’t mean all the  “bells and whistles”. Instead, they focus on placing publications online, for free, in PDF format.  They do see value added e-publishing (xml, epub, etc) as potential revenue opportunities in the future.

Ms Killoh also asked, “Is selling open access e-books an oxymoron?” For AU Press, apparently not.  She reported that, even though all this material is available for free on the web, they still sell many books (e.g. to libraries) that are made available through searchable databases by vendors.

Ms. Killoh also described some details of the author contracts and copyright at AU Press. Upon legal advice that the term is to vague, AU Press contracts avoid the term “open access”. Instead, they use the creative commons licences and refer to the specific terms within those licenses. The copyright  remains with the author, but the sign over licensing rights to AU Press. Royalties are negotiated individually for all contracts.

Finally, to conclude her portion of the presentation, Ms. Killoh took the audience on a tour of the AU Press website.

Part III – Hits and Sales – (Shubhash Wasti)

Mr. Wasti raised areas of further information that the AU Press needs  to more thoroughly evaluate the success of their open access publishing. They would like to know details of the number of visits they are getting for each publication. Preliminary data shows that their does seem to be some correlation between the number of downloads and the number of sales, but that the ratio is not constant. In the sample presented, the ratio of downloads to sales varies from a low of 3:1 up as high as 65:1. Additionally, AU Press would like to track the sales of printed books and investigate the relationship between the number of downloads and the number of sales. While the print sales seem “reasonable”, they would like to the relationship to a number of factors (e.g. subject area, demographics, accessibility from type of device, etc)

Discussion and audience questions

  • Terry Anderson’s book, The Theory and Practice of Online Learning , has become very well known in China, and  this could account for very high downloads of that book.
  • Question: How does the pricing of their print books compare to those of commercial publishers? Answer: They try to break even and to cover the cost of print because the cost of open access publishing is covered by the institutional support.
  • Question: What are the financial issues around keeping content online for a long time? Answer: They appear to be the same as the IT infrastructure issues that all institutions face. They need both an increase in capital and in operating budgets.

Related Links

July 9, 2009   3 Comments

Public knowledge and knowledge mobilization: social sciences and humanities research funding policy in Canada, 1979-2009: The Session Blog

July 9th,  2009 at 2:30pm


Presenter: Johanne Provençal




Johanne Provençal is a doctoral candidate in the Curriculum Theory and Implementation Program in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Provençal also has ten years of professional and academic experience in publishing, most recently working as a substantive and stylistic editor of scholarly writing. Johanne’s research interests include social theory and education; philosophy of education; scholarly discourse and scholarly publishing; communication and genre theory; and rhetorical theory and analysis. Provençal has published work on media literacy, the classroom as a public sphere, representation in educational research, and scholarly publishing. Provençal’s doctoral research examines SSHRC’s “knowledge mobilization” discourse and the implications and possibilities it has for the social sciences and humanities research community in Canada.

Session Overview

Provençal outlined four main parts to the session: SSHRC beginnings, the transformation from ‘grant council to ‘knowledge council’ in 2004/2005, SSHRC in 2009, and opportunities & challenges.

SSHRC was established in 1979. Provençal used examples of strategic plans from 1979, 1989 and 1996 to illustrate ‘early traces’ of knowledge mobilization. In 1979 mention was made to make social sciences research more visible. In 1989 the term knowledge transfer was used in the summary: “a more general point is the repeated emphasis on dissemination, communication, diffusion of research results: to spread results and achieve knowledge transfer to increase understanding and build constituencies to package results of fundamental research for political use to increase access to databases” (p. 2). In 1996 knowledge transfer is again stressed. Johanne’s rhetorical analysis shows that the scene is changing. Knowledge mobilization succeeds as agency within the collaboration.

In 2004/2005 there was a degree of tension as a result of the transformation from grant council to knowledge council. The first volume of a three volume report in 2004 reports that social sciences  research is caught in a “paradox of ubiquity and invisibility: present everywhere, but for all intents and purposes, visible almost nowhere” (p.12). The 2005 strategic plan calls for a systematic interaction between the general public and the research community.

The issue of visibility continues to predominate in 2009. Provençal mentioned that researchers need to tell their stories to the public. Yet it’s also the reception of those stories that is necessary for knowledge mobilization. This is a challenge area. Three examples were given of continuing opportunities: the  Knowledge Impact in Society pilot study, the Community-University Research Alliance program, and the funding of open access journals, started in 2008.


Heather Morrison asked about the raised visibility of knowledge mobilization by SSHRC. Provençal responded that the funding for open access journals only came in 2008. There is still some resistance from publishers about the business model. There is some ambiguity as funding is for research as well as open access journals. Generally journals philosophically support open access, but economics may dictate otherwise. A question was asked from the audience about whether SSHRC had consulted with researchers. Provençal responded that the culture for this to occur is not yet in place.


Canadian Association of Learned Journals

Ghosts in Machines and a Snapshot of Scholarly Journal Publishing in Canada


Courtesy of Johanne Provençal

July 9, 2009   Comments Off on Public knowledge and knowledge mobilization: social sciences and humanities research funding policy in Canada, 1979-2009: The Session Blog