Open Access and Community Engaged Research

If you follow me on Twitter you know I’ve been thinking a lot about the implications of paywalls on community engaged research.  My recent article, “Archival photographs in perspective: Indian residential school images of health” that is now out in the British Journal of Canadian Studies (volume 30, issue 2) is currently behind a paywall.  So is every other article in this journal issue.  At least one other author has spoken out about the problematic nature of pay-walling this content

During the publication process I did manage to negotiate a shorter OA embargo period for this article – I’m extremely happy about this and very glad I took the time (and built up the internal courage) to ask about the possibilities.  However, the more I think about my work and the community focused nature of it the more I’m questioning the need for it to be available to community based folks.

It was completely my decision to publish in this special issue and not having asking about the OA conditions prior to writing the article is totally on my shoulders.  I agreed to write this article 3-4 years ago, which speaks volumes to the lengthy nature of the academic publishing cycle but also on how my opinions around community research have developed in that time.  This experience has been a good reminder to me about the importance of knowing all the details of a journal before submitting. It has also made me take a serious look at my publishing goals and reconsider where I’m looking to publish in the future.

If I am engaged in community based work – especially work that is with a marginalized community – that work should be immediately accessible to the community I’m writing about.  In a time where archives, public history professionals, and post-secondary institutions are talking more and more about decolonization we need to take a serious look at making our work accessible to the Indigenous communities we are working with.  People working outside of the academy should not be placed on a second tier and should have the same access to information as everyone else.

In terms of learning more I would point folks toward to the First Nation principals of OCAP when thinking about information relating to Indigenous communities. OCAP speaks to the Ownership, Control, Access and Possession of information and data relating to Indigenous communities.  I would also encourage people to reread the TRC Calls to Action around research and heritage and familiarize themselves with UNDRIP principles which relate to their work.

There are also a ton of fantastic folks doing work on OA publishing and promoting OA within the library, archives, and public history fields.  If you’re looking for additional reading or information I’d suggest:

  • Follow Ali Versluis on Twitter.  Seriously. Go follow her now. She is awesome and frequently writes about OA, publishing, and access.
  • Need a primer on the basics of open access? Check out the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) page on open access.
  • Tri-Agency Open Access Policy.  As of May 2015 any work funded under SSHRC, NSERC, or CIHR grants must be made open access.  For example, any grant recipients that write a peer-reviewed journal article based on their grant work are required to ensure that the research is freely available within 12 months of publication.
  • Check with your university library – there is a good chance they have resources on open access publishing.
  • Check to see if your institution has an open access institutional repository.
  • Open access week is October 23 – 29, 2017.  Check out the website for resources, local events and more information.

Archival photographs in perspective: Indian residential school images of health

My latest article, “Archival photographs in perspective: Indian residential school images of health” is now out in the British Journal of Canadian Studies (volume 30, issue 2).  This article is part of a special issue edited by Evan J. Habkirk and Janice Forsyth focusing on health and the body at Canadian residential schools. Many thanks to Evan and Janice for all their work on this issue and for all of their assistance getting this article published. 

My article examines the use of archival photographs to supplement the historical narrative with an emphasis on using photographs of sport and recreation as a lens for examining student life, health and power dynamics within the residential school system.  This article draws on the idea of archival silence and critically evaluates present day usage of residential school images.  The article is based on my work with the Rev. Father William Maurice fonds held at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.  Within this fonds I examined photographs from the Spanish Indian Residential School series which is comprised of photographs of the residential schools located in Spanish, Ontario.  This series is a mixture of photographs taken by staff/administrators and photographs taken by students at the School.  The contrast of student and staff generated photographs provides an insight in the power dynamics present in archival photographs and the context behind residential schools images.

If you would like to read a copy of the article but are hitting a paywall please contact me.

‘Tis the Season for Writing

A number of members from my writers group are participating in this years National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo before, participants aim to write 50 thousand words in the month of November, the idea being that a time frame forces you be consistent in your writing practice and can help you get the novel onto paper.

The local literary group where I live, Stories in the North, is hosting a number of writing events in November as part of NaNoWriMo.  This includes a kick-off party, ‘write-ins’ around town and a wrap up event.  Many of the write-ins take place while I’m at work, but I love the idea of bringing the local writing community together and creating positive communal work spaces.

In the academic world Charlotte Frost recently announced AcWriMo (academic writing month) and is encouraging academics to tackle their own writing goals.  Check out her announcement to see the full ‘rules’ and details.  Participants are encouraged to post their goals, efforts and results using the #AcWriMo hashtag.  
I’ve been struggling with the concept of NaNoWriMo — mainly because I’m realistic about how much time I can feasibly devote to writing each day.  I also have a lot of non-novel related writing that I would like to spend more time on.  AcWriMo seems like a good fit for my current goals and schedule.

What do I want to accomplish as part of AcWriMo?

  • Spend at least an hour a day on writing. 
    • I’m going to say that blog writing can count toward this time.
  • Have finished drafts of two articles I’ve been pushing to the back-burner for ages.   
    • One article is a short 3,000 word case study, so seeing that article in polished form and ready for critique would be nice. 
    • The other article needs a bit more research love.  Having a workable draft by the end of the month or a near to finished draft of this article, would be ideal. 

Are you participating in any form of NaNoWriMo? How do you stay on top of your writing goals?