Open Access: The Joy of Sharing.

Inspired by Darren Elliot’s recent piece on free on-line ELT journals over at livesofteachers we thought we would add some resources ourselves.

Firstly, however, we would like to point out how iniquitous this whole journal by subscription business is and why we, along with Darren, are so keen to make them available free to all rank and file teachers. And what better place to start than ARL’s (Association of Research Libraries) figures that demonstrate that whilst in 1986, libraries spent 44% of their budgets on books compared with 56% on journals; twelve years later, the ratio had skewed to 28% and 72%. Today that difference is even greater. This is due to two pressures, the increasing costs of journals and books and lack of resources in libraries(journals increasingly representing “better value for money”) on the one hand, and the super-exploitation by publishers of authors on the other; you have to remember that the authors provide free articles to the journals. With this in mind, we demand open access to the ideas that are given freely and oppose the super-profits of parasitic publishers.

Having made our case, we would like to recommend the free on-line journal, Critical Literacy. This is a fantastic journal which attempts to apply critical pedagogy to the teaching of literacy. A little over academic at times but then again, as the bourgoise tell us, “you can’t have everything”. Unfortunately, you will find little of this critical pedagogy in ELT journals (at least not critial pedagogy worthy of the name), with its obsession on techniques and annecdotes. One exception in our industry is the work of Sara Hannam at Critical Mass ELT, and we highly recommend that you read her debate with Scott Thornbury.

On an equally, if not more, important note, we remind readers to keep abreast/particpate in the debates hosted by the indefatigable Alex Case (a big word yes- but Alex is deserving of it) at We particularly recommend Part Three of his interview with the indomitable (for she is equally deserving of such big word) Karenne Sylvester.

Finally, we welcome Dolphin Hotel to our blogroll. Not only is there some great wrting about Micheal’s experiences in Japan, interspersed with his obsession for Newcastle United football club (you have been warned), there is also an uncomprimising commitment to socialist politics.




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7 responses to “Open Access: The Joy of Sharing.

  1. Actually, I don’t mind paying for a journal – and I subscribe to several. What I DO object to is the exploitation by publishers that you allude to. Some journals are feeding off the paperchase – they know that authors will provide content for kudos alone, and will queue up for two years to do so.

    I once wrote a substantial book chapter running to several thousand words, and in return received nothing (not even a copy of the book). On the other hand, I have regularly been chucked a few quid for a short article or book review. In fact, one of the free journals I listed pays quite handsomely.

  2. One very well-known teaching journal – “the leading practical journal for English language teachers around the world” – charges only a few quid less for a 12 issue digital subscription than it pays for a submission.

    Very practical.

    • marxistelf

      Yeah, “practically” raking it in. Oh well, why let the need to build a wide community of “professionals”, sharing their ideas, research and experience, get in the way of healthy profit margins?

  3. Ouch! Well, I guess it is insensitive to come to a Marxist website with a petit-bourgoise attitude. And I’ll take the sarcasm on the chin as it’s true – chasing around catching the crumbs that fall off the table is pathetic. At this rate, it’s going to take me YEARS to save up for that gold-plated socialist worker crushing machine I’m hankering for.

    I ask this question in all innocence; How would free content work? I grant you that the big publishing houses probably turn a fat coin overall (figures?) but what about the niche publications they produce? OUP do well out of a few EFL textbooks, but have you seen their entire catalogue? I suspect that they are already subsidising most of what they turn out from the pockets of middle-class teenagers and business people across Europe and East Asia (the charitable status thing too). As for the smaller, specialist houses… are they making any money at all? If you’ve got any more figures I’d love to know.

    Of course, we could demolish the whole system. It may well be demolishing itself.

    • marxistelf

      Actually, was answering Michael’s comments. But, point taken, we marxists can be a sarcastic lot and a little wary of the “non-card carrying” thinkers. That said, the article was genuinely inspired by your attempts to share open access materials, so we’re not that bad, are we?

  4. Don’t worry… I know which side of the fence we are both standing on. I’m just a bit closer to it, that’s all.

    • marxistelf

      Hi Darren, off topic but let’s run with this one.
      In comradeship:
      MTG is ostensibly a rank and file revolutionary socialist voice but positively encourages the views of “middle managers” and/or more reformist currents because we share a common goal, improving teaching. We know the industry treats its teachers and clients shabbily and we know we have to join forces to change this. Indeed, many Directors of Studies (not a particularly well-paid job in relative terms), teacher trainers, materials writers etc (in most cases even worse paid) do this because plain old teaching doesn’t pay the bills. Middle managers face pressure to provide quality services but often don’t have the resources (especially experienced qualified teachers)to do so, teacher trainers do their best but don’t have the time/resources to produce quality teachers, materials writers write materials for teachers who often lack the basic tools to teach and also these writers work for extremely conservative publishers. And why? Because of putting profit before need. What we need are better qualified teachers who stay in the classroom giving quality classes and materials which seek to transform teaching rather than simply feed a dull appetite for the same repetitive, looks healthy but isn’t, rubbish (like McDonalds) On this it is clear we agree. In arguing for these reforms we do not hide our banner of revolutionary socialism and believe that as teachers join together to effect positive changes in their profession they will also widen their horizons to what else can be achieved in society.
      If this is what you mean by a fence, a fence between reform (regulation of the profit system)and revolution (destruction of the profit system)or between rank and file and “middle manager” then clearly that which separates is more ideological than real, the battle of ideas. As we are not facing the imminent collapse of capitalism, our differences are not so great and our common aims unite us.
      We have the greatest respect for your commitment to improving teaching and we know this is what motivates you in wrtiting your blog(s) and discussing issues on the various forums. We always welcome your contributions and we will always respond in an open revolutionary socialist manner.
      We thank you as always for generating important discussion about the way foward.

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