Library Science

Note: I have reformatted the entries to work better in blog form. Don’t worry. I do know how to properly format an annotated bibliography!

Beall, Jeffrey. “The Open-Access Movement Is Not Really about Open Access.” TripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, vol. 11, no. 2, 2013, pp. 589–597., doi:10.31269/triplec.v11i2.525. – Beall’s 2013 article argues that Open Access is an “anti-corporatist” movement that wants to “deny the freedom of the press to companies it disagrees with” (589). Throughout the article Beall expresses his fears over what Open Access will do to scientific research and often employs hyperbolic rhetoric in the process. He accuses Open Access supporters of wanting nothing more than to “kill off the for-profit publishers’’ and turn scholarly publishing into a socialist endeavor (590). Beall does briefly state that not all Open Access publishers are predatory but he quickly returns to his main argument that Open Access is “a negative movement rather than a positive one. It is more a movement against something than it is a movement for something” (590). It is in this vein that Beall continues his arguments against Open Access.

This article has been very useful to me over the years as I’ve written about Open Access quite often and this article is a necessary part of that discourse. While this article does fall in line with some others in this bibliography, it’s important to note that Beall’s work is the foundation of all arguments against Open Access. Everyone who opposes OA does so with Beall as their main source. This is troubling, given that Beall constantly refers to arguments supporting Open Access as “dogma” and refers to the supporters themselves as “zealots,” “vitriolic,” and “immature” when they push back (592). What’s even more troubling, however, is Beall’s use of antisemitic dog whistles. He claims, several times, that Open Access is funded and driven by “an onerous cadre of Soros-funded European autocrats” (596). Referring to George Soros in this manner can generally be considered antisemitic. Having said that, I cannot obviously prove that his use of Soros’ name is meant in this way but the mere inclusion of it in such a negative manner is cause for concern. I cannot in any way call Beall’s work reliable or unbiased. It is clear that he greatly dislikes Open Access. As such, Beall’s goal is to paint a negative picture of Open Access supporters, and he has been remarkably effective at this.

Beall’s work fits into my research as the largest counter-point and opponent of Open Access. There is no analysis of the Open Access debate without Beall. As I mentioned, every article that comes out in opposition is either written by Beall or refers to him. And Beall will often refer to himself and occasionally other scholars in a recursive loop. The reason that I chose this article for the bibliography and not one of his many others is because this is the source and beginning. I have used it in my work since 2017 and it never fails to make an impression. As such, there is no way that I could leave this out of such an important part of my research. What I can say in his favor is that his grasp of the powerful rhetorical turn is impressive. He tells his readers that “The open-access movement was born of political correctness, the dogma that unites and drives higher education” (590). The terms that he uses tap into already-existing fears of the right-wing conservative in academia. He follows this up with the belief that “open-access advocates have cleverly used and exploited political correctness in the academy to work towards achieving their goals and towards manipulating their colleagues into becoming open-access advocates” (590). While Beall’s work did not change my mind about Open Access, I can see how it would change the minds of those who believe they have the most to lose in the world of free and open scholarly research.

Beninger, Peter G., et al. “Debasing the Currency of Science: The Growing Menace of Predatory Open Access Journals.” Journal of Shellfish Research, vol. 35, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1–5., doi:10.2983/035.035.0101. – This article, which was co-authored by Jeffrey Beall and Sandra Shumway, was published in 2016 and details the author’s beliefs about the inherently predatory and dangerous nature of Open Access. While the article has co-authors, the words are essentially the same ones that Beall has been using in his solo articles for years. The essential thesis of the authors is that predatory journals represent a problem “so serious that we believe they threaten the very existence of science, more so than at any time since it began to emerge in 17th century Europe—and this peril has nothing to do with lack of funding” (1). Much of the article consists of arguments that have already been made. In truth, the authors offer no actual argument in this article and instead engage in blatant elitism and xenophobia verging on racism.

Having said all of that, this article still has value and can be very helpful. It is comparable to the other OA opposition pieces in this bibliography in that it engages in hyperbolic doomsday rhetoric that is meant to scare the reader into disavowing Open Access. As such, the information can not be considered reliable nor can it be considered unbiased. However, it does present another example of the lengths that Open Access opponents will go to in order to discredit the idea, which is clearly their goal.

I have used this article in previous research because I believe that it provides a clear window in the mindset of Open Access opponents. The blatantly oversold rhetoric provides an opportunity to call out the language being used and how steeped in politics Open Access has become. In reading the article, it becomes clear that Open Access opponents see no benefit to the concept, and even when Open Access journals do their due diligence and peer review submissions, Beninger and his colleagues claim that “An even more insidious type of predatory journal is the pseudo-journal, in which perfunctory, sham peer reviews are performed” (3). OA journals are being given no real chance to succeed, and when the authors state that “An analysis of the geographic origins of predatory journal authors… reveals that fully 80% are from developing countries…normally the ones who should have the least amount of money to pay for page charges!” (3) it becomes difficult to believe that racism and xenophobia are not a driving force behind their opposition. If this is the case, and it seems to be, sources like this do need to be referenced and called out.

Dudley, Richard G. “The Changing Landscape of Open Access Publishing: Can Open Access Publishing Make the Scholarly World More Equitable and Productive?” Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, vol. 9, no. 1, 2021, p. 2345., doi:10.7710/2162-3309.2345. – Dudley’s article takes a measured look at Open Access in theory and practice, discussing both the positive and negative aspects. When considering subscription journals, Dudley states that the “pay-to-view approach continued to lock out most academics around the world, preventing them from reading recent research findings thus limiting their ability to improve their own research efforts” (4). He then summarizes the beginnings of Open Access, the complications brought about by predatory journals, and the issues that can arise when legitimate Open Access journals charge Author Processing Fees (APCs). Dudley appears to support Open Access, while acknowledging that predatory journals need to be addressed, as well as the paradox created wherein scholars can now read articles due to Open Access but they may not be able to publish due to APCs.

I find Dudley’s article to be helpful due to the fact that he lays out both sides of the issue in a clear and concise manner. There is no hyperbole or inflammatory rhetoric. Dudley sticks entirely to the facts, allowing the reader to make up their own minds. While he does reference Beall, he also engages with other scholars who support Open Access and he gives no perceivable preference to either side. As such, I believe Dudley to be a reliable source and one that is entirely unbiased. He is capable of seeing the benefits of Open Access while still being honest about the flaws.

Dudley’s work will be important to my research because it stands as a counterpoint to the articles opposing Open Access. It is reasonable and offers solutions to the inherent flaws in the system. As such, it has been very helpful and will allow me to further shape my argument around the differences between Open Access support and opposition. Dudley points out that “OA has reached a critical mass and OA articles are read and cited more often than non-OA causing more authors to prefer, and more publishers/journals to offer, an open access option” (14). He is aware of the growing desire for Open Access and the ways in which it can be utilized to enhance scholarly research, even with the flaws.

Radford, Gary P., and Marie L. Radford. “Libraries, Librarians, and the Discourse of Fear.” The Library Quarterly, vol. 71, no. 3, 2001, pp. 299–329., doi:10.1086/603283. – The Radford’s 2001 article delves into the concept of the librarian in pop culture and how they have often been perceived as fearsome and shushy creatures, most especially female librarians. Using Foucault’s “discourse of fear,” the Radford’s analyze this perception of librarians and where the perception originated, given that “Fear is the means by which the presence of the library setting, and the librarian characters within them, are to be understood” (300). The Radford’s believe that this fear is attributable to a societal tension around the overall perception of libraries and the view of librarians as gatekeepers. They argue that, outside of the discourse of fear, “such representations would not be recognizable as libraries or librarians at all” (299).

This is a useful source for anyone analyzing the image of librarians in pop culture. The different types of librarians and archivists within the book series I will be using all exist within this discourse of fear, which only deepens the further up one goes in the hierarchy. While useful, this source is impossible to compare to the others in this bibliography due to the fact that it very specifically hones in on librarians in popular culture. As such, it is a unique entry, which makes it very important. Given the scholarly history of the Radfords when discussing libraries and Foucault, I believe this to be an entirely reliable source and one that is unbiased. Their goal was to demonstrate, through Foucault’s discourse of fear, the ways in which libraries, and librarians have been represented in popular culture and they have succeeded in this.

This source will be an asset to my future research as well, and my work with the book series that I will be analyzing. I found it very helpful in that it breaks down the stereotypes that surround librarians and helps to explain the reasons for why these stereotypes might exist. This, in turn, will help me to shape my arguments around the fear and power that fictional librarians possess and how this fear and power translates to the real world in their shared rhetoric. While I wouldn’t say that it has changed my thinking about this subject, I would certainly say that it has expanded my knowledge.

Teixeira da Silva, Jaime A. “Why Does Retraction Watch Continue to Offer Support to Jeffrey Beall, and Legitimize His Post-Mortem ‘Predatory’ Lists?” KOME, vol. 5, no. 1, 2017, pp. 147–152., doi:10.17646/kome.2017.19 – In his 2017 article, the author begins a discussion around the fact that former academic librarian Jeffey Beall is still being supported by a certain section of the scientific community, including the blog Retraction Watch. As the author argues, Beall’s List was taken offline in January of 2017 and even before he removed his site, the list was known to be a “faulty, controversial and misleading list (and thus potentially libelous)” (147). Despite this assertion, members of the scientific community, including the aforementioned Retraction Watch, continue to support Beall’s work and use him as a reliable source. The author believes that Beall has had a negative and long-lasting impact on Open Access publishing due to his entrenched involvement in the scientific community (148). As such, he is requesting that Retraction Watch stop supporting Beall and his defunct list and distance themselves from him.

I find this to be a useful source, given that it clearly and succinctly describes the overarching problem with Beall,  his “lists,” and the people who continue to support his work. Having said that, I do have to question the reliability and inherent biases of the author. He references himself multiple times in this article and uses only one outside source. All of his previous articles that he cites circle around Retraction Watch and his opinion of their diligence, or lack thereof. His animosity doesn’t seem to be directly connected to Beall, however, as he does say that Beall has had both positive and negative effects on academia (148). He believes that Beall did bring awareness of predatory publishing to the forefront but that he was entirely too loose in his choices about which journals were good or bad.

Despite these potential conflicts, I do still find this article to have value. He gives a very concise history of Beall’s actions within the Open Access discourse and he lays out his reasons for why he believes that the relationship between Retraction Watch and Beall represents a conflict of interest. This article has also helped me in that I had begun to think that perhaps Beall was no longer considered relevant in this discourse until I checked Retraction Watch myself and saw Beall’s list being referred to in a positive light as recently as May of 2021. This article has made it clear that Beall is still having an impact on global Open Access publishing.

Thur, Victoria L. “War, Law, and the Librarian: The Creation, Precedence, and Passage of the USA PATRIOT Act and Its Effects on Libraries.” Journal of Access Services, vol. 6, no. 4, 2009, pp. 437–445., doi:10.1080/15367960903098838. – Thur’s 2009 article gives a short history of the American library and the behavior of the American Library Association (ALA) during the World Wars. She ties this into the FBI’s attempts to gain patron information from libraries in the aftermath of 9/11 and the creation of the PATRIOT Act. Thur makes it clear that American librarians have not always fought to protect their patrons’ freedoms, as they did during this most recent incursion. As she tells us, “Traditionally the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sought the help of librarians in limiting and controlling the information released to the public. Simultaneously, the FBI tried to collect information on library users. Since World War I, libraries complied with government requests” (438). It is because of these encroachments on the freedom of patrons that Thur argues for librarians to “to stand up and defend academic and intellectual freedom” in order to protect democracy in America (444).

Thur’s article has been immensely helpful to me over the last few years and I believe it will continue to be so in the future. It can’t really be compared to the other sources in this bibliography because it stands as a history of the profession in America and the ways in which ideas about patron freedoms have evolved. While Thur’s article doesn’t directly engage with any of my other sources, I do believe it to be both reliable and objective. It is clear where Thur stands on the current status of American librarians but she has also detailed a history that is not well-known.

It is for this reason that I believe this article to be so important. There is an overriding idea among many American librarians about how hard they have always fought for their patrons. This is a myth that needs to be laid to rest. As such, I believe that this article will pair well with the Radford’s discussion about the discourse of fear around libraries and librarians. At one time, librarians were to be feared, and the early behavior of American librarians is a good example of this. As such, I can say that it has strengthened my thinking about this subject and the importance of knowing your history.