From Access to Praxis: The Case for Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Public Good

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This dissertation investigates how open access is challenging the renovation of the scholarly communication system, presents an argument why open access is an imperative for the sustainability of the humanities and social sciences disciplines (HSS), and supports the values of knowledge sharing for the benefit of society. The research adopts the position that public citizens are stakeholders in the debate about access to research. It examines the normative basis of access to research, and creates a theoretical vision for knowledge flow between scholars and their publics. The dissertation is informed by scholarship about the knowledge society, definitions of the public good, and a political economy understanding of knowledge. As part of this investigation, the dissertation also details the history of scholarly publishing and the recent history of the Open Access movement. The research employed a mixed methods approach to understand the issues around access to research, using surveys and interviews to gather the views and experiences of knowledge translators and professionals in the social sciences and humanities disciplines. Feedback from research participants contributes to a communication theory centered around the concept of knowledge flow, emphasizing research engagement with society, reflexivity as the key to knowledge transfer, the importance of capturing the benefits of HSS research, and ethical research practice. The research findings support the conclusion that without access to research, praxis, or the possibility of turning research into action, is also impeded. Finally, the dissertation also emphasizes that not only instrumental or utility-focused research warrants accessibility, but all research in the humanities and social sciences -- whether foundational, theoretical, esoteric or critical -- because this research takes society as its subject.
open access, research, knowledge, humanities and social sciences, praxis, knowledge mobilization, research impacts, scholarly publishing, serials crisis, democratization of knowledge
Whiteley, A. M. (2019). From Access to Praxis: The Case for Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Public Good (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from