How OA books are supporting the SDGs: An interview with Professor Anthony Good

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Fri Dec 3 2021

Author: Guest contributor

Open access (OA) advances research on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - as OA easily connects researchers and their work to policy makers, business leaders, and professionals who can put discoveries into practice. Open access books are easy to find and share, allowing for authors to increase the real-world impact of their work. We invite you to take a closer look and read interviews with OA book authors that illustrate how publishing their books OA has extended their impact and reach. In this interview Anthony Good, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh discusses his experience of publishing an OA book and the impact this has made.

Could you share a short introduction about your OA book? What were you hoping to achieve with your book?

This book comes at what is a crucial time for Europe, when mainland Europe is receiving unusually large numbers of people displaced by violence in the Middle East; when efforts to exteriorise border controls have heightened; and when the consequences for migration patterns of the UK’s exit from the European Union are still almost entirely unclear. The European Union is consolidating its attempts to implement the Common European Asylum System. This book represents the fruits of years of detailed in-person observations of the often obscured legal and administrative processes by which asylum claims are decided. 

The legal and administrative structures for processing and assessing asylum claims, and controlling or deporting those who make them, have been portrayed on the one hand as increasingly important to the economic and social well-being, and even the physical safety, of European citizens; and on the other, as grossly inadequate and inefficient, and in urgent need of root and branch reform. 

In such circumstances, it is remarkable that so little empirical research has been carried out into how these structures actually operate in practice. The great bulk of the research that has been done on administrative and legal systems of asylum determination falls under the heading of legal studies rather than social science and is thus primarily normative rather than critical in its stance. Our book sought to help remedy these lacunae. The contributors’ analyses seek to set concepts and practices within a broader socio-cultural context; unlike doctrinal academic lawyers, their ultimate analytical vantage point is located outside the legal paradigm itself.

Why did you choose to make your book available on an open access basis?

The hope was that the book would be more widely accessible and hence have greater impact, as indeed proved to be the case. This was significant above all because of the importance of the theme itself, and – more parochially – because several contributors were recently-graduated PhD students whose careers would benefit from greater exposure.

How was the open access fee (book processing charge) funded?

My co-editor, Nick Gill, was fortunate enough to have a European Research Council research grant that provided most of the cost. A couple of the chapter authors also contributed.

Tell us about the relationship with your funder – do they have a strong open access policy? How did you start working with them?

The European Research Council supports open access publishing, it considers “providing free online access to these materials is the most effective way of ensuring that the fruits of the research it funds can be accessed, read, and used as the basis for further research”.

Why did you choose to publish this book with Palgrave Macmillan?

The Palgrave Socio-Legal Studies series seemed the obvious place for it. I also knew that one of my long-term Edinburgh colleagues, Prof Mike Adler, was publishing in the same series.

How were you hoping that open access would help with achieving your goals?

By increasing awareness of the book and making it more widely read.

What benefits or impact have you seen from publishing this book open access? Do you think publishing OA helped?

The number of downloads far exceeded (at least one hundred-fold) the number of sales we could have anticipated for a conventional publication, currently at 72,000 single chapter digital downloads and 44 citations. In fact, the book topped the Amazon Kindle OA charts for Anthropology for almost two months and was briefly top of the Sociology chart too.

How did you and your co-authors/editors promote the book?

Mainly through relevant news/discussions groups such as the Refugee Legal Group, Pluri-legal and MigrationLaw.

Do you have any advice to others considering publishing their next book or chapter open access? 

I would certainly encourage them to do so.

Would you publish open access again?

Absolutely; in fact, I have just signed a contract for a new open access book.

Learn more about open access books and how they are supporting the SDGs

Anthony Good © Springer Nature
About Anthony Good

Anthony Good is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. His field research in Tamil Nadu, South India, focused on family and kinship and later on the ceremonial economy of a large Hindu temple. In the 1990s he was a social development consultant for DfID, advising on NGO-implemented development projects. He has frequently acted as an expert witness in asylum appeals involving Sri Lankans and carried out ESRC-funded research into uses of expert evidence in the British asylum courts, as well as AHRC-funded research on asylum processes in France and the UK, together with Dr Robert Gibb.



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