Tackling the climate crisis requires rapidly exchanging knowledge across geographic, economic, and disciplinary boundaries. That’s why the theme for Open Access Week 2022 is ‘Open for climate justice’. To mark this, we’re talking to researchers who’ve published open access climate research under Springer Nature’s Transformative Agreements to find out more about their work and why they feel open access is so vital for tackling climate change.
In this blog, we hear from David F. J. Campbell, researcher and lecturer at the University for Continuing Education Krems (UWK) and Associate Professor in Political Science at the University of Vienna.
Across the globe and across research disciplines urgent work is being undertaken to study, understand, and mitigate the impact of climate change. As well as highlighting this work through a curated collection of research, for Open Access (OA) Week 2022, we’ve been speaking to researchers across different disciplines about their research, their views on climate justice and how OA publishing can make a difference to both.
Professor David F. J. Campbell’s research focuses on knowledge, innovation, the knowledge economy and democracy. In a recent paper, co-published OA in Journal of the Knowledge Economy he explores the idea that ecology and environmental protection represent a necessity and challenge for humanity, but they also act as drivers for further knowledge and innovation.
“Debates about climate and ecology are often framed as being about cost,” says Professor Campbell. “We ask ‘what does it actually cost us economically or financially to be ecologically sensitive?’ But we’re not considering that something that’s profitable in the short run may be a disaster from a long-term perspective.
“For example, suppose you have a brutal innovation regime trying to extract primarily natural resources while disregarding the ecological costs. This approach could make a lot of monetary sense in the short run. But the long-term implications could be significantly different.
“We should consider instead how being more ecologically sensitive can be an opportunity and actually a driver of economies and growth. My research posits that an ecologically sensitive democracy becomes something essential for the further evolution of knowledge and innovation systems.”
Researchers, campaigners, politicians, policymakers – and society at large – need access to research about the climate crisis. This makes OA publishing all the more important, allowing anyone, anywhere to learn from – and build upon – the results of the research published.
“Climate change is affecting the whole world, but in particular the so-called Global South,” says Professor Campbell. “It's affecting less privileged communities and countries in the world who are also often economically not as affluent. This is why open access publications are essential and why open access is so closely related to climate justice.
“To have global narratives and debates about the climate crisis the many nations and communities affected by it need to be included. Open access gives them a chance, at least to a certain extent, to participate in these narratives and debates and understand the latest research.
“Open access of course is not financially for free – someone has to pay for it. Considering climate change is a global responsibility, investing in open access – both by institutions and publishers – in the Global North is one way in which we can make sure those most affected still benefit from the research.”
Professor Campbell published his research under the Austria Transformative Agreement. This meant that as a corresponding author affiliated with an Austrian university or research institution, he was eligible to publish OA with the publication fees covered.
“I'm very happy, as somebody located in Austria, that the Austrian universities have put this agreement in place,” he says. “The processing of the open access fee was very simple. Springer told me that they would contact the representative of the university. And within one or two days I got the confirmation that the university would pay the open access fee. I was expecting there would be a lot of administration involved, but actually it was incredibly quick.”
A positive experience with OA publishing in 2012, when he co-published an article in Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, encouraged Professor Campbell to pursue other open access publications.
“My 2012 article has been accessed over 90,000 times,” he says. “I think if it had been behind a pay wall, this would not have been the case. My recent article, published with Elias Carayannis in 2021, already has over 3,000 accesses and 17 citations. Publishing open access makes your work easier to share. And you can use it without any complications for your teaching or for job applications and so on because you can just share the link.”
While Professor Campbell’s experience of OA has been overwhelmingly positive, we also asked him what more could be done to support researchers in publishing open access.
“I've personally benefited a lot from the Austrian Transformative Agreement,” he says. “So I would hope that this agreement will continue and that other researchers will have access to similar agreements. And I think that higher education institutions should be taking open access fees into account in budget calculations.
“From the publisher side, I think it would be great to see increasing flexibility. So, for example, if your institution does not or cannot pay the open access fees, could there be something like a loan system for authors? Or the possibility to split the payment over a number of months or years?
“And then, of course, there are other options for flexibility – such as making articles open access after a certain period of time. Or allowing authors to choose chapters of books to be published OA, for example, a monograph, even if the whole book cannot be. I think considering all the options and being as flexible as possible is key.”
David F. J. Campbell is a Faculty Researcher and Teacher at the Department for Higher Education Research at the University for Continuing Education Krems , an Associate Professor with the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna, and a Publication Strategist for the University of Applied Arts Vienna. His publications and research work on higher education, innovation, quality of knowledge democracy, the arts, the ecology and climate can be followed on the internet. He acts as a Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Springer book series “Arts, Research, Innovation and Society”.