Open

I’m not really aware of any open-access journals in sociology, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any. Indeed, DOAJ lists 160 open-access sociology journals. My lack of awareness stems instead from how rarely I find myself locked outside of paid access journals. Typically I have access through the GC, and if not I can usually find a copy somewhere on the internet. While gaining access would certainly be harder without a university affiliation, quite frankly if I was no longer in the academy I’m not sure how much time I would be spending reading academic texts. What makes the tragic possible jail sentence in the¬†Aaron Swartz case particularly absurd is how few of those texts would have probably been read or even noticed by non-academic readers. For me then, more interesting than regularly old journals that have turned themselves open access are those online journals that have taken up the new possibilities the internet provides to display information and provocation. One example of this is Lateral, the relatively new online journal of the Cultural Studies Association. Lateral is designed to be a “place of experimentation in the range of material forms so that the knowing, feeling, sensibility we ascribe to the cultural can find an elastic and sustainable outlet for expression.” Thus we find lots of text but also maps, games, sound and lots of pictures and interactive graphics. Perhaps the innovative design of Lateral makes it more challenging to cite (what’s the ASA format of a “mash-up” on an interactive website?), and certainly it is harder for students to quickly skim in order to find more sources to pad their papers, but what it loses in ease of use I think it more than makes up for in pushing academics to do work that is perhaps actually interesting enough for things like “open-access” to even matter.