in which one tries single-handedly to disrupt academic publishing, but as it turns out all the good intentions in the world won't turn a learning designer into a sysadmin.


Ascilite 2011

This project characterised a shift in my work to focus on the research component of my academic role, and how I could apply my disruptive innovation mindset to the conduct of research. At this time I had also commenced my Master’s studies which would later convert to a PhD, and was facing the reality of writing a large body of work that would die a silent death in print form in the basement of a library, somewhere many years hence.

Engaging in this reality of traditional publishing was difficult and unfulfilling for me, particularly in regards to the external impact of my work I had found through disseminating my work via Twitter and blog posts. And while traditional research publication had ventured into the online space, it had held fast to the same conceptual principles rather than engaging with the affordances of digital spaces - the title of the paper was an (somewhat awkward - awkward popular culture and language references in paper titles is a recurring theme of mine) attempt to capture the expat analogue inherent in this.

At that point in time conversations on open access and digital scholarship were beginning to emerge but the sector at large had yet to see any real impact. I delved into the work of those arguing for digital scholarship - Bonnet (2009), Esposito (2011) and Moxley (2001) all encouraged my conviction that something needed to change, and that something was publishing research openly online.

I also saw the problems inherent in the blind peer review processes of journal publication - Pannell (2002) articulates many of these. I was also convinced that publishing openly online on a comment-enabled platform where all critique was forced out into the open would remediate many of these - admirable conceptually but I was naive to the scale of the structural issues that meant people were unwilling to come to this particular party.

In recognising that there was a need for a digital publishing space for academics who didn’t feel the affordances of standard blogging platforms quite fit the needs of research publication, I was determined to create such a space to give to the community. I rapidly taught myself rudimentary system administration and PHP editing in order to set up and host a WordPress-based academic publishing platform called oScholar. This was well-received conceptually, but had low uptake and it soon became apparent that I did not have the capacity to be a systems administrator and provide the ongoing support usually expected with online tools. I ultimately disabled the platform and the project dissolved into the fringes of academic publishing discourse.


Bonnet, C. (2009). Preserving Scholarship in a Digital World. Duke University Libraries.

Esposito, J. (2011). Publishing Through the Wormhole: A New Format for the Born-digital Publisher. The Scholarly Kitchen.

Moxley, J.M. (2001). Universities should require electronic theses and dissertations. Educause Quarterly, 2001(3).

Pannell, D.J. (2002). Prose, psychopaths and persistence. AARES 2002: the 46th Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.