Season 2 Episode 5

Early Career Researchers: Open Science and Activism

Over the course of our second season, we have tried to present a range of perspectives on open access, open science and various interconnecting knowledge equity issues.

Today – for our final episode – we are in conversation with two early career researchers – Denisse Albornoz, based in Lima, Peru and Antoinette Foster, based in Portland, Oregon. 

They both reflect on how the values of  openness, equity, safety, accountability and much more have influenced and informed their work and career trajectories both in academia and beyond. 

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Safa  

You are listening to the Unsettling Knowledge Inequities podcast, presented by the Knowledge Equity Lab and SPARC – the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.

Safa

Over the course of our second season, we have tried to present a range of perspectives on open access, open science and various interconnecting knowledge equity issues.

Today – for our final episode – we are in conversation with two early career researchers – Denisse Albornoz, based in Lima, Peru and Antoinette Foster, based in Portland, Oregon. 

They both reflect on how the values of  openness, equity, safety, accountability and much more have influenced and informed their work and career trajectories both in academia and beyond. 

Antoinette  

My name is Dr. Antoinette Foster. I’m a black Latina who uses she/her pronouns. And I currently work as a Co-Director at the Racial Equity and Inclusion Center at Oregon Health and Science University, which is based in Portland, Oregon in the US, and my role within that center is the Director of Community Transformation.

Denisse  

My name is Denisse, I was born in Ecuador, but I have been based in Lima for over 15 years. I’m a Digital Rights Community Researcher and my work for the past five years has been focused on developing research and programs at the intersection of technology, gender, and social justice.

Antoinette  

So I started at Oregon Health and Science University as a Neuroscience Graduate Student. And while I was there, I sort of gained real first hand experience, seeing how systemic racism operates within academic institutions. And so I helped start a group called the Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science, and this group is still going. And our mission is to increase racial and ethnic equity within our research programs at our school. And so when I was with this group, we used the idea of how systemic racism manifests to inform our strategy to advance racial equity. And so a little bit of background for folks who don’t know – systemic racism manifests in four ways, personally, interpersonally, institutionally and instructionally. And so the way we think about it is that personal and interpersonal manifestations really deal with kind of who we are, our values, our beliefs, and our behaviors, and institutional and structural racism really deals with institutional policies and procedures, as well as historical and cumulate effects of a system that gives an unjust amount of rights, resources and power to white folks over people of color. And so sort of with this knowledge, we formed a strategy of what we call the two prong approach, where on one side, we focus on community building and education. And that’s to address the personal and interpersonal aspects of racism. And then we also work on policy and procedure working with our administration to bring more equitable policies. And that kind of addresses a little bit more of the institutional and structural forms. And so we saw that this strategy really brought great value to our community. And we wanted to have an official strategy with our university, kind of institutionalizing this idea and have it done by people who were, you know, getting paid to do this work rather than a lift that was being done by students. And so we advocated for the creation of what we now call the Racial Equity and Inclusion Center. And the Racial Equity and Inclusion Center is a little unique in that it is not your kind of classic Center for Diversity that looks over an entire university, it’s actually really just focused on part of the university in an institute called the Vollum Institute. And inside of there, the Racial Equity and Inclusion Center, we work to identify and address embedded systemic racism, white supremacy, culture and colonialism in our culture policies and procedures. And so that’s kind of one part of who I am and what I’m doing. And then my introduction to open science is maybe a little odd, I was introduced to it through the idea that it was actually just programmers who wanted to be able to see other people’s code. And that was how the concept of open science was given to me when I was a student. And I wasn’t particularly interested in that conversation at the time, because my focus has always really been on equity. And so unless people are having conversations about equity in any space, it’s a little less interesting to me personally. It wasn’t until I went to an open scholarship conference where there was this really kind of transformative conversation that was happening on equity. And I started to become interested in it because I saw how open scholarship really had the power to advance equity in the areas that I was also interested in. And I became interested in it as well, because I heard some of the same values that open science was using, like, transparency, accessibility. And maybe at some point, I’ve heard open science also talk about accountability. And these were the same values that were important to me in equity spaces. And so that’s sort of how I got introduced into open science. I don’t really necessarily see myself as an open science or open scholarship person per se. I see myself as more of a advocate for equity in all spaces. And I think open scholarship is one of the areas that can help advance that.

Denisse  

Well, I have been focusing a lot on technology based abuse and this means basically how different communities who may be in a situation of vulnerability maybe due to their gender, to their ethnicity, to their sexual orientation, these communities are facing a lot of harm and abuse when they’re using technology or when they are online. This is an example of how we can be using a tool to express ourselves, but in that process in which we’re expressing ourselves, or we’re producing knowledge, we may also experience different forms of harm. And I think that the reason why I’m doing this work is very much thanks to all the lessons that I learned in the open access movement. I started out in the open access movement, I think back in 2013. And my first experience was actually just engaging with artists and with activists that were doing something very similar to what I mentioned, they were using technology to encourage women to speak out about sexual harassment. And they were doing really incredible work in terms of making sure that these online spaces were safe. And that women really felt like they could express themselves, express their stories, produce their own narratives about safety as women in their own cities, right. And I started really kind of questioning how technology could really have these two sides, right? It could really enable a lot of people to speak out and to tell their own stories, but it could also open up the door to experience harms and new forms of violence. So even back then, I was just kind of really grappling with these issues around knowledge equity, and how do we produce knowledge and what conditions need to exist for that knowledge sharing to be safe. And I shared these thoughts with Professor Leslie Chan, who has been an incredible mentor of mine for years. And he’s one of the pioneers of the open access movement. And I’m sure that everyone who listens to this podcast knows who Leslie is. And he just kind of heard me feeling very passionate about these issues. And he said, well, if you’re really interested in knowledge production and questioning how knowledge is produced, and who is benefiting from knowledge production, and who is maybe harmed by this process, you should really look into the open access movement. And when I did, to be completely honest, I felt like it was a very academic space. But when I started reading more about it, engaging with people that were activists in the open access movement, I realized that it was a very political space, where we were really kind of questioning what conditions need to exist in order for knowledge production to be truly equitable, to be inclusive, and for it to be safe, which is what I was really interested in at the moment.

Antoinette  

So like I said, I’ve been doing this work, basically, since I was in graduate school. And the way that this work has been received over time has been different. Let’s see, I maybe started graduate school in 2015, or something like that. And at the time, there was a bit of a national conversation about racism, but it was a very different conversation than what we aren’t having now. And so I think at the time, I just came across institutionalized racism quite a bit, as well as white supremacy culture. And what I mean by that is, when we formed a group and talked to our university about sort of the needs that we had, we had sort of the same response that a lot of people of color get at most universities across the US, which is really kind of questioning our experience, maybe forming some task force’s or committees that are a little bit dead end and don’t really go anywhere. And I think a lot of it comes  from a fundamental misunderstanding of how systems work,  of how racism works, of how racism is institutionalized. And I want to be really clear here, I don’t think that OHSU was really unique in this. I think sometimes when people of color sort of speak on their experiences with racism at universities, there might be a tendency to look at that university and say that that university is bad. But these are shared experiences across the US and globally. And the reason is because we’re all dealing with very similar or interrelated systems of oppression. So there was a lot of – not a lot of movement or traction, before, I would say the summer of last year. And we were able to have a little bit of a push forward during this social unrest and the protests that were happening during last summer. And at that time, I think the US maybe became a little bit more – I’ll say aware of some of the concepts of racism that have been happening and our institution made a pledge to become an anti racist institution. And our group saw this as a really great opportunity to sort of hold our institution accountable and ask them to invest in this type of strategy that we think is a bit more comprehensive. I think people sometimes focus on kind of diversity trainings or unconscious bias trainings at universities. And they don’t really work because it’s not enough. And it’s not enough because there’s an entire system in place. And so what we try to do is think about not just the culture, not just the unconscious bias, not just the beliefs and racial myths, but we’re also thinking about integrating this with policy changes and procedure changes, thinking about the ways that we recruit and retain students and faculty, and the ways that we’ve institutionalized racism, as well as other systems of oppression, like classism, into those metrics. And so we work directly with our leadership to do this work. But we’ve been doing this for about a year now. And I think that slowly we can see individual change, but cultural change takes a really long time. And so we’re really working on just the very beginning pieces of the puzzle.

Denisse  

I think that the main experience that really shifted how I thought about research and knowledge production was joining OCSDNet, that stands for the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network. And this was a network where researchers from over 20 countries were sharing their views on how we could build a more collaborative and democratic system for knowledge production. And they were raising these questions, right, who is producing the knowledge that we’re consuming to understand the world? Who is being left behind? What are some of the conditions that need to exist in order for knowledge production to be truly open and collaborative? And I got the chance to actually learn directly from some of the teams that were taking part of the research. So I recall, for example, being very inspired by the work that was happening in Indonesia, where they had artists collaborate with technologists in maker spaces, and just kind of create together. And I remember thinking at first, I’m not sure of what result they’re trying to achieve. But from them I learned that knowledge equity was not necessarily about having to have an end product. But it was much more about exploring the process of collaborating and exchanging different forms of knowledge. And just making sure that there are conditions for meaningful interaction, for meaningful collaboration. And that just kind of switched my gears away from the end result and more towards what are the conditions of the process and who is really participating in a meaningful way? And I got to interact with a group from South Africa that was led by Laura Foster and Catherine Trainor, if I remember correctly, and they were working on developing a contract with Indigenous knowledge holders regarding how to create conditions for safe knowledge exchange. And this was so important, particularly in that context, because Indigenous bodies and knowledges all around the world have been historically harmed in the context of colonialism and capitalism. And there’s always been extractive forms of knowledge collection and sharing, as opposed to it being collaborative and equitable and safe. So I think that thanks to OCSDNet, I really kind of started changing my, my way of thinking away from the end result. And I started thinking much more about the process. And Laura Foster and Catherine Trainor actually shared this notion with OCSDNet about “situated openness”, that is a concept that actually borrows from feminist literature on situated knowledge. And it invites everyone to think about just the context – in what context am I doing this research? Who is benefiting from this research? Who is being harmed by the research that I’m doing? Am I amplifying or am I mitigating power dynamics, and so on. So I think that that’s where I’m really focusing on now. When I think about open access, I think that for a very long time, the open access movement has been very focused on opening up access to the end result to just making sure that that journal article is available to read, but we haven’t been questioning enough the process of how we’re producing the knowledge in the first place. And I think that OCSDNet really encouraged me to kind of think more about that aspect of production as opposed to just the end result.

Antoinette  

For me, as an early career professional, I think I’ve had a lot of success working with people who are values aligned with me. And I’ve worked with another group called PREreview. And so they started off as a place where people could post and collaboratively review preprints. And it’s still that but now it’s turned into much more of a community. And working with the PREreview team, I was able to help them launch a program called the PREreview Open Reviewers program. And it’s a program that helps train and mentor early career researchers to allow them to contribute to peer review. And we also centered issues of equity, diversity and inclusion throughout our program. So we gave early career researchers some kind of formal training on how to give feedback, how to assess manuscripts, these kind of like hard skills for reviewing, but we also paired it with teaching them about how systems of oppression manifest within the peer review process. And we really talked about different areas of equity, and areas of inequity in the peer review process. And we gave our mentees tools for how to identify and address personal bias that they may have in the peer review process. And it was really wonderful working with PREreview, because, again, they were values aligned, people. We all really valued equity, we all really understood the importance of it, we understood why it was so important to center the most marginalized groups and build plans and involve people from those groups in our plans.  I mean I graduated a year ago, so I’m very early career professional. But I’ve been really fortunate because I’ve been able to work with these types of people. I know my experience isn’t necessarily the same as most early career professionals, especially in academia. I don’t want to say that there are a lot of people who are not values aligned – but I think it’s maybe true that in academia, there may not be as many people who are values aligned with the type of values we think are really critically important for creating equity. So I’ve been really fortunate in that way.

Denisse  

Well, I think that some of these lessons that I’ve been learning in the open access and open science movement have translated directly into the community work and community research that I do. I recall, for example, that when I used to go to OpenCon conferences, that are these conferences for early career researchers organized by SPARK, that really focus on debating about open access, open data, open education. And I remember a lot of early career researchers discussing about mental health in academia, and how important it was to introduce an ethics of care into academia and into these processes of knowledge production. And that’s something that really stuck with me throughout the years. So even though I’m not in academia anymore, and I’ve been doing more community based research, I think that kind of going back to the process, and thinking about whether I’m considering an ethics of care in the processes that I’m leading, that I’m designing is just a lesson that I brought from the open access movement. And just to give you an example, I’ve been working with an NGO for the past three, four years, doing a lot of research on gender based online violence. And these involves collaborating with violence survivors and collecting their stories. And of course, I wanted this process to be as safe as possible. So we really worked on building relationships with feminist and LGBTQ organizations, we created consent based mechanisms to define the research questions, so they could oversee every stage of the process. So they could also receive psychological support throughout the process. So we were really kind of focusing on making sure that that process was safe. But what we did not account for was how this constant sharing and exchanging of memories of violence and of trauma was also having a big impact over the researchers as well. And this was a team that was made up of very diverse, empathetic, very committed women who have also lived and grown up in a patriarchal society, who also faced gender based violence everyday, who also feel neglected by their governments. So the process of just being part of this research was incredibly exhausting and violent for them as well. So even though we had put a lot of effort into developing a knowledge production process that was meant to address certain types of inequities, we were reproducing them within our team and within our own process. So I think that just having had these conversations about the ethics of care, allowed us to recognize that that was happening. And we also had the privilege to count with the support of our partners and are funders to kind of change the direction of our research in order to mitigate these harms that were emerging in the research process, right. Just to have, for example, open conversations about how researchers negotiate their own experiences and their own memories when they’re participating in this type of high risk research. So I think that I also learned that doing open research also means open as in honest, being vulnerable, being willing to recognize that every research is situated in a complex web of power dynamics that need to be addressed as soon as you recognize them, rather than just kind of silencing them or ignoring them, right. So even though the result of this research was not published in an open access journal, we really try to look at every stage of the process and make sure that we were integrating these values that are really discussed in the open access and the open science movement.

Antoinette  

So in terms of personal experience, for instance, I was – I’ve been encouraged not to publish in open scholarship journals. I’ve known colleagues who’ve been encouraged not to publish in open scholarship journals. You know, it’s pretty common to see these high prestige journals be valued more when it comes to admissions, whether that’s faculty or student admissions, when they’re looking at who’s published where – that’s always part of the conversation. And so, I think, even if I didn’t have that experience, personally, I think almost everyone who’s been in research probably has some shared experience that we’ve seen that open scholarship journals are less valued. And I think for me, that’s kind of one of the many reasons why I personally left formal research. I know I’m not saying anything that people don’t already know. But these high prestige journals are this idea that we need to publish in quote, unquote, the best journals, it’s just rife. Rife with what systemic oppression, it’s rife with classism. It’s rife with racism, it’s rife with a lot of structural issues. And because that is so normalized and pervasive in academia, that that is the reason why I left. That’s the reason why I didn’t want to pursue a career in research anymore. We ask ourselves a lot, what makes people leave academic spaces or research. And for a lot of the people that I know, for a lot of people of color, it’s this type of culture. It’s not that people couldn’t hack it, it’s that it’s not aligned with the type of people that we are. And so now, you know, I’m no longer in formal research, but I am working to change those systems within research. I think one of the things I wish somebody would have told me is that it’s okay to leave research. And I think a lot of people are pressured to stay in research or to stay in academia. And there’s a lot of shame in leaving – you couldn’t hack it, or only the best to get through or whatever beliefs are kind of upholding this idea that you can’t leave research or it’s less than. I mean, I remember being told by faculty members that I respected that if I left research, and I worked on trying to do cultural changes, or I tried to work on eliminating or addressing embedded systemic racism, that I would be wasting my talents. I was really down about it, because as I mentioned before, I’m a black Latina. I am also an HHMI Gilliam Scholar. And so I received this really amazing fellowship, that was partly really one of the only reasons that I was able to make it through grad school. And I felt so guilty because here I am, as a black Latina, that has the opportunity to make it through the quote unquote, leaky pipeline – I had this pressure to stay in research because I owed it to other people to do that. I owed it to other people to stay in the space and create a pathway for them. I owed it to future students of color who needed mentors that look like me. And I felt like I was given an opportunity and I squandered it because I didn’t want to stay in research. That guilt really just kept me down and I was really in my head about it for a really long time. And I think that what I would want for any other people who are kind of struggling with this, I know this is actually a really common thing for for scientists of color, what I want to communicate is that it’s okay to leave. It’s okay because what everyone wants, what we want for you, what you want for other people is for us to be okay, and for us to be happy. And for us to do things that we feel fulfilled and inspired by. And it’s okay if this wasn’t it. For me, it was okay to leave research and I felt good about leaving formal research because I knew at least If I wasn’t going to be the mentor that people could look up to, that I could at least try to change the spaces and the systems that people were in, that made them not want to be there in the first place. But even if people don’t go on to do stuff like that, if they go on to, I don’t know, open a brewery, then good for you, because you have an amazing skill set. And you deserve to be happy with whatever you do, you don’t have to stay in a particular place out of guilt or obligation to other people. At the end of the day, we want you to be happy and you want other people like you to be happy, too. And so, yeah, I would just tell other people who are in my position and feel the same way that it’s okay.

Denisse  

Well, in my case, I decided to leave academia, maybe four or five years ago, because I personally felt like the processes that are established within academia just remain to distant from the people that I want to reach with my work. I felt like, for example, publishing information or knowledge about gender based violence in a journal article was not necessarily going to reach the people who need this information the most. So in my personal case, I think that community based research allowed me the opportunity to form the relationships, to create the more care based consent based processes, then the opportunities that I was seeing within academia. And I think that another thing that really stood out to me was that I had heard experiences of peers of mine who were starting out their careers in academia, and they heard from more experienced researchers that for example, publishing in an open access journal would be academic suicide. And I remember feeling like that was so heartbreaking and how discouraging it might have felt for these people who are asking for advice, because these are people who were aspiring to have job security in academia. And what this advice does is basically tell them that they have to give that up in order to choose open access. And it really frustrated me that basically non open access journals or big publishers are relying on researchers feeling this way. They’re relying on researchers feeling like they do not have an option – that it’s either their careers or choosing open access. They basically depend on academics feeling scared or unsure, or like they do not have a choice in order for their for-profit model to be successful and to make sense. So I was just kind of really frustrated with some of the norms that exist within academia. But what I will say is that right now  there’s so much energy, also, within the open access and the open science movement. There are a lot of incredible mentors as well, that are willing to provide support to early career researchers who really want to publish their work in open access journals, because they truly believe in the mission of the movement. And I would really encourage early career researchers to seek support, to seek mentorship, because they’re not alone. And they should not have to feel the burden of trying to be consistent with their values, because that is a really hard journey. And they shouldn’t feel like they’re alone in that process. I would really encourage them to rely on their communities, to rely on mentorship, to seek mental health support, because that is a huge issue in academia as well. And to just be very creative. There are many ways in which researchers and academics can collaborate with artists, with activists, with just communities that are producing knowledge in other formats and with other communities who are forming other types of relationships. So just collaborate with people who you feel will bring you closer to the communities that you want to work with. I think that would be my advice.

Antoinette  

I think change is really slow. And I haven’t maybe necessarily seen as much as I would maybe want to. But I think less about sort of what specific thing I want to see. And I think more about how I want it to look. Because I feel like if we can start with how we want it to look, then our next step is to say okay, can we take this and in every space that we’re in, how do we bring or what are we going to do to bring this how in? And so for me, in 10 to 20 years from now, I would like to see that our systems of knowledge production and dissemination, I would want them to reflect more interdependence, and less hierarchy and more trustworthiness and at all levels. I would like to be able to see more people use the concept of equity as it relates to power to drive their decisions. I want to see the lives and needs of marginalized populations centered in the conversation in every way. And I would like to see the way that we’re doing things just be so much more transparent, so that the people can hold each other accountable. And I want to see us value health and wellness of people at all levels as sort of the most important thing to our work. And for us to value people over profit, which is not the direction that we’re in now. When we value people over profit, we value their health, we value their well being, we value their knowledge. Every decision that we make, I want us to think through what the potential impact could be for the most vulnerable populations. I think if we can move away from the ideas of either or thinking or paternalism or competition at all costs, then maybe we can be more aligned with each other and aligned with the earth. And I think that this is so much of what I’ve learned from Indigenous knowledge and I’d like to see Indigenous knowledge valued. And for those who are sort of at the edge of society to become the center, and I know it sounds kind of like a fluff answer. It sounds kind of like I just want the world to be a better place. But that is that is sort of how – that is how I see it. I want us to sort of use those things that I mentioned to guide our decisions. And I think when we see that we’ll see major transformations of not just the way that knowledge is disseminated or produced, but the way that we are with each other and with the Earth, I think it would fundamentally change who we are as people. How would it feel for everyone in a room to feel valued all of the time? What would that be like? What would it look like if we had more even distribution of power, in the spaces that we were all in? I just feel like when we don’t have those things, everyone is hurt, and including those who are at the top of hierarchies, including those who hold the most power. And when w don’t do things in this way we hurt ourselves. I think we can see that with climate change, I think we can see that there are just so many examples of how when we aren’t valuing the health and well being and empowerment and lives of each other and of the earth, then we all suffer.

Denisse  

Working currently in the community based research field, I think that I’m just really, really inspired by activism, and just how knowledge is produced and shared in activism. And I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration and just learning – stepping back and learning from feminist activists, Indigenous activists, scholars who are really kind of unpacking decolonization of knowledge as well. And there is a huge tradition of that in Latin America. I would really encourage, whether you’re a researcher and academic to look at other spaces to learn about knowledge production. Because for example, in the case of activism, there is a very strong focus on just making sure that there is trust within a space of knowledge sharing, there is a strong focus on making sure that there is a lot of consent, that there’s opportunities for you to consent to being recorded, to consent to having that conversation, to refuse to have a conversation and have the opportunity to leave. And that’s also super important in a space where you’re sharing knowledge about violence, about structural violence, right? If you’re talking about feminism, you’re talking about the patriarchy as well, if you’re talking about Indigenous ways of living, you’re probably talking about the very violent legacies of colonialism. So you need to have certain mechanisms in place when you’re sharing that knowledge and where you’re exchanging these experiences. And I think that’s something that I’m really learning from activism that I think should be incorporated into any knowledge production practice. Just making sure that there’s always safety, that all the mechanisms are consent based, and that there is a sense of community trust before knowledge is shared in order for it to be safe. I would love to see much more focus on accessibility and on knowledge translation in general. There’s this feminist activist, she’s from Latin America, her name is Aurora Levins Morales, and she talks a lot about language, and how language is never neutral, how language is very political. And she explains how our choice of language will always reveal our intentions. So when we choose to express ourselves in a particular way, we’re also revealing who we’re writing for or who we’re talking to, or I would even add we are revealing who we’re writing with. So I think that this is something that we really need to keep in mind especially if we are in an academic space that really relies on academic jargon, on a particular set of codes that need to exist in order for academic knowledge to be considered valuable or to be considered legitimate. And I’ve been reflecting a lot about this in my work in gender based violence, because a lot of survivors usually need very technical knowledge in order to access their rights. They need legal knowledge, they need knowledge about digital security. And these are disciplines that are very hard to access because of the language that they’re using. So this is just kind of to reflect on how, even if you have published something that is open and it’s available – if it’s expressed in a way in which it cannot be understood, and it cannot be used by the people who need it the most, then you don’t have true access. Quite the opposite, you’re actually reinforcing some of the barriers that create exclusion, that  create epistemic injustice, right. So I think that that is a big one, if we’re trying to approach a system that has knowledge equity at the center, we need to think more about these collaborations with artists, with activists or with whatever community that will allow researchers to bring knowledge and information closer to the communities who need it the most, I think that is the first one. And the second one, I would say safety. I think safety is a huge one, especially now that we’re relying so much on technology, to have spaces of knowledge exchanging and knowledge sharing. And also because of the work that I’m doing, I really witnessed how the Internet, for example, has become an incredibly violent place for women, for the LGBTQ community for gender non conforming people. And I think this definitely applies to researchers who are part of those communities as well. And now with the Facebook files, we’re also learning how some of the tools that big tech is designing are not necessarily designed with the safety of these communities in mind. So I really draw inspiration from feminist activism. And what feminist internet advocates are saying is that another internet is possible, that we can start designing our own spaces for knowledge sharing, that we can see ourselves as capable of refusing to participate in systems that have been designed to harm us or who or that are not addressing the harm that they are causing us. And I think like I really draw inspiration from that, to think about knowledge equity ecosystems, I really hope that 10 / 20 years from now, we have a safer, more just knowledge sharing ecosystem that really enables us to feel like we can not be dependent on big publishers or on big tech. And that makes us feel like we can create a different ecosystem that brings us closer to epistemic justice, to a space in which more voices are equitably heard, and we’re more identities and communities are equitably participating.

Antoinette  

I want to share a hope that I have for open scholarship. And my hope is that that open scholarship, especially because it’s being sort of respected on larger and larger scales, what I’m really hopeful for is that open scholarship can really be a tool to catalyze critical conversations about equity, conversations that we struggle to have in our society. I think if we can think about equity in the context of open scholarship, it starts to open the doors to the ways that these systems that we’re talking about – systems of oppression, are embedded into open scholarship. And then once you see that, you start to say, Okay, well, actually, I can see that in this space over here as well and also in this space over here. And so my hope for open scholarship is that we can use it as a tool to be able to normalize conversations about equity, especially in research, and use that as sort of our foot in the door to really start to have additional meaningful conversations about the ways that these systems have been embedded into every other place that we touch.

Denisse  

I think that I would invite early career researchers or professionals to really give open access a chance. I will be honest and say that at first, I was very intimidated by the movement because for my own work, it just seemed very academic centric, or that they were addressing issues that I particularly didn’t fully understand yet at the time. But what the open access movement really allowed me to do is to be more critical of any knowledge production process that I engaged in. So even if it’s academic research or if it’s community based research, the questions that the open access and the open science movement are asking about: who is knowledge produced for? Who is knowledge produced with? Who is benefiting? Who is being harmed? What are the power dynamics in these processes are so important, just to make sure that anything we engage with, anything that we do is, is really addressing social transformation, that it really is working towards social justice. And I think that it really made me a more introspective researcher as well, just being willing to recognize our own role in these structures, because everyone is within a context where there’s power dynamics, and we’re always sitting over different layers of privilege and oppression. And in my particular case, I think that just asking myself these questions allowed me to recognize where I was situated, recognize also those moments in which we become complicit of these dynamics of power that we’re working to eradicate or that we’re working to dismantle. And also allowed me to identify what were the best moments to become agents of change, or what were the best moments to just step back and listen from the people who are leading the movement. So if anyone is intimidated by what open access offers, I would invite them to just step in and listen to some of the questions that are being asked in this space and just do some introspection, in terms of what type of knowledge production process I want to support, and what type of knowledge producer I want to be. And in my case, it’s been incredibly meaningful. It’s been eye opening. And it’s also allowed me to, as I mentioned, recognize that I’m not innocent, there’s no one who is innocent. We all participate in these power dynamics. So it’s important to recognize that in order to address it.

Antoinette  

And to the younger listeners, I just want to say, I continued to be inspired by young people who are around me all the time. I think there’s so much sort of ingrained paternalism, thinking that younger people don’t have something to offer when the way that I see it is that they actually have so much to offer because they are kind of less bogged down over decades and have less blinders on. So they’re able to see things in more radical and in transformative and inspiring ways. And so I’m just really excited to see what young people do,  what they produce, the shifts that young people are able to make. So I’m so excited to see what y’all do.

Safa  

Thank you so much to Antionette and Denisse for the important work you do and for sharing your reflections with us all.

If you are provoked by what you heard today and want to dive further into these issues, we invite you to join us at the Knowledge Equity Lab. 

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