I was trawling through the posts on the CUNY Academic Commons last week and I came across this post celebrating the recently crowned PH.D.’s in the CUNY Grad Center’s English program. This was of particular interest to me because I was once a part of the venerable Ph.D. program in English at the Grad Center. Back in my salad days when I was but green in judgement I was hoping to accomplish the Herculean task of completing a dissertation just as those 31 relieved folks listed in that post have done. Alas, ed-tech got in the way and I became a beauty school drop-out.
I was intrigued by a few of the dissertation titles and did some searching. In particular, I did a search for Amanda Licastro‘s composition and rhetoric research on e-portfolios, a topic I have some vague familiarity with—if only to refute how we blanketly define them in higher ed. And bam, I found that a vast majority of the recent Ph.D.’s in the English program have their dissertations freely available for download through the CUNY Academic Works site. How cool is that? A local case of open access research for the win, now it’s time to explore open formats 🙂 It also made me wonder why the English department post didn’t link to the dissertations given they listed them all and provided the text I needed to discover them via search. That should be a basic requirement, links still make the web the web.
Fact is, in just the last ten years with the explosion of fairly simple web publishing frameworks we have entered a new age for open access research, and even as the publishing companies try ever harder to control the means of academic research production, a quick search on the web suggests the forces are everywhere against them. But it doesn’t end at research, a quick search for professor Licastro’s dissertation brings up her personal site on the Commons, various presentations, and even a short video about the work she is doing in the classroom at Stevenson University
Fact is access and openness can start with one’s research, dissertation, etc., but it quickly becomes a multi-faceted frame of people working through ideas in time and space. I never cease to find this element of the web compelling, and it always seemed to me to fit so beautifully with the pursuits of scholarship.