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'Radical Academia: Beyond the Audit Culture Treadmill' by Rowan Cahill and Terry Irving

Part I of this article, ‘Missing in Action’, was originally published on the ‘Radical Ruminations’ page of the Cahill/Irving blog Radical Sydney/Radical History, 19 May 2015. It was subsequently posted on the website where it attracted 175 responses. Part II, ‘What Can Be  Done?’, is the response to these by the authors in the form of a series of notes.*

by Rowan Cahill and Terry Irving


Marxist scholarship, already on the defensive for political reasons inside university economics faculties, often retreated into scholastic debates over texts or into abstruse mathematical calculations as remote from the real world as those of their mainstream colleagues.” So wrote Chris Harman in Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx (Bookmarks Publications, 2009). It was not just in economics that the radicals retreated; it happened in all the social sciences and humanities. And not just because of political timidity; they had been outflanked. Knowledge production had changed in ways that disadvantaged radicals.

This happened as universities ceased being elite institutions variously producing educated and research elites. They transformed and morphed to become business institutions producing masses of highly educated graduates for an ever increasing array of employment situations, and specialist
Snapshot: Academics labouring for the audit culture
researchers for their own use, conducting their operations and accountability processes on models adapted/adopted from the corporate and business worlds.

While the numbers of academics needed to service these institutions dramatically expanded, this did not lead to the democratisation of knowledge and research, nor to the creation of an intellectual commons. Instead, academic jobs and career advancement came to rely on knowledge production in specified quantities (amounts varying between and within institutions) gifted to and published in a hierarchy of journals of varying status and prestige, some more preferred than others, most of which ultimately were, or came, under the control and/or ownership of huge multi-billion-dollar global publishing empires.

These publications tended to have their own preferred styles, genres, and content ranges, their editors/editorial boards in effect acting as intellectual conditioners and gatekeepers. In the affluent world, in whatever country, in whatever institution, as this process gathered pace the role of academic/scholar as ‘researcher’ and ‘thinker’ became that of vassal labourer, reliant on the multinational-billion-dollar scholarly publishing empires for employment/career advancement. 

Mostly funded by public monies, the items the vassals produced as part of their labour were handed over for free to private enterprise where, with the development of cyber technologies, they were locked up behind the paywalls and liberated on a user-pay basis, a one-way financial process that totally excluded/excludes the original creator/producer. The scale and extent of this sort of intellectual production is immense. While reliable figures are difficult to come by, estimates of the number of peer-reviewed papers published globally place the figure at around 1.5 million items annually.

The cost per download of an article under this system often approximates to the cost of a mass-marketed paperback book, hence the huge profits generated by academic publishers, it being a necessary part of the academic research model to mine and trawl within the relevant empires of published research.  Scientific scholarly/academic publisher Elsevier, for example, reported revenue of $US3.5 billion, and a profit of $US1.5 billion, in 2013.

Further, the accountability processes adopted in the business model of university tended to demand not only production as quantity, and as publication, but also evidence that this material had been used/utilised, which came to rely on referencing and citation and use in the same or related outlets as the original material appeared in. This in turn was conducive to the creation of gated intellectual communities, encouraging and perpetuating discussions and the framing of ideas in genres of writing and language that could only be understood by, and therefore attract the interest of, niche and specialised audiences of similar ilk. The success of a piece of academic/scholarly work came to be measured in terms of its circulation within the larger world of gated intellectual communities, that being the audience sought, it never being the aim of the process to engage in a democratic way with the public in general, to reach beyond the niche. 

What we have, in effect, is the colonisation of scholarship and research and the creation by the coloniser, the academic publishers, of metropoles of learning/knowledge, within which there is enough room for creative manoeuvre and difference, but only within the metropole. It is a mode of intellectual work and production that is not inclusive, but parallel to and compounding for example, what Raewyn Connell drew attention to in the pioneering Southern Theory: The global dynamics of knowledge in the social sciences (Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2007): the systematic historical neglect by the affluent intellectual worlds of Europe and North America of the richness of social science understandings and insights from Africa, Latin America, Asia, and within these their alternative modes of intellectual activity and production.

For the radical/dissident scholar/academic with a passion for social justice, or with the evils of capitalism in her/his sites, the career questions have not been of the kind ‘what social justice problem has your work been used to address?; what social movements, picket lines, barricades, revolts, insurrections, etc, etc, has your work helped inspire/inform?’; not ‘what public forums, outlets has your work been referenced/appeared in?’, but rather ‘in what journal, what scholarly book (with a very small print-run, say 200 copies, and a huge price tag) has your work appeared in?, in which part of what multi-billion-dollar scholarly/academic publishing empire has your work been drawn upon/cited/referenced?’

Moreover, when it came/comes to the actual physical presence/participation of the scholar/academic in public affairs, forums, and events outside of the academy, there were and are constraints. Workloads are such that after teaching and administrative/bureaucratic responsibilities, including the huge bureaucratic process associated with the career prerequisite of competitively seeking funding and grants, have been attended to, and after research has taken place, there is little time for public affairs, especially if a personal life and rest and recreation are also the rights of the academic/scholar. Add to this the imperative to write and publish, and the work of the academic that has emerged in the modern business university is one conducive to life spent as an inhabitant of an institutional and intellectual enclosure.

It was and is a working/creative environment where the radical/dissident intellectual worker could come to view the production of a published scholarly/academic piece as a political act and as the engagement in struggle/contestation. The mode of intellectual production and its related publishing model in turn shaped the political/public behaviour of the university based intellectual worker.

 Given all this, it is easy, perhaps ‘natural’, to think that this is the intellectual/scholarly model, that this is the way academics/scholars behave, and should behave. No matter that a cursory glance backwards shows that considerable thinking and ideas and understandings of great intellectual significance in the humanities and social sciences were given birth away from the academy, often in publications/formats that today would be regarded ‘off limits’ so far as academic/scholarly career prospects and advancement are concerned, and one only has to mention in regard to Europe, Gramsci and Benjamin to see the point.

Too often, university based intellectual workers, and those they train to be their future replacements, see themselves as idea makers and not idea users as well. The notion that there is more to ideas than just thinking them and putting them in journals or in whatever academic formats, that they have to also be part of life, has to be said and said and said again and again, so the idea makers actually accept as part of their brief and role that ideas and action and social transformations are all part of the one dimension, and are not afraid of or guilty or tainted by the thought.

A key part of this 'action' is seeking ways to go beyond the academic/scholarly format and conceiving of intellectual work as engaging democratically with more than niche audiences. It is not impossible. In Barcelona in 2012, trained historians and “historytellers, historical agitators, artists, independent archivists, history groups, political archaeologists etc” came together to set up the ‘International History from Below Network’. As the document for its meeting in Manchester (May 2015) explained, the network aims to create a “self-organized, do-it-yourself practice”, an historical sub-culture of “commoning and levelling, promoting the sharing of resources and countering the idea that history is solely the province of professional historians. We aim to find new practices and arenas for radical history beyond the austere mood and sensibility of the academic lecture and conference.”[1]

If intellectual workers keep perpetuating the idea that writing a scholarly article is the political act and therefore the end of the matter, then they defraud themselves, disempowering and emasculating both themselves as idea makers and the possibilities for change.  





Beginnings: During the late 1960s and early 70s, we were part of a collective that created a ‘Free University’ in inner-city Sydney, one of many radical education experiments of the time globally. Courses commenced in December 1967, and ran through to 1972. At its height, during the Summer of 1968-69, over 300 people were involved in the Sydney initiative in communal, collaborative, radical education projects. Similar Australian experiments followed in Adelaide,  Armidale, Brisbane, Hobart, and Melbourne, though it appears the Sydney initiative was the most successful.[2] Nearly 50 years later, we have not fallen far from that tree, and during 2015 it has been gratifying to meet young radical activists variously experimenting similarly internationally and locally. Regarding the latter, we note in particular the Brisbane Free University project.[3]  As to what a university should be, we like this recent encapsulation by educationist/activist Marc Spooner, of “an accessible institution dedicated to fostering critical, creative, engaged citizens while generating public-interest research”, as distinct from current neoliberal drives to build entrepreneurial training centres “churning out atomized workers and corporate-directed ‘R&D’”.[4] As for teaching and education practice, the formulation of critical pedagogy elaborated by educationist/activist Henry Giroux resonates, arguing 

that teachers and academics should combine the mutually interdependent roles of critical educator and active citizen. This requires finding ways to connect the practice of classroom teaching with issues that bear down on their lives and the larger society and to provide the conditions for students to view themselves as critical agents capable of making those who exercise authority and power answerable for their actions. The role of a critical education is not to train students solely for jobs, but also to educate them to question critically the institutions, policies, and values that shape their lives, relationships to others, and their myriad of connections to the larger world.”[5]
Doctoral Glut?: Figures for Australia in 2014 show that “49,950 academics had a research or teaching and research function, a small decline on the previous year” and “including overseas students, there were 62, 471 research students in 2013. In that year, 7,787 PhDs were completed, along with 1,422 masters by research degrees.” Basically, in 2013 Australian universities produced  some 15% (PhD graduates) of the existing workforce. The reality of this situation, compounded each year, is there is little hope whatsoever of all current and future PhD graduates gaining either long-term contracts or tenured position within academia, those seeking entry pretty well destined to long term/permanent (and precarious) confinement in the large pool of casual academic labour and/or the perpetual quest for post-doctoral work. The situation for Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) graduates is even more dire, given the propensity for Australian university bean counters and managerialists to variously trim, prune, shed jobs, amalgamate/ ‘disappear’ or whatever faculties/departments in these areas. Add to this the competition of job-seeking academics from abroad, often loaded with publications, prepared to take status/wage cuts to get footholds in Australia, and the problem intensifies. For every HASS position offered, there may be a couple of hundred applicants, or more. All of which is why we find 250 HASS applicants for an academic job here; 76 there……..[6] 
Which is a tragedy in respects since anecdotal evidence suggests many doctoral students desire/aspire to academic careers, and little is done in their preparation to dissuade them otherwise, or to prepare them for ways and means of using their doctorates and skills outside of the academy, which the majority will have to eventually do, if they don’t throw in the towel and give the whole game away.  
What the production rate does mean is that there is a huge pool of casual and ultimately cheap labour available to do teaching loads in situations where tenured and contract staff have the political muscle to resist increased teaching workloads, and this pool is constantly replenished as casuals variously find more secure employments either inside or outside the academy. Not to prepare post-graduates for employment outside the academy is negligent and remiss of universities; to simply add to the cheap labour pool an abuse and a betrayal.  A cultural product of this situation is the cultivation of rivalry, individuality, and competition. Securing an academic job of substance is intensely competitive, there are limited places available, so each other person with similar skills/abilities, even a friend, is a rival as job seeker/job taker, a situation conducive neither to peer collaborative work nor the development of a sense of scholarly community. Beginning in the post-graduate years, this atomisation/individuality tends to continue as part of professional life. 
This is not an argument in favour of cutting the numbers of doctorates being minted, nor a call for the creation of vocational doctorates along the lines of degrees produced in the Master of Business degree industry, only more upmarket. It is, however, a call for radical scholars, especially newly minted additions to the doctoral glut, to reject servitude to the ‘production’ model of scholarship, writing, and publishing, with its very small niche audiences, its paywalls, its jargon and theoreticism accessible only to the initiate, and to research, write, publish and work in ways that do challenge capitalism and address social justice issues, and actually reach out to, and engage with, audiences wider than self-referential niches.
The Production-Model: During the 1960s and onwards, publishing companies began the global collection and harvesting of journals from academic organisations and societies, becoming the owners/controllers of the journals, a role academics surrendered because they were more interested in researching and writing, not the actual process of publishing, a process requiring expertise and financing often beyond the world and expertise and time constraints of the scholar/academic. At the time it was a paper-based publishing world, and small circulation academic journals, unable to survive by subscriptions and/or advertising, were turned into profit makers via the power and ability of publishing houses to sell packages of journal titles to libraries globally.
The process escalated as neoliberalism and managerialism combined to create ‘the production model’ of research/scholarship, whereby ‘publish or perish’ and associated auditing based on the status of journals and the primacy of ‘peer-review’ became central features of academic life, particularly in the humanities. Once post-modernism kicked in in the humanities, breaking down traditional disciplines, generating inter-disciplinary approaches, a plethora of jargons and theoretical positions, making basically anything capable of being studied/researched, no matter how small the  audience, the number of journals proliferated, again a boon for the multinational publishers. Academics/scholars began to indulge in a form of consumerism and novelty, the drive to publish necessitating new angles, new subject matters, new interpretations, not necessarily related to societal or knowledge/cultural concerns but on the ‘performance’ need ‘to publish’. This was, and is, a process that can successfully inoculate the scholar/academic from connections and engagements  as a scholar/researcher, with agency, in the larger world, and works against the development and encouragement of critical/dissident/radical scholars capable of engagement and agency.
Once the digital revolution caught up with academic publishing, and a huge amount of research in the humanities became digitally based as academics strived to produce their assigned outputs, paywalls became a licence to print money, in the process turning the academic into an unpaid labourer for the publishing companies, since the only receiver of money from this process tended to be the publishing companies, the academic producer/labourer meant to be content with ‘publication’ and ‘performance target met’.
A casualty of this process was a sort of journal that many progressive and radical scholars produced in the 1960s and 1970s, journals produced communally, with peer-reviewing part of that communal process, often aimed at audiences beyond the niches of academia, journals produced via the then empowering offset printing technology, in its time as revolutionary a technology as was the humble gestetner earlier in the century, greatly facilitating the circulation of ideas and creative work independent of large-scale commercial publishers. It is as though modern academia suffers a form of amnesia, for at hand, in the digital technologies, is the power and wherewithal to make anyone and any group, a communicator and spreader of idea and research and writing, and to find/target audiences, without the hindrances of the peer-review fetish, and without the commercial  ‘academic’ publisher.
Peer Reviewing and the Audit Culture: Peer reviewing, described as the touchstone of the scientific method, has been around for a long time – since the 18th century in the sciences – but it is only in the last 30 years that peer reviewing itself has been subject to scientific scrutiny. And the main  finding? It is riddled with defects. Here is how a former editor of the British Medical Journal described them in 2006: “In addition to being poor at detecting gross defects and almost useless for detecting fraud it is slow, expensive, profligate of academic time, highly subjective, something of a lottery, prone to bias, and easily abused”.[7] And there is much more along these lines to be found by searching the internet, where suggested alternatives are divided between improvements to the system, and a movement to re-imagine knowledge production as creative, reflexive, engaged and collective.
But let’s not talk about peer reviewing as an abstraction. The social relations of making knowledge are well understood, but usually within narrow limits: the laboratory or department, the academic/professional society, the national academy or ‘royal’ society. But as we look at the history of griping about peer reviewing, it is pretty obvious that it coincides with the neoliberal capture of the universities over the last thirty years. So we need to push the analysis out to talk about a wider field of human relations, encompassing the state and markets: to talk about the government policies that managerialised academic self-government, and the funding and publishing arrangements that privatised public knowledge to the benefit of multinational publishing firms. As a problem for the working scholar, the irrationality of peer-reviewing goes hand in hand with the ‘publish or perish’ horror of the audit culture.
If you read the online debates about what is wrong with peer-reviewing – for example on – the big worry is that it reinforces the power of an academic elite and discourages original, innovative ideas. In the abstract, there is no reason for these tendencies to pertain, but in the real world of giant publishing corporations snaffling up independent journals and spawning new ones, and then enhancing the profiles of the academics who edit them, authority can easily come to outrank truth in the peer-reviewing system. It becomes a game restricted to teams already in the competition, teams that never question the rules.
What’s wrong with that, assuming all those who play are signed up to a team? Once again,  we have to talk about the fact that in the last thirty years the academic world has changed. The earlier kind of university, built as a community of scholars, their right to seek the truth protected by tenure, their knowledge enhanced and passed on by teaching, has been replaced by the production-model university, copied from the corporate world and focused on training, and measured by outputs. In this model, scholarship and teaching are separated, and a caste system privileges the few and exploits the mass, the former tenured academics, the latter the casual and/or temporary teachers/academics. In some countries up to 70% of university teaching is done by this addition to the precariat.
The peer-review system really only benefits the tenured elite. Even the small minority of the precariat who reckon they stand  a good chance of eventually moving into the tenured elite have no guarantee that the system will work for them, and the more original they are the less their chances. As Richard Smith said, pleasing the god-like peers is a lottery. So why would it be rational for any member of the academic underclass to submit their work to the peer-reviewed journals, especially those of radical disposition? Far better for them to focus their intellectual lives in ways that reaches out beyond the niche readerships of the peer-reviewed journals to engage in movements for social justice and the common good. They should set up their own networks outside the professional associations, hold their own conferences, start their own journals, even set up their own Free universities. We did all these in the sixties  and seventies, and now it should be easier, given academic precarity on the ground, and the internet in the ether.
This is already happening, and with support from established scholars – but not enough of them. We agree with Marc Spooner that radical academics, while studying and sometimes embracing the new anti-capitalist ‘horizontal’ movements have not done enough to challenge their own status of academic servitude. In particular they have gone along with the farce that is peer-reviewing. As Spooner points out: “Peer-reviewed articles….do not represent the full complement of scholarly possibility”.[8] Gary Zabel, commenting on the discussion begun by his brief paper ‘Against Peer Review’ lists some of these possibilities: “old-fashioned edited journal and magazines, self-published projects, open on-line journals, open journals that publish everything along with the peer reviews, blogs, etc”.[9]
If the academic precariat has nothing to lose by rejecting the peer review system, it is also true that tenured academics have little to lose. As several commentators have pointed out, it is academic complicity that keeps the system going. As Cameron Neylon writes on his blog: “We are all complicit. Everyone is playing the game, but that does not mean that all players have the same freedom to change it”. He calls on senior researchers and even Vice Chancellors to take the lead. But in our view even more influential, indeed decisive, will be the collective action of all workers in the universities, tenured and untenured, academic and non-academic.[10]
Rejecting ‘Complicity’: Rejecting the ‘complicity’ described above, does not need the grandiose or the dramatic. It can start small. Recently a slow scholarship movement has started to gain ground. When this article about it, “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University”, was posted on it was viewed over 18,000 times.
Since the emergence of the slow food movement in Italian communist circles thirty years ago the practice of slowness as resistance to capitalism has often been lost in the many ‘slow movements’ that have followed its lead. Instead, it has become a way of reclaiming personal freedom, an individualistic practice that offers no challenge to the forces constructing us as neoliberal subjects. This is not the perspective of the authors of “For Slow Scholarship”. With roots in the feminist movement, and particularly in its ethic of care, they argue for a collective response. Slow scholarship – time to think, to engage in critical dialogue, and to translate ideas into public action – should not be an entitlement for the privileged few – those with tenure – but a principle around which to build a campus-wide movement to re-imagine academic work (including teaching), recapture control of the university, as well as to rediscover the creative, reflexive, and passionate aspect of the life of the mind.
The authors of “For Slow Scholarship” make a number of suggestions about consciousness-raising, organisation, and caring as the foundations for collective resistance to the neoliberal university. And there are two other aspects of their article that can serve as examples to us of what to do next.
First, theirs is a collectively written article. There are eleven authors, drawn from the Great Lakes Feminist Geography Collective, and they have adopted this mode of writing as a political act:
“Collective authorship and the decision not to identify individuals by name or otherwise represent a feminist politics: a commitment to working together to resist and challenge neoliberal regimes of time, and the difficult, depoliticizing conditions they impose on work and life for all of us. This is our version of refusal, our attempt to act in-against-and beyond the university”.[11]
Second, there is their chosen publication outlet: refusing to submit to the unethical paywalls imposed on publicly-funded knowledge by mega-profitable international publishing corporations, they have chosen an internet-based open-access journal ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies.[12]
Open Access, and the Drug-Model: We support the idea of Open Access (OA), the unrestricted access online to scholarly analysis, discussion, research, with attendant freedoms of use, distribution, copying, linking etc, and proper attribution of authorship.  OA is a relatively recent phenomenon, the term formulated in the early 2000s. Since then the huge corporations that came to control academic publishing in its old forms, generating huge profits in the process, have variously sought to colonise and exploit the territory of OA, seeking to preserve and enhance their hegemony. In some respects, even as the idea of OA catches on and platforms proliferate, the world of the OA commons is being enclosed. Which is not to say the OA project is doomed, but that OA projects can only remain OA in the original senses of the term if the platforms are run in ways that quarantine them from profit motives and capitalist predators. Which is, of course, entirely possible.
We fear there is a dark side to the world of OA. Imagine that a group of venture capitalists come together and create a popular OA platform for academics/scholars, using the business model of entrepreneurs in the world of illicit drugs, providing a free product to attract and hook players, until it is time to recoup the investment and generate profits, variously privatising, maybe trawling the mass of accumulated materials and selling off metadata….the sky is the limit when profits enter the equation.
Just as we reject the idea of university teaching via MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) we should reject the idea of disseminating knowledge via massive open access academic sharing sites (MOAASS). We should resist the push by neoliberal universities to present MOAASS as an ethical alternative to corporate pay-wall print-based publishing. They are not, because increasingly they too are being swallowed by multi-national publishers, as Elsevier did in 2013 with ‘open science’ movement icon Mendeley (launched in 2007).[13]  
But it is not just corporate ownership that will be the problem - although when the paywalls go up or our data is bundled up for sale, we will feel betrayed and imposed upon. It is rather that, seduced by the thought of getting hundreds of downloads, thousands of views, we will begin producing knowledge for publication on these sites that aligns with the interests of the only force that is really global: transnational capitalism. And we are not just talking about the humanities and social sciences, or the applied natural sciences. Pure science too is distorted when it is framed by the needs of corporatised transnationalism.
Contrarily, we imagine instead a model of knowledge dispersion which grows organically, by word of mouth, by personal contact, by writing for readers whose situation we understand, and by reading purposively, because we are seeking answers to questions rooted in experience. The knowledge it disperses is authenticated not by superior authority but by the democratic process that produces it. The more widely democratic the process the more likely the knowledge will spread beyond the local. This is the kind of public, an alternative world of knowledge making and action, that the left has always lived in. Why should its principles and practices be thrown away just because we live in supposedly global world?

Outside the Academy: When activist intellectual Stuart Hall  (1932-2014) died, there was a deluge of obituaries in academic outlets, correctly  acknowledging his role as a founder of cultural studies.
Stuart Hall in action

What tended to be lost in the obituaries was that Hall was neither a slave to the audit culture, nor to the academic journal genre of writing. Nor was he a scholar who confined himself to academia. He was the author of no single-authored monograph, the usual holy grail of humanities’ academics, but is credited with many co-authored and edited works, as well as essays, journalism, political speeches, radio and television talks.  Much of Hall’s work appeared in outlets like Universities and Left Review,  The New Reasoner, New Left Review, Marxism Today, in cases Hall being his own editor and publisher, even in a journal of which he was a founder. He had a preference for collaborative work, and believed in the scholar as an activist who should take part in public discourse and issues of social justice. Our point is that Hall was/is not the model of the scholar/academic preferred by the neoliberal university. And post-mortem, his model of the scholar/academic tended to get lost in the academic celebration of his life.
Over the years we have seen many post-graduate students and scholars avidly trawl through the works of Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) and Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), for insights and arguments and quotes, thinkers and writers who wrote and published outside of the academy, one in partisan publications, his major work in the form of notes written in the confines of a Italian fascist prison, the other a writer who regarded himself as a “Man of Letters”, had a troubled relationship with the academy, and spent much of his life writing for money. Elsewhere, Rowan has argued that if the now acknowledged political/historical/literary classic, E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (1963), was presented to a publisher today in its original and current sprawling form it would probably not be published, especially if it turned up in the inbox of an academic publisher.[14]   
It is easy, and convenient, to forget within the confines of modern academia, that significant intellectual work, innovations, critical break-throughs, can and do take place outside of the academy, and that there are means of being scholarly and intellectual beyond the audit culture and preferred models of scholarship.
Rowan Cahill and Terry Irving
University of Wollongong
22 October 2015
* We thank Tim Cahill of Research Strategies Australia ( for feedback during the writing of this article. TheRadical Sydney/Radical History’ blog is at
[1] TheInternational History From Below Network’ is at (accessed 18 May 2015)
[2] The foundation manifesto of the Sydney Free University was published in the Sydney University student newspaper honi soit as “The Lost Ideal” on 3 October 1967. Sadly, much of its critique of the contemporary university is still relevant today. The manifesto is online at
[3] The Brisbane Free University commenced activities in 2012. Its online site ( explains its philosophy, and an archive enables a glimpse of its operations. Fern Thompsett (, has written about it, and the current free university movement world-wide, in a forthcoming chapter: Thompsett, Fern. ‘“The University is Now Impossible”: Universities Towards and Against Capitalism’, in Angosto Ferrandez, Luis and Geir Presterudstuen, eds. Anthropologies of Value: Use and Exchange in the Comparison of Human Economies. London: Pluto Press. At the Harvard Graduate School, Laura Nelson ( is currently researching the free universities of the 1960s and 70s.
 [4] Marc Spooner, “The Deleterious Personal and Societal Effects of the ‘Audit Culture’ and a Domesticated Academy: Another Way is Possible”, International Review of Qualitative Research, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Summer 2015), pp. 212-228.
[5] Henry Giroux, “The Curse of Totalitarianism and the Challenge of an Insurrectional Pedagogy”, counterpunch, 29 September 2015, (accessed 2 October 2105).  Giroux’s website has links to his extensive work on critical pedagogy,
[6] Figures and quotes from Andrew Norton, Mapping Australian higher education, 2014-15, Grattan Institute, October 2014 (updated 11 February 2015), p. 37 ( For an analysis and discussion of the state of Australian academia, its tensions and dynamics, including the issue of casualization, see Emmaline Bexley, Richard James and Sophie Arkoudis, The Australian Academic Profession in Transition: Addressing the challenge of reconceptualising academic work and regenerating the academic workforce, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne, September 2011.
[7]Richard Smith, “Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals”, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 2006 April: 99(4): 178-182.
[8] Marc Spooner, “Higher Education’s Silent Killer”, Briarpatch Magazine, 1 September 2015.
[9] Gary Zabel, ‘Against Peer Review’. Gary set up an discussion session on his paper, making the comment quoted by us on or about 10 October 2015: Part of the problem with the acceptance of peer-reviewing and the current mode of academic practice regarding publications, is the failure to imagine alternative processes. For an example of counter-imagining, see the system of radical openness in knowledge production discussed by Alan Cottey, “Knowledge Production in a Cooperative Economy:”, Policy Futures in Education, Vol. 12, No. 4 April 2014, pp. 469-481.
[10] Cameron Neylon, “Researcher as victim: Researcher as predator”, Science in the Open (Neylon’s blog), 7 September 2015,
[11] The article is titled “For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University”, authored by Alison Mountz, Ann Bonds, Becky Mansfield, Jenna Loyd, Jennifer Hyndman,  Margaret Walton-Roberts, Ranu Basu, Risa Whitson, Roberta Hawkins, Trina Hamilton, Winifred Curran; it is posted at
[12] ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies is at
[13] Tina Amirtha, “The Open Publishing Revolution Now Behind A Billion-Dollar Paywall”, Fast Company, 17 April 2015, (accessed 6 October 2015)
[14] Rowan Cahill, “Would The Making of the English Working Class get made today?”, Overland, 12 September 2013 ,