Open Access Publishing

A Key Enabler to Research Impact, Informed Practice and Social Justice


  • Susan Gair James Cook University
  • Ines Zuchowski James Cook University
  • Liz Beddoe University of Auckland


Open access, research impact, paywalls, social justice, neoliberalism, informed social work practice, ethics


There is mounting pressure for university researchers to build stronger research partnerships with communities so research engagement and impact can be enacted and measured. At a perfunctory glance, the engagement and impact agenda would appear to be a win-win for researchers and end users. Through rewarding and productive university/community research collaborations, new knowledge can be produced, published and translated into policy and practice for meaningful real-world impact. Yet research impact looks less certain if practitioners, organisations, policy makers and the wider public cannot access scholarly publications because they are locked behind subscription paywalls. In this article we reflect on research partnerships, and the reasoning, rhetoric and accepted protocols in publishing research findings. We propose that open access publishing is a social justice issue that is key to social work research engagement and impact and research-informed practice. 

Author Biographies

Susan Gair, James Cook University

Susan Gair is an Associate Professor in Social Work and Human Services at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia. 

Ines Zuchowski, James Cook University

Dr Ines Zuchowski is a senior lecturer in Social Work and Human Services at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.  

Liz Beddoe, University of Auckland

Liz Beddoe is Professor in the School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work 

Te Kura Tauwhiro Tangata, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, NZ 


Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). (2013). Practice standards 2013 (pp. 1–19). Canberra, ACT: Author.

Allen, M. (2018). Into the woods. In N. K. Denzin & M. Giardina (Eds.), Qualitative inquiry in the public sphere (pp. 38–49). New York, NY: Routledge.

Arunachalam, S. (2017). Social justice in scholarly publishing: Open access is the only way. The American Journal of Bioethics, 17(10), 15–17.

Australian Research Council. (2017). Research impact principles and framework. Retrieved from


Barner, J. R., Holosko, M. J., Thyer, B. A., & King, S., Jr. (2015). Research productivity in top-ranked schools in psychology and social work: Does having a research culture matter? Journal of Social Work Education, 51, 5–18.

Beall, J. (2016). Best practices for scholarly authors in the age of predatory journals. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons England, 98, 77–79.

Beddoe, L., & Ballantyne, N. (2017). Editorial: The editorial collective and open access: One year on. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(1), 1–3. doi:10.11157/anzswj-vol29iss1id369

Cabassa, L. (2016). Implementation science: Why it matters for the future of social work. Journal of Social Work Education, 52 (Suppl. 1), S38–S50.

Denzin, N. K., & Giardina, M. (Eds.). (2018). Qualitative inquiry in the public sphere. New York, NY: Routledge.

Finkel, A. (2019, September 18). We need new rules that will guard against the quality of research. The Australian; Higher Education Commentary, p. 28.

Fouché, C. (2015). Practice research partnerships in social work. Making a difference. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Gair, S., Hager, T., & Herzog, O. (in press). Compliance and resistance within neoliberal academia: Biographical stories, collective voices. London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.

Gair, S., Zuchowski, I., Munns, L., Thorpe, R., & Henderson, D. (2018). Grandparents matter: Optimising grandparents’ involvement after child protection concerns. Child and Family Social Work, 23, 682–694.

Gil, D. (2013). Confronting injustice and oppression. Concepts and strategies for social workers. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Giroux, H. A. (2002). Neoliberalism, corporate culture and the promise of higher education. The university as a democratic public sphere. Harvard Educational Review, 72(4), 425–463.

Goodall, J. (2019). The politics of the common good. Sydney, NSW: NewSouth Publishing.

Grimshaw, J. M., Eccles, M. P., Lavis, J. N., Hill, S. J., & Squires, J. E. (2012). Knowledge translation of research findings. Implementation Science, 7(1), 50.

Heise, C., & Pearce, J. (2020). From open access to open science. The path from scientific reality to open scientific communication. SAGE Open, April-June, 1-14. doi:10.1177/2158244020915900

Heller, M., & Gaede, F. (2016). Measuring altruistic impact: A model for understanding the social justice of open access. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 4(General Issue), eP2132.

Holbrook, J. B. (2019). Philosopher’s corner: Open science, open access, and the democratization of knowledge. Issues in Science and Technology, 35(3), 26–28.

Holden, G., Barker, K., Rosenberg, G., & Cohen, J. (2012). Information for clinical social work practice. A potential solution. Clinical Social Work Journal, 40, 166–174.

Hughes, M. (2016). Research engagement and impact: Challenges and opportunities. Australian Social Work, 69(4), 385–387.

Ife, J. (2008). Human rights and social work: Towards rights-based practice. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Lincoln, Y. (2018). Fracking the faculty: The privatisation of public knowledge, the erosion of faculty work life quality and the diminution of the liberal arts. In N. Denzin & M. Giardina (Eds.), Qualitative inquiry in the public sphere (pp. 18–24). New York, NY: Routledge.

Martin-Martin, A., Costas, R., van Leeuwen, T., & Lopez-Cozar, E. (2018). Evidence of open access of scientific publications in Google Scholar: A large scale analysis. Journal of Informetrics, 12(3), 819–841.

Meyer, M. (2010). The rise of the knowledge broker. Science Communication, 32(1), 118–127.

Nathan, R. J., & Shawkataly, O. B. (2019). Publications, citations and impact factors. Australian Universities Review, 61(1), 42–48.

Palinkas, L. A., He, A. S., Choy-Brown, M., & Locklear Hertel, A. (2017). Operationalizing social work science through research–practice partnerships: Lessons from implementation science. Research on Social Work Practice, 27(2), 181–188.

Perkins, R., & Lowenthal, P. (2016). Open access journals in educational technology. Results of a survey of experienced users. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 32, 18–37.

Petersen, E., & Davies, B. (2005). Intellectual workers (un)doing neoliberal discourse. Subjectivity: International Journal of Critical Psychology, 13, 32–54.

Pitman, T. (2017). Widening participation in higher education: A play in five acts. Australian Universities Review, 59(1), 37–46.

Quaderi, N., Hardcastle, J., Petrou, C., & Szomszor, M. (2019, March). The Plan S footprint: Implications for the scholarly publishing landscape. Institute for Scientific Information. Web of Science. Retrieved from

Rawls, J. (2003). Justice and fairness: A restatement (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Belknap Press.

Research Excellence Framework (REF). (2012). Panel criteria and working methods. Retrieved from

Rhodes, C., Wright, C., & Pullen, A. (2018). Changing the world? The politics of activism and impact in the neoliberal university. Organisation, 25(1), 139–147.

Scherlen, A., & Robinson, M. (2008). Open access to criminal justice scholarship. A matter of social justice. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 19(1), 54–74.

Segal, E., & Wagaman, A. (2017). Social empathy as a framework for teaching social justice. Journal of Social Work Education, 53(2), 201–211.

Shen, C., & Bjork, B. (2015). “Predatory” open access: A longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Medicine, 13, 230.

Siler, K. (2017). Future challenges and opportunities in academic publishing. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 42(1), 83–114.

Tertiary Education Commission. (2017). Performance-based research fund: A guide for staff members participating in the 2018 Quality Evaluation. Wellington, NZ: Author

Tripathy, J., Bhatnagar, A., Shewade, H., Kumar, A., Zachariah, R., & Harries, A. (2017). Ten tips to improve the visibility and dissemination of research for policy makers and practitioners. Public Health Action, 7, 10–14.

Warren, S. (2017). Struggling for visibility in higher education: Caught between neoliberalism “out there” and “in here”—an autographical account. Journal of Education Policy, 32(2), 127–140.

Watt, I. (2015). Review of research policy and funding arrangements, Department of Education and Training. Retrieved from

Yaffe, J. (2019). From the editor—Predatory journals in social work. Journal of Social Work Education, 55(2), 211–214.

Zuchowski, I., Miles, D., Gair, S., & Tsey, K. (2019). Social work research with industry. A systematic literature review of engagement and impact. British Journal of Social Work, 49, 2299–2324. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcz015




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>