The second episode of Collusion is now up, focusing on the theme of water. In it, I talk about how the British used water technologies as a key part of colonial policy in former British India, and Luiza, my co-presenter, talks about current day examples from Palestine and Brazil. This time though, we produced two versions: the regular one, and a “closed access version”, which I explain more about below.

While I was looking into how water was treated under British colonial policy, I came across a lot of articles on the subject of “colonialism and irrigation technology”, and “water inequality” that were, frustratingly, behind a paywall. I don’t have access to academic journals, so the only way I could access these articles - all of which seemed to have been paid for with public money - was by emailing friends and asking them to download them for me, and send me them.

So, while I was doing the research, I made a point of marking what information I was finding for the podcast that was “closed access” - ie. only available for those who pay for access, or for those who belong to institutions that pay. As with the first episode, we published on the Tumblr a list of sources we found while researching this episode, and as you can see, many of them were closed access.

As many have said before me, scholarly publishing is broken, and to illustrate this in more depth, at least for the UK, Michelle Brook, Stuart Lawson and Ben Meghreblian have also published a more detailed database outlining the cost that individual UK universities pay to different academic publishers, the figures for which they got access to through Freedom of Information requests.

While I was complaining about this broken system, my friend Julia suggested making a second version of Collusion - one where we bleeped out access to the information we got from closed access papers.

Here it is:

I’m not really expecting anyone to listen to the whole of the ‘closed access’ version - but I like it as a way of showing orally how frustrating the research process was - and I hope people enjoy the proper version of the podcast. Comments and feedback on both versions are always welcome - we’re both new to podcasting!