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Does open access impact impact? A case study from Arts & Humanities


slum("Slum" by Michael Coghlan is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

In this interview conducted in July 2018 Dr Melissa Nisbett discusses how she feels immediate open access has had a ‘phenomenal’ effect on her article Empowering the empowered? Slum tourism and the depoliticization of poverty - first published online in Geoforum July 2017.

Prior to this article's publication, open access was not something Dr Nisbett felt strongly about. However, because she was writing around slum tourism - an area that neither she, nor many others have written on extensively - she decided to experiment, making the paper freely accessible upon publication. Melissa hoped that immediate open access would open the topic up for debate beyond the standard academic channels.

This interview is about her experience:


In 2018 Dr Nisbett went on to be interviewed on the BBC's Thinking Allowed, by the Harvard Political Review, and her work was cited in a related National Geographic article. At the time of writing, hers is one of the most downloaded articles in Geoforum during the last 12 months.

More generally, she notes the degree to which audiences who would usually not encounter her work had responded to it. This is likely ascribable, at least in part, to the fact that the paper was open access, and available without need for subscription, payment or password. The fact that it was issued under a Creative Commons license also made it clear to all readers that a great deal of reuse and sharing were possible.

Her paper itself is available to read via King’s Research Portal and via the journal, Geoforum.

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