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Ranking the openness of criminology units: An attempt to incentivize the use of librarians, institutional repositories, and unit-dedicated subpages to increase scholarly impact and justice

Published onOct 05, 2022
Ranking the openness of criminology units: An attempt to incentivize the use of librarians, institutional repositories, and unit-dedicated subpages to increase scholarly impact and justice
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Abstract

In this article, I describe and explain a way for criminologists—as individuals, groups and, especially, as university units (e.g., colleges, departments, schools)—to increase the quantity and quality of open criminology: ask university librarians to make their outputs open access on their “unit repositories” (URs), which are unit-dedicated subpages on universities’ institutional repositories (IR). I try to advance this practice by devising and employing a metric, the “URscore,” to document, analyze, and rank criminology units’ contributions to open criminology, as prescribed. To illustrate the metric’s use, I did a study of 45 PhD-granting criminology units in the United States (US). I find almost all of them (98%) have access to an IR; less than two-thirds (62%) have a UR; less than one-third (29%) have used it this decade (up to August 11, 2022); their URs have a total of 190 open outputs from the 2020s, with 78% emanating from the top-three “most open”—per my ranking—PhD-granting criminology units in the US: those of the University of California, Irvine (with 72 open outputs), the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (with 47 such outputs), and the University of Nebraska, Omaha (with 30 such outputs). Each URscore reflects a criminology unit’s scholarly productivity and scholarly justice. I hope they see the ranking as a reward or opportunity for improvement. Toward that end, I conclude with a discussion of critical issues, instructions, and futures.

Note: This paper is a preprint. It may significantly differ from its postprint and version-of-record. The ranks could change.

Introduction to open criminology

“Open criminology” refers to the reasons, processes, and results of making criminological outputs “open access”: “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.”1 Examples of open outputs are “gold” and “diamond” articles, chapters, and books; final reports on the websites of centers and funders; preprints, postprints, reviews, datasets, and code libraries on repositories; and, open educational resources. Open outputs are a small subset of all criminology outputs. The vast majority of them are inaccessible, or “closed.”2 Think of paywalled papers and books; locked-up data and code; unshared teaching materials. Closed outputs create a privileged class of people who have access—through purchase (e.g., as with articles) or request (e.g., as often happens with data, code, and teaching materials)—and use this to their advantage. This situation is antiutilitarian. Humanity and science are held back by closed outputs, promoted by open ones. It is logical and karmic that open outputs are more impactful, as measured by citation and altmetrics, because they constitute a more inclusive and diverse science;3 not only in stakeholder demographics, but in the resultant opportunity to do and spread scholarship (e.g., adapt articles into open educational resources, try to replicate findings with open data and code).

Practicalities and strategies of open criminology

The dominance of “closed criminology” is not out of necessity. Criminologists have everything they need to make their outputs open. There are different ways to make it happen. The best way is for criminologists to ask university librarians for help; specifically, to put outputs on their “unit repositories” (URs), which are unit-dedicated subpages on universities’ institutional repositories (IR). In this section, I present information and ideas on why that process is “best”: with more utility—benefit relative to cost—than alternatives. Not perfect, but better. Not necessarily best for any given individual, but best for the modal criminologist and, by extension, best for the population and its stakeholders.

To be clear, “open” is more than “free of financial cost.” All open outputs are free but not vice versa. Open outputs are free forever, not a limited time, due to a license. What a license does is grant an actor (person or group) a right to distribute or adapt a creative work. The work may be previously unpublished. Broadly defined, to “publish” a creative work is to “make it public.” I refer to published scholarly works as “outputs.” Every criminological output can be made open access by stamping it with a Creative Commons (CC) license or a like kind (e.g., see opensource.org/licenses). The only person who can give license to an output is the copyright owner or someone acting at their direction (i.e., on their behalf). By default, a work’s creator holds its copyright. Copyright does the opposite of a license: it restricts a creative work’s distribution and adaptation. It does so severely with “all rights reserved.” A license changes that status. Of any license, criminologists are most familiar with the “publisher agreements” signed pre-publication. Copyright is not actually transferred. Rather, criminologists give publishers a license to distribute their work. At the same time, criminologists can choose to pay publishers an “article processing charge” (APC) to make the article’s “version-of-record” (VOR) “gold” open access. Another way for criminologists to make their VORs open access is to publish with diamond outlets, which do not charge an APC. Before papers have VORs, their versions are “preprints” (i.e., not yet accepted for publication) and then “postprints” (i.e., accepted for publication). Ideally readers can access an output’s VOR, but, if not, they should be able to get its postprint or preprint. They can be made “green” open access on repositories, university unit webpages, personal websites, and social networking websites (e.g., ResearchGate and Academia). Big publishers (e.g., Elsevier, Springer, Wiley) expressly permit authors to provide green open access. No such publisher restricts sharing preprints, for example. Some publishers (e.g., Sage) do the same for postprints, while others limit the practice to a time (e.g., a 1 year embargo) and place (e.g., a nonprofit repository). All of this is to say, there are many ways to provide open access to criminology outputs. Criminologists can open criminology, if they so desire, by taking any of the above roads.

Expertise and the division of labor; or, use librarians

How exactly does a copyright holder give license, or not, to their creative work? Ideally, in the “metadata,” which are data about the output (e.g., creators, abstract) and associated information (e.g., URL, DOI). This term is from library and information science (LIS), a field that can be used to increase the impact of criminology outputs. Societies develop with the division of labor. Criminologists are taught to publish frequently and in the so-called “best” places, but not how to make their outputs open access. This is more complicated than uploading a file to a website. On top of license issues (which include embargo problems), open criminology hinges on choosing where (i.e., which website) and how (e.g., with what metadata) to “deposit” the output for proper preservation and dissemination, a decision affected by technical and social factors. When criminologists are solely involved in open dissemination, one of two things tend to happen: they opt not to share outputs; or, they share outputs with improper licensing (i.e., counter creators’ intention/desire), copyright and contract violation (e.g., release despite embargo; posting of paywalled versions-of-record), and poor metadata (e.g., no DOI or machine-readable abstract). “Avoiding these problems” is equal to “improving the quality of outputs.” Not “quality” in the traditional sense used by criminologists: an evaluation of outputs’ content. Instead, I am using “quality” as would experts in LIS: an evaluation of outputs’ dissemination, separate its content. For criminologists to maximize the LIS quality of their outputs, they should work with their university librarians. As a result, criminology will be better disseminated and generate greater impact. Better still is that by gaining librarian assistance, criminologists avoid spending time and effort better spent on criminology; plus, they become blameless to the extent librarians make decisions and click buttons (i.e., if there is a problem, the library is responsible, not the criminologist). At most libraries of research-oriented universities, at least, there are staff proficient in open access or willing to quickly become such. For criminologists to make outputs open access, ideally, all they should need to do is ask librarians for help. They should do the rest, asking questions as needed, but otherwise enabling criminologists to focus on their work while getting its products optimally disseminated. A lot of the questions are predictable, so the process can be further optimized with submission pages like that of my college.4 It takes no more than a few minutes for a creator to make their works open access. By working with librarians, criminologists will spend less time and effort on the task, have less risk, while getting their outputs disseminated in a higher quality way.

Place matters; or, use institutional repositories

A practical implication of working with librarians is outputs will be shared on “institutional repositories” (IRs). They are one of a few places that outputs are made open access. Generally, a “repository” is a public e-library used for preserving (i.e., “backing-up”) and openly disseminating outputs. An IR is a specific type of repository, namely that operated by and dedicated to a particular university. Another type of repository are discipline- or field-specific. These are referred to as “(a)rxives,” pronounced like “archives,” following from Cornell University’s arXiv for hard science fields. A third option are general-use repositories like Github, Dataverse, OSF Preprints, SSRN, and Zenodo, which can be used by creators in any discipline or field. Outside repositories, criminologists share their outputs on social networking websites such as Academia and ResearchGate (RG). Use of them is another example of what goes wrong without librarians. Unlike repositories, Academia and RG do not support export, harvesting, or long-term preservation.5 The same problems apply to most personal websites and those maintained by university units outside the library (e.g., “university.edu/criminology_unit”). It is possible to circumvent the problems by using a publishing website such as PubPub, but this requires criminologists to know more about LIS than needed. To repeat, I think they should collaborate with librarians. And when librarians are asked for this help, they will use the library’s IR. After all, creators, librarians, and IRs are aligned through their shared source of financial support: the university and its benefactors (e.g., taxpayers, tuition-paying students, philanthropists). IRs provide librarians with everything needed to preserve outputs, increase their discoverability with proper metadata, adhere to copyright, and provide license. Indeed, we should use librarians for the very reason they have good repositories at their disposal.

Neighborhoods; or, use unit-dedicated subpages on IRs

Some IRs have subpages dedicated to specific university units, such as departments, colleges, and centers. Think of these subpages as “mini-IRs”: public e-libraries used to preserve and disseminate outputs from particular units. I refer to these as “URs,” short for “unit repositories.” Characteristically, the top of URs display the unit’s name and, sometimes, a description of the unit (e.g., “About”). To be clear, URs are different from subpages meant to display search results for “criminology” and whatnot, or reflect classification in a disciplinary taxonomy (e.g., “criminology” as a niche of “sociology” on SocArXiv). Rather, the purpose of URs is to represent social groups—particular units in universities. Like neighborhoods, people visit URs to browse them: to see what is there, hoping to find something of interest that can be put to use (i.e., make impact). People check out URs to find research specific to their geography; to see what their colleagues are producing; prepare for job opportunities; choose between graduate programs; scrutinize tax expenditures; rank schools in open criminology (see next section); and so on. This attention translates to bigger impact. For example, altmetrics include new pageviews and new users to a UR; and, because the outputs are open access, it is faster and free for journalists, policymakers, practitioners—anyone—to consult them. Potentially, URs serve as a one-stop shop for browsing and accessing every output of every member in a given unit. To the extent that criminology units populate (i.e., add outputs to) their URs, they will enjoy greater impact. Better yet, they will do so in a manner that is socially just, providing rich and poor alike with equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from criminology.

Ranking to reward and increase open criminology

Above, I hope to convince criminologists to (1) make their outputs open access, (2) ask university librarians for help, and (3) appreciate the utility of outputs being deposited in IRs and URs. For most criminologists, and compared to the alternatives, my prescription will be the most rational approach to providing open outputs: it will cost them less, but their outputs will be higher quality (in the LIS sense) and thus generate more impact. Naturally, I want criminologists to act on my suggestions: for individuals to often and openly share their outputs via librarians in URs; and, for units to make sure they have URs, and incentivize or require creators to use them. I came to ask myself, “Do criminology units have URs? Where they exist, are they used? How can I increase URs’ prevalence and usage to increase the quantity and quality of open criminology?” To answer these questions, I devised a simple metric that may be used to assess, compare, and rank criminology units. A unit’s “URscore” is equal to the number of open outputs on its UR in a given period. The URscore is a direct and partial measure of each unit’s contributions to open criminology. Also, it is a proxy of each unit’s productivity, scholarly justice (a type of social justice), and impact. This is because until outputs are created, they cannot be made open access; until outputs are made open access, they cannot be used by everyone; until outputs are usable by everyone, they cannot have maximum impact. Thus, the greater a school’s provision of open outputs on its UR, the more it can pride itself on being productive, just, and potentially impactful. It goes without saying that the URscore is only one way to analyze open criminology. Additional metrics could focus on individuals or different groups (e.g., societies/associations or journals and publishers). Whatever the metric is, it can be used to assess, compare, and rank actors. With the URscore, the assessment, comparison, and ranking is of criminology units. Rankings are not always useful or appropriate. It depends on the purpose and method. Like it or not, people—criminologists, administrators, students, and others—pay attention to rankings and are persuaded by them. Hence, rankings can be created and used to motivate action. My ranking is meant to reward units who are leaders in open criminology, and to encourage all units to do more.

URscores and a ranking of US criminology units

Criminology and open access are of global importance. Ideally, then, so too would be my ranking of criminology units. This is the goal, but I start small to be pragmatic. Herein, I work through application of the metric, and then the ranking, by focusing on criminology units with PhD programs in the United States. My population list is based on members in the Association of Doctoral Programs in Criminology and Criminal Justice (ADPCCJ).6 There are 45 US criminology units on the ADPCCJ’s members list. For each, I used the Google search-engine to locate its university’s IR. I find all but one criminology unit (98%) has an IR. Next, I browsed each IR to further locate each unit’s UR. Twenty-eight units (62%) have a UR. Finally, for each UR, I counted the number of open outputs published in 2020, 2021, or 2022 as of August 11 that year. I find the sum of open outputs is 190, with an average of 4.22 per unit; a median and mode of zero; and a standard deviation of 13.39. However, only 13 units shared an open output. Among them, they did so on average 14.6 times, with a median of 4 and mode of 1; the range is 1 to 72. Below are my data and codebook in a CSV (.csv) file. Table 1 has key counts and statistics.



Table 1. The availability and use of URs for/by PhD-granting criminology units in the US

University of criminology unit

UR on IR

UR has open outputs from 2020-22

Counts of UR open outputs

2020

2021

2022

’20-2

American University

Arizona State University

California University of Pennsylvania

Florida International University

✅ 

Florida State University

✅ 

Georgia State University

✅ 

✅ 

4

7

6

17

George Mason University

Indiana University

✅ 

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

✅ 

✅ 

23

17

7

47

Michigan State University

North Dakota State University

Northeastern University

✅ 

✅ 

1

1

Old Dominion University

✅ 

✅ 

4

1

1

6

Pennsylvania State University

Prairie View A&M University

✅ 

Rutgers University, Newark

✅ 

✅ 

3

2

2

7

Sam Houston State University

✅ 

Southern Illinois University

✅ 

Tarleton State University

Temple University

Texas Southern University

✅ 

Texas State University

✅ 

✅ 

1

1

University at Albany, SUNY

✅ 

✅ 

1

1

University of Arkansas, Little Rock

✅ 

University of California, Irvine

✅ 

✅ 

24

26

22

72

University of Central Florida

✅ 

University of Cincinnati

University of Delaware

✅ 

✅ 

1

1

University of Florida

University of Louisville

✅ 

University of Maryland

✅ 

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

✅ 

University of Miami

University of Mississippi

✅ 

✅ 

4

4

University of Missouri, St. Louis

✅ 

✅ 

1

1

University of Nebraska, Omaha

✅ 

✅ 

11

15

4

30

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

✅ 

✅ 

2

2

University of New Haven

✅ 

University of Pennsylvania

✅ 

University of South Carolina

✅ 

University of South Florida

University of Texas-Dallas

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Washington State University

Sum (%)

28 (62%)

13 (29%)

78

68

44

190

Average

1.73

1.51

0.97

4.22

Note: 2022 is through August 11, 2022. Data are correct as of that date. An empty cell means the trait is “absent/zero.”


My data are the empirical basis for a ranking of “the most open PhD-granting criminology units in the US”7; see table 2. The supermajority of criminology units did not share an open output on its UR in the specified timeframe. They have a URscore of zero. These units are “unranked” or “tied for last place.” I avoid labelling them as “tenth place” because it sounds better than it is. Five criminology units have a URscore of 1, making them tied for ninth place. Two or more outputs were deposited by eight criminology units (18%). Half of them (9%) have double-digit URscores. I find the best place for open criminology is the University of California, Irvine, followed by the John Jay college of Criminal Justice, and, in third place, the University of Nebraska, Omaha. To any criminology unit that earned a rank, congratulations and thank you. For every criminology unit, there is a lot of room for improvement.


Table 2. The most open PhD-granting criminology units in the US, 2020 through August 11, 2022

Rank

University of criminology unit

URscore

1

University of California, Irvine

72

2

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

47

3

University of Nebraska, Omaha

30

4

Georgia State University

17

5

Rutgers University, Newark

7

6

Old Dominion University

6

7

University of Mississippi

4

8

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

2

9

Northeastern University

1

-

Texas State University

1

-

University at Albany, SUNY

1

-

University of Delaware

1

-

University of Missouri, St. Louis

1

Unranked

American University

0

-

Arizona State University

0

-

California University of Pennsylvania

0

-

Florida International University

0

-

Florida State University

0

-

George Mason University

0

-

Indiana University

0

-

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

0

-

Michigan State University

0

-

North Dakota State University

0

-

Pennsylvania State University

0

-

Prairie View A&M University

0

-

Sam Houston State University

0

-

Southern Illinois University

0

-

Tarleton State University

0

-

Temple University

0

-

Texas Southern University

0

-

University of Arkansas, Little Rock

0

-

University of Central Florida

0

-

University of Cincinnati

0

-

University of Florida

0

-

University of Louisville

0

-

University of Maryland

0

-

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

0

-

University of Miami

0

-

University of New Haven

0

-

University of Pennsylvania

0

-

University of South Carolina

0

-

University of South Florida

0

-

University of Texas-Dallas

0

-

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

0

-

Washington State University

0

Note: “URscore” is equal to the number of open outputs on the criminology unit’s UR with publication date of 2020, 2021, and 2022 (as of August 11). “Unranked” may also be labelled “tied for last place” (tenth).


Discussion of implications for open criminology

Summary

In time, all criminology units will come to practice and teach open criminology: the motives, methods, and consequences of making criminological outputs free to reshare and reuse. This is utilitarian: it promotes the greatest good by removing a cost barrier to information and knowledge. Compared to closed outputs, open outputs enjoy a bigger impact. By giving consumers free information and knowledge, creators earn higher citation counts and altmetrics; they make bigger contributions to scholarly justice and social justice writ large. For these reasons, open criminology is the future. But when? The supermajority of criminology articles and books are paywalled or with “closed access.” Data, code, and instructor-made teaching resources are usually unpublished, essentially unobtainable. Criminologists—again, as individuals or groups—can transform their field from closed to open. As I explain above, everything is in place for them to make ~every output of theirs open access; they can do this without expending much time or energy; they should get librarians to do the work; they will put outputs in their IRs and, where they exist, URs; which will increase the outputs’ quality, in terms of LIS. My prescription is the most rational way to increase the quantity and quality of open criminology. To advance this view, I devised and used a metric—the “URscore”—to document, analyze, and rank criminology units’ contributions to open criminology, as prescribed. To illustrate the metric’s use, I did a study of 45 PhD-granting criminology units in the United States (US). My findings speak to each criminology unit’s scholarly productivity, scholarly justice, and potential impact. I hope criminology units will see their ranking as a reward and/or opportunity for measurable improvement, and use this perception to grow their contributions to open criminology. To conclude, I will address potential criticisms, provide “instructions” to my prescription, and consider futures of open criminology.

Criticisms

Simplicity

The URscore is simple, arguably too simple. My metric directly taps into a single aspect of open criminology: the number of open outputs on a criminology unit’s UR in a specified time period. There are other ways and places for criminologists, as individuals or groups, to make outputs open access. It is important to measure these processes and outcomes so they can be prevented (if wrong), improved (if right, but suboptimal execution), and promoted. This article focuses on the URscore because it represents my prescription’s outcome. My proposed process is best because it minimizes criminologists’ workload and risk, yet ensures outputs are made high quality (e.g., good metadata, proper licensing) from a LIS perspective, which makes the outputs more discoverable, accessible, and useable (i.e., increases their impact). Most criminologists should stay focused on doing criminology; leave librarianship to librarians; collaborate to widely disseminate the fruits of criminology.

Changeability

Potentially, it is easy and fast for criminology units to increase their URscore, and, thus, the rankings can quickly change. Sudden or big change could be called “manipulation,” colloquially referred to as “gaming the system.” In a month’s time, for example, a criminology unit could move from unranked to number one. To me, this is unproblematic. I would be happy to see it happen. My goal is to increase the quantity and quality of open criminology. If a criminology unit goes up the ranking, this means there are more open outputs of high quality. My pursuit of this outcome is why, recall, I created the URscore, did a study, and made a ranking. I will consider myself successful—to have made an impact—to the extent that criminology units act on my prescription. With or without me, criminology’s default will change from closed to open. Much of the change will be due to funder-, government-, and university-level incentives, mandates, and protections. These already exist, to be clear, but more are on the way. Whatever the motives may be for a criminology unit and its members to be more open, the outcome is measurable with the URscore.

Sampling

My data collection, analysis, and ranking is restricted to PhD-granting criminology units in the US. Some readers will be disappointed with this scope. I am too. A lot of criminology units are left out. Obviously, there are important criminology units without a PhD program (e.g., centers) and/or located outside the US. Ideally, a study like mine would include them all. That may sound practically impossible, but advances in automation make it doable. If we can generate a list of criminology units, we can locate their URs; with a list of URs, we can regularly crawl and scrape them; with those data, we can create a program that contemporaneously updates associated rankings. This automated process would provide criminology units and their stakeholders with a baseline and other comparison points for progress. It also would provide researchers and advocates with insight into “what works” to successfully, and rationally (i.e., with more benefit than cost), expand open criminology. For example, criminologists of British universities are required to deposit their postprints in their IRs, so it would be interesting and helpful to see how their URscores compare to US criminology units. Again, criminologists everywhere should expect more and stronger open access policies. The variation across countries, criminology units, and other actors presents an evidence-based opportunity to discard and fine-tune strategies for increasing open criminology.

Inconsistency

You are reading the preprint of my paper, which I have not published (again, “made public”) on my criminology unit’s UR. I debated whether to publish the preprint there or here on CrimRxiv, criminology’s field-specific repository. As you can see, I chose the latter, which goes against my own prescription. Why? I did it to as illustrate that my prescription is for the “average” or “typical” criminologist, not all of them. For the typical criminologist, my prescription is best because it reduces the negative effects of their LIS-related ignorance and misinformation. This is not a criticism, as criminologists are not experts in LIS. They should be aware of their shortcomings and find solutions to them. For them, my prescription is best because it reduces their role in dissemination and increases that of actual LIS experts, librarians. However, there are criminologists who are proficient in LIS. Because they know more, they have more good options. For them, what is “best” will depend on their motives and use-cases. I decided it is best to publish this preprint on CrimRxiv than my UR (or elsewhere) because it does more to promote open criminology. It enables me to embed my open data within this preprint, and lets readers clearly connect their open reviews to it. These are potentially important considerations for every criminologist, but they are too much to properly evaluate without some expertise in LIS.

Instructions

My prescription is for criminologists to get their outputs put into their URs, with the help of librarians. For readers interested in taking my advice, I close with “back-of-the-bottle” instructions. To continue with the rational choice motif, let us think of those instructions as part of a “script,” which lends itself to script analysis (i.e., that meant to identify intervention points for improvement). Scripts have a series of decision-points and related actions. When a creator finishes a creative work, specifically, they:

  1. decide whether to make the output open access; if yes,

  2. decide whether to have a librarian put it on the IR and UR; if yes,

  3. submit the output and request to a librarian; possibly,

  4. receive and answer questions from the librarian.

After, the creator has completed their part in the script. Each step is a potential fail point. In this article, I hope to convince criminologists to answer “yes” at steps 1 and 2 so that steps 3 and 4 happen. However, and as relates to step 2, one problem is that not all criminology units have a UR. To my knowledge, every IR platform/website can be made to host a UR. Therefore, if a criminology unit finds itself without one, its representative (e.g., a faculty member, staff) should request the library to make it. If the proper contact person/channel is unclear, it is ok to email the Dean or their Associate, explaining the unit wants help and asking for directions. The library should be able to set up (i.e., make the subpages) and maintain (i.e., make deposits on) the UR, but they cannot grow it alone. They need creators to submit their outputs for open access publication, which brings us to the fail point of step 3: a criminologist who wants to share their outputs openly, but does not know which librarian to ask for help or what exactly to request. I think the best “intervention” is for the library and/or criminology unit to create a web-based submission form. It should tell criminologists what information to add (e.g., title, abstract) and, upon submission, automatically send it to the appropriate librarian. The submission-form solution kills two birds with one stone: submitters can be ignorant of who to ask for help and what to tell them, so long as they know of the form and where to find it.

Futures

When will open criminology catch on? I do not know. There are a lot of scenarios that could play out, with faster or slower results, bigger or smaller effects. There is not a future but futures. Which will it be? To understand my guess, readers should know that I think criminologists act irrationally with respect to open access. Most of them, it seems, recognize the utility but keep their creative works closed, either unpublished or without open access. Perhaps this is because their perceptions of utility are culturally bound: shaped by their beliefs, attitudes, values, and “tool kits” or “know-how.” The evidence suggests that criminologists’ culture is closed, with a mix of indifference and hostility toward open access. This culture is a symptom of their anomie. Peer-reviewed journal articles and books have become the end, when they should be the means. There is increasing pressure on criminologists to publish more. Eventually, they will reach their maximum ability to publish more and better papers and books. Except wait, there’s more. My guess is criminology will become open for the wrong reasons: as a byproduct of their anomic focus on publishing as the end goal. Criminologists will do the right thing, not for the sake of scholarly justice, or even so much to increase their impact, but because they want to be hired, promoted, tenured, paid more, and otherwise personally benefit. Fact is, those outcomes have a closer one-to-one relationship with productivity—especially as measured by publications—than impact or scholarly justice. So for open criminology to develop, criminologists will need to perceive its positive effect on their publication counts. This is good news for open criminology because it inherently involves publishing. To make a creative work open access, it must be published. In a field where publishing has become the end, strategies to increase publishing are valued and employed. Eventually, criminologists will realize that they should participate in open access to improve their employment outcomes. They will see open access as a way to get more publications without much more work. Consider the chain-of-events that could result from growing requirements to share data and code, for example:

  1. To fulfill the obligations, criminologists get librarians to deposit those materials on their URs; thus,

  2. those materials, previously treated as unpublished (i.e., closed) “inputs,” become published open outputs;

  3. because they are now published, they are added to curriculum vitas; thus,

  4. criminologists look more productive, benefiting as a result.

Some criminologists will figure this out sooner than their peers. They will expand from openly publishing data and code to publishing more of everything (e.g., reviews, educational resources, training materials, recorded presentations). Their CVs will get longer. Their employment outcomes will improve. All of this is legitimate. Likewise, some criminology units will embrace the transformation because they recognize how it can be used to appear more productive, both internally (e.g., to Provosts and Presidents) and externally (e.g., to legislators and philanthropists), without requiring much more work from unit members. In time, these “early-movers”—as individuals and units—will speed ahead of their competitors, publishing much more than them. They will climb rankings like that of US News & World Report; attract the best students and job candidates; be given more resources by their superiors; generally, things will get better for them. Later, and only too late for some, other criminologists will realize they fell behind because their creative works are still closed. They will feel newfound pressure to catch up and keep up. “Publish or Perish” will expand in scope, no longer limited to papers and books. Open criminology will change from something that “should be done to get ahead” to “needs to be done to keep up.” At that point, open criminology will have done more than merely catch on. It will be irrevocably integrated into the field, as criminologists will not personally risk going without it. This result is attributable to self-centeredness, but the effect will be altruistic. In the end, criminology’s stakeholders will have more information and knowledge to freely reuse and reshare.

Appendix

Canada

Shortly after finishing this paper’s preprint, I learned that in Canada, there are only six criminology units with a PhD program.8 Therefore, I decided to do a quick study and ranking of them; see Tables A1 and AB. I find each criminology unit (100%) has an IR. Half (50%) have a UR. Across them, there is a sum of 23 open outputs; an average of 3.83; median of 0.5; and, mode of 0. Excluding the criminology units without a UR, the average and median are 7.67 and 8, respectively, with no mode. Rank-wise, the best places in Canada for open criminology are the University of Ottawa, followed by Simon Fraser University, then Université de Montréal. The other three criminology units are unranked. Comparing American and Canadian universities, I find a greater proportion of the latter than former used their UR this decade. However, the top 3 criminology units in the US group have higher URscores than the top 3 finishers for Canada. In Table A3, all ranked Canadian and US criminology units are in a single ranking for both countries.


Table A1. The availability and use of URs for/by PhD-granting criminology units in Canada

University of criminology unit

UR on IR

UR has open outputs from 2020-22

Counts of UR open outputs

2020

2021

2022

’20-2

Carelton University

0

0

0

0

Ontario Tech University

0

0

0

0

Simon Fraser University

✅ 

✅ 

2

3

3

8

Université de Montréal

✅ 

✅ 

0

0

1

1

University of Ottawa

✅ 

✅ 

0

0

14

14

University of Toronto

Sum (%)

3 (50%)

3 (50%)

2

3

18

23

Average

0.33

0.50

3.00

3.83

Note: 2022 is through October 7, 2022. Data are correct as of that date. An empty cell means the trait is “absent/zero.”


Table A2. The most open PhD-granting criminology units in Canada, 2020 through October 7, 2022

Rank

University of criminology unit

URscore

1

University of Ottawa

14

2

Simon Fraser University

8

3

Université de Montréal

1

Unranked

Carelton University

0

Ontario Tech University

0

University of Toronto

0

Note: “URscore” is equal to the number of open outputs on the criminology unit’s UR with publication date of 2020, 2021, and 2022 (as of October 7). “Unranked” may also be labelled “tied for last place” (fourth).


Table A3. The most open PhD-granting criminology units in Canada and the US, 2020 through October 7 and August 11, 2022, respectively

Rank

University of criminology unit

URscore

1

University of California, Irvine

72

2

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

47

3

University of Nebraska, Omaha

30

4

Georgia State University

17

5

University of Ottawa

14

6

Simon Fraser University

8

7

Rutgers University, Newark

7

8

Old Dominion University

6

9

University of Mississippi

4

10

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

2

11

Northeastern University

1

-

Texas State University

1

-

Université de Montréal

1

-

University at Albany, SUNY

1

-

University of Delaware

1

-

University of Missouri, St. Louis

1

Note: 2022 is through October 7, 2022 for Canadian units and August 11, 2022 for American units. Data are correct as of those dates for those groups. An empty cell means the trait is “absent/zero.”

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