List of OA journals in my field – geography, political ecology, social science

Academics write most of their work in journals.Journals should maintain good quality work, but unfortunately they are also used to make money for the publishers. Corporate profits are high because companies retain author copyrights, and sell the material to (mainly) scholarly and university libraries.  Academics do not rock the boat on this because their  prestige is linked too much to the journals they publish in, and most of the high quality ones are commercial and expensive.

I list below  decent academic journals that are free or cheap to publish in, have proper refereeing, and are Open Access – free for readers. Copyright is retained by the author in most of them. Open access journals with high fees above cUS$500 are excluded- like most social scientist I don’t have more than this to contribute to publication.  The list is partly for my own benefit and my students, hence the small number of themes, but may be useful to others. Further discussion on journals and open access here. I have included Scopus and Web of Science (ISI) listings because they are the main systems of constant ranking and hierarchy that we have, much as it would be fairer to ignore them and publish in the most appropriate venue for the readership.

Nathan Coombs saysFull open-access journals are housed on independent or University affiliated websites, freely available to everyone in the world within an internet connection, and provide a free anonymous peer-review service for contributors.” And Dan Aaronson here And yet, even as I write, much of the serious content on the Internet remains sequestered behind pointless, artificial walls—walls that serve the interests of neither the readers nor the authors, but only of the wall-builders themselves. If I have a medical problem, why can’t I download the full text of clinical studies dealing with that problem? Why do so many researchers still not post their papers on their web pages—or if they do, then omit their early papers? When will we in academia get our act together enough to make the world’s scholarly output readable, for free, by anyone with a web browser? In brief, open access is the way to publish scholarly material – more readers, and articles under authors’ control. It is a logical outcome of the Academic Spring protests of 2012, which has had echoes – eg the recent Lingua  debacle over the resignation of an editorial board that was dissatisfied with Elsevier’s control of copyright and high OA charges.

Most of the journals on the list are run by unpaid academics, university libraries, or scholarly societies, and a few are commercial but still have acceptable author fees that mere mortals could afford (APCs). Only if the big publishers are able to offer OA at reasonable fees, is it worth considering publishing an OA article with them.

If publishing is done largely by academics and their institutions, however, the cost of running journals is absorbed into workloads or taken up by grants, and we have a true change in publishing underway. There are few costs for hosting a journal online – it is all in the labour. The ‘big five’ publishers and some of the others will have to adapt or perish (they do produce indexing, which is good and could carry on), we will have our copyrights and a larger potential readership, and university libraries will have more money to spend.

Useful sites

Journals in political ecology, environment, development and associated areas

  • Conservation and Society Indian publisher, international editors, one in my School. Scopus Yes, Web of Science yes, Free.  Rejected me twice!
  • Electronic Green Journal general environmental, UCLA library.   Scopus Yes, Web of Science No. Free
  • Environmental Humanities. Newish offshoot from the AustHumRev below. University sponsored form UNSW Sydney.  htttp://  Web of Sci no, Scopus no, Free.
  • Espace populations sociétés  French and English. Published by University of Lille 1  Web of Sci no, Scopus yes, Free
  • Environnement Urbain/ Urban Environment. founded 2007, bilingual, Canadian, free I think. or  Scopus and WoS, no. Takes long papers up to 10,000 words, hurrah.
  • Environmental Health Perspectives  Web of Sci yes with index of over 7, Scopus yes, free to publish and read. One of the top public health journals in the world. Publishes only 15% of submissions.
  • International Journal of the Commons. Supported by IASC.  Scopus yes, Web of Sci yes, Page charges can approach $500.
  • Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society. Univ.Kassel and Union of German Scientists. Free, young scholar focus, not indexed. Confusing dual website.
  • Journal of Agriculture and Environment for International Development. Published in Italy since 1907, but online and free only a few years ago.  Not indexed.
  • Journal of Natural Resources and Development.  Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile with German support, nice layout but needs more papers and should be CCBY copyright.  Web of Sci no, Scopus no, Free.  (site down late Nov2105)
  • Journal of Political Ecology Scopus yes, Web of Sci no, Free. Everything is done by academics and housed at U. of Arizona.  I edit this one.
  • Pacific Geographies Small German online journal. WoS N, Scopus N. Free and generally does themed issues on Pacific topics.
  • Places Journal. Architecture and landscape architecture/planning  focus. Peer refereeing option.  https://placesjournal.orgWeb of Sci applied for, Scopus Yes, Free
  • Recreation and Society in Africa, Asia and Latin America (RASAALA) Univ of Guelph.  Free. Wos No, Scopus No.
  • Rural Landscapes: society, environment and history Stockholm University are the publishers.  Scopus No, WoS No. New, very professional format. Research article fee £250.00.
  • Suburban Sustainability  Hofstra U.  Not much information on site. Assume Scopus No, Web of Sci No, Free.
  • Transdisciplinary Journal of Environmental Studies. Roskilde University.  Scopus No, Web of Sci no, Free. One of the early ones, needs a spruce-up.
  • Water Alternatives International board and team.  Scopus Yes, WoS applied for. Appears to be free to publish.


Other social science of interest

Publishing and university issues

Book Publishers

  • Open Humanities Press  They publish books, presumably taking an APC from authors, but also some journals come under their banner, and all of those are free  to publish in.  Free to read and download, copies may also be purchased.
  • Open Book Publishers ” Our company is run entirely by academics, and our publishing decisions are based on intellectual merit and public value rather than on commercial viability.”  They do charge. Free to read and download, copies may also be purchased.
  • OAC Press  just published their first anthropology book in 2015.


Filed under Open access publishing

Short article on radical scholarship

Batterbury, S.P.J. 2015. Who are the radical academics today? The Winnower  6pp.


This brief article suggests radical scholarship needs redefinition in the reality of contemporary university life. It must include the conduct of research that supports justice; greater relevance and engagement outside the university; and more attention to  “…the ethics by which and toward which knowledge is produced”, meaning the maintenance of sound personal ethics in everyday life. To be rude, selfish and unduly ambitious demeans any remaining progressive agenda in today’s universities.

Please comment on the Winnower site.  Read by 2300 people in a  month!

Earlier blog version with comments:

Leave a comment

Filed under academic relevance, engaged scholarship, Open access publishing, tenure

Brompton vs. Birdy – the folding bike wars

Bickerton, 1970s – the handlebars collapsed

Raleigh RSW

Raleigh RSW – inefficient balloon tyres and weighed a ton

Folding bikes are icons of sustainable transportation, and of great personal interest to me. We grew up in the transport-deficient London suburbs, and a folding bike was very handy. My Dad had a couple of Raleigh RSW folders with small balloon tyres in the 1970s (see left) – they were too heavy, folded badly, and not really very workable. I snapped the front fork on a grey 3speed one. I  also had a purple Raleigh 18 as a teenager in the 1970s.  We also had a Bickerton, the extremely lightweight 1970s aluminium bike that tended to bend under stress, collapse, and even break under duress (left). I inherited that one, and broke it in the 1990s.

One of my Mk 1 Birdys, which lives in the UK

Birdy Mk 1 – one of mine

Since 1995 I have had an R&M Birdy (photo right, my one). I bought one of the very first Birdys, and now own a current model as well. The point of all of these bikes was to allow some degree of portability and thus more flexible use. In the rather small world of folding bike enthusiasts, there is a never-ending search for the ‘gold standard’ – a bike that weighs very little, rides comfortably and fast, and folds up nicely so you can store it easily in a building, on a bus, train or in a car.

Brompton from Wiki Commons


Folders require more technological ingenuity than a ‘cumbersome’ but the big money in the cycling industry has never really supported them – folders tend to be the domain of a few eccentric shoestring designers, and also some larger companies based in China or Taiwan than have a mix of cheap and passable designs for the global market.There are some top-end models produced by these bigger companies, currently dominated by Dahon and Tern (my Dahon Jetstream SP, like the one on the left, is passable and currently ridden by my 11 year old).Dahon Jetstream But purchasers with money to spend on a good folder (currently, let’s say US$1300 or so minimum) have been, for two decades or more, attracted by R&M’s Birdy and the Brompton.

Andrew Richie

Andrew Richie with early folded Brompton

For supporters of these two machines, every other brand is a distraction. Both were designed by backyard budding engineers with scant resources.  Andrew Richie (photo, Wiki Commons) borrowed money from 10 friends to get his 1976 Brompton prototype into operation, but by 1982 had ceased production pending a further capital injection. Alex Moulton and Harry Bickerton were the other lone British bike inventors (the Bickerton was a particular influence on Richie, who thought he could do a better job). Moultons do not fold. The Birdy was built by 2 students in a garage in Germany in the early 1990s. In the last couple of years, Brompton seems to be winning decisively in the marketplace. I move between countries a fair bit, and I see far more Bromptons now in London and the UK (understandable since the bikes are made there), Australia, Belgium, France and even in the USA. A Birdy is a rare sighting although I will soon travel to Berlin, and I will be looking out for this German brand (sorry guys-more Bromptons there too). The success of the Brompton is due  in part to marketing and supply – after a rocky supply chain since the mid 2000s they have become very efficient in their London operation, while R&M, based in Germany, have made some effort to supply outlets in important western world markets, but with less success except Japan. Discussion of the changing market for folders can be found at AtoB magazine, who are currently (2015) running a series of articles comparing folders in different price bands. You would think that the quality of the bike itself would also determine consumer choice, not just the ease of purchase and the supply chain.  If anything, quality should be the main determinant of market success. But I am unconvinced this is really true, as is Dave Henshaw in AtoB whose articles include reliable bike testing.  I think Bromptons are rather like Apple products – they are good but they also encourage loyalty and lock-in. Like Apple, Bromptons have a lot of unique parts. And customers return, sometimes to trade in for a superior model after a few years. They rarely choose to swap to anything better, including a Birdy. I don’t know enough Birdy owners to say if the reverse is true, but it probably is.

birdy folding

Birdy folding

In my view the Birdy is a far superior machine, but it is overpriced in some countries and has lost the marketing battle with the Brompton. The debate on their relative merits has been hashed out online a fair bit, but here is my perspective. On quality of build, both bikes were not so great back in the 1990s when the back end and stem of a Birdy would get stress fractures in the aluminium, and so would Brompton handlebars (earlier in time). All this has been ironed out – current Birdies, particularly the MkIII  are built to last, and with standard headsets, derailleur gears and cranks, even disc brakes, that you can source almost anywhere. Brompton bits, however, are a bit more specialised since many are made in the factory and the firm does not like outsourcing more than necessary. In terms of gearsBirdys have far more, up to 10 speeds on the standard models and even a Rohloff option, and the standard derailleurs work well. Brompton relied on a narrow Sturmey Archer hub for its 3/5 speeds (5 speed gearchange not always good), then used SRam after SA went bust in 2000, now offering a mix of hub and 2 derailleur options, very inferior to the Birdy. Hub gears don’t get grime in them, but changing the back tyre is more tricky and a lot of fuss is made about getting gear ratios right on an odd 2 lever system. They also have 2 speed and single speed models, but nothing beats a proper gear range with the least friction. On suspension, always desirable on a bike with small wheels, the Birdy is the gold standard. The front suspension is no-dive and pretty unique; the back is similar to a Brompton. The Birdy wins hands down with its dual setup. No front suspension on a Brompton has predictable effects on rough roads. On speed, all my trials – and others except AtoB’s downhill rolling tests- suggest the Birdy is the clear winner. You can put slick tyres on both which make a huge difference with small wheels, but the Birdy is light and with its gear range it pulls away uphill. Weight is about equal between the two, say 10.5-12.5kg on average, and both have titanium options and so-on that most people cannot afford. The Brompton is made of steel, the Birdy aluminium.  On luggage, the Brompton is better – it has a special bag. You can adapt those to a Birdy or get panniers front or rear, but most will not bother and just use a rucksack. On folding up, the Brompton is better (smaller) although not necessarily quicker – I can fold both in the same number of seconds. On the Birdy you have to get the gears and pedal in the right places before starting, and the package is bigger (MkIIIs are smaller than before).

My summation is that if you want to go fast in a city or a rural environment, buy a Birdy. You can go for kms before you get tired and the engineering is fantastic, especially if you are tall. The handlebars adjust up and down on a Birdy – not on a Brompton. The disadvantage is the folded package size, the creaks you often get from the suspension, and needing to tighten things up if you are heavy like me.  I think the Birdy is undersold. It is not in enough shops. It could be that the company needs to innovate its supply chain and list of models, but it looks like they do release attractive new variants. A major major supplier in the US, NYCEwheels, has pulled out from stocking Birdys and now promotes its Bromptons. The change in language since this has happened in 2014 is interesting, and perhaps this is replicated elsewhere. Initially they promoted and sold both machines, and branded the Birdy as an excellent deluxe option (see the comparative review here).  Now it is all about the Brompton. A similar thing happened in Australia with St. Kilda cycles and also Cheeky Transport in Sydney, but now St.Kilda are selling Birdys again. Velo Cycles in Melbourne say that if they stocked Birdys they would sell only 1-2 a year – but their 3 speed Bromptons are now up at AU$2000. For less than that you can get a 9 speed Birdy at St.Kilda Cycles across town- I have one of those -customers would better to try both.

The point being – if Birdys are not available in the same shops as the Bromptons, it is obvious which customers will buy. The most comprehensive review, of a budget Birdy model, is here – hardly inferior to a Brompton.

Anyway as I travel the world with Birdys, I have concluded I will stick with them. You can go fast and in comfort. Take-off speed is excellent. Speed is less important at my age, but effort and comfort, with those bigger wheels, full suspension and adjustable bars, does matter and Bromptons just do not have those things. I have in any event, after 40 years on folders, probably saved thousands of dollars in public transport fares, hundreds of hours in waiting and walking times, beaten transportation strikes and carriage restrictions on trains, trams and buses, and intrigued a few university students who see the Birdy propped up against the lectern every week. I am not one of those academics that drives to work to then lecture about sustainability.

New Birdy frame June 2015

Postscript Oct. 2015. Early in September I was hit by a large truck doing 50-60km/h when riding my Birdy in Melbourne. I was in hospital for almost three weeks. The Birdy was caught under the truck, I did somersaults along the road, but survived. No more bikes of any type for me for a while. Too many fractures. The whole story is here – it is remarkable. I think the Birdy has survived, the seatpost is bent, I have to take it to a specialist. 

 From Pacific Cycles


Filed under brompton versus birdy, folding bikes

New synthesis on the field of political ecology

Batterbury, S.P.J. 2015. Doing political ecology inside and outside the academy. In Bryant, R. (ed.) International Handbook of Political Ecology. Edward Elgar. Pp. 27-43.


The chapter presents a survey of political ecology (PE) scholarship in, and beyond, academic institutions. This interdisciplinary field makes a contribution to understanding environmental and social justice issues, that require explanations at multiple scales, often challenging powerful state and corporate actors. Radical and critical scholarship like PE survives because of sustained student demand, but in neoliberal universities battling financial shortfalls and sometimes a reluctance to invest in research areas that offer critique of powerful institutions and of injustice. Political ecologists have a substantial presence in North America and Europe, either as individual scholars or in small research clusters, but are found across the world and are networked virtually and through key events and collaborative ventures. Publishing outlets include at least three dedicated journals. The extent to which academic political ecology can, and should, make a contribution to engaged scholarship, stepping beyond the boundaries of academic investigation into the messy world of environmental politics is debated, but embraced by some academics, numerous NGOs, and civil society organizations. The future of the field is assured if environmental despoliation, denial of access to resources, and inequality continues; and if its hopes for better world are not extinguished by much more powerful actors in and outside the university system.

Partial summary

On Google Books

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

New article on little-studied region of Grande Terre, New Caledonia

Kowasch M., S.P.J. Batterbury, M. Neumann. 2015. Contested sites, land claims and economic development in Poum, New Caledonia. Settler Colonial Studies 5(4): 302-316.


Property relations are often ambiguous in postcolonial settings. Property is only considered as such if socially legitimate institutions sanction it. In indigenous communities, access to natural resources is frequently subject to conflict and negotiation in a ‘social arena’. Settler arrivals and new economic possibilities challenge these norms and extend the arena. The article analyses conflicts and negotiations in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia in the light of its unique settler history and economic activity, focussing on the little-studied remote northern district of Poum on the Caledonian main island Grande Terre. In this region, the descendants of British fishermen intermarried with the majority Kanak clans. We illustrate the interaction between customary conflicts, European settlement, struggles for independence and a desire for economic development. Customary claims are in tension with the attractions of economic growth and service delivery, which has been slow in coming to Poum for reasons largely outside the control of local people.

Draft on Researchgate

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

New article on land tenure and community in East Timor

Batterbury S.P.J, L.R.Palmer, T.Reuter, D. do Amaral de Carvalho,  B. Kehi, A. Cullen. 2015. Land access and livelihoods in post-conflict Timor-Leste: no magic bullets. International Journal of the Commons. 9(2): 619-647.  (free online)


In Timor-Leste, customary institutions contribute to sustainable and equitable rural development and the establishment of improved access to and management of land, water and other natural resources. Drawing on multi-sited empirical research, we argue that the recognition and valorization of custom and common property management is a prerequisite for sustainable and equitable land tenure reform in Timor-Leste. In a four-community study of the relationship between land access and the practice of rural livelihoods in eastern and western districts of Timor-Leste, where customary management systems are dominant, we found different types of traditional dispute resolution, with deep roots in traditional forms of land management and with varying levels of conflict. The article shows how customary land tenure systems have already managed to create viable moral economies. Interviewees expressed a desire for the government to formalize its recognition and support for customary systems and to provide them with basic livelihood support and services. This was more important than instituting private landholding or state appropriation of community lands, which is perceived to be the focus of national draft land laws and an internationally supported project. We suggest ways in which diverse customary institutions can co-exist and work with state institutions to build collective political legitimacy in the rural hinterlands, within the context of upgrading the quality of rural life, promoting social and ecological harmony, and conflict management.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

New article on effects of neoliberalism in Colombia

J. Marcela Chaves-Agudelo, Simon P. J. Batterbury, Ruth Beilin. 2015. “We Live From Mother Nature” : Neoliberal Globalization, Commodification, the “War on Drugs,” and Biodiversity in Colombia Since the 1990s. SAGE Open 5: 3 1-15 (free online)


This article explores how macroeconomic and environmental policies instituted since the 1990s have altered meanings, imaginaries, and the human relationship to nature in Colombia. The Colombian nation-state is pluri-ethnic, multilingual, and megabiodiverse. In this context, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, and some peasant communities survive hybridization of their cultures. They have developed their own ways of seeing, understanding, and empowering the world over centuries of European rule. However, threats to relatively discrete cultural meanings have increased since major changes in the 1990s, when Colombia experienced the emergence of new and modern interpretations of nature, such as “biodiversity,” and a deepening of globalized neoliberal economic and political management. These policies involve a modern logic of being in the world, the establishment of particular regulatory functions for economies, societies, and the environment, and their spread has been facilitated by webs of political and economic power. We trace their local effects with reference to three indigenous groups.

Leave a comment

Filed under colombia, neoliberalism, political ecology