Open Scholarship and Decolonisation in Higher Education

Thomas Rhys Evans


Open scholarship and university decolonisation communities share several values in attempting to promote long-term changes which challenge the problematic status-quo and promote a more representative and accessible research and knowledge infrastructure. Initiatives from these groups often experience similar barriers when attempting to drive such change. The current work therefore argues that further societal progress and justice could be possible with greater collaboration between open scholarship and university decolonisation communities.

Open scholarship is a movement to make “knowledge of all kinds more accessible, transparent, rigorous, reproducible, replicable, accumulative and inclusive” (Parsons et al., 2022). Whilst broad, this definition includes a wide range of individual practices and structural changes, including open educational resources, citizen science, open-source software, open peer review and open data, among many others. Such efforts can help tackle many inequalities by challenging, changing or removing exclusionary practices which have been perpetuated by ideological hegemony. For example, pre-printing research on open platforms like the Open Science Framework ( gives researchers the opportunity to disseminate knowledge and be acknowledged for their contributions, making their work more widely accessible, without the need for either researcher or reader to overcome privileged gatekeeping, approval or financial barriers. Facilitating accessibility and inclusivity are key parts of most models and visions of open scholarship (Syed and Kathawalla, 2022; UNESCO, 2021). For example, open scholarship is considered highly compatible with feminist perspectives (Siegel et al., 2021; Matsick et al., 2021), where exclusion of women, inequalities in invisible labour and recognition, and marginalisation of knowledge created by women, can be challenged. Open scholarship practices are considered predominantly (but not exclusively) positive in helping overcome the precarity faced by minoritised researchers when negotiating power, championing their voice, and democratising knowledge generation and dissemination (Fox et al., 2021; Pownall et al., 2021).

With a similar alignment in values, open scholarship has the potential to be considered part of ‘decolonisation’ efforts (Chan et al., 2022). Decolonising the curriculum (and/or university) represents a broad notion (Meda, 2020), typically referring to a focus on addressing the continued existence of embedded oppression and western privilege (Harvey and Russell-Mundine, 2019) and attempts to achieve better recognition and development of alternative knowledge (Arday et al., 2021). In practice, decolonisation demands transformative change to challenge the disproportionate power represented and perpetuated through the systems and knowledge presented. For example, not to look at how western theories apply to the global south or to see work from the global south as an ‘alternative perspective’, but rather to consider and voice (in a genuinely egalitarian way) knowledge created within different areas as contributing to cumulative developments in our shared understanding (Adetula et al., 2022). This work goes beyond developing a diverse curriculum or inclusive assignment to acting on the inequalities, oppression and discrimination perpetuated by current structures, cultures and practices (Dar et al., 2021; Doharty et al., 2021; Hall et al., 2021; Shain et al. 2021) towards greater social justice (Dawson, 2020; Gopal, 2021).

These movements of open scholarship and decolonisation are clearly not the same. However, there are several shared values in – and shared barriers to – promoting progression and it is hoped that this work, in elucidating these similarities, will promote further collaboration and synergy between such communities.


Open Scholarship; Decolonisation; Pedagogy; Social Justice


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