Open Access Research: Cities and Climate Change

It may be an urban legend, but they say that the average academic article is read by a grand total of 6 people. That's not an inspiring thought, especially for those of us who spend our time writing those articles!

You can pin low readership on all kinds of factors. But my longstanding gripe has been the fact that many academic journals keep articles cloistered behind pay-walls and inaccessible to anyone without a costly personal or institutional subscription. In my area of climate policy research, it seems to me that it borders on unethical to keep policy makers and the public from accessing the most recent research as easily and quickly as possible.

So it was great to see this week that both UN-Habitat and Routledge have put up a small trove of open access publications.

Until the end of the year, Routledge is providing public access to over 45 articles on urban climate policy, green building, sustainable transportation and other green city related themes. It's an interesting (if a bit uneven) selection that reaches back to 1999. The bulk of the articles are drawn from Planning and Architecture journals. But anyone with a serious interest in green urbanism will find something of interest there. The whole collection is listed in this pdf, which links out to full-text versions of each article.

There were many articles I hadn't come across earlier, and I'm just perusing two that caught my eye: “The Recession, Environmental Policy and Ecological Modernization – What's New about the Green New Deal?” and “Architecture and the Survival of the Planet.”

For its part, UN-Habitat has put up the full text version of the most recent annual report “Cities and Climate Change: Global Report on Human Settlements 2011.”  These reports are a huge undertaking, and pack together research from all over the globe in a readable format. I've covered some of its high level conclusions  in an earlier post.

The report was released in March, but initially the full version was only available for a hefty $58. The open access version includes the full 300 page report, as well as separate downloads for the featured city case studies. Among them you'll find my overview of the interesting by difficult road that climate policy has followed Durban, South Africa.  

In the same spirit, I have also put up PDF copies of my other research publications, with a few more on the way for 2012.

It's not everyone who will be interested in reading the more detailed and theoretical work that goes into academic research. That's part of the reason that I keep this blog. (Now that I have submitted my dissertation, I hope to get back to writing here more regularly.)  But for those of you who were interested into looking at these issues in more detail, they are there for you!


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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.