Lately I’ve been thinking about a horizontal eyebrow piercing. It’s an idle thought. I doubt I’ll ever modify any part of my face. My reasoning has less to do with how it might affect my employment opportunities, however, and more to do with issues like my tendency to develop raised scars, or the number of times I faceplant on my laptop or my bed, which can’t be good for healing. I’ve dealt with some difficult healing processes with the tattoos and piercings I already sport, and right now I’m not willing to modify my sleeping position further.
Talking about body modification may seem like an odd entry point to a discussion of information transparency in academia, but bear with me.I recently attended a conference that, historically, I have loved passionately; it occurs at the end of the academic year and feels like a simultaneous respite and revitalizing force, nonstop intellectual stimulation that is–dare I say it–diverse, poetic, truly interdisciplinary, fun. This conference inspired me to wholeheartedly embrace open access despite what it could do for my employment possibilities. It inspired me to rethink my philosophy about information transparency such that I wouldn’t feel hypocritical about it, and to be at peace with the notion that these choices–like all the choices I’ve made preceding this moment–could potentially affect my chances at tenure-track employment. This initially seemed daunting, but in truth, I never expected to be employable in the traditional sense of the word. I’m a writer. I’ve narrowly avoided being a starving artist, but I embarked on this career path knowing it was a distinct possibility, the point being that I’ve always been willing to sacrifice certain potentials in furtherance of a large goal that I’ve always perceived as fulfilling to self and community. Deciding to post drafts and publish only in open-access journals seems minor in comparison to that first, enormous decision.