Phillip W. Magness

U.S. Economic & Political History

On Madjunct Activists and Article Paywalls

Jason Brennan and I recently published an article investigating the common claim that adjuncts are “exploited.” We use a combination of empirical evidence and ethical investigation into the use of this term, and conclude that the claim does not withstand scrutiny. The article was published in the Journal of Business Ethics and is now available on their website. Like many academic articles, it is also behind the publisher’s a paywall on their public site. This practice usually isn’t an obstacle to anyone with access to a college library, as most have subscriptions and many of them even allow remote login through their websites.

Rather than engaging with our article and the criticisms it raises about their arguments, a number of madjuncts – that small subset of “career adjunct” activists – have taken to attacking the paywall at the journal’s website. One of them even accused me of  trying to swindle her our of $40 to “enrich” myself, even though I do not make any money if the article is purchased. I have extended an offer to share a copy of the article with anyone who requests it by email, though very few of the madjuncts have taken me up on it despite their persistent complaints about the paywall. The offer still stands, but I’ll also ask the madjunct crowd to consider the following three observations about their paywall grievance:

1. Our article is in a leading subfield journal. Almost every college library in America has a subscription to that journal. So do many public libraries. If you cannot get it at yours, the chances are high that you are simply too incompetent to even use a library and therefore probably shouldn’t be employed in a teaching capacity at the college level.

2. If you claim you can’t get the article because you lack access to a college library, then you’ve pretty much admitted to me you don’t actually teach at a college. So please quit lying to me by claiming you are an exploited adjunct.

3. Since most of you are Marxists, you should in fact pay the $40 fee, but in a check directly to Jason or myself, so as to ensure that we are justly compensated for the fruits of our labor. Your demands about the paywall indicate that you desire to steal our work from us and alienate us from the value we created by writing the piece.

In fact, one might easily extend your labor theory of value framework to your professed intentions about the paywall, and conclude – at least in Marxian terminology – that you are attempting to “exploit” us. Therefore you owe it to us to pay up =)

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