OpenPhysio journal going on hiatus

OpenPhysio started with the goal of exploring alternative forms of publication and dissemination of scientific outputs. The journal also aimed to support early-career researchers, physiotherapy academics, and clinicians; basically, anyone with a story to tell about physiotherapy education. We wanted to expand the scope and format of those stories to remove the formal boundaries and publication requirements of traditional journals.

The reality is that it’s been an enormous challenge trying to do what is required in terms of managing the editorial workflow, publication workflow, and platform development that’s needed to achieve the goals we set for ourselves. Most journals, even open-access journals, are supported financially in some form or another, which is especially useful when it comes to employing the support staff needed to manage the operational demands of scientific publishing.

By deciding that we would not charge authors or readers, we knew that the administrative responsibilities would fall on the shoulders of anyone volunteering to support the journal, and over time, it’s been clear that this may not be a reasonable expectation. The amount of time it takes to produce an article in a format that most authors require for their institutions is unmanageable for a team of academic volunteers. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to find reviewers who have the capacity to assist in the editorial process, which delays publication and is unfair to authors.

Starting today, the journal will no longer be accepting new submissions or author registrations. The OpenPhysio website will remain online, and articles published in OpenPhysio will remain public. Articles in the editorial process will not be affected, and authors will be supported through to the final publication.

With that said, we’ve been discussing a few possible options that might enable OpenPhysio to keep going, albeit in another direction. Over the next few months, I’ll be working with colleagues to revisit what we originally wanted to achieve, taking what we’ve learned over the past 5 years, and trying to figure out what further contributions we could make in the domain of publishing. Taking the journal into hiatus will hopefully give us some head space to reflect on our values, and look at other options for supporting colleagues who have stories to share.


Healthpunk Vol 2 is now available

Healthpunk Vol 2 header image depicting a lady sitting in a chair, knitting.

‘Tis the season to imagine new ways forward for more ecologically and socially responsible healthcare futures! One year after the publication of Physiopunk Vol 1, we are happy to share Healthpunk Vol 2: Fiction + Healthcare + You: A collection of 10 Healthpunk stories written by diverse healthcare students, academics, teams and indigenous leaders in over four different languages from around the world, in addition to four commentaries, two editorials, and a prologue to open the entire volume. 

Putting together Healthpunk Vol 2 has been nothing but a joy and privilege yet again and we certainly hope you will enjoy reading it just as much. It has been wonderful to delve into all the stories that were submitted to the volume and work with the different authors and commentators that have contributed to this volume, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, EcoHealth students, PhD students in health and society, critical healthcare scholars, political economists, public health scholars, indigenous leaders, bodyworkers, speech and language pathologists, and the list goes on.

And how else would we work but together and across all sorts of disciplinary and sectorial boundaries given the complex social, environmental and health challenges we are facing today? The work that has been done for Healthpunk Vol 2 is some of the most difficult, yet some of the most pertinent: The imagining of futures that not only challenge the status quo but help us see and navigate toward possibilities for more ecologically and socially responsible Eco/health/care futures.

Now it is over to you, dear readers, to take the journey with us over to that other side that this new collection of healthpunk stories is steering us toward. We hope you will enjoy the ride, and maybe take a few others along with you!

Healthpunk Vol 2: Fiction + Healthcare + You is available for reading and to download here, free of charge.


Considering the precariat: A conversation with Shaun Cleaver, Sidhiprada Mohapratra, and Mathieu Simard

Note: This episode was recorded in 2021, about a year into the pandemic.

In this episode I speak with Shaun Cleaver, Sidhiprada Mohapratra, and Mathieu Simard, about their article describing their experiences as early-career academics affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. As part of the review process there were significant pieces of the article that the reviewers asked to be removed as they were not central to the main thrust of the work. I thought the sections that came out were nonetheless important to consider and so asked the three authors if we could talk about those aspects of their work that didn’t make it into the final publication.

Article citation: Cleaver, S., Mohapratra, S. & Simard, M. (2021). Contagious precarity: A collective biographical analysis of early-career physiotherapist academics’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. OpenPhysio.

Related: Ellis, B., Rowe, M. & Cleaver, S. (2020). English language dominance of the profession. In beta podcast.

Shaun Cleaver

Sidhiprada Mohapratra

Mathieu Simard

  • PhD candidate at McGill University. Lecturer (non-faculty) at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi.
  • Chair: Task Force on Disability, Humanitarian Emergencies and Disability at Rehabilitation International. Co-chair: International Commission on Technology and Accessibility. Assisting and member through RI of Global Alliance for Disaster Resources Acceleration and the Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction network.
  • ORCID: 0000-0002-8890-6864


Developing principles of movement training, with James Mcloughlin

In this episode of the OpenPhysio podcast, James McLouglin talks about the rationale behind his article on 10 guiding principles for movement training in rehabilitation. We also talk about the consistently high interest in this publication and what might be driving its popularity in the physio community. And finally, James discusses what he’d like to do next in order to extend this work.

Photograph of James McLouglin standing in front a natural background.

James is director of Advanced Neuro Rehab in Adelaide, South Australia, where he works clinically as a neurological physiotherapist. James is also part-time Associate Professor at Flinders University working as teaching specialist in Neurological Physiotherapy. James has degrees in Physiotherapy (University of South Australia) and Clinical Neuroscience (Queen Square, Institute of Neurology, University College London) and a PhD at University of New South Wales. James has experience in research in gait, balance and dizziness in various populations. James has an interest in movement recovery, motor control and rehabilitation with people with all neurological conditions, in addition to those with balance/dizziness.

You can find James online at:


Journal progress update

This post is a summary of a slightly longer piece that was published in Physiospot earlier this year.

Earlier this year we successfully applied for inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which means that we will hopefully see an increase in article and journal discovery since DOAJ is an important index for open access journals. We will also soon be working on the technical changes required for inclusion in the Google Scholar database before moving on to PubMed, for example.

Another milestone is that we can now generate DOIs, which are used to identify academic, professional, and government information, including research data, articles, datasets, and metadata. They’re therefore quite important for citation purposes because they group a lot of information about a digital creation within a unique identifier. While journals can publish articles without DOIs, having them creates an additional level of trust for authors. We’re in the process of retrofitting all of our accepted articles and peer reviews with DOIs.

As part of the retrospective updating of articles with DOIs, we’re also going to be adding more explicit licensing information to both the PDF and web versions of our publications. All OpenPhysio articles are automatically licensed with the CC BY 4.0 copyright license , which means that anyone can use the articles for any purpose as long as they provide attribution to the original creator. However, unlike most journals, OpenPhysio doesn’t require that authors sign over their intellectual property to the journal, which means that authors retain the right to host their articles anywhere, to share them with anyone, and to do anything they want with them.

And finally, we’ve set up the technical infrastructure to publish podcasts through the journal website. These will be short, informal conversations with some of the authors who have published with OpenPhysio. It’s not going to be a short version of the article but will instead dig deeper into the rationale behind the article, as well as some of the decision-making that went into the process. We’ve recorded two conversations and will hopefully be posting those shortly.


Call for papers | Towards a new normal in physiotherapy education

The current global health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic has led to significant social, economic and political upheaval all around the world, affecting higher and professional education at a global level. While there have been other examples of physiotherapy programmes being disrupted (I’m reminded of the 2015-2017 #FeesMustFall student action across the South African higher education sector), there is no precedent for the speed, breadth, depth and scale of the changes we are currently experiencing. Some of the impacts on professional education and training include:

  • The complete removal of all physiotherapy students from the clinical platform, effectively removing a non-trivial contribution to patient care and leaving a significant additional and unplanned burden on remaining clinical staff;
  • An overnight shift towards emergency remote teaching and learning that has taken many educators by surprise, especially those who did not plan for it, were unprepared to provide it, and who may have low affinity for it;
  • This shift is likely to have diverted attention away from both short- and long-term departmental planning, towards an inwardly focused survival mode that may slow down or bring to a halt other professional education activities.
  • The massive integration of technology as a way to support remote student learning, across many platforms, in many contexts, with many students at different levels of access and confidence in using that technology;
  • The almost certain psychological impact of having many thousands of students subjected to physical isolation and social distancing for extended periods of time, with the associated mental health issues that may result due to the current lockdown restrictions;
  • Concerns among students and their families about their future studies, as well as their personal safety when they eventually do return to the clinical platform.
  • High levels of anxiety among teachers and faculty members, given the debt incurred by universities.

In addition to the changes that have already been wrought on physiotherapy education, there are undoubtedly more that are still to come, including the unintended consequences of the decisions we are currently making. Many colleagues are legitimately concerned about the immediate effect of these changes on our students and our programmes. However, we might also suggest that the pandemic is acting as an accelerator for change with potential longer-term benefits for our profession.

By responding to this global disruption, we are placed in a situation where we are having to rethink our approaches to physiotherapy education. All over the world physiotherapy educators are engaged in what is possibly the most extensive programme of pedagogical change in our professional history. We see colleagues responding with creativity, empathy and flexibility, creating a unique opportunity for us to capture and share what may be a series of transformative changes in physiotherapy education at a global scale.

In this call for papers we’re looking for examples of those changes that physiotherapy educators are implementing now but which have the potential to be maintained post-pandemic. We’d like to learn, not only what made emergency remote teaching and learning possible in the coming weeks and months, but whether these changes have the potential to transform physiotherapy education in the future.

We would therefore like to invite colleagues from around the world to submit short reports on the changes that are being implemented in your programmes, that authors believe have the potential to be valuable in the longer term. These submissions should ideally be in the form of Research reports or Notes (see the OpenPhysio author guidelines for more detailed information on these formats). Submissions should clearly identify the problem that the educator or programme aimed to address, should include a maximum of 3-5 citations that form the basis for decision-making with respect to the curriculum change, early findings (even if only in the form of observations), and a single focused recommendation.

The closing deadline for submissions is the 31st of July.


Comment | Predatory journals: No definition, no defence.

Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices.

Grudniewicz, A. (2019). Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nature, 576, 210-212, doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03759-y.

Predatory publishers make it difficult for new and emerging researchers to make good choices about where to consider publishing their findings and without a widely recognised definition of what a predatory publisher is, it’s hard to know if a journal is simply new with a relatively inexperienced editorial board, or if they’re actively seeking to undermine scholarship. As a result, their presence “sows confusion, promotes shoddy scholarship and wastes resources.” This article provides a consensus definition of predatory journals that provides a “reference point for research into their prevalence and influence”, a first step in crafting coherent responses.

Further details of the main concepts in the definition are included in the article.


Call for papers | Critical issues in physiotherapy education

To celebrate our launch we’d like to invite you to submit a paper to a first edition of the journal on the topic of Critical issues in physiotherapy education. We would like to use this inaugural edition of OpenPhysio to explore the most important ideas in physiotherapy education in the next decade. We think that by highlighting the critical ideas that will influence decision making and curriculum design in the near future we will be able to respond appropriately as a profession to the emerging challenges of the 21st century.

We would therefore like you to consider submitting an article for this first edition of the journal. Some of the topics we are interested in include the following, but you should feel free to consider alternatives:

  • Clinical practice in conditions of complexity.
  • Human-machine interaction and implications for practice and training.
  • Open, online courses and decentralised curricula.
  • Curriculum decolonisation and internationalisation.
  • The future of evidence-based practice in an age of artificial intelligence.

If you are interested in submitting an article for this special edition please send your conceptual outline of about 1000 words to [email protected] by the 15 January, 2018. We will aim to provide feedback by the end of January, along with the timeline for submission of drafts and final publication.

Michael Rowe and Franziska Trede (Editors)


Comment | The journal as a problem space

Most of us think of an academic journal as a platform that provides access to scholarly work. We understand that the journal includes people (editors, reviewers, etc.) who mediate the process of research dissemination but how often do we look critically at the idea of the journal itself?

When the journal – and its associated structures, processes and underlying values – is regarded as a de facto standard for scholarly dissemination, it recedes into the background, becomes invisible to the reader, and bears no responsibility for how it shapes academic discourse. But the act of reading an article is mediated by the journal itself and so it becomes an active component in how we understand research. In other words, the journal is not a neutral, objective space for research dissemination because of the way it requires both researcher and reader to follow rules that influence how they engage with the outcomes of the research. When we understand the journal as a mediating technology we are forced to confront not only the process of academic publishing, but the nature of research itself.

Revolutions are not linear, inevitable progressions that build incrementally but rather occur when the observations within an established paradigm can no longer be explained by the discourse within it. Scientific progress is usually made through small, iterative changes within the dominant paradigm, where those changes are explained by the language, norms and values of the paradigm. But when we start noticing things that cannot be explained by the paradigm (for example, when publishers are making billions of dollars in a system where publication is supposedly very expensive) the observers start wondering if there are new ways of thinking. Ways that would allow us to explain the new observations but which push against the boundaries of the established paradigm.

What if we used the journal itself as a problem space to think more carefully about how research is conducted, evaluated, discussed, and shared? OpenPhysio is not only an attempt to ask critical questions as part of the theorising of physiotherapy education but also as a practical space to engage directly with a critical practice around how the academic project is conceptualised. When we created OpenPhysio it was not only to share critical research conducted in the context of physiotherapy education, but as an example of praxis where value-free assumptions about scholarly publishing are confronted and challenged.

The dominant design of academic publication isn’t necessarily the best design; it’s simply the one we grew up with. Perhaps it used to be the best option in a print-only world but in an internet-enabled, digital and connected world, we are increasingly seeing that traditional publication is inefficient, slow, expensive and not well suited for sharing knowledge in the 21st century. We all know what the default configuration of a journal is and we accept it because we’re working within a paradigm that makes the alternatives difficult to see. This is why paradigms are so powerful; they constrain the limits of what we think is possible. The only way to escape from the thinking that keeps us captive is to change our point of view. To change the paradigm.

Thank you to Dave Nicholls of the Critical Physiotherapy Network for reviewing and commenting on an earlier version of this piece.


What is OpenPhysio and why are we doing it?

After a few months of planning and building we finally decided to start telling people about OpenPhysio. Not because it’s ready in any defined sense but because we’re excited to actually starting doing things with it, and for that we need a community and we need engagement. And while the website has been live for most of that time we haven’t promoted it at all because we were still trying to figure out what it was. We’re still not completely sure what it is but we do know that we want to use it to engage more critically with pedagogy, research, and traditional ideas around academic publication. So that’s where we are; open for business but still in early testing. In future posts I’ll go into why we think this is a good thing.

Moving forward I’ll be using this platform to explore some of the decisions we’ve made with respect to publication, peer review, licensing, payment, format, technology, systems, communication, collaboration, editions and all the other things that need to be considered when building a journal from the ground up. We’re going to try some things that (probably) won’t work. We’ve taken certain positions that may be at odds with what you believe. We may make statements you find unnecessarily provocative. And just like we’re asking our authors and reviewers to be open and transparent in their interactions, we’ll hold ourselves to the same principle by sharing those ideas here. We want you to trust that we’re making decisions we believe will lead to the development of critical, positive, productive conversations between researchers, academics and clinicians.

It’d be wonderful to get some kind of feedback on these ideas as they’re being developed and shared here. While we’re calling OpenPhysio a journal – and it is one – we’re also trying to figure out what a journal even is in a networked, digital, complex world. In the 21st century a journal is essentially a website, albeit one with a specific purpose. But could it have a different purpose? Could have several purposes? Could it be more than a channel for sharing curated PDFs? We’ll be trying to figure that out over the next couple of years and would love for you to be a part of that project. Whether you’re a clinician, an academic, a researcher or a student, we think that there’s a place for your voice in the conversation.

So, if you like your journals stable, consistent and predictable, this project may not be right for you. But if you think that a journal should try to model the uncertain, complex, ambiguous nature of knowledge production itself, then OpenPhysio may be something you should be a part of.