Library & Research

Podcasting as Feminist Method: Publishing @ SFU Prof Hannah McGregor Speaks to Scholarly Communication and Research at Green College, UBC

On October 3, 2019, Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University, Hannah McGregor spoke on how podcasting as a scholarly method opens out new possibilities not just for the reach of our work but for the nature of the work itself, especially in its emergence as a feminist method. Through its facilitation of scholarly accountability to multiple publics, its challenges to institutionality, as well as the space it builds for grappling with ideas without arriving at conclusions, podcasting may help to shift the ecosystem of scholarship such that new forms of scholarly thinking are made possible. This talk took place at Green College, UBC.

Hannah McGregor is an Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University, where her research focuses on podcasting as scholarly communication, systemic barriers to access in the Canadian publishing industry, and magazines as middlebrow media. She is the co-creator of Witch, Please, a feminist podcast on the Harry Potter world, and the creator of the weekly podcast Secret Feminist Agenda, which is currently undergoing an experimental peer review process with Wilfrid Laurier University Press. She is also the co-editor of the book Refuse: CanLit in Ruins (Book*hug 2018).

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“This is not quite a talk about podcasts”

McGregor speaks to how her early adoption of podcasting was something she at first considered “rash”, “silly”, and even in the ballpark of “career suicide”, but later came to view as a new form of scholarship.

Like many radical breakthroughs, it was discontentment that led Hannah McGregor into uncharted territory in 2015, while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta. “Every three years or so I become dissatisfied with the structural limitations of the work I can do from within the university: whether it’s the mundane abuses of power that shape many student-supervisor relationships, the hypocrisy of critics who build a career on theorizing violence while unthinkingly perpetuating it in their own actions, or the conservative limitations on how we can think and write and teach, academia has been, for me, a series of disappointments.”

It was this dissatisfaction with academia that led McGregor to do something “rash”. She started a podcast. Witch, Please was, in her words, “a very silly podcast about Harry Potter. I mean very silly, like owl-hoot sound effects silly, like extensive jokes about pegging silly, like drinking a bottle of wine and laughing ourselves sick and editing out exactly zero of our own laughter silly.” And yet, something magical happened. As McGregor put it, “little did I know, podcasting would be a departure point for me in rethinking my relationship to the university and to my own work as a scholar.”

McGregor’s partner in crime through all this is Marcelle Kosman, also a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta. Their rough takes on the material were as improvisational as they were collaborative. McGregor recounts that during recording, having to share a single microphone passed back and forth was “an accidentally feminist technique that forced us to give one another space and time to really articulate a thought.” 

Looking back at Witch, Please, McGregor recognizes how what she and Kosman did for fun was in fact feminist co-creation of knowledge—not because of the subject matter per say, but because of the lessons it taught them that traditional academic institutions did not. “The space of the podcast let me first experiment in, and gradually learn to articulate something about what I think of as a fundamentally feminist research method: research not just as and through creation, but research as and through collaborative co-creation with other feminist thinkers. “

Hannah McGregor, Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University (left), John Paul (JP) Catungal, Assistant Professor, Social Justice Institute (right)

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“When I begin to expand this thinking about women’s voices from the literal to the metaphorical, the way that feminist and queer communities for example share information, it quickly becomes clear that our modes of expression are invalidated at every turn.” 

McGregor speaks to the prevalence of misogyny in the media, down to the policing of how women speak.

McGregor relates an anecdote in which she and Kosman were invited onto CBC Edmonton AM to discuss the relatively fewer numbers of women than men in podcasting, where they argued that women are deflected from hosting podcasts in large part because of “the policing of women’s voices for things like upspeak and vocal fry,” two vocal inflections commonly attributed to women that are routinely used to demean or invalidate the content of their speech. The host of the show responded to their critique, or as McGregor quips “one might call it mansplaining were one so inclined”, that vocal fry is bad for your voice. McGregor summarizes, “So thanks, I guess, for making our point for us?”

Referencing the work of writer and podcast host Ann Friedman in her book Can We Just, Like, Get Over the Way Women Talk?, McGregor exposes the “impossible bind” women are placed in when asked to occupy a position that shows more confidence than they might even have, while also refraining from an “unbecoming” display of confidence that might threaten the status quo. “If we speak too loudly we’re being bitches, but if we speak too quietly we lack authority. If we share information via a whisper network we’re being sneaky but if we state harm publicly we’re sued for defamation. It’s almost like every way that minoritized communities find to articulate ourselves is wrong.”

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“I wanted to find out how it felt for me to really do my scholarship and my feminism out loud and in public.”

McGregor’s not-so-secret feminist agenda is to model a less violent way of speaking that includes listening and accountability.

Despite being almost entirely out of production, Witch, Please has around 20,000 subscribers, and many of these committed fans supported McGregor’s next project, Secret Feminist Agenda. McGregor muses on the reception of her work, “It often surprises me when listeners to Secret Feminist Agenda refer to it as a positive or optimistic podcast; I talk about white supremacy, anti-Indigenous and anti-Black violence, rape culture, and mental health crises, to name a few recurring topics. It has taken me a while to realize that the positivity people are naming is this refusal of the agonistic approach, in which I prove how smart I am by tearing down the ideas of others in a mad scramble to be the most unique, the most critical thinker. It has taken me years of this work to realize that what feels radical about it, for me, is the way it models a different way to do scholarly thinking.”

With accountability and sustainability top of mind, McGregor has set an intention to practice a form of scholarship capable of listening and learning “from what listeners had to say, and adapted, and apologized, and changed without trying to erase the past.” She does so through interviews with feminists of all stripes, because as she poignantly reminds us, “spending too much time away from other feminists can mess with us; we start to second guess gendered micro-aggressions, worry we’re reading too much into an interaction, wonder if maybe we’re just being too emotional. But thinking along with other feminists also pushes me to think differently, transformatively.” 

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“I am publicly, vulnerably, doing scholarship wrong. Or at least I’m trying.”

McGregor unpacks the power of language, the privilege of academia, and the complexity of conversation.

In a moment of reflection, McGregor admits that right now she has it pretty good. “I have a job as an Assistant Professor in a department of Publishing, where my colleagues are excited and enthusiastic about non-traditional scholarship. And I get to make podcasts, and think about making podcasts, as a central part of my work. And that publicness and vulnerability and doing-it-wrongness that characterized my first forays into podcasting has become my scholarly identity.”

With this power comes responsibility, to her listeners and to feminist scholarship, a charge McGregor does not take lightly. Recognizing the importance of minimizing harm in the space of public speaking, McGregor acknowledges that “Language hurts people. We learn to inure ourselves to it…but we who are used to this harm are desperate, too, for spaces where we can let our guard down and trust that we will be unharmed, or if harmed, that harm will be acknowledged, nurtured.”

For McGregor this means a breaking open of the space for “conversations that are built collectively, accountably, polyphonically, don’t end. They continue to build and become more complex over time, and inevitably they repeat as new people enter the conversation.” In this newly created space, the task ahead now is to populate the conversation with as many diverse thinkers and speakers as possible, and this means it is up to us.

If you’re interested in getting the kind of education in publishing that allows for ground-breaking, irreverent, uncompromising commitment to your values, and amplifying marginalized voices, consider applying for the Master of Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University before February 1st. 

Hannah McGregor, Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University (left), John Paul (JP) Catungal, Assistant Professor, Social Justice Institute (right)

Publishing undergraduate design students exhibition: The Sum of Our Memories

The PUB 431 exhibition explores different facets of memory while investigating the formats of publication and the act of publishing itself, to explore how form and content can affect the experience of reading the material at hand. The exhibition features unique student projects on the theme of memory.

Nostalgic candy will be provided to enhance the experience while supplies last.

Find out more at

Apply to the MPub Program

SFU Library Travel Scholarship for OpenCon 2018

OpenCon is the conference and community for students and early career academic professionals interested in advancing Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. OpenCon 2018 will be held on November 2-4 in Toronto, Canada. Each year, OpenCon brings together a diverse, representative, and engaged group of participants, with travel scholarships available to most participants. For this reason, attendance at OpenCon 2018 is by application only.

The benefits of applying for OpenCon 2018 extend far beyond attending the Toronto meeting. It’s an opportunity to find collaborators, get connected with scholarships to attend related conferences, and be recognized by the community for the work you do to promote Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data.

Complete and submit the application form by August 1, 2018 to apply for the Simon Fraser University Library travel scholarship to attend OpenCon 2018. Simon Fraser University graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are eligible to apply through this form. The Simon Fraser University Library will decide which applicant will receive the scholarship, and applicants will be notified by August 31, 2018.

**please note: the SFU Library scholarship includes registration to OpenCon. The scholarship is not restricted to those already accepted to attend.**

Digital Fellow Position for Fall 2018

The Digital Humanities Innovation Lab (DHIL) invites applications for the DH Fellow program for the Fall 2018 semester.  DH Fellows are graduate student positions that support the research, training, and outreach mandates of the DHIL.

Working in collaboration with the DHIL planning committee, the DH Fellow will contribute to the technical development of lab-associated digital research projects, provide training on digital tools via workshops and consultations, and participate in lab hosted events and programming.

The posting is available on the SFU Library website. Please contact with any questions or to discuss the posting.

Scholarly Communications Lab Projects

Like nearly everyone in the publishing industry these days, the publishing professors at SFU have plenty going on. For example, take Dr. Juan Pablo Alperin, who teaches PUB802: Technology & Evolving Forms of Publishing, is the Public Knowledge Project’s Associate Faculty Director of Research, is the recent recipient of the Open Scholarship Award from the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute, and on top of all of that is also the man behind many research projects at the Scholarly Communications Lab, which he co-directs.

While not all of them are directly related to the trade industry, almost everything they do is about scholarly publishing. We wanted to highlight some of the interesting things he and his team have been working on lately.

Cancer in the News
Alperin’s team is looking at news coverage of government-funded papers in biomedical research (specifically cancer) by analyzing how many times each study is mentioned in the news, and where. More specifically, they are looking at how the news is shared based on the 4 tiers of news coverage in both traditional and non-traditional outlets—a hierarchy that editors often use when determining the value of a story.

Open Source Altmetrics
They’re also working on building a tool for academic journals to have article-level metrics. Altmetrics are alternative ways of measuring scholarly impact, such as references in online news media and social media, as opposed to more traditional measures that identify things such as number of citations.

RPT (Review, Promotion, and Tenure) Project
Alperin and his team investigated the review, promotion, and tenure (RPT) process in the U.S. and Canada. Their goal was to deliver recommendations to universities and colleges that would encourage behavioural change towards a greater opening of access to research results.

They began by collecting RPT guidelines from over 100 institutions and assessed the degree to which they included Open Access (OA) recommendations.

“Despite countless policies and mandates promoting open access, as well as the development of tools and resources that facilitate it, and despite years of advocacy work, the majority of researchers are still not compelled to make their research outputs publicly available because the incentive structures that drive faculty’s research dissemination strategies remain unchanged,” says the team.

They found that only five (1%) of the RPT guidelines they studied explicitly mentioned OA, and in four of the five cases it was only “done to call attention to the potential problematic nature of these journals (which are seen as potentially of lower quality than subscription journals).”

The team is continuing on to Phase II of the project, where they will be studying faculty perceptions and beliefs regarding the RPT process, how RPT documents influence perceptions of the process, and the factors outside of RPT guidelines that influence how faculty disseminate their research.

Social Media Use by Researchers
In April, the team hosted a roundtable discussion about using social media to share science stories. Invited were: a YouTuber, an Instagram biologist, a traditional science journalist turned freelancer, and a journalist from Hakai Magazine (which specializes in citizen science).

Science Writers and Communicators of Canada
Similar to the roundtable discussion on how scientists are sharing science stories via social media, this project also looks at how science communicators are using untraditional methods to share their message (such as vlogging, instagramming, etc.).

As Science Writers and Communicators of Canada recently added “communicators” to their focus, Alperin’s team wanted to look at who and where these communicators are and how to best support them. They also wanted to look at how they differ from conventional science communicators in terms of standard ethics, accuracy, and practice; how they see themselves, and how they reach their audiences.

The findings will help identify the goals and challenges of science communication in Canada, and how to best support, train, and create outreach activities that will improve the quality of public engagement with science.

Diabetes Forums
The team combed the social web to identify public concerns about diabetes to direct academic research on the disease. This method of harnessing public engagement to directly impact research helps connect and involve the general public in academia, and vice versa.

Measuring Facebook Engagement
Many people share things over social media privately, such as through direct message or email. This sharing, known as dark social, currently cannot be accurately tracked. So the team looked at how altmetrics measure dark social, and found that there is a considerable amount of sharing done out of the public sphere that is captured by altmetrics.

And some of their work has been recently published in papers:

Zika and Language Use on Social Media
In this paper, they looked at how during the Zika virus outbreak there was an uptick in Zika research. Although the purpose of sharing research was to communicate with and inform the general public, the team used a language detection algorithm and “found that up to 90% of Twitter and 76% of Facebook posts are in English” despite English not being the first language of those at the centre of the epidemic.

Among other things, their paper says, “Our results suggest that Facebook is a more effective channel than Twitter, if communication is desired to be in the native language of the affected country.” They also explain that altmetrics favour English-language communication, large Western publications, and Twitter, meaning we need to build nationally relevant metrics in order to more accurately measure social impact.

Looking at Networks on Twitter
This paper looks at how primary research literature affects the public’s understanding and engagement with science; and how knowledge diffuses using social media. In their small case study, they found that Open Access articles shared tended to stay within small communities comprised of mainly researchers and did not generally reach the outside community.

DH Café Workshop Series

The DH Café series for Spring and Summer 2018 begins this month! The DH Café presents a series of short introductory workshops and informal discussions on topics relevant to the basic theories and methods behind digital research in the humanities. This semester, our theme is, “How Do You Put the Digital in a Humanities Project,” which will introduce you to the questions you need to consider and the challenges you might face when developing a DH project.

The first workshop will be held on January 24, with a workshop entitled Collecting, Organizing, and Describing Archival Research at 1:30–3:30 in the Wosk Seminar Room (W.A.C. Bennett Library 7100). If you are interested in attending, please register here.

You can also submit a project proposal to work with the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab (DHIL). The deadline is February 1 and you can find more information on the Work with the DHIL page.

housepress at 20: A talk by Calgary poet & publisher Derek Beaulieu

SFU Library is pleased to invite you to a noon-hour talk by Derek Beaulieu in Special Collections at the Burnaby campus.

The Calgary-based author of numerous books of poetry, conceptual fiction, and criticism has also been active for two decades as a literary publisher with his acclaimed micro-press housepress (1997-2004) and its successor, no press (2005-present).

His talk will focus on this aspect of his literary work — the poet as publisher.

12:30 – 1:30, Thursday October 26
Special Collections & Rare Books, Room 7100, W.A.C. Bennett Library (at SFU Burnaby)
For more information, email Tony Power (

International Open Access Week events

International Open Access Week  (October 23-29, 2017) is a global, community-driven week of action to open up access to research. This year’s theme is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realized by making scholarly outputs openly available. “Open in order to…” serves as a prompt to move beyond talking about openness in itself and focus on what openness enables; then to take action to realize these benefits. Open in order to increase the impact of my scholarship. Open in order to enable more equitable participation in research. Open in order to improve public health. These are just a few examples of how this question can be answered.


Join SFU Library during Open Access Week 2017 for a series of events focused on examining the role of the open movement within and beyond the academy.


Events are open to all and free, but seating is limited and registration is required. For more information and to register, visit:


Featured events


Tension and Risk in Open Scholarship: A Conversation (October 26, 6:00pm-8:00pm – BCIT Vancouver Campus)
Please join BCIT, SFU and UBC in celebrating International Open Access Week for a panel that examines the threads running through different tensions in the open movements, including: Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge, ethics and privacy, student-faculty relationships, accessibility and inclusivity, and researcher-institution relationships.


In this panel, Dr. Hannah McGregor and Dr. Raymond Siemens discuss how the Digital Humanities can bring academic and non-academic communities together to be more inclusive, accessible, and accountable.




Share Data / Find Data (October 25, 1:30pm-3:00pm)

Digital Humanities Innovation Lab – Fall 2017 Update

Get in touch with DHIL
Learn more about the activities of DHIL through our website:  The site profiles current projects, provides information and registration for lab events, and details the ways the lab can support researchers.
The website also links to the DHIL consultation request form. Researchers are welcome to submit a consultation request for any campus and during regular service hours (9am-5pm, M-F).  In addition to bookable consultations, the lab also holds office hours on Thursday mornings (10am-11am) in Burnaby and at least once a month in Vancouver (times and locations vary).  Updated office hours and locations can be found on the Contact Us page of the website.
If you would like to be added to the mailing list for future DHIL news and events, please contact
Propose a digital research project
DHIL accepts project proposals twice a year. The deadline for proposing Spring/Summer projects is January 15, 2018.  Information about proposing a project is found on the Work with DHIL page of the website. Please be in touch if you have any questions about the proposal process or are seeking feedback on a potential project.
DH Café : Digital Pedagogy 
The DH Café presents a series of short introductory workshops and informal discussion on topics relevant to the basic theories and methods behind digital research in the humanities. The courses cover a broad range of topics, from larger issues in digital research in the academy to specific tools and research techniques. The DH Café theme for Fall 2017 is Digital Pedagogy. Join us throughout the fall in exploring the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning.
Workshop schedule:
September 18, 10:30am-1pm, Bennett Library 7010
Presented by: Dr. Juan Pablo Alperin, Publishing@SFU
October 4, 1pm-2:30pm, Bennett Library 7010
Presented by: John Born, Shantala Singh, Duane Woods, Gabe Wong, Jason Toal (SFU Teaching & Learning Centre)
November 1, 1pm-2:30pm, Bennett Library 7010
Presented by: Kevin Stranack & Ali Moore (SFU Library Digital Publishing)
In addition to the DH Café workshops, the DHIL is proud to share the first workshop in our 2017-2018 DH Skills workshop series focused on the process of managing research data in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  This workshop will be of particular interest to those preparing grant applications in the near future.
September 21, 1:30pm-3:30pm, Bennett Library 7010
Presented by: SFU Library Data Services
KEY, SFU’s Big Data Initiative Events
KEY, SFU’s Big Data Initiative, will be hosting a number of lectures this fall, including the Data Visionaries Series. We would like to highlight two events that may be of particular interest to researchers working in the area of digital scholarship:
Speaker: Dr. Constance Crompton, Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Ottawa
September 20, 2017 – 12:30 to 1:30pm
SFU’s Big Data Hub, Presentation Studio, ASB 10900
Suspense: towards a Digital Narratology 
Speaker:  Dr. Mark Algee-Hewitt, Director of the Stanford Literary Lab and Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and English at Stanford University
September 22, 2017 – 2:45pm-4:00pm
SFU’s Big Data Hub, Presentation Studio, ASB 10900
What is the relationship between the feeling of anticipation we get from reading certain novels, and the words of the text itself? Is it the narrative of the story, the desire to know what happens next? Or is it something more subtle, a set of literary devices and effects, that makes us feel suspense? Combining cognitive psychology and deep learning models, this project explores the ways that fiction works to create the conditions of possibility for the experience of suspense. In addition to offering a new way to understand what suspense is and how it operates on readers, this project also offers a model of the new turn towards reading in the Digital Humanities. Far from the straightforward analysis of form, authorship, or topic, in this project, we explore what our new quantitative methods can tell us about the evolution of the reading experience and how we make sense out of what we read.

Quill & Quire Omni and the bi-weekly email newsletter

SFU Library now has a subscription to Quill & Quire Omni, the online news service for book trade professionals in Canada. The site is updated frequently with current industry news.

Quill & Quire Omni also sends out a twice-weekly email newsletter with excerpts of the latest industry news. Faculty, staff, and graduate students in Publishing can contact Adena Brons (, the liaison librarian for Publishing to be added to the email list.

Please note that this subscription DOES NOT include access to the Digital Edition of the Quill & Quire magazine. The Library has print subscriptions to Quill & Quire at Belzberg Library downtown.