Open Access Salons! – Phil Ward

In June Research Professional reported that Prof Adam Tickell, successor to Dame Janet Finch, will be holding a series of salons to discuss Open Access.

Open Access salons! What a great idea.

A hairdressing salon. A row of women sit under hard hat dryers along the back wall, flicking through out of date copies of Grazia magazine. At the front a stylist fusses around a client in front of a large mirror.The bell on the door tinkles as a woman enters. Everyone turns to look at her.

STYLIST: Can I help you, love?
WOMAN (nervously): Yes, I was wanting a quick trim..?
STYLIST: Open Access, is it?
WOMAN: Pardon?
STYLIST: Do you want your haircut to be Open Access?
WOMAN: I don’t really understand…
STYLIST: Do you want your hair to be freely viewed by members of the public? Or do you want to wear this over your head?

She holds up a paper bag.

You’ll only be allowed to take it off if people pay to view it, or have bought a general subscription to my salon. Could get quite complicated.
WOMAN: But that’s crazy!
STYLIST: I’m just allowing others to benefit from this salon whilst protecting my business. It’s a tough world out there. It’s not as easy to make money out of hairdressing these days, you know.
WOMAN (patting her hair, and looking at the women at the back): Well, I guess I don’t really have a choice, do I? If I want others to see my hair.
STYLIST: You’ve made the right choice, love. Right then: if you want it to be Open Access, you’ll have to pay me a Hair Processing Charge, in addition to any other money I might get from you.
WOMAN: How much is that?
STYLIST: It varies. Averages about a thousand pounds.
WOMAN: A thousand pounds! But that’s outrageous!
STYLIST: It’s actually very good value. There’s a huge amount of unseen work involved in haircutting. Of course, we do offer a discount for pre-payment. If you buy 10 haircuts up front, we’ll give you a 20% reduction.
WOMAN: But still that’s £800!
STYLIST: Take it or leave it. You could go for the green option, of course.
WOMAN: What’s that?
STYLIST: You submit your hair to your local wig shop. However, it can’t be the final version. It might include bits I’ve missed, and won’t include any final changes we might make.
WOMAN: So my option is to have an incomplete haircut and put it on display in a wig shop, or pay a grand so that other people can look at it?
STYLIST: Essentially yes. Alternatively you could opt not to go Open Access. But then you will have to wear the paper bag.
WOMAN: But…but…
STYLIST: Look, love, it’s for your benefit! We need to protect your reputation and uphold the esteem and profile of this salon. And think what Open Access hair will do for you: More people will see your hairstyle, and will mention it to others. And people from the poor parts of town will be able to freely look at your hair.
WOMAN: And…and what if the people who see my hair decide they don’t like it? What if they disagree with my choices?
STYLIST: Well, if they make a good case we might have to retract it.
WOMAN: Retract it?
STYLIST: Yes. We might say we no longer agree with the hair and the underlying decisions which informed it. We might even decide to glue back any hair we’ve removed to restore the cut to its previous state. And I’ll put an apology note in the window.
WOMAN: This is ridiculous! I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want a trim any more.

She storms out of the salon.

STYLIST: I don’t know. No pleasing some people. (She returns to the client in the chair). So what style do you want, my love? A David Sweeney, you say? Right you are.

Written by Phil Ward, Deputy Director, Research Services, University of Kent.