Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

More on OA in the humanities

Mark Chillingworth, Business is booming for humanities, IT Week, May 8, 2007.  Excerpt:

Scientific publishing may have grabbed the lion’s share of attention over the past year or two due to the ongoing open access debate, but humanities and social science subjects often pull in more students to an institution.

As a result, the information industry has been adapting to meet the needs of students, academics and libraries alike. Among the changes in this sector are backfile digitisation, increased web access, an expansion of portfolios and rising interest in business-related studies. The same forces of consolidation that are blowing through other sectors have also left their mark....

Open access publishing has so far has shown little presence in humanities. [David Bull, journals director at Palgrave Macmillan] believes open access could wreak more damage in the sector than it could in science. “Our content remains valuable for a longer time,” he says of the damage that processes such as the six-month embargoes from the likes of the Public Library of Science could do.

But Wiley Blackwell’s Carpenter doesn’t believe the humanities community is very different. “They are less sensitive about open access arguments,” he says.

Emerald has begun experimenting with an open access programme....


  1. The Public Library of Science provides immediate OA and doesn't use embargoes.  David Bull must have been thinking of funding agency policies, which encourage or require OA after an embargo period.
  2. It's true that OA is moving more slowly in the humanities than in the STM fields, but it's just as desirable and attainable in the humanities as it is in other fields.  It's also picking up speed.  Here are the major developments from 2006 alone (from my review of OA in 2006): 
  3. The US National Endowment for the Humanities adopted a policy to favor applications that promise OA for their results.  The long-awaited report from the American Council of Learned Societies not only recommended OA for the humanities, but recommended OA mandates by funders and supportive actions by universities.  The EU funded the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH).  The OA Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy took large strides toward building its endowment.  MediaCommons began to self-assemble as a cooperative OA book press for the humanities.  The Karman Center for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Bern committed itself to OA for all its future projects.  The Task Force on Electronic Publication for the American Philological Association and Archaeological Institute of America recommended that American classicists self-archive and may later recommend that American classics journals convert to OA.  Eight classicists issued an open letter to colleagues calling for more OA in the field.  Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council reaffirmed its support for OA, though it still stops short of a mandate.  JISC and two of the UK Research Councils --the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-- are extending the UK's e-Science program to the arts and humanities.  The AHRC is covered by the general RCUK commitment to OA but is still deciding on the exact form of its own policy.  The British Academy wrote a report showing how UK copyright law hindered scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.  The Modern Language Association recommended tenure reforms to encourage digital publication and departmental rewards for it.  And there was wider recognition, approaching a consensus, that the journal pricing crisis in the sciences is a major cause of the monograph crisis in the humanities --and that OA will help both.