Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More on the Open Humanities Press

Jennifer Howard, New Open-Access Humanities Press Makes Its Debut, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

Scholars in the sciences have been light-years ahead of their peers in the humanities in exploring the possibilities of open-access publishing. But a new venture with prominent academic backers, the Open Humanities Press, wants to help humanists close the gap.

The nonprofit operation —described by those involved as "an international open-access publishing collective"— makes its official debut on Monday with a roster of seven already-established journals in critical and cultural studies and related fields....Each journal already publishes in an open-access format, and each will retain full editorial independence. The press will provide editorial and technical-development services, using the Open Journal Systems software created by the Public Knowledge Project, and it will help with distribution and promotion.

The press has assembled a star-studded lineup of literary critics and theorists as its editorial advisory board....

Another member is Stephen Greenblatt, professor of the humanities at Harvard University. In 2002, as president of the Modern Language Association, Mr. Greenblatt issued a rallying cry to humanists about the crisis in traditional scholarly publishing.

Humanists "need to ask ourselves where things are going in the future," said Mr. Greenblatt in an interview. "This is a responsible and serious way of thinking that through."

Peter Suber, a research professor of philosophy at Earlham College and a well-known advocate of open-access scholarship, also sits on the press's board. "It's badly needed, and it's among the first," he said of the venture. He hopes that Open Humanities will overcome the lingering perception among some humanists that open access means a shoddy product.

"Scholars in all disciplines tend to confuse online publication with the bypassing of peer review," Mr. Suber observed. "That's simply mistaken." In the humanities in particular, he said, "we're fighting the prestige of print." ...

To begin with, the press will have no operating budget and no formal staff. Internet hosting is being provided gratis by ibiblio, a sort of Internet library —or "conservancy," as they call it— based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The founders will draw on their professional networks, and those of the journals, to get things done in the near term.

Those involved with Open Humanities Press hope to expand beyond critical theory, perhaps even beyond journals and into open-access monographs, once the enterprise has a reputation for what [co-founder David Ottina] called "rigorous academic quality."

"Ultimately," he said, "the goal is to get as much academic content into an open-access distribution model as possible."