Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mellon helps nine society publishers study their OA options

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) and eight other society publishers in  the social sciences and humanities have received Mellon grants to explore OA options for their journals.  From the AAA announcement (October 13, 2008):

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is pleased to announce today that it has been awarded a $50,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to conduct preliminary research on the economic issues faced by scholarly society publishers in the humanities and social sciences as consequence of the demand for open access to their peer reviewed journals.

The grant, will provide support for an examination of the publishing programs of nine social science and humanities societies and the development of an information base from which publishing model options might be derived to assure societies of the ability to sustain their publishing programs in an open access environment.

Work on the effort will begin immediately, with a final report expected to be released in the first quarter of 2009.

“This study is another step in AAA’s effort to better understand the conditions under which the future of our journal publishing program must operate, to learn from the experiences of other social science and humanities journal publishers and to carefully examine the issues, opportunities and problems presented by open access,” AAA Executive Director Bill Davis said in a statement released today.

AAA Director of Publishing Oona Schmid commented today, “Current open access models were developed within the Scientific, Technical, and Medical publishing communities. However, scholarly publishing in the social sciences and in the humanities differs in substantial ways. This study is our first step in understanding these differences, in order to locate a model that supports our discipline fully.”

AAA is joined in this effort by the Modern Language Association, the American Sociological Association, the American Historical Association, the American Economic Association, the National Communication Association, the American Statistical Association, the Political Science Association and the American Academy of Religion, under the auspices of the National Humanities Alliance Task Force on Open Access and Scholarly Communication.


  • The grants are a very good idea, and I applaud Mellon for making them.
  • For example, the AAA's most recent step in thinking about OA options for its journals was to adopt a 35 year embargo.  See our many past posts on the AAA and OA.
  • I believe that the National Humanities Alliance Task Force on Open Access and Scholarly Communication was launched in 2006, although it still doesn't have a web site and isn't mentioned on the NHA site.  At the time of launch, its director was William Davis, who is also the Executive Director of the AAA.  Does anyone know more about it? 
  • If I may, I suggest that the grantees take a look at the research Caroline Sutton and I have been doing on society publishers with OA journals.  In late 2007 we found 425 societies publishing 450 full OA journals, and 21 societies publishing 73 hybrid OA journals.  (We've found more since publishing those preliminary results, and will soon update our online list.)  It's true that most of the journals (356) were in the STM fields, but we found 51 in the social sciences, 32 in the humanities, and five in the arts.