Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Study of humanities and OA released

The National Humanities Alliance has released its study on publishing in the social sciences and humanities. (See our past post.) From the study's executive summary:

... The "Discussions and conclusions" section of this report articulates the finding that a shift to an entirely new funding model in the pure form of Open Access (author/producer pays) in which the costs of publishing research articles in journals are paid for by authors or a funding agency, and readers have access free online, is not currently a sustainable option for any of this group of journals based on the costs provided. The sources of external funding required for such a model are also not clear and may not be available even as broadly as in STM disciplines. ...

The section of the report that covers "Questions requiring fuller answers" includes a brief discussion of core issues that the results of this study have been unable to address adequately. Topics here include the differences between STM and HSS journals and which Open Access model(s) are sustainable for HSS publishers. ...

[T]opics identified for further investigation ... include: ...

  • Is the ‘gold’ Open Access model sustainable for a sub-set of existing HSS publishers?
  • Where would the money come from to support ‘gold’ OA in HSS journals?
  • Are other ‘non-gold’ Open Access models sustainable for HSS publishers and if so which and how?
  • If HSS articles are posted to OA repositories (‘green’ OA) how long should the embargo period be?
  • Are results from Open Access experiments helpful in the understanding of society and association publishers of HSS journals? ...

Comment. A cursory review of the study shows there's a lot of thought-provoking stuff here. But a major flaw make the OA analysis suspect: The study consistently conflates "gold OA" with "author-pays", when in fact, more than 70% of gold OA journals do not charge author-side fees. The study does cite Willinsky's "nine flavors" of OA and PLoS' philanthropic underwriting, but it offers no serious review of any revenue models for gold OA other than author fees.

See also Heather Morrison's comments.