On February 19th, UKSG ran a webinar entitled “Open Access in the Humanities”. The speaker was Dr Rupert Gatti, Director of Open Book Publishers.
The webinar focussed on how the Open Access (OA) landscape in the arts, humanities and social sciences is somewhat different to that in the sciences, and what can be done help those publishing in this area. For example, whilst most research output in areas such as economics is journal articles, subjects such as English and French publish 30-40% of their research output as books.
Concerning journals, whilst many OA journals in the sciences charge article processing charges (APCs), where you pay to publish an article, most humanities journals don’t do this. For example, in literature 93% of journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) don’t charge APCs. However, this doesn’t mean that open access journals don’t exist in the humanities – within DOAJ, approximately 45% of the journals are humanities based. The difference is that journals are often not published by commercial publishers. In history for example, universities publish approximately 50% of the journals.
Models are also starting to exist where researchers can publish their books on open access. Open Book Publishers carry out blind peer review, and then publish academic books in an open access format, where you can read the full HTML text for free online. However, if you require a PDF, hardback or paperback copy you can pay to have this format.
One benefit of having your book online is that you can embed video and audio into your work, for example by adding a YouTube video. Related to this, readers are also able to openly comment on and react to your work, creating a meaningful interaction between the author and the reader.
Starting to make books openly available in this way is also important to ensure the visibility of the research. With the current publishing model, book prices are high, but book sales are low. This means that very little of the research getting done is being seen, and may be one reason one the humanities in the US and UK only receive 1% of government funding.
If you would like to read some open access books, there are services that provide links to these, such as Open Edition Books and DOAB (Directory of Open Access Books).
If you would like to learn more about open access publishing for books or journal articles, please do e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.