Throughout the week we’ll be looking in to the ways our partner organisations are providing open access content, why they provide it, and how it’s going. Our staff have interviewed various members of the industry for Open Access Week (#OAWeek) and firstly our Head of Journals, Clare Hooper, interviews the Head of the Open Library of Humanities, Caroline Edwards.
What prompted the decision to work with a University Press?
Our core mission at the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) is to extend access to high-quality scholarship by removing price barriers – for readers but also for authors. Working with university presses is an excellent way to achieve this goal. In partnership with presses such as Liverpool University Press, the University of Wales Press and others, we can fund the ongoing publication costs of prestigious humanities journals whilst respecting and maintaining the academic communities that built these journals in the first place. We think this is an excellent way of supporting niche scholarly fields moving into a competitive digital publishing environment and, in the process, supporting the university presses that champion scholarly publishing and put research above profit.
What benefits do you believe can come from this agreement, particularly for scholars?
Agreements such as the Quaker Studies publishing partnership between OLH and LUP allow for continuity for readers, authors and editors – as they transition to the OLH and benefit from our cutting-edge publishing platform, journals can maintain their university press affiliation and already established websites and identities.
Scholars benefit in three ways: firstly, the transition to open access amplifies readership of their work, leading to increased citations and scholarly dialogue. Secondly, the OLH’s funding mechanism (whereby publishing costs are supported by an international consortium of research libraries) means that scholars do not need to apply for funding to pay expensive article processing charges (APCs) in order to publish their research open access; and this saving filters back into departmental and libraries budgets as well as levelling the playing field for precarious scholars without tenure or permanent academic contracts. Given the state of higher education right now, this benefit should not be underestimated. And, thirdly, publishing in a journal supported by a university press-OLH partnership brings scholars’ research into the twenty-first century – articles benefit from the latest advances in online journal publishing – with high-quality presentation, annotative functionality, robust digital preservation, strong discoverability and easy-to-share social media buttons.
How does working with a UP fit with the OLH’s wider mission?
The OLH’s wider mission is to tackle the inequalities within the academic publishing system, which have led to exorbitant price rises in journal subscriptions over the past few decades. This impacts upon libraries’ ability to offer the diversity of journal subscriptions that scholars require, it has a profound effect on budgets for buying monographs, and it siphons money away from other research activities. We believe at OLH that university presses are ideal publishing partners to help tackle this problem. Their long-standing association with universities means that UPs are focussed on producing and disseminating quality research, rather than pursuing profit or being led by commercial motives. In this sense, UPs offer the OLH a sustainable path towards growing our publishing activities and thereby securing access to specialist, and often quite vulnerable, humanities disciplines for the future. And this is an enormously important task – the humanities have so much relevance and importance to wider society. Public access to high-quality research needs to be secured without shifting prohibitive publishing costs onto authors themselves.
More on Open Access journal, Quaker Studies > OLH and Liverpool University Press join to flip subscription journal open access to Quaker Studies