We are happy to present this guest post by professor Martin Paul Eve, founder of the Open Library of Humanities.
In recent days, open access to research publication has continued its worldwide ascent. On the 27th May, 2016, the Council of the European Union agreed “to further promote the mainstreaming of open access to scientific publications by continuing to support a transition to immediate open access as the default by 2020”. The internet and world wide web are not going away and institutions or researchers who believe it might look increasingly Canutian.
Yet, there’s a challenge of affordability looming here. Gold open access, through article processing charges (APCs), works well when scientists in well-funded disciplines can bring in research grants that will cover such fees, which can reach £2000 per article. But what of the humanities and social sciences where funding is more scarce? What of the double dipping of those publishers who continue to collect revenue from subscriptions at the same time as charging APCs in hybrid journals? What of our continually diminishing library budgets, worldwide?
Focusing on the humanities disciplines, we founded the Open Library of Humanities as one potential solution to these problems. A charitable, not-for-profit enterprise that publishes only fully open-access journals (no hybrid journals), we are funded by an international consortium of just under 200 libraries. Each institution pays an annual membership fee which we then use to cover our labour and publishing costs. The fee is less than the cost of a single article processing charge for 11 journals but by sharing the burden between many institutions (rather than requiring an author to pay them when accepted) we spread the cost. We have also successfully “flipped” a set of journals from subscription publishers to an OA model – helping libraries to see a transition, rather than merely added costs. In the near future we are considering disciplinary expansions and a scaling up of our model.
But we need international cooperation if this is to work. The EU wants to push towards full open-access by 2020 but unless libraries around the world work together, we will soon feel the budgetary effects of this. So we need a variety of models to support open access in different fields. We provide a low-cost, high-return and equitable way of achieving OA in the humanities.
That is why we would like to call on Swedish libraries to join the National Library of Sweden, Stockholm University, Uppsala University and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond in participating in the Open Library of Humanities model. The pricing is extremely reasonable; just 1300 EUR per institution – and if that isn’t possible, we can negotiate. We accept articles in any language in the OLH Journal, including Swedish, so researchers at all institutions will have a first-class outlet for their work, regardless of linguistic barriers.
Professor Martin Paul Eve