Nice article this morning by Peter Webster on the Research Fortnight website entitled “Humanities left behind in the dash for open access.” Check it out.
Webster observes that much of the current conversation around the growth of open access focuses on the sciences and use of an “author-pays” business model. He feels inadequate attention in the conversation has been given to the unique needs of humanities scholarship, and why it may be harder for humanist scholars to embrace open access based on the “author-pays” model.
There is no Public Library of History to match the phenomenally successful Public Library of Science.
“It is tempting to look for cultural roots to this problem, and for evidence of ingrained resistance to change, but I don’t think that gets us very far. Better to look at the distinctive ways in which humanities research is communicated.” Webster then provides a concise articulation of research communication in the humanities.
Webster is not suggesting humanities scholars will reject open access because their needs differ. But clearly a one size fits all approach will not help move the conversation forward. Webster’s concluding appeal:
All the disciplines stand to gain from a successful move to open access. However, much of the discussion about open access has been driven by the needs of the sciences. Let’s not allow the humanities to be collateral damage along the way.