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Open Access


Has open access come of age ?

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‘Open Access comes of age’ was the headline in a recent issue of Nature News, the article reporting a recent study published in Public Library of Science One, that found that the number of articles in freely accessible journals is growing at a rate of 20% per year.

It so happened that in preparation for our Open Access Publishing in the Arts and Humanities conference on July 15th (places still available, and free), I was on the same afternoon reviewing the holdings of full-text items in institutional repositories, which suggested a rather different story.

I looked at traditional peer-reviewed research outputs (disregarding theses, conference papers and so on) in 14 repositories for a sample of research intensive pre-1992 institutions in the UK, and found that the median average for history was 8 items, 4 for English literature and only 3 for law.

Institutional repository deposit (the so-called ‘Green’ route) is of course only one option. However, given that the author-pays model for OA journals (the ‘Gold’ route), cited as a possible motor for the steady growth overall, has some considerable limitations in the arts and humanities, it would appear that these disciplines lag a long way behind in both modes of OA. At the conference on July 15th we hope to examine the reasons why in more detail, and what the next steps might be.

Places on the conference are still available: to register, contact Peter.Webster@sas.ac.uk .

The more the merrier when it comes to open-access publishing

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The IHR’s Reviews in History has recently partnered with recensio.net to bring its reviews to a wider audience than ever before. Recensio.net, launched in January, is an open-access reviews platform for European history developed by the Bavarian State Library, the German Historical Institute Paris and the Institute for European History (Mainz). The interface is translated into three languages, German, French and English, to aid searching and browsing, and many languages will ultimately be represented in the reviews and review articles themselves. Reviews in History is the first English-language publication to be included in the platform, but it is hoped that many more will follow. Of course, not all of our reviews will be re-published in recensio.net, as many cover non-European history – the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia – but a substantial portion will be eligible for inclusion.

The IHR is delighted to be invovled in this initiative, which we hope will engage new readers across continental Europe. The principle of publishing in multiple outlets, and allowing re-use of material in different contexts for academic purposes, is an important one if humanities research is to prosper in the digital age.