Open Library of Humanities

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The Open Library of Humanities (OLH), formally launched last September, promises to be of great value to Arts and Humanities.      It is funded by a consortium of libraries, together with support from the Andrew Mellon foundation.    Unlike traditional publishers, which commonly make large profits, it is a not-for-profit organisation and makes its journal articles available open access on the Internet without any payment by authors.   The high author processing charges required by other publishers to make articles open access are particularly difficult for many scholars in Arts and Humanities to fund

The Open Library of Humanities has seven journals and intends to increase the number of journals each year.   One journal, entitled Open Library of Humanities, is a new “mega-journal” which publishes scholarship throughout the humanities disciplines and particularly welcomes inter-disciplinary articles.  There have been preliminary discussions about the possibility of publishing books as well as journals.

The  directors of the Open Library of Humanities have ensured  that academic standards in its journals will be high, with rigorous peer review.    They point out that since authors don’t pay for their articles to be published there can be no financial incentive to publish work that is not of a suitable standard.

Articles published in the OLH  are likely to have a larger readership than many published solely in journals which only a relatively small number of libraries are able to afford.   Measures have been taken to ensure long term preservation of the journals.  The journals meet all the  requirement of the  REF.

The Open Library of Humanities publishing model was discussed in an article in The Times in December  entitled Open Library of Humanities aims to ‘flip’ journals to open access.

If you wish to consider submitting an article free of charge for publication in the OLH or if you just want to find out more about it, have a look at the Open Library of Humanities web pages.

Open Access Book Chapters


For many subject areas – notably the humanities and social sciences – publishing research in the form of an edited book chapter is still highly valued. Nonetheless, there have been articles debating the issues with this form of publication (such as the blog post “How to bury your academic writing” by Dorothy Bishop, with a response from Terry Clague). One way to boost readership for a book chapter can be inclusion in a repository such as Swansea University’s Cronfa.

Researchers funded by the Wellcome Trust must now make book chapters open access (discussed in this blog post) and other funders may follow suit. Book chapters are not one of the output types covered by the imminent (1 April 2016) REF requirement to be made open access. However, HEFCE do mention extra credit for making all research open access where possible. Some publishers do offer the option to pay to make a book chapter immediately open access but this relies on the researcher being able to find the money. This may well not be needed if the alternative self-archiving route is possible.

There is no easy way to check publisher policies for self-archiving book chapters (compared with the Sherpa Romeo database for journals) but increasingly we are finding publishers allow self-archiving, albeit with an embargo period. Information is sometimes found on publisher websites (e.g. Brill) or you may need to contact the publisher and ask them directly. The University of Cambridge’s website has a summary of policies from a few publishers and there is a spreadsheet which maintained by UK librarians which covers additional publishers.

At the time of writing there are just over 1000 book chapters by Swansea University researchers on Cronfa but only 37 available for readers to download. It would be great to see that count increase as more researchers embrace the benefits of making their book chapters open access!

Contact us ( if you would like to explore your open access options.


Open Access Monographs

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OAPEN-UK, a large research project funded by the AHRC and JISC, has published its Final Report.    It aimed to examine attitudes towards publishing open access monographs and facilitate the making of informed decisions on the future of open access monographs.

In common with other research it  found widespread support among authors and other “stakeholders”, especially because making a book available open access to all with Internet access offers the prospect of gaining many more readers and greater impact.  Because of the typically high price of print monographs many are currently bought by only a small number of academic libraries and individuals.

A growing number of monographs are already available open access, although still a small proportion of the total. The Directory of Open Access Books now has over 4,000 peer-reviewed books published by 135 publishers, about twice the number in the DOAB eighteen months ago.  (This month all the books in the DOAB have been added to iFind, our library catalogue.)    The OAPEN Library, a repository of peer-reviewed books, allows us to do full text searching of many peer-reviewed books.

The OAPEN-UK report, together with earlier reports such as last  year’s  Monographs and Open Access Report by Geoffrey Crossick, finds that while there is strong support for making books open acces, there are more issues to be overcome than when making journals open access.  It is also emphasized that it is not possible to advocate one single economic model to pay for open access books and there continues to be a need to experiment with different approaches.    Many publishers allow authors to make books open access upon the payment of book processing charges akin to APCs charged for journal articles, but the cost of these is very high, especially for scholars in Arts and Humanities, and so it would be impossible to make most monographs open access in this way.    Various approaches are being tried, such as the making of the basic online version free but charging for the publication in other forms.    In the Directory of Open Access Books the books are free to read online but there is a link to Amazon where the book can be bought in print form.    Other approaches being used include crowdfunding, payment by a consortium of libraries in order to make books online (as with Knowledge Unlatched), delayed open access publication following an embargo period and sponsorship.

Many reports emphasize the continued importance of monographs, especially in Arts and Humanities, and the likelihood that books published in open access format will also be available for purchase in paper form.

Will the REF require books to be open access?

There is no requirement at present for books to be made open access for the REF.   However, HEFCE states that universities will gain extra credit  in the research environment part of the REF by enabling more kinds of publications to be open access than the minimum requirement.    In future REFs there is certainly a possibility that the REF will require monographs to be open access.    Particularly since books often take much longer to complete than journal articles it may be worth considering whether it is possible to make a book open access.

New Guide to Open Access Monograph Publishing

A great addition to our list of resources for “Open Access and the Humanities” post is the new Guide to OA Monograph Publishing which was published this week by the OAPEN-UK project. Part One of the guide covers business models for open access monographs and Part Two addresses “Common concerns about open access monograph publishing”.

The Guide is available as a PDF or HTML or you can order print copies.

Read the guide here:

Resources for “Open Access, Humanities and the REF” Session (08-07-15)

black and white image of a row of statues

We had a session today with the College of Arts & Humanities looking at open access issues and the new REF policy. These are the resources we talked about and a few more for exploring the topic further.

Policy Compliance

Journal Articles

  • Sherpa Romeo database for checking publisher policies – the “post-print” is the version required by the REF. Contact us ( if you have difficulty working out the policy – it’s not always clear.
  • The British Academy 2014 report on “Open access journals in Humanities and Social Science” and other open access discussions can be found on their website.
  • The Open Library of Humanities is a promising new publication model due to launch in 2015.


Book Chapters

General Discussion on Open Access & the Humanities

Slides from the session today are here but we will be blogging in more detail on some of the topics over the coming months.