Learned societies are a fundamental part of the research ecology, providing a substantial intellectual, public and reputational good, at minimal cost to the UK public purse. They are typically ‘not-for-profit’ organisations, with the work they do in support of academic disciplines funded by income derived from publishing discipline specific journals. Often this is from success of the journals overseas, rather than in the UK, and as such the learned societies directly contribute to the international standing of UK research.
In her chapter for a new British Academy publication, Debating Open Access, Dr Rita Gardner argues that green open access will probably be the dominant form for HSS disciplines in the current transition framework, for reasons of funding limitations and the more restrictive forms of CC-BY licensing preferred by HSS authors. However, the insistence by RCUK on a policy with short green open access embargo periods is unsupported by evidence. Learned societies must continue to work together to pursue and appropriate balance between access, excellence and sustainability. The current dearth of evidence needs to be overcome if societies in HSS are to argue their case(s) more effectively during the transition period.
Dr Rita Gardner CBE is Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), the learned society and professional body for Geography and geographers in the UK. She has led the Society through a period of substantial development in the past fifteen years. At the heart of the Society today is the safeguarding, advancing and promoting of the discipline and its methodologies; and exchanging new geographical knowledge within and between research, higher education, schools, expedition, public and policy audiences in the UK and globally. The Society’s work engages 3 to 4 million people each year and its 16,800 members and Fellows are drawn from some 160 countries. Recent wider involvement includes a Non-Executive Directorship of the British Antarctic Survey; Member of the BIS Working Group on Open Access to Scholarly Publishing; Chair of the Steering Committee for the International Benchmarking Review of UK Human Geography; Chair of the Academy of Social Sciences Working Group on Open Access Publishing. Appointed as non-political advisor for Geography to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, 2006-2010, she continues to be closely involved with the Department for Education on Geography curriculum matters. Prior to joining the Society, she had an academic career as a physical geographer in London University at Kings College (1979-1994) and Queen Mary College (1994-1996). Educated at University College London (BSc) and the University of Oxford (D Phil), she holds the Busk Medal for her research on environmental change in the tropics. She was awarded a CBE for ‘Services to Geography’ in 2003, and holds Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Gloucestershire and Southampton, and an Honorary Fellowship of Queen Mary, London University.
Read more about Debating Open Access, a collection of a series of 8 reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for humanities and social sciences open access publishing practices.