Debating Open Access

The furious controversies of last year following the announcement of the new Research Councils UK policies on open access may have quietened down, but there remain many practical problems. These practical problems could well be amplified by proposals from HEFCE to require open access publication of anything due to be submitted to the next Research Excellence Framework in 2020.
The essential point, it seems to us, is this. The position that open access is ethically necessary and/or inevitable, and the position that it has so many practical problems attached to it that it risks being pointlessly destructive unless they are resolved, both seem the obvious starting-point to substantial groups of researchers. So obvious, indeed, that it is often not necessary to take seriously the other position at all. But if academics and other research practitioners do not create a solution for themselves, others with less knowledge and insight will continue to do it for them, and very likely get it wrong.

Debating Open Access is a collection of a series of 8 newly commissioned articles reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for humanities and social sciences open access publishing practices. Edited by British Academy Vice-Presidents Professor Nigel Vincent and Professor Chris Wickham the collection demonstrates that there is still much work to be done in ensuring that government policies to mandate open access publication do not damage the quality and reputation of UK academic research

The collection includes contributions from experts across the spectrum of humanities and social sciences research:

  • Dr Rita Gardner, Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) on the risks and opportunities of open access for learned societies
  • Professor Stuart M. Shieber, founding director of Harvard University’s Office for Scholarly Communication on how the principles of the Finch Report have been lost in the government’s implementation of the recommendations
  • Professor Chris Wickham British Academy Vice President (Publications) on how open access might restrict the freedom of academics to publish their work in international journals
  • Professor Stephen Curry of Imperial College on the need for scholars to play their part in making sure open access works effectively
  • Dr Martin Paul Eve, director of the Open Library of the Humanities on the possibilities of using open access publication to make peer review a more collaborative, less elitist process
  • Ziyad Marar, Global Publishing Director at SAGE on the role of publishers in supporting the creation of authoritative, credible scholarly knowledge
  • Professor Robin Osborne of Cambridge University on how open access could lead to lower quality research publications
  • Professor Nigel Vincent, British Academy Vice President (Research and Higher Education) on why open access cannot be allowed to risk the continuing importance of the monograph in HSS research.

Download the full collection or read individual essays.

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The British Academy is the UK’s national body which champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It is an independent, self-governing fellowship of scholars, elected for their distinction in research and publication. Our purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.

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