Open Library of Humanities launch!

I’m very excited to have been invited to be the section editor, in Media & Communication Studies, for the Open Library of Humanities! I have two things to say about this…

OLH

  1. We’re now open to submissions for work in the fields of Media and Communication Studies (as well as other key areas in the Humanities, please see here for more detail).
  2. It’s a fantastic initiative, which I’ll discuss in more detail below…

Last month saw the launch the OLH, a project that’s been several years in the making. The journal emerged in response to concerns that researchers are constantly producing work that no-one can read, because it is hidden behind paywalls. The subscription rates for the journals in which this work is published, moreover, is often very expensive. This not only results in uneven access to resources between universities – where some students and staff can obtain a wider range of articles than people at different institutions – but means that research is generally inaccessible to the public.

For this reason there has been a push to make things open access – or freely available – rather than making people pay for it. Existing journals have allowed articles to be free, for instance, if researchers pay a (high!) fee. In the sciences, alternative publications have also emerged (most famously the PLOS family of journals) in which everything is free but – again – a fee is charged before articles are published to cover costs.

The problem is that often the burden of payment falls to individual universities (who have to stump up costs up-front). This has proven to be a huge burden for institutions, who have tried various ways of ‘getting around’ the problem (for more on these solutions see here!). The humanities have thus faced a dilemmas, in that the resources just aren’t available for institutions to pay the high fees that are necessary to make things free. The ‘work-arounds’ mentioned above are one solution, but even this means there’s a huge time-gap between publication and things being publicly available.

The OLH was designed to tackle some of these problems. Acknowledging that humanities scholars would like to make work open access, but might not have the funds to do so, its founders have worked long and hard in developing an alternative funding model that means work can be published without researchers bearing the costs. The journal is run by academics, Β with its founders – the lovely Caroline Edwards, and Martin Eve – working hard to ensure the initiative is sustainable, and having a real political and scholarly passion for making knowledge open to everyone. I won’t go into the technical details, but further information on the project can be found here.

I’m really pleased to have been asked to get on board, so please do email me with any questions about submitting to the media section of the OLH!

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