Open Access in the Humanities already has a long and distinguished history. Seminal Open Access journals in critical and cultural theory such as Surfaces, Postmodern Culture and Culture Machine launched in the early to mid-90s to give scholars free and open access to the work of major thinkers including Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, J. Hillis Miller, Henry Giroux, Kathy Acker, and many others.
Meanwhile, recent years have seen the emergence of a wide variety of Open Access journals, repositories and scholarly websites for the sharing of humanities resources, including CSeARCH (the cultural studies open access archive), Digital Humanities Quarterly, hprints (the Nordic Arts and Humanities open access archive) and the Rossetti Archive, most of them run independently by faculty members or hosted by departments or libraries.
The book continues to be the “gold standard” for research in the humanities, however, and a number of traditional and non-traditional presses such as the virtual, scholar-led initiative, Open Humanities Press, are now starting to publish Open Access monographs. In 2006, Rice University Press was revived as an Open Access press using a digital publishing platform pioneered by the collaborative educational resource group Connexions. Both MIT Press and Yale University Press have released selected books in Open Access. In 2009, the University of Michigan Press announced it would release its digital back-file in Open Access. A group of European university-based publishers have formed a consortium, OAPEN, to jointly develop a shared online publishing platform and digital library of Open Access books in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Independent publishers such as the academic-run re.press and the scholarly imprint Bloomsbury Academic are proving that Open Access offers innovative publishers not only new business models but also distribution to a global audience that would otherwise be out of reach for them.
New models of scholarly communication
Internet technologies are also enabling humanities scholars to experiment with new, open forms of authorship, editing and scholarly communication. The Institute for the Future of the Book, Project Bamboo, and NINES are exploring stunning new tools and integrated publishing environments to facilitate and transform online research. Libraries are often key partners in Digital Humanities collaborations, offering hosting, preservation and, in some cases, development of open source publishing solutions such as the Public Knowledge Project suite of software.
In today’s difficult publishing climate, which has seen a marked reduction of offerings in humanities research by traditional publishers, Open Access is becoming increasingly recognised as a way for mainstream and marginalised voices alike to be heard.