British academy

Open access journals in humanities and social science

Open Access JournalsThe British Academy presents a report investigating some of the issues involved in open access publishing, which seeks to examine various practical issues and difficulties that may arise, using the example of twelve disciplines across the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).

There are separate ethical, financial and practical arguments in favour of developing open-access provision. At the same time, various difficulties have been identified in practice, focussing on undesired consequences of the desired aims. This report looks at which risks might hinder the process and expansion of open access as it is currently proposed. It focuses above all on 'green' open access policies (the posting of post-peer-review author-accepted manuscripts, on the internet in University repositories, after embargo periods). The report goes on to warn that if UK open-access policies are followed too rigidly, this will, in some disciplines at least, undermine the international reach and thus standing of the country's research.

This research project was led by Professor Chris Wickham, FBA, with support and co-writing from Dr Rebecca Darley and Dr Daniel Reynolds. The project was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and was overseen by a Steering Committee set up by the British Academy to manage the project.

Professor Chris Wickham, the Academy’s vice-president with responsibility for publications discusses some of the challenges of open access policies

The Academy is currently conducting research into the impact of open access policies on academic publishing, particularly focusing on humanities and social sciences (HSS). The research looks at three areas:

  1. The half-lives of journals, discipline by discipline
  2. The degree to which different disciplines are involved in no-UK journal publishing, and the degree to which different countries are committed to moves towards open access in different disciplines
  3. The effect that different embargo periods would have on library acquisition policies.

The research is funded by HEFCE but independently managed by the Academy. The results of the research are expected to be available in early 2014, and will be used to inform Academy advice to HEFCE on how to pursue the implementation of open access in the post-2014 REF.

21 October 2013

Debating Open Access

A collection of eight articles discussing the challenges of open access for the humanities and the social sciences, published 1 July 2013

Featuring contributions from:

Rita Gardner
Stuart M Shieber
Chris Wickham
Stephen Curry
Martin Paul Eve
Ziyad Marar
Robin Osborne
Nigel Vincent


Professor Chris Wickham FBA represents British Academy at House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee hearing on Open Access, 16 April 2013

British Academy advice to HEFCE on open access and submissions to the REF post-2014, 25 March 2013

British Academy response to the RCUK Policy on Open Access and Supporting Guidance, 20 March 2013

British Academy says implementing open access must be done well, not quickly, 25 February 2013

A submission from the British Academy to the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee on the Government’s Open Access policy, 7 February 2013

A submission from the British Academy to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology on the implementation of open access for published academic research findings, 18 January 2013

Understanding the implications of open access publication in humanities and social sciences disciplines, 27 November 2012 publication summarising 22 October meeting

British Academy hosts Humanities and Social Sciences Learned Societies and Subject Associations Network meeting on 'Open Access for Humanities and Social Sciences', 22 October 2012

Open Access to research: British Academy response, 26 July 2012

Open Access: The New Future of Academic Publishing? British Academy panel discussion 12 January 2012