Category Archives: Open

OAPEN-UK focus group on open access academic publishing

On TuesdayI took part in a focus group on open access academic publishing at the British Library, organized by OAPEN-UK, the British branch of the Open Access Publishing in European Networks project. Six academics with an interest in open access publishing were asked to consider from the point of view both of authors and or readers various issues around the free, online publication of academic monographs. (Publishers were represented at a parallel meeting earlier in the week.) The remit of the three-year OAPEN-UK project is to consult with publishers, librarians, funders, academics and various other stakeholders, and analyse the most important issues surrounding open access publication with a view to making recommendations based on wide discussion and hard evidence. (The project includes an experimental element whereby thirty pairs of books from various publishers, one open access the other not, will be compared over the course of the three years to analyse the impact on sales, profit, circulation, impact and citation.

In addition to myself, the group included Gabriel Egan (Loughburough), Peter Heslin (Durham), Panu Minkkinen (Leicester), Thierry Rayna (London Metropolitan) and David Zeitlyn (Oxford), and was convened by Ellen Collins (BL) and Caren Milloy (JISC). Some of the major issues that were raised in the discussion included:

  • financial questions surrounding the costs undertaken, tasks carried out and risks taken by publishers, such as commissioning/editing, copyediting and printing
  • the issue of prestige and metrics; the imprimatur brought to a monograph by virtue of having been peer reviewed and accepted by a major publishing house, which is important to scholars seeking tenure, promotion, etc.
  • the difference between basic open access (merely cost-free to read) and full open access (legally free to re-use and distribute)
  • the fact that many of the important intellectual roles in publishing are carried out by other academics, usually for no pay: peer reviewers, referees, series editors, etc. A learned society ought to be just as well-placed to administer this work as a publisher

There seems to have been a lot of interest in the idea of combining the traditional publication of hard-copy (or even e-pub copy) for sale, with a rolling wall allowing open access publication or self-archiving of digital copy perhaps a year or two after the first publication, when almost all the profit a publisher is going to earn has been made. It remains to be seen whether publishers will be as enthusiastic about this model, or whether we will need to continue to see research grants paying publishers subventions to allow open access publication, as happens in some scientific and medical disciplines.

It was a fascinating and rich discussion with a wide range of interest and expertise, and I certainly haven’t done it justice in this brief summary. I look forward to seeing the official report on the OAPEN-UK website.

Modes of Collaboration in the (Digital) Humanities

This post started off as a comment on Elena Pierazzo’s note drawing attention to a very useful blog entry by Lisa Spiro on collaborative projects in the humanities. But it’s grown a little large for that, and my purpose here isn’t really to respond to that entry — which, as I say, is tremendously useful and thorough — but more to comment on collaboration in the humanities in general. Or rather, how it tends to get talked about — on the rhetoric of collaboration in the humanities.

Because I’m struck by how readily it’s assumed that collaboration in the humanities is an unreservedly Good Thing. And by how seldom it is that, despite this, such collaboration actually occurs. Continue reading Modes of Collaboration in the (Digital) Humanities

What should we talk about on this blog?

There has been some discussion offline (over lunch etc.) as to what sorts of things we might want to discuss in this blog, which should be relevant both to colleagues at KCL and to anyone with an interest in Digital Humanities. Here are some of the suggestions we came up with a few weeks ago (some of these have already been written about). In a way, it doesn’t matter who starts the conversation, because I would expect the post to largely be posing the question, and the comments thread to be where answers and opinions really come out. Please add suggestions at will.

  • Who is Digital Humanities?
    (not “what is” because that’s a silly question…)
  • What is the audience for a Digital Humanities blog?
  • What is the agenda of a Digital Humanities blog?
  • Why blog in the Digital Humanities?
  • What does Digital Humanities research look like?
  • What does Digital Humanities publication look like?
  • What does Digital Humanities work look like?
  • What does Digital Humanities teaching look like?
  • What does Digital Humanities “service” look like?
  • What should Digital Humanities tools look like?
  • How do you have a research agenda when you don’t have a tenured job?
  • What is new in the Digital Humanities?
  • What does “new” mean in the Digital Humanities?
  • Does DH have a special role in arguing for the value of the Humanities?
  • Is a blog the right venue for this sort of conversation?
  • How do we make DH relevant to Humanities and Computer Science academics at the same time?
  • What is a “work in progress”? Is anything ever “finished”?

Really just pick something and write about it off the top of you head. We’ll all chip in. Don’t worry about whether someone else has already picked the topic, because your two paragraphs will be different from my two paragraphs anyway. (And of course, these suggestions are in no way prescriptive or exclusive.)