OA Information for Faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences
I’m a faculty member in the social sciences or humanities. Why should I care?
Although the cost of subscriptions has been consistently highest for journals in the areas of science, technology and medicine, journals in social sciences and humanities have showed some strikingly steep increases in price in the past four years. To take a few examples: from 2004-2008, the average price of journals in philosophy and religion underwent a 178% increase, music a 60% increase, sociology a 42% increase, and history a 39% increase. (In that same period, the consumer price index increased 15.84%.)
To take one especially high-priced journal as an example, the Journal of Economic Studies, published by Emerald Press, costs around $10,000 annually for six issues – roughly $1,667 per issue, or about $22 a page. But because the problem has been more glaring in the sciences, there have been fewer discussions about journal prices in the humanities and social sciences. There is a need for greater faculty awareness of these issues.
A few reasons why Open Access could matter for you:
- Your research could reach a wider audience. Most studies show that Open Access publishing allows your work to be viewed and read more often, and may increase the number of citations. A brief bibliography of the literature on research impact is here. Most studies of research impact have focused on science, technology and medicine, in part because measuring research impact is more complicated in the social sciences and humanities. But many argue that the impact in these fields could be profound.
- Your students could have access to a greater variety of scholarship, and you wouldn’t have to worry about the legality of making copies or putting readings on reserve.
- Support for Open Access means you are helping the academic community come to grips with a journal publishing system that is no longer economically sustainable -- and that is often benefiting commercial publishers at the expense of universities. Most work in and for academics journals is provided by researchers at little or no cost. One argument in favor of Open Access is that academics (or their home institutions) should not have to pay to access content that they have provided, reviewed and edited without compensation.
What can I do?
As a faculty author , reviewer or editor:
- When you have a choice, submit and publish in Open Access journals first
- When you do publish in a subscription-based journal, choose to retain your copyright to your work so that it later might be archived in Open Access repositories. For more information on how to do this, go here.
- Decline to publish, review or serve as editor for unreasonably expensive journals.
- Help launch open-access journals in your field or department, and serve on the editorial board for open-access journals whenever you can.
As a member of a department and professional association:
- Help your colleagues to understand open access and the problems with the current model of scholarly publishing. Serve on committees on publishing, and write opinion pieces on the topic for newsletters.
- When sitting on hiring, tenure, grant-review or promotion committees, do not use price or medium of distribution of a journal as a measure of its quality, and discourage others from doing so.
- Communicate with librarians about the real value of individual subscription-based journals, and help them to determine which expensive subscriptions your institution could do without.