On “Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies, and the Future,” by Martin Paul Eve

On “Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies, and the Future,” by Martin Paul Eve

In this thorough volume, Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies, and the Future, Martin Paul Eve introduces readers to open access as a concept and practice. Where Eve’s study differs from other major open access books, like Peter Suber’s Open Access, is in his specific focus on the humanities. Open access is often discussed in relation to the sciences only. This is for a few reasons, including that the earliest, largest-scale open access publishing movement started in physics; open access has gained a lot of ground in the sciences due to the urgency of releasing research results quickly and widely (because of the timeliness of certain scientific research, its role in policy decisions on time sensitive issues like climate change and healthcare, etc); and science publications are exceedingly expensive, and often far more expensive than those of other disciplines. Open access, Eve argues, is still possible and indeed crucial for the humanities. Although the humanities and sciences differ in many ways, open access practices from the sciences can be translated and applied as appropriate for the humanities.

To elucidate his argument, Eve walks readers through the major arguments of many elements of open access in the humanities: publishing, peer review, monographs, economics, and licensing. Eve admits that open access can be fraught in each of these areas. Ultimately, however, when executed in the spirit of the free and equitable exchange of knowledge, and a good dosage of practicality, open access is still possible. Eve himself argues for an open access system where major libraries come together to negotiate and buy published material and make it open for all, and he also advocates for open, post publication peer review. Eve ends on a note of optimism, threaded through with an imperative: “As the opportunity cost of not venturing into these territories mounts,” he writes, “it becomes incumbent on researchers, librarians, publishers and funders not only to enter into dialogue about suitable transition strategies but also to ensure that our thinking is not bounded by what merely exists” (151). Rather, Eve suggests, through a practical self-criticism we must reflect on the current modes of scholarly communication in the humanities and explore what might be possible, especially if it is new, untested, and uncharted (as of yet).

 

Works cited

Eve, Martin Paul. 2014. Open Access and the Humanities: Contexts, Controversies, and the Future. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Suber, Peter. 2012. Open Access. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

 

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