hss in Adema & Hall 2013

ublishing books in this fashion, since one of the main
models of funding open access in the STEMs, author-side fees, 39 is not easily
transferable either to book publishing or to the Humanities and Social Sciences
(HSS). In contrast to the STMs, the HSS feature a large number of disciplines in
which it is books (monographs in particular) published with esteemed international

David Harvie, Geoff Lightfoot, Simon Lilley and Kenneth Weir, ‘What Are We To Do
With Feral Publishers?’, submitted fo



presses, rather than articles in high-ranking journals, that are considered as the most
significant and valued means of scholarly communication. Authors in many fields in
the HSS are simply not accustomed to paying to have their work published. What is
more, many authors associate doing so with vanity publishing. 40 They are also less
likely to acquire the grants from either funding bodies or their institutions that are
needed to cover the cost of publishing ‘author-pays’. That the HSS in many Western
countries receive only a fraction of the amount of government funding the STEMs do
only compounds the problem, 41 as does the fact that higher rejection rates in the HSS,
as compared to the STEMs, mean that any grants would have to be significantly
larger, as the time spent on reviewing articles, and hence the amount of human labour
used, makes it a much more intensive process. 42 And that is just to publish journal

quality as a piece of scholarship. This last factor is making it difficult
for early career academics to publish the kind of research-led monographs that are
often needed to acquire that all important first full-time position. This in turn means
the HSS is, in effect, allowing publishers to make decisions on its future and on who
gets to have a long-term career on an economic basis, according to the needs of the
market – or what they believe those needs to be. But it is also making it hard for


an Kempf, ‘Social Sciences and Humanities Publishing and the Digital “Revolution”’
unpublished manuscript, 2010: http://perso.univlyon2.fr/~jkempf/Digital_SHS_Publishing.pdf; Thompson, Books in the Digital Age, pp. 9394.


authors in the HSS generally to publish monographs that are perceived as being
difficult, advanced, specialized, obscure, radical, experimental or avant-garde - a
situation reminiscent of the earlier state of events which led to the rise of artists’
books, with the l

of exhibition space
for experimental and critical (conceptual) work within mainstream commercial

Partly in response to this ‘monograph crisis’, a steadily increasing number of
initiatives have now been set up to enable authors in the HSS in particular to bring out
books open access – not just introductions, reference works and text books, but
research monographs and edited collections too. These initiatives include scholar-led
presses such as Open Humanities Press, re.press, and Op

basca University’s AU Press. 45

Yet important though the widespread aspiration amongst academics, librarians and
presses to find a solution to the monograph crisis has been, the reasons behind the
development of open access book publishing in the HSS are actually a lot more
diverse than is often suggested. For instance, to the previously detailed motivating
factors that inspired the rise of the open access movement can be added the desire,
shared by many scholars, to increase accessibility to (specialized) HSS research, with
a view to heightening its reputation, influence, impact and esteem. This is seen as


A list of publishers experimenting with business models for OA books is available at:
http://oad.simmons.edu/oadwiki/Publishers_of_OA_books. See also Adema, Open Access
Business Models.


being especially significant at a time when the UK government, to take just one
example, is emphasizing the importance of the STEMs while withdrawing support
and funding for the HSS. Many scholars in the HSS are thus now willing to stand up
against, and even offer a counter-institutional alternative to, the large, established,
profit-led, commercial firms that have come to dominate academic publishing – and,
in so doing, liberate the long-form argument

oday. Take the way open
access has increasingly come to be adopted by commercial publishers. If one of the
motivating factors behind at least some aspects of the open access movement – not
just the aforementioned open access book publishers in the HSS, but the likes of
PLoS, too – has been to stand up against, and even offer an alternative to, the large,
profit-led firms that have come to dominate the field of academic publishing, recent
years have seen many such commercial publishers experiment

orking Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings’, June
18, 2012: http://www.researchinfonet.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Finch-Group-reportFINAL-VERSION.pdf. For one overview of some of the problems that can be identified from
an HSS perspective in the policy direction adopted by Finch and Willetts, see Lucinda
Matthews-Jones, ‘Open Access and the Future of Academic Journals’, Journal of Victorian
Culture Online, November 21, 2012: http://myblogs.informa.com/jvc/2012/11/21/op


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