“First, in the United Kingdom at least, green open access – where authors deposit their accepted manuscripts or later versions in an institutional repository – has become entirely normalised as a result of funder policies associated with the Research Excellence Framework. An exponentially greater volume of material here, and in other countries around Europe, has become available in repositories. This has not led to the collapse of the subscription ecosystem but has meant that many more people are able to access research work.
Second, powerful international funder mandates, such as ‘Plan S’, have accelerated the schedule for OA. Importantly, for the humanities disciplines, guidance on a mandate for monographs will be forthcoming in 2021, so the timescale for implementation is emerging. We need to use this time to find business models that will allow for sustainable and perhaps scalable OA for books (hint: it’s not book processing charges). To appropriate the words of a prominent figure in other spheres of European politics in recent days: ‘please do not waste this time’.
Third, many humanists have realised the benefits of OA for their work, although they remain stymied from pursuing the ‘gold route’ because of the prevalence of article processing charges, which they cannot afford. New models such as those pioneered by my own Open Library of Humanities, but also Open Book Publishers, punctum books, and others, though, point the way towards business models that could achieve full access to the version of record, without author-facing charges. We now need other publishers to adopt these models themselves. The desire of humanists to publish openly is becoming more and more widespread, when the conditions are right. Fostering this positivity while working to make OA possible – rather than just relying on the coercion of funder mandates – is vitally important if we are to have a world that values humanistic knowledge.
Fourth, there is an increasing dialogue around global inclusivity in scholarly communications in general. While article processing charge models for OA have been criticized for excluding scholars from the Global South (to use a contested term), for instance, this has opened a broader dialogue around who is allowed to read and write within our academic publishing processes. For example, one might ask, what does it mean that English remains the lingua franca of scholarly publishing, derived from colonial legacies?…”