Newsletter – June 2010

Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences: Best Practices and Recommendations

The report on Best Practices and Recommendations is the third in a series of studies conducted by OAPEN on digital monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The first report focused on the needs of users and stakeholders, and the second looked at the existing (and developing) publishing and business models. The aim of this report is to provide the different players—publishers, funders, librarians, readers, scholars and politicians—with a set of recommendations concerning the strategic issues in Open Access book publishing. For those already in the process of developing an Open Access policy, this report maps out the issues and decisions they may confront. As such, we hope it will constitute a first step towards a common approach for Open Access book publishing.

Book publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences finds itself in the midst of a period of change and upheaval. The transition to digital forms of communication and publication offers much potential for the renewal and strengthening of scholarly publishing. After a careful study of all the players in the field, we conclude that Open Access publishing is the preferred road to follow in this transition as it offers benefits for all stakeholders involved in scholarly communication and publishing.

There is a strong belief in the need to experiment, or at least to “occupy the field” in order “to be ready when the day comes”. This is why we recommend developing flexible models that are open to change. As HSS scholarly publishing has never been fully sustainable on commercial criteria and most of the revenues now drawn from publishing are either directly or indirectly public or semi-public money, any future economic model will be a complex mix of solutions. In these models, scholarly quality should remain the central criteria in all decisions and choices. We thus recommend the use of standardised and transparent peer review policies. Simultaneously (new) quality criteria for digital texts and enhancements should be promoted. Advocacy strategies are recommended and should focus on associating scholars and other stakeholders more closely with Open Access publishing. We further recommend that libraries, publishers and research communities work closer together in Open Access book publishing initiatives, especially to create new funding and subsidy mechanisms and workflow efficiencies.

Although the role of the publisher in the publishing chain may remain relatively stable, the structural position of publishing in the economic model may change dramatically. In the medium term, we believe academic publishing could evolve into a service sector providing services to scholars, faculties and academic consortia, taking on specific tasks and roles in knowledge creation and distribution. In this scenario, these activities could replace the publisher’s present role of investor and risk taker in the market for academic information, while at the same time reaffirming some of the basic principles in scholarly publishing: the paramount importance of quality assurance and of effective dissemination and access to knowledge.

The full report can be found at

For more information, contact Eelco Ferwerda (Project Manager, Amsterdam University Press) e-mail JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING


39th LIBER Annual Conference - Re-Inventing the Library 2010 – June 29 to July 2 - Aarhus

Open Repositories 2010 – July 6 to 9 – Madrid

76th International Federation of Library Associations Conference 2010 – August 10 to 15 – Göteborg

2nd Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing 2010 – August 22 to 24 - Prague