Covid-19 and Open Access in the Humanities: Impacts and Emerging Trends

Abstract:  Discussions of open-access publishing tend to center the scientific disciplines, and this trend has continued during the Covid-19 pandemic. But while the pandemic has certainly shed new light on the importance of openly accessible medical research, its effects—from economic impacts to attitudinal shifts—have been felt and speculated about across disciplines. This paper presents an investigation into present and future impacts of the pandemic on open-access publishing in the humanities, which have historically been slower to adopt open-access models than other disciplines. A survey distributed to scholarly publishing professionals, academic librarians, and others working in open-access humanities publishing sought to determine what changes these professionals had observed in their field since the start of the pandemic, as well as what impacts they projected for the long term. While the lasting effects of this still-evolving global health and economic crisis remain uncertain, the survey results indicate that open-access humanities professionals have already observed changes in areas including market demand, institutional interest, and funding, while many of them predict that the pandemic will have a long-term impact on the field. These findings contribute to an ongoing conversation about the place of the humanities in the openaccess publishing landscape and the need for sustainable institutional investment.

How open access can support Humanities book authors: Interview with Manuel Peréz García | For Researchers | Springer Nature

“Prof. Manuel Peréz García is a tenured Associate Professor at the Department of History, School of Humanities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. He has published two open access books within the Palgrave Macmillan book series Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History, for which he is editor-in-chief, called Global History and New Polycentric Approaches and Global History with Chinese Characteristics. In this interview, he talks about why open access is important not only for research in global history but also for society, authors and funders….”

Opening Up Scholarship in the Humanities: Digital Publishing, Knowledge Translation, and Public Engagement

Abstract:  Opening Up Scholarship in the Humanities: Digital Publishing, Knowledge Translation, and Public Engagement considers the concept of humanistic, open, social scholarship and argues for its value in the contemporary academy as both a set of socially oriented activities and an organizing framework for such activities. This endeavour spans the interrelated areas of knowledge creation, public engagement, and open access, and demonstrates the importance of considering this triad as critical for the pursuit of academic work moving forward—especially in the humanities. Under the umbrella of open social scholarship, I consider open access as a baseline for public engagement and argue for the vitalness of this sort of work. Moreover, I suggest that there is a strong connection between digital scholarship and social knowledge creation. I explore the knowledge translation lessons that other fields might have for the humanities and include a journalist–humanist case study to this end. I also argue for the value of producing research output in many different forms and formats. Finally, I propose that there are benefits to explicitly popularizing the humanities. In sum, this dissertation speculates on past, current, and future scholarly communication activities, and proposes that such activities might be opened up for wider engagement and, thus, social benefit.

Open access books in the humanities | For Researchers | Springer Nature

“Humanities book authors value the benefits that publishing open access can bring. Open access books are easy to find and share, allowing for authors to increase the real-world impact of their work.

Open access can support authors’ desires to increase interdisciplinary discussion and use of their work, and to reach a larger and broader audience outside of their normal networks to students, policymakers and the general public. Publishing an open access academic book can also help with career advancement. 

On this page you can find interviews with some of our featured book authors talking about their experiences of publishing open access, as well as open access book highlights from our Humanities list (History, Literature, Culture and Media Studies, Religion and Philosophy). Open access funding can sometimes be challenging to find, so you can also find a list of some of the funders who have supported our featured books, and information on our free Funding Support Service….”

Open Access in the Humanities: What, Why, and How | The Courtauld

“The Courtauld’s new Digital Art History Research Group (#DAHRG) is pleased to welcome Professor Martin Eve to give the first of two keynote seminars. In Open Access in the Humanities: What, Why, and How, Prof. Eve will provide a general background to open access. He will also highlight its challenges and economics. Finally, he will speak about The Open Library of Humanities (OLH), for which he is Project Director. OLH is a charitable organisation dedicated to publishing open access scholarship with no author-facing article processing charges (APCs)….”

New Visualization-Based Interface for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Daily Nous

“Data engineer and developer Joseph DiCastro has created a visualization of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) through which users can search for entries and see the connections between them. It generates attractive visualizations, but is also a well-designed, useful, and approachable tool for navigating the SEP.


“Visualizing SEP” provides clear visualizations based on a philosophical taxonomy that DiCastro adapted from the one developed by the Indiana University Philosophy Ontology Project (InPhO).

Type a term into the search box and suggested SEP entries will be listed. Click on one of the entry titles, and a simple visualization will appear with your selected entry at the center and related entries surrounding it. A brief summary of the SEP entry appears on one side of the screen, with a link to the full article, as well as a notation of the entry’s “primary domain,” (usually a philosophical subfield). On the other side is a list of the primary domains of the related entries. The domains and their corresponding entries are color-coded, too. If you’d like, you can flick a switch and the related entries appear as a list. You can also see the tallies of incoming, outgoing, and bidirectional links between the selected entry and others, and mouse over those indicators to highlight the corresponding linked entries….”

An Interactive Visualization of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Open Culture

“The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, or the SEP, dispensed with the need for philosophy encyclopedias in print years ago. It’s “the most interesting website on the internet,” wrote Nikhail Sonnad at Quartz in 2015. “Not because of the content — which includes fascinating entries on everything from ambiguity to zombies—but because of the site itself. Its creators have solved one of the internet’s fundamental problems: How to provide authoritative, rigorously accurate knowledge, at no cost to readers. It’s something the encyclopedia, or SEP, has managed to do for two decades.” …

Visualizing SEP “provides clear visualizations based on a philosophical taxonomy that DiCastro adapted from the one developed by the Indiana University Philosophy Ontology Project (InPhO),” Justin Weinberg writes at Daily Nous. “Type a term into the search box and suggested SEP entries will be listed. Click on one of the entry titles, and a simple visualization will appear with your selected entry at the center and related entries surrounding it.” At the top of the page, you can select from a series of “domains.” Each selection produces a similar visualization of various-sized dots….”

News – Rose Harris-Birtill Appointed as Acting Director of Open Library of Humanities

“We are pleased to announce that Dr Rose Harris-Birtill, currently Managing Editor, has been appointed as Acting Director of the Open Library of Humanities, beginning 1st June 2021. She steps in to replace Professor Martin Paul Eve, who will be taking research leave in Autumn 2021 and Spring 2022.

Dr Harris-Birtill has considerable experience with OLH as the senior figure who oversees editorial processes at the organization. Dr Harris-Birtill has a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of St Andrews, where she is also an Honorary Teaching and Research Fellow in the School of English. Her academic monograph, David Mitchell’s Post-Secular World: Buddhism, Belief and the Urgency of Compassion (2019, Bloomsbury Academic) brings together post-secular literary fiction and Buddhist philosophies, investigating the redeployment of Buddhist influences across the complete fictions of author David Mitchell. This study also broadens to investigate a wider resurgence of post-secular narrative worlds in contemporary literature, discussing Mitchell’s works alongside those of Michael Ondaatje, Ali Smith, Yann Martel, Will Self and Margaret Atwood….”

Multilingualism within Scholarly Communication… | Balula |

Abstract:  It is undeniable that scholarly publication is boosted nowadays by the use of the English language, but this does not (and cannot) mean that the other languages have to be obliterated as scientific and cultural agents, equally valid and indispensable. Therefore, multilingualism is an expression of bibliodiversity that has to be protected and cherished, particularly in the area of  Social  Sciences  and  Humanities  (SSH),  a  field  in  which  culturally  and  societally  relevant  studies  are  made  in  local languages, when approaching areas such as cultural heritage, education, migration, public administration. The main goal of this paper is to present a literature review in order to identify the main aspects influencing language selection and the useof multilingualism within scholarly communication, allowing for putting forward recommendations for future initiatives aiming at enhancing multilingualism, particularly in connection with the opportunities deriving from Open Science.

Investing in the Open Access Book infrastructure – A call for action | Zenodo

Abstract:  Books play an essential role in scholarly communication, notably but not only within the Social Sciences and Humanities. Open science benefits the quality and value of research and scholarship. If open access is to benefit society as widely as possible, it is logical to include academic books. In a 2019 briefing paper, Science Europe reported that: “Open access to academic books must be considered in the wider open access policies developed by research institutions, funders, and governments”.

In recent years, Knowledge Exchange, a joint network of six key national organisations in Europe, has been working on gaining a better understanding of the open access book landscape, identifying existing initiatives as well as gaps that need to be addressed in the countries concerned. In general, there is a clear will in the scholarly community to accelerate open access for academic books in order to better serve research and society’s needs.

However, to overcome the obstacles identified by research activities, reports and networks, and to roll out good practices and increase opportunities, additional coordinated support is needed, in particular from research and funding organisations. In February 2021, a one-day virtual workshop brought together stakeholders from a number of European countries, all with a common understanding that open access for academic books needs further attention and support. The prerequisites for the implementation of a well-functioning and sustainable open access book infrastructure are discussed below.

This position paper, undersigned by the workshop participants, identifies three legs of a policy stool that together will support the full transition to open access for academic books. It brings together people, technology and knowledge.

The signatures in the first version of this document include workshop delegates. The document will stay open ( for additional signatures. We will update this document (and version it) as appropriate.