Open Access Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences - Amnet EnableOA >

Open Access Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences

[Approximate Reading Time : 4 mins]

The open access (OA) movement is catching on now more than ever. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption of OA gained momentum in scholarly publishing. More people became aware of its benefits and significance. However, it is not the same across all fields of research. It mainly impacted the science, technology, engineering, and medical (STEM) fields, leaving behind others. The humanities and social sciences (HSS) have a separate publishing atmosphere that requires different approaches.

OA Publishing in HSS

Adopting OA publishing can help emerging countries establish international publishing standards, which is not always present domestically. Larger research teams or collaborations increase the chances of publishing the research with open access, which results in more citations and a wider reach. Emerging countries are showing an interest in international collaborations and open access publishing as they economically support and disseminate their social sciences/humanities research in acclaimed journals.

State of HSS OA in the United States

There is not much progress in developing sustainable funding models for OA academic publishing in the United States. The US government is opting for OA for government-funded HSS research. HSS publications give more importance to books and research monographs than articles when compared to other mainstream disciplines. This is problematic when it comes to funding, article processing costs (APCs), and publishing, as the costs are higher. Libraries face budget cuts while the price of scholarly publications steadily increases. This has pushed libraries to acquire more journals and fewer books even though HSS OA increasingly publishes e-books. This has in turn affected HSS academics, as they are unable to find sufficient sources or substitutes for scholarly communication.


Institutional repositories are another way to make HSS research work OA while keeping costs low. Even then, publicizing the research in these repositories can add to the budget. Library consortiums and programs can provide an OA platform for small, local research works. Some have even evolved into publishing houses like Michigan Publishing and Purdue University Press. University presses often have to depend on sources other than their budgets and the sales of press books to cover their publishing costs. Authors alone cannot bear the cost recovery of HSS books/monographs. But a library–university press cooperation can experiment with new OA models that combat these issues.

The open access movement is a transition that may sound adaptable across all fields of research alike, but the requirements of each stream vary. So application strategies have to make room to address the specific needs of the respective field. Researchers, publishers, faculty, librarians, and administrators have to cooperate, design models, and try and test their suitability for the economic climate of the HSS. Every level of the publishing ecosystem must be aware of its role and work to make HSS OA sustainable in the long run.

At Amnet, we believe that open access is a necessary change. That is why our microsite offers services that understand the dynamics of the industry. Our in-depth knowledge and experience can help publishers take advantage of open access digital platforms.

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