The Open Library of Humanities, a new nonprofit organization, seeks to create a humanities-and-social-sciences version of the successful Public Library of Science.
Open access isn't just for scientists. Opening up research is an idea that appeals to more and more humanists and social scientists. The trick has been how those fields can support the open sharing of research.
Several recent publishing ventures and platforms, including the Open Humanities Press and Anvil Academic, are investigating how to bring more open-access journals and monographs online. A brand-spanking-new nonprofit organization, called the Open Library of Humanities, aims to create a humanities-and-social-sciences version of the successful Public Library of Science, or PLoS, which in the past decade has established itself as a major presence in open-access, peer-reviewed scientific publishing. Like PLoS, the Open Library of Humanities, or OLH, will be peer-reviewed.
"For me, there was an itch, a frustration: Why are we always talking about science?" says Tim McCormick, one of the three founders of the new venture. "I'm sure that it has probably crossed the minds of many people, and a number of people have said to me, 'I've always thought there should be a PLoS for humanities.'"
Mr. McCormick hails from the publishing-and-technology worlds. He used to be a senior product manager for Stanford University's HighWirePress; he's now a consultant with Stanford's MediaX, which encourages tech collaborations between researchers and the business world. Mr. McCormick's OLH co-visionaries are academics: Caroline Edwards, a lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln, in England, and Martin Paul Eve, also a lecturer in English at Lincoln who's also a computer programmer. Both Ms. Edwards and Mr. Eve have experience editing open-access journals in their fields.Momentum in Many Fields
As Mr. McCormick points out, the humanities and social sciences have a sometimes underappreciated history with open access. Some of the movement's most visible leaders come from nonscience backgrounds; Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Open Access Project, is a philosopher by training, for instance.
But the sciences have the most robust mechanisms in place to encourage the open sharing of work. PLoS is an especially visible publishing option. The now-venerable preprint repository arXiv has long been the place physicists, computer scientists, and others to go for the latest research. The cause of openness has gotten a big boost from the National Institutes of Health's public-access policy, which requires that research supported by the agency be made freely accessible via the PubMed Central repository within 12 months of publication. Researchers have petitioned the government to expand the policy to all federally backed research.