Tuesday, May 06, 2008

More open access

Here's some more good news about open access publishing in the humanities, and it comes at a very interesting time for me. Now that my book, The Late Age of Print, is more or less finished, I'm about to return to the "Cultural Studies and Journal Publishing" essay I've been pecking at for some time now and presenting bits of at conferences.

It's remarkable just how far things have come in a year, especially in the humanities, which has lagged way, way behind the sciences, medicine, and technical fields in terms of making its journal publishing apparatus more open and less corporate. Still, I wonder: does OA journal publishing need to remain so resolutely hierarchical? That's a question I'll be pondering, probably in the conclusion to my essay. I'll be posting the piece to the Differences & Repetitions Wiki for feedback once it's a bit farther along.

Anyway, here's the OA announcement. Congratulations to all those involved on launching the Open Humanities Press initiative, and thank you for your vision.

– Open Access expands to humanities disciplines with a bold new publishing initiative in critical and cultural theory.

Brussels, Belgium – On May 12, 2008, the Open Humanities Press (OHP) will launch with 7 of the leading Open Access journals in critical and cultural theory. A non-profit, international grass-roots initiative, OHP marks a watershed in the growing embrace of Open Access in the humanities.

“OHP is a bold and timely venture” said J. Hillis Miller, Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, a long-time supporter of the Open Access movement and OHP board member. “It is designed to make peer-reviewed scholarly and critical works in a number of humanistic disciplines and cross-disciplines available free online. Initially primarily concerned with journals, OHP may ultimately also include book-length writings. This project is an admirable response to the current crisis in scholarly publishing and to the rapid shift from print media to electronic media. This shift, and OHP’s response to it, are facets of what has been called ‘critical climate change.’”

“The future of scholarly publishing lies in Open Access” agreed Jonathan Culler, Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University and fellow member of OHP’s editorial advisory board. “Scholars in the future should give careful consideration to the where they publish, since their goal should be to make the products of their research as widely available as possible, to people throughout the world. Open Humanities Press is a most welcome initiative that will help us move in this direction.”

OHP will give new confidence to humanities academics who wish to make their work freely accessible but have concerns about the academic standards of online publishing. In addition to being peer-reviewed, all OHP journals undergo rigorous vetting by an editorial board of leading humanities scholars.

OHP’s board includes Alain Badiou, Chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, Donna Haraway, Professor of the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Director of the International Center for Writing and Translation, UC Irvine, Gayatri Spivak, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University, Peter Suber, Open Access Project Director for Public Knowledge and Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, and Stephen Greenblatt, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University, who has been leading the public debate on the crisis of academic publishing in the humanities.

“Open-access publishing in serious, peer-reviewed online scholarly journals is one of the keys to solving a financial crisis that has afflicted university libraries everywhere and has had a chilling effect on virtually every academic discipline” said Greenblatt.“Making scholarly work available without charge on the internet has offered hope for the natural sciences and now offers hope in the humanities.”

With initial offerings in continental philosophy, cultural studies, new media, film and literary criticism, OHP serves researchers and students as the Open Access gateway for editorially-vetted scholarly literature in the humanities. The first journals to become part of OHP are Cosmos and History, Culture Machine, Fibreculture, Film-Philosophy, International Journal of Zizek Studies, Parrhesia, and Vectors.

“But it’s not simply a matter of what Open Access can do for the humanities” added Gary Hall, Professor of Media and Performing Arts at Coventry University, co-editor of Culture Machine and one of the co-founders of OHP. “It is also a case of what can the humanities do for Open Access. Researchers, editors and publishers in the humanities have developed very different professional cultures and intellectual practices to the STMs [Science, Technology, and Medicine] who have dominated the discussion around Open Access to date. OHP is ideally positioned to explore some of the exciting new challenges and perspectives in scholarly communication that are being opened up for Open Access as it is increasingly adopted within the humanities.”


Open Humanities Press is an international Open Access publishing collective specializing in critical and cultural theory. OHP was formed by academics to overcome the current crisis in scholarly publishing that threatens intellectual freedom and academic rigor worldwide. OHP journals are academically certified by OHP’s independent board of international scholars. All OHP publications are peer-reviewed, published under open access licenses, and freely and immediately available online at


Mani Kalani said...

Thank You for your news, I'm Mani Kalani, Cultural studies researcher from Iran. This is good news for all of the Iranian researcher because of common policies of Ahmadinejad/Bush until Khomeyni/Carter,we deprieved from Mastercard and ... and for reading journal without free charge. But I link this news at my weblog and I hope this project available a basic context for interdisciplinary dialogue for critical and cultural researcher. This is translate of a part of my comment about OPEN ACCESS : "back to idealistic domain of university that at this movement, academisian/researcher can take income from center until margin(I refered to Spivak)
I hope this interpertation is valid idea.
At end if you like more about my weblog I can discuss about it by english. Excuse me about imperfect writing of this comment.
Thanks regard

Ted Striphas said...

Mani Kalani,

Your comment could not be more apt. What's important about open access is that it not only provides for the free flow of ideas, in the abstract, but also that it allows for more robust and truly global intellectual exchange.

A friend of mine and I were talking recently. One thing he pointed out is how important translation should be to the open access initiative. Unfortunately, thus far, it hasn't been. Wouldn't a commitment to translation (also, incidentally, a key commitment of Spivak) help to make open access publishing even more open and accessible?