Dear Martin…

NOTE: (second update, 6/23/17): I’m now satisfied that I was misreading Eve’s commentary. In the interest of openness, I’ll leave the post [which follows the horizontal line]. Since Eve’s response was for some reason rejected by the commenting system, here’s a link to it.

Original post (between the lines):

I’ve disagreed with Martin Paul Eve in the past but find myself much happier with what he’s trying to do lately. OLH isn’t the model for OA in the humanities, but it’s one promising initiative.


Just encountered “Open Access Publishing Models and How OA Can Work in the Humanities” and, while it’s an interesting piece, I believe Eve oversells the idea that OA just wasn’t happening in the humanities until he came along. And that’s just not true and unfair to some of the pioneers in the field. [See update below the line.]

Here’s the key number: 109,420. Gold OA articles in serious OA journals in the humanities and social sciences in 2016. (80% of those articles in journals that don’t charge APCs.)

I don’t know how many humanities and social sciences articles get published every year, but I’m fairly certain that 109,420 is a substantial portion of them–quite possibly as large a percentage as the 225,591 articles in STEM (excluding biology) albeit probably not the 188,194 articles in biomed.

Those aren’t all in the social sciences by any means. Arts & architecture, 5,019 articles. Education, 15,234. History, 8,289. Language & literature, 11,967. Law, 5,292. Library science, 2,276. Media & communications, 3,884. Philosophy, 3,045. Religion, 3,639.

Maybe I’m misreading Eve’s article; maybe he’s not actually suggesting that there hadn’t been much OA activity in the humanities. Because there has, starting from the very beginning (quite a few of the earliest OA journals were in the humanities, including PACS-L Review, Postmodern Culture, EJournal and New Horizons in Adult Education. I guess it bothers me to see all the work that’s been done to date somewhat minimized–and, again, I may be unfair in reading Eve that way. I’d much rather see a celebration of the enormous amount of work that’s been done in OA by humanities people (certainly including librarians) along with a call to do more and a recounting of innovations. But that’s just me, someone who’s been nattering on about “free electronic journals” for at least 20+ years now.

[OA monographs are a different and fiendishly difficult area. I’m not going there.]

If you’re wondering where those figures came from, go check out GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016. It’s an open access monograph, freely available in ebook form and priced at 20 cents above the cost of production in paperback form. More info on it and its predecessor and companions at the GOAJ site.

*Updated 6/23/17: A number of people in Twitter–including Martin Paul Eve–saying this just isn’t so. They may be right. Not the first time that I’ve felt Eve tended to understate the work that had gone before, but I certainly accept the possibility that “tight word counts” are to blame. Since I don’t get invited to do pieces that much, maybe I’m just ignorant of the realities of being a high-profile OA person.

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