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Open access for historians

Institute of Historical Research, University of London, 1 March 2013


  1. The mandating of open access (OA) publication for journal articles arising from publicly funded research is an enormously important development for humanities researchers. This summary of discussion at a colloquium organised by the Institute of Historical Research and the Royal Historical Society on 1 March 2013 is intended to provide an introduction to the subject, highlight the implications for researchers, and provide a resource for anyone interested in OA. We will be adding to the story as new information becomes available and consultations develop.
  2. A number of reports, submissions, statements etc. are referred to below, and we have collected them together here for ease of reference. The key document is the Finch Report (18 June 2012), which contains the recommendations of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Dame Janet Finch. It is available from the Research Information Network in full and in executive summary. The government response is available from the same page.
  3. On 16 July 2012, Research Councils UK (RCUK) announced its new open access policy, and there has been much discussion since then of the implications for researchers in the arts, humanities and social sciences, focusing in particular on the preference for Gold Open Access and licensing.
  4. The Royal Historical Society has been particularly active in the consultations which have followed, making submissions to both the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology (Open Access Inquiry) and the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Enquiry into Open Access. These, along with two RHS presidential letters, may be viewed below (under President's Letters and Society Submissions)
  5. The report of the House of Lords Select Committee, which includes the Publishers Association Open Access decision tree (endorsed by BIS and RCUK), called for more effective and extensive consultation with the communities affected by the move to open access.
  6. Following the report, RCUK has announced that it will be publishing revised guidance to accompany its policy on open access (6 March), with a two-week consultation period.
  7. That revised guidance is now available here:
  8. On 25 February 2013, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) launched an initial consultation on the development of proposals around open access and submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) post-2014 (closing date 25 March 2013). This will feed in to a lengthier consultation process subsequently.
  9. Finally, SHERPA/RoMEO provides useful data on current publisher copyright policies and self-archiving.
  10. And so to the event itself.
  11. The first panel of the day included representatives of learned societies for history, as well as journal editors.