[Humanist] 25.423 open access

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Oct 28 08:44:14 CEST 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 423.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2011 17:29:15 -0400
        From: Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon at umontreal.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.412 open access
        In-Reply-To: <20111025081354.A61D41E4799 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard, all,

I do not quite understand why you think that researchers in the
humanities are taking flak for being uninvolved in open access. What I
have seen in this discussion is rather mild, it seems to me. And in my
own involvement with these issues, I have never heard anyone singling
out researchers in the humanities as particularly uninvolved. What I
have observed, on the other hand, are arguments where the concerns of
humanists are not taken into account, as if all of scholarship consisted
of science, technology and medicine. But that is another issue

Researchers may be very busy, but they still need to pay attention to
their working environment. Scientists should pay attention to the
quality of their instruments, and they generally do; humanists are
certainly interested in the wealth and depth of their library, which is
an infrastructure, and if they complain about the lack of journals,
etc., they might consider looking a little further than the usual
complaint to the librarian who, too often, is simply deemed to be either
insensitive or incompetent, or both, plus being bureaucratic, etc... If
journals are missing in the library, a quick check on library budgets
and their evolution might be profitably compared to the evolution of
subscription prices for journals, particularly STM journals. They might
then consider that, given the priorities of modern universities,
humanities journals will be given up in order to free money for STM
journals. Then, humanists might begin to wonder why some commercial
publishers need to make profit at the tune of 35-45% before taxes.

Researchers are not just researchers; they are also citizens. Public
money goes into supporting research, lots of it. Why the published
results of research should be so expensive when the manuscripts have
been given away to publishers for free, when publishers have us peer
review the articles again for free, etc. ? These are the  very questions
that triggered the Public Library of Science when it was still nothing
more than a worldwide petition back in 2001. They are still with us.
They may trouble the quiet aire of delightful studies, but that is an
elitist attitude that seems to claim that some of us are entitled to
unlimited (subsidized) access to information without having to reflect
on the economic conditions that begin to make this privilege a reality.

Anecdotal evidence about some SSH journals is interesting but
statistically irrelevant. What count are the the subscription budgets of
libraries, of consortia, and the effects of so-called "big deals", etc.
When journals cost in the tens of thousand of dollars a year, we are
truly in the realm of "Big Science", but not in the way that Derek Price
had envisioned it.

Jean-Claude Guédon

Jean-Claude Guédon
Professeur titulaire
Littérature comparée
Université de Montréal

Le mardi 25 octobre 2011 à 08:13 +0000, Humanist Discussion Group a
écrit :

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 412.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>         Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 09:13:22 +0100
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: in defense
> Researchers in the humanities are in the course of this discussion of 
> open access taking flak if not direct fire for being uninvolved in open 
> access discussions and movements. I wonder, however, if this is 
> fair. Aren't we (I include myself among these researchers) busy 
> enough without having to pay significant attention not just to the 
> manner in which our writings are published but more to the 
> infrastructure of publication? I agree that the problems we touch on 
> here are very, very important, i.e. they bear sharply on the central 
> purpose of research, at least for me, which is to communicate 
> thoughts, findings, constructs. But infrastructure, while important 
> to everyone, does not, cannot be everyone's job to build and 
> maintain. 
> The action I take is short-term and individual, so perhaps culpable, 
> but it is action, and it is what I can do without diverting my time for
> research. I put penultimate versions of what I write online whenever 
> possible. And I am *enormously* grateful to others for the same. (And 
> please note that, as I am fond of saying, one of the main effects of
> doing that is a dramatic increase in my book-buying.)
> Wouldn't it be better to paint a variegated landscape in which a 
> portion of its denizens are worthily employed with open-access 
> concerns while others do various other things?
> Comments?
> Yours,
> WM

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