There are not many funds that cover the costs of publishing Open Access books. When you say – Open Access, you think – articles in scientific journals. Almost every new funding initiative at universities focuses on publications in journals. For scientists who conduct research in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences this is a huge problem. HSS suffers from a chronic lack of resources and grants for research and publishing, especially since the results from this field are rarely presented in articles, and are more commonly in the form of monographs. Happily this situation is changing. I recently wrote about a new OA Fund at the University of Virginia that also provides the means to publish books, and today I have much better news.
The Wellcome Trust, the well known global institution, which provides funds for research and supports Open Access publishing, has recently extended its own Open Access policy to include scholarly monographs and book chapters. Under the new policy, the Wellcome Trust will make funds available for the payment of publishers’ open access monograph processing charges on the same conditions as the current open access funds. The new rules will come into force for holders of grants awarded after 1 October 2013, and for existing grantholders from October 2014. The new policy does not apply to textbooks, ‘trade’ books, general reference works or works of fiction, or to collections edited but not authored by Trust grantholders. Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, said about this new policy:
“We are deeply committed to ensuring that the published outputs of our funded research are made freely available. We recognise that a significant amount of scholarly work is published in monographs and book chapters and we want to ensure that these, too, reach as wide an audience as possible. This will allow the knowledge to be built upon in order to maximise health and public benefit, and foster a richer research culture.”
By extending its policy for Open Access, the Wellcome Trust gives a clear signal that it is necessary to introduce OA publishing in HSS. The Humanities and Social Sciences should not be insulated from the changes that are taking place in science and which can be defined as the paradigm of openness; but it requires funds for Open Access publishing. Hopefully other institutions and universities will take note of the Wellcome Trust’s initiative and follow its lead.