What Is Open Access?

“The future of scholarly publishing lies in open access. Scholars in the future should give careful consideration to 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.”
Jonathan Culler, Cornell University

Open access is a means of taking advantage of the global reach and relative inexpense of internet publishing to make peer-reviewed scholarly materials freely available. Open access in the humanities has come a long way since we first formed OHP as an informal collective of OA journals. We have documented our philosophy and processes in readings and podcasts.

Does open access mean anyone can just publish anything?

No. Open access articles go through normal refereeing and editorial processes, and are thus fully academically certified. The difference is that open access publications can be read and downloaded for free from any computer, anywhere in the world.

Will open access destroy peer review?

No. Peer review is independent of the medium a journal publishes in. Open access is compatible with rigorous external assessment and independent editorial decisions.

What about copyright?

Open access journals typically allow authors to retain copyright of their work. Many also permit the full rights enshrined in the Creative Commons Attribution licence that allows users free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship.

Does open access mean authors pay to publish?

No. Although some open access journals charge author-side fees, the majority do not. All Open Humanities Press journals publish without any charges, either to the reader or to the author.

Does open access mean the articles are not recent?

No. Open Humanities Press journals have no embargo periods that delay the free availability of the full text as soon as it is published.

How do I cite from an open access article?

OHP’s open access journals use established bibliographic conventions and are cited by referencing the journal title, issue number and year of publication. Articles published in pdf format typically come with page numbers. The Modern Language Association provides detailed advice about how to cite from articles on the Web.

What does the profession say?

“The MLA believes that the continuing development of electronic publishing in the humanities offers exciting possibilities and a new medium for the dissemination of scholarly work. It represents a particularly important development in the light of recent constraints on university press publication.” Read the full MLA Statement on Publication in Electronic Journals.