Open Access guidelines for the arts and humanities: recommendations by DARIAH

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During the past few months, funders, policy-makers and research institutions shifted full speed ahead to make full and immediate Open Access a reality in Europe. One of the instant benefits of this bold move is that it generated previously unprecedented global conversations about the future of scholarly communication. These ongoing discussions clearly signal that Open Access became a critical issue for individual researchers as well, who, to actively connect and contribute to the conversation and eventually (re)gain control over scholarly communication infrastructure, need to be well-informed about its benefits, pitfalls, but most importantly, about their options to openly disseminate their own research results.

By recognizing this need, in our Open Access guidelines, we propose recommendations to improve Open Access to publications in the arts and humanities. Our core aim is to bring closer the harmonized but transforming European Open Access policy landscape to the communities around DARIAH and recommend very practical steps to achieve compliance with it.

The first part of the guidelines, published in this post, is a value statement in which we make a strong case for key commitments and emerging models and practices of open scholarly communication we recognize as viable and sustainable in an arts and humanities context. This will be followed by a toolkit, published in a second post, in which we bring together tools, platforms and other resources available for all, regardless of geographical or disciplinary background, and can be directly and easily included in the publishing workflows of our communities.

The guidelines are the result of an open consultation within DARIAH. We are especially grateful to Jennifer Edmond, Mike Mertens and Sally Chambers for their outstanding contributions to this text.

We hope it will benefit our communities and help you in particular:

  • To turn your support to certain forms of openness into active adoption
  • To find shades, degrees and ways of open scholarly practices that fit best with your geographical, disciplinary, institutional background or carrier stage
  • To be well-informed in discussions around scholarly communication
  • And, eventually, to help debunk some of the urban myths around Open Access.

Why do we care, why should we care

Opening up access to scholarly knowledge is a key value of the academy in the 21st century. The digital transformation of research and its resources opened up radically new potentials in innovation and dissemination in all research areas. Such innovations and changes in practice have led to a fundamental transition in the way research is designed, performed and evaluated, and how knowledge is shared. Findability, accessibility, transparency and reusability have emerged as the main quality standards in scientific endeavours. With the growth of the Open Science ‘movement’ in the past few years, researchers have been increasingly encouraged by their home institutions, their funders, and by the public, to share their scholarly outputs. Open Access is one of the main pillars of this movement. Open Access generally refers to the free availability of scholarly publications such as journal articles or books on the public web. To make knowledge a public good and to help the quick and transparent dissemination of research results,since 2012, Open Access has clearly been supported by the European Commission. But nothing will be possible without the commitment of researchers.

DARIAH’s key commitments to the open dissemination of scholarly works

Arts and humanities scholars know that having access to a broad range of research – over time, across countries, across disciplines – enriches their own ability to interpret and create knowledge.  As a first step in its long-term goal of promoting Open Science, DARIAH hereby proposes recommendations to improve open access to publications in the arts and humanities. Leveraging on DARIAH’s role as a translator between legislative bodies, European policy makers and the various research communities around humanities, in the present document we aim to bring closer the harmonised European Open Access policy landscape to the communities. We show the potentials in open knowledge sharing and recommend practical steps to achieve it. These considerations are centred around the following key commitments.

First commitment: All research results should be openly available for everyone in a way that ensures both immediate Open Access and full text and data mining re-use rights of that content. To achieve this, we support both green and gold Open Access publishing models.

Second commitment: to ensure long-term availability, we highly recommend self-archiving of research outputs in institutional or subject repositories or ‘preprint servers’ also in cases when works are published in Open Access journals, books or publishing platforms.

Third commitment: ownership of scholarly works should stay with the researchers, or their research institutes, themselves. We highly recommend to authors to retain their copyrights and publish their works under open licenses. More specifically, we recommend, where possible, the use of the Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY.

Fourth commitment: when publication charges are required, they should be paid only to fully Open Access publishing forums. Therefore, in line with Horizon Europe’s policy, we strongly advise not to publish in hybrid Open Access journals (i.e., closed, subscription-based journals that also offer Open Access publishing services in which case authors cover the costs of publishing via article processing charges).

Fifth commitment: transparency is a prerequisite of openness. The knowledge dissemination ecosystem can only truly serve researcher communities and the society at large as long as it is based on maximum possible transparency between authors and publishers. Therefore, transparency criteria should be a primary consideration when it comes to publication choices. When selecting a publishing venue,we highly recommend for scholars to check whether these venues are transparent in their policies, publishing costs, sharing conditions and authors’ rights and communicate these expectations towards a journal or publisher their are planning to publish.

Sixth commitment: in the digital research ecosystem we no longer produce only papers. Research results can take many forms that coexist with the research paper, such as data, code, images, teaching materials, videos and more. To maximize the potentials of books and research articles and increase the reusability of research results, we strongly recommend for scholars to make available and link persistent identifiers also to all of their research outputs and use these identifiers in their publications to give access to data and code used for the research project to their readers. Data and software citations are essential in keeping the different components of the same project together and thus making its results truly reproducible or reusable.

Seventh commitment: in the digital research ecosystem, open access to scholarly outputs should not only be guaranteed to humans but also to machines. To achieve this, good quality, machine-readable metadata is essential especially for licensing, and copyright information. We recommend therefore that, if possible, scholars should check with publishers whether they assign unique and persistent identifiers to their publications or whether their metadata are indexed in scholarly databases. In addition, we also recommend for researchers to create a standardised, unique persistent identifier for themselves.

Eighth commitment: opening up access to scholarly works can be best achieved if publishing models are in line with established disciplinary practices. Therefore, we strongly support diversity in Open Access business models and recommend for scholars, in particular established research leaders, to explore the full spectrum of available models and services to find the option that fits best to their funding opportunities and disciplinary traditions.

Benefits of Open Access for arts and humanities scholars

Finding ways to release knowledge more widely and more quickly stands to bring great benefit not just to yourself, but also to the arts and humanities.

Open Access can provide several benefits for Arts and Humanities researchers by:

  • Increasing impact and visibility of their research. Open access is wider access. Research not being locked up behind paywalls is freely available for anyone, even outside universities or research institutions.
  • Opening research up to greater discoverability, for example via full text data mining of open resources or research discovery platforms.
  • Driving more usage or re-use to research outputs for educational or research purposes. Research with greater access to the society at large/freely and widely available research has full potentials to reach new audiences and is available for public engagement and interdisciplinary collaborations.
  • Facilitating citation. With metadata harvesting, documents deposited in open archives are more easily referenced by search engines, bibliographical databases and directories.This way documents reach a larger audience which increase their citation potential.
  • Having access to statistics related to the publication (like viewings, downloads or shares) helps assess and contextualize its academic and societal impact. Open and accurate metadata including persistent identifiers and open citations significantly contributes to the trackability of publications.
  • Establishing new ideas more quickly. Open and transparent publishing workflows offer various advantages that enhance and speed up scientific communication processes. For instance, sharing preprints enables researchers to receive comprehensive feedback from a broad circle of colleagues prior to peer review.
  • By making work available in Open Access, researchers contribute to the unconstrained, democratic and egalitarian distribution of scientific information and innovation.
  • Retaining author rights. By publishing in Open Access, there is no pressure on authors to transfer their copyrights (although some hybrid publishers still require this). In the open scholarly communication ecosystem retaining author’s legal and moral rights to their contents and their freedom of disposal over their intellectual property are core values.
  • Enabling sustainable (self-)archiving of documents. The ‘green’ Open Access infrastructure (open repositories, preprint servers or data repositories) allows everyone to make their research publicly available for free and in perpetuity.
  • Reducing publication costs. Open Access does not mean no costs are involved; but essentially, access costs are non-existentfor readers in this framework (Green Open Access). Optimizing the costs of publishing is also a central idea behind a range of alternative gold Open Access publishing models.

Increasing the impact and visibility of arts and humanities research work, at an individual level and collectively, builds our digital sovereignty as scholars, and is one of the key potential benefits of embedding open access in the arts and humanities.

How DARIAH supports Open Access in the Arts and Humanities

  • DARIAH supports the Open Access movement by regularly offering training sessions to Arts and Humanities researchers. DARIAH masterclasses encourage researchers to produce open contents: open data, open lexical data or open educational resources.
  • DARIAH also provides platforms, such as #dariahteach or OpenMethods, to disseminate these outputs in Open Access.
  • If your institutional or national context does not offer a viable option, DARIAH offers researchers in the arts and humanities to use HAL publication repository. HAL was developed as a French national resource, now opened internationally.
  • Within the same platform, Episciences supports the emergence and development of overlay journals, namely open access electronic journals taking their contents from preprints deposited in open archives such as arXiv or HAL.
  • DARIAH fosters access to OpenEdition, the French publishing Open Access portal. Dedicated to Humanities and Social sciences publications, it maintains and develops three Open Access platforms: OpenEdition journals, OpenEdition Books for Open Access monographs and the multilingual blog portal Hypotheses.
  • DARIAH is a cooperating partner of Open Access and Open Science initiatives and organizations like the Open Science MOOC, OpenAIRE, OpenUp, and FOSTER Open Science.
  • DARIAH is committed to its role of making the voice(es) of Arts and Humanities researcher communities heard on the European policy level.

In our next post, we are going to continue the discussion by introducing some very practical steps, tools and best practices that will help you open up your research. In the meantime, we hope you find these resources useful. Share with us how the digital era has impacted or even transformed your field of interest or tell us a story about your own research narratives in the open. Are the proposed commitments compatible with your publishing habits? What are your main incentives for, but also, what are your biggest barriers in openly sharing your work?

Leave your comments below to let us know and to stay connected!


OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Erzsebet Toth-Czifra (February 20, 2019). Open Access guidelines for the arts and humanities: recommendations by DARIAH. DARIAH Open. Retrieved July 25, 2024 from

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