AHA Statement on Scholarly Journal Publishing

25/09/2012 – 8:50 am
Tony McCall

AHA Statement on Scholarly Journal Publishing

The American Historical Association voices concerns about recent developments in the debates over “open access” to research published in scholarly journals. The conversation has been framed by the particular characteristics and economics of science publishing, a landscape considerably different from the terrain of scholarship in the humanities. The governing Council of the AHA has unanimously approved the following statement. We welcome further discussion in the comment section below.

AHA Statement on Scholarly Journal Publishing
(4 September 2012)

Many members of the international scholarly and scientific community are justifiably concerned by a growing inequality of access to the fruits of their labors. The subscription prices for many journals, especially scientific journals, have escalated to the point where almost no individuals and fewer and fewer institutions can afford to subscribe. Prosperous universities and institutes maintain their subscriptions and their members thereby enjoy free access to the content of thousands of journals. Other, less fortunate, scholars have free access to declining numbers of journals, thereby impoverishing the research and pedagogical capabilities of their communities.

In today’s digital world, many people inside and outside of academia maintain that information, including scholarly research, wants to be, and should be, free. Where people subsidized by taxpayers have created that information, the logic of free information is difficult to resist.

The AHA, like other scholarly societies, has been wrestling with this complex discourse for some time. The issues have provided a focus of conversations in our governing Council; and staff have participated in relevant conference panels. Recently, however, decisions made at individual institutions regarding faculty publication, debates over federal legislation, and the influential “Finch report” in the United Kingdom have drawn broader attention the issue of open access to scholarly journals.

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source: American Historical Association (24/9/12)

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