Open Access: Brought To Book At Last?

Paul Jump | Times Higher Education | July 18, 2013

A library-focused effort aims to take monographs off the analogue shelf

It would be easy to think of monographs as the scholarly output that the open-access movement forgot.

Mandates for free online access are popping up all around the world, but most relate exclusively to journal articles. A good example is Research Councils UK’s new open-access policy, launched in April and inspired by the Finch report published last year. That report dismissed monographs as too difficult a nut to crack in the absence of “further experimentation”.

The UK funding councils were slightly bolder. Their preliminary consultation on introducing an open-access mandate for the next research excellence framework, expected in 2020, included a question about whether a percentage of submitted monographs should be required to be open access.

However, according to Kimberley Hackett, the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s REF higher education policy adviser, the answer was a resounding “no”. Respondents had “no confidence” that a workable model for open-access monographs had yet been developed, she told the Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences conference in London earlier this month.