Making the case for open access books | Simon Chaplin | Science | guardian.co.uk
"A policy requiring open access to academic books? Surely that's asking for trouble? After all, it was only a few months ago that many humanities researchers were up in arms when Research Councils UK (RCUK) implemented its new policy on open access to journal articles. Although such measures are broadly accepted in the sciences, the RCUK policy was criticised by the Royal Historical Society, among others, for being a blunt instrument, insensitive to the differences that mark out historians from histologists. Given the anguish that RCUK's policy caused, the announcement last week that the Wellcome Trust – a major funder of biomedical research – has now extended its open access policy to include books and book chapters might seem a little, well, insensitive. After all, the Trust's long-standing policy on open access to journal articles was seen by many as having beaten the path for RCUK's approach. So why books, and why now? The answer is that far from being a science-led initiative in which humanities are collateral damage, open access to books matters precisely because the humanities matter. While much of the research the Wellcome Trust funds is in biomedical science, where peer-reviewed journal articles are the primary means of disseminating new ideas, the Trust also supports research in the burgeoning field of medical humanities. These comprise a variety of disciplines that explore the social, historical and cultural dimensions of science and medicine. They reveal facets that are often ignored by the biomedical sciences alone, and offer ways to enrich our understanding of health and disease ..."
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