“I would not leave here”: a SHAPE road to open access

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Many people know a version of the joke about a traveler asking a local for directions, only to be told “I wouldn’t start from here”. The obvious humor lies in the seeming stupidity of the local who fails to recognize how unnecessary his advice is to someone who is clearly “here”. But maybe the longevity of this joke is that its punchline gem sparkles with truths about location and perception, as well as individual knowledge and frustration.

Where to start is one of the driving forces behind the Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy (SHAPE) initiative, which was launched earlier this year by a number of leading arts and humanities institutions. plan in the UK, including the British Academy with support from OUP. SHAPE aims to better represent the value of its disciplines to society as a counterpoint to the recognizable identity offered to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The initiative recognizes that SHAPE researchers have different concerns and needs than their STEM colleagues, and OUP will continue to explore how open research can be developed in a social and humanities sensitive way and provide real benefits in the way research is conducted and shared. As the academic press, as noted in Rhodri Jackson’s blog post earlier this week, we believe that a more open world should work for everyone and that the transition to open research should be an inclusive process.

Opening of the monograph

Is there an argument that open access advocacy in SHAPE has been a lot like the traveler and the local? And, if not from here, does open search perhaps offer a better way to get there? There is ample evidence in the recent history of open access that SHAPE researchers have often viewed the open access movement as an outsider engaged in unnecessary wandering, unresponsive to the landscape and ecology of local research, and eager to scroll through a scientific wardrobe that is unsuited to the contours and climate of both.

For example, the research article as an experiment essay seemed somewhat removed from the lengthy research process that resulted in a monograph, a complex and versatile object serving a wider range of purposes. As Geoffrey Crossick argues:

“The monograph occupies a central place in the culture and ecology of research publication in the arts and humanities, and is important in most of the social sciences. These disciplinescontaining as they do about half of UK academics active in researchshould not therefore be considered as a clumsy outlier intended to converge over time on the scientific model of publication by journal article and conference proceedings with peer review.

Monographs and Open Access (UKSG Insights)

As discussed with our colleagues at the University of Oxford, we strongly support the opening up of long-term research, which is fundamental for SHAPE, provided that we can continue to fulfill our mission and add value through publication of high quality monographs.

SHAPE research has parallels with design thinking. It is synthetic and creative, and the monograph remains a very flexible project envelope. Analogous to a cell membrane, it provides the means by which research elements can be introduced, organized, exploited, adapted or deleted, depending on how the particular research develops.

The gift of time

Successful change requires commitment and is best achieved by combining both recognizable benefits and minimizing the cost of change. Arguably, for today’s researcher, the most valuable commodity is time. The developments we are seeing in the larger open research space may provide a better solution to this equation for SHAPE researchers by aligning with initiatives that are already underway in SHAPE disciplines that provide benefit. cumulative gain in time throughout the life of a research project.

First, there is a fusion of methods and tools within the digital humanities, which is both a higher order movement and a set of specific disciplinary specialties – and both of which have implications and opportunities for development. continuous skills and research skills. culture. One example is Humanities Commons. It is a specially designed open source platform that supports communication and collaboration for researchers at SHAPE. Earlier this month, he received a five-year grant of $ 971,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support his ongoing development.

The challenge is also being taken up by the UK Software Sustainability Institute (SSI), which is currently studying the requirements for digital tools and methodologies in SHAPE on behalf of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The ISS examines both existing digital practices, but also the council’s ideas on how research practices might be better supported by technology in the future. The SSI is also playing a leading role in developing definitions of distinct professional research roles and skill sets that exist and need to be better recognized, both within SHAPE and STEM.

Framework for the future

A flexible approach to research, characteristic of SHAPE, can always involve recognized steps, workflows and objects. A systems thinking approach, as evidenced by SSI, will help reflect the changing research environment, but will also provide a platform for new standards and tools that are properly integrated into SHAPE research. Both Humanities Commons and the SSI are avenues through which open research and open data can infiltrate SHAPE.

Martin Eve, in his book Open Access and the Humanities, called for a “framework for defining why the monograph should be thought of differently” in order to understand its role in an open access world, and said it was necessary “to ask what the monograph is for; how it is produced; and why it should be considered different from other forms.

Open research may be the way forward to bring about this definitional framework. By offering the benefits of open research to researchers in SHAPE disciplines, research will become more visible at earlier stages of the research cycle, which in turn will provide a platform for earlier engagement of researchers, policy makers and knowledge professionals. In turn, the tools and techniques of open search will also provide open access in a way that is understood and managed by the SHAPE community. They just won’t have started from here.


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