21 UK history journals make stand against Finch

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The editors of 21 history journals have released a statement saying that they will not comply with all of the new, open-access recommendations of the Finch report and its implementation by UK research councils.

'We fully support initiatives to make scholarship as widely and freely available as possible, above all online. However, we have serious concerns about several aspects of the proposed implementation of the policy, which we believe will have a serious effect on the reputation of UK scholarship internationally, on peer review, and on the rights of authors,' say the editors in the statement.

The editors say that they will accept gold APCs. 'We have a responsibility to the UK research community. Many authors will be required to be published in "compliant" journals which allow the possibility of "gold" publication, and it is vital that all authors be able to publish in the journals of their choice.'

They will also offer the possibility of "green" publication. However, the embargo period will be 36 months, much longer than the period recommended by Finch and RCUK. 'We think this is the shortest possible period that would still protect our viability as subscription-funded organisations, which have to pay for copyediting and the management of peer review, and is fully consistent with the need to make research publicly available,' they explain.

In addition, whether the green or gold routes are opted for, the papers will be available under a CCBY NC ND (creative commons non-commercial non-derivative) licence only. Unlike the CCBY licence recommended by Finch, this licence will not allow commercial reuse, or tweaking or reuse of parts of an article (text mining). 'The government has specified that "gold" access is to be given on a CCBY licence, the most permissive form of creative commons licence that there is. This however means that commercial re-use, plagiarism, and republication of an author’s work will be possible, subject to the author being "credited" (but it is not clear in what way they would be credited). We believe that this is a serious infringement of intellectual property rights and we do not want our authors to have to sign away their rights in order to publish with us,' say the editors.

The editors whose journals have signed the statement are: Past & Present; English Historical Review; Historical Journal; Economic History Review; First World War Studies; French History; German History; European History Quarterly; Global History; Journal of Ecclesiastical History; Cultural and Social History; Renaissance Studies; Urban History; Gender & History; Historical Research; Parliamentary History; Rural History; Royal Musical Association; Contemporary European History; History Workshop Journal; and Journal of Scottish History.