7.4Open Access and Open Peer Review in the Flemish Social Sciences and Humanities

By Eline Vandewalle and Raf Guns (ECOOM, University of Antwerp)


In this dossier, we review the recent literature on Open Access and Open Peer Review, two exponents of the Open Science movement that have gained a lot of attention so far, and their implications for the Flemish Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). We also include an overview of the state of Open Access among Flemish research publications in the SSH, as found in the local VABB database.

In recent years, Open Science has been at the center of attention of both policy makers and researchers. With increased digital possibilities, the aim of the Open Science movement is to improve scholarly communication and make science more easily accessible as well as increase transparency in all stages of research. In the words of Giglia, “Open science should be an encompassing practice, aimed at opening up the whole cycle of the research” (Giglia, 2019, p. 148). Open Science is thus not restricted to Open Access publishing and Open Peer Review, but also includes aspects such as preregistration of studies or the publication of data and code at various stages of the research process. In the SSH, the Open Science movement has also had its effect.

The challenges to implement Open Science practices may be even greater for the SSH. As Giglia (2019) points out, the publication landscape of the SSH is more fragmented and characterized by multilingualism, a higher proportion of book publications, and a proliferation of small-scale publishers, all of which may hinder the uptake of Open Access. Knöchelmann (2019) calls to attention how the Humanities have distinct practices which mean that they would benefit from a dedicated “Open Humanities” discourse.

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