The German “Projekt DEAL” initiative has gained worldwide attention; for several years, the “Alliance of German Science Organizations”, which effectively represents all universities and research institutions in Germany, has been negotiating ground-breaking Open Access agreements with large journals publishers, most notably Wiley and Springer Nature. These deals apply mainly to large quantities of journals; institutions have been able to re-allocate substantial journals subscriptions budgets to Open Access fees in “Read to Publish”- or “Publish to Read”-style agreements.
“Projekt DEAL” has proven successful to some considerable extent; however, smaller publishers and those specialising in Humanities and Social Sciences have – for a variety of reasons – never been the focus of the negotiations and have therefore felt left out. The main point of criticism has been that DEAL has created new structures without any transparency, with a primary focus on merely re-allocating budgets of many millions of Euros.
To create a counterweight in the German publishing landscape and to put more emphasis on the importance of Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences, a new initiative was launched at the end of May 2020. Under the name of “Enable!”, a new platform was created to cater for a network of libraries, publishers and authors to support Open Access in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The platform uses the German language, though it supports publication in English as well as German. It has been designed as a publishing platform for OA books – and currently hosts just under 100 titles, predominately in the subjects of pedagogy, law and political sciences – but also functions as a networking platform, with a news section and a discussion forum for registered members.
Libraries that have signed the Mission Statement (see below) include the university libraries of Bielefeld, Cologne, Jena, Muenster, Humboldt University and TU Berlin, as well as the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
Among the first publishers to become members were De Gruyter, Transcript Verlag, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Mohr Siebeck, Georg Olms Verlag and wbv Media.
Other industry bodies, such as Knowledge Unlatched and the library suppliers Lehmans and Dietmar Dreier, have also signed the mission statement.
The main points of the mission statement are as follows:
- Our aim as an “ENABLE! Community” is to develop a culture of open access publications in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) that is oriented towards open science and is supported by everyone. In contrast to the developments in the STM area, it’s aimed to be an inclusive culture of varied nature.
- In the social sciences and humanities, monographs and compilations are to be included in the implementation of open access in the same way as journal articles, because they are of considerable importance within science communication and likewise for the reputation of the authors.
- All players in academic publishing should be involved in this development: researchers, their universities, libraries, professional bodies, specialist repositories, publishers, suppliers as well as service providers.
- We welcome the diversity of perspectives and approaches in world of academic publication and consider this valuable for the sustainable implementation of an open access transformation. It is obvious to us that the change from a publication culture based on rarity and exclusivity to an open, discipline-oriented one is of unparalleled importance and takes time. But we don’t want to lose time either.
- We want to bundle the local approaches, methods and initiatives that have emerged in recent years and drive forward a joint co-publishing model. At the same time, we develop generally applicable and scalable standards, processes and indicators that are fair, predictable, comparable and sustainable.
- We call on science policy and science funding to take a closer look at and promote the social sciences and humanities in relation to open access with their diverse publication cultures. Our disciplines, like others, serve global networks and aim to reach wide audiences.
- All contributions that are developed in committees and working groups of the ENABLE! Community are being published under a CC license (preferably CC-BY).
- Participation in the ENABLE! Community is open to anyone who wants to share and further develop these goals.