English and American Studies

Open Access in 60 Seconds

Video about Open Access. (CC BY 3.0 DE)
Source: Brinken, H., Hauss, J. &  Rücknagel, J. (2021). Open Access in 60 seconds, open-access.network. https://doi.org/10.5446/50832

Open Access in English and American Studies

“English and American studies” refers here to a range of disciplines that, at German universities, are also known as “Anglophone literature and cultures” or “British and American studies”, and that may comprise different regionally oriented and interdisciplinary cultural studies. The following information therefore refers in part also to British, Irish, American, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand studies, as well as to interdisciplinary research fields such as postcolonial studies. In addition to genuinely philological topics and research questions, and in line with the current self-perception of the disciplines on the English-studies continuum, the history, society, politics, cultural geography, mass media, and popular culture of the respective countries are also investigated using different methodological approaches. 

The spread and acceptance of forms of open access publishing has not quite been able to keep pace with this continuous thematic and disciplinary opening of the field of English and American studies. There are a variety of reasons for this, the main one being the publication culture in the humanities, which differs – sometimes to a large extent – from the distribution channels and work methods in the natural sciences. The exception here is linguistics, which is closer to the natural sciences, not only in terms of its methods but also its scientific communication practices. For example, the concept of preprints is widely known in linguistics. In the field of literary and cultural studies, commercial print publications still prevail, especially in the case of dissertations and monographs.

The costs of open access publications in English and American studies are not usually funded through article processing charges (APCs) but rather, for example, through Knowledge Unlatched, third-party funding (e.g., the OGeSoMo project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF), or professional associations’ membership fees. Moreover, the consortially funded Open Library of Humanities has developed into an important infrastructure for open access journals. Its platform also hosts a whole range of journals from the area of English and American studies. In addition, the French platform for humanities and social science research blogs “Hypotheses”, which is part of the portal OpenEdition, is used by numerous German institutes and scholars to publish their research works.

Overall, the development of open access in English and American studies is positive. Many authors, publishers, and research funding organisations call for and support the further development of the provision of open access to research results. 

Open Access Journals

As of July 2021, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) listed 74 entries under the keywords Language and Literature: English language, 45 entries under Language and Literature: English Literature, 11 entries under Language and Literature: American Literature, 5 entries under History of Great Britain, 5 entries under History America: America, 3 entries under History America: United States, and 2 entries under History America: United States local history.

The subject classification in the DOAJ is not always precise. Some of the journals of relevance to English and American studies are to be found under more general categories, such as “Language and Literature”. In the case of specific research interests, it is therefore worthwhile to search with free search terms. There are also of number of high quality journals that are not yet listed in the DOAJ. The figures mentioned above, are thus only reference values. 

Important open access journals include:

Many journals that for a long time were available only in printed form, have retained the classical subscription model without an open access component for their (mainly additional) digital editions. A welcome tendency when transitioning from a printed to a digital version can be observed in the case of the journals of the main professional associations, most of which are now published (additionally) in open access. Examples include the journals of the German Association for the Study of English, the German Association for American Studies (this journal continues to be published additionally in printed form), and the German Association for Australian Studies. Some of these journals are still published with established publishers, others are published via the associations’ websites. By contrast, the journal of the European Association of American Studies has been published open access since its foundation. 

On the other hand, individual e-journals were successfully implemented at an early stage as scholar-led publications without the support of publishers. Besides free worldwide access, above all the potential of web-based publishing was recognised (hyperlinks, integration of images and audio-visual sources). These journals include, for example: in Germany, the Erfurt Electronic Studies in English (1995-2011)and the American Studies Journal (since 1996); in the UK, Early Modern Literary Studies (since 1995); and in Canada, Romanticism on the Net (RoN) (since 1996). Open access is now also an established model among journals edited by early career researchers. The articles of the journals Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies (COPAS) (since 2000) and aspeers: emerging voices in american studies (dual-publishing model since 2008) have been published under Creative Commons (CC) licences since the very beginning. 

Some of these early or longstanding online journals lack characteristics that are now standard for open access journals – for example DOIs for individual contributions or concepts for long-term preservation. The Specialised Information Service (SIS) Anglo-American Culture is already providing first services in this area, for example for the Australian Studies Journal, for which DOIs are assigned and the volumes are archived in the disciplinary repository The Stacks

The SIS Anglo-American Culture provides a curated list of relevant open access journals. The list is regularly updated and extended. 

Financing of Open Access Articles. [german] (CC BY 3.0 DE)
Source: Brinken, H. (2020). Finanzierung von Open-Access-Artikeln, open-access.network. https://doi.org/10.5446/49536

Open Access Books

A search in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) yielded around 160 results in total for the search terms “English literature”, “English language” and “American literature” (as of July 2021). In addition, there are publications from the areas of “postcolonial studies”, “literary studies”, “cultural studies", etc. Because the platform does not provide uniform content indexing, it is worthwhile using search terms to search for books on the research topic in question. In addition, the platform OAPEN provides direct access to many hundreds of titles under the aforementioned search terms.

The increasing availability of such a wide range of open access books and documents is a positive development in recent years. Important commercial publishers in the German-language context that provide noteworthy open access offerings for the scholarly communities in the field of English and American studies include transcript and Peter Lang. Also worthy of mention is the series Göttinger Schriften zur Englischen Philologie, which is published by Göttingen University Press. Most of these monographs and edited collections are now indexed by central platforms such as OAPEN, and thus find their way into library indexing systems. 

It is likely that the number of open access books, and the number of scholars calling for open access will continue to increase in the coming years. Initiatives such as Enable! at the national level or Knowledge Unlatched at the international level can be considered to be additional catalysts.

Under the hashtag #AACOAbooks, the SIS Anglo-American Culture regularly presents on Twitter important open access books by members of its research communities in Germany.

Disciplinary Repositories

The most important repositories for English and American studies include:

  • The Stacks is an interdisciplinary repository for the following disciplines: American studies, English studies, Anglophone postcolonial studies, Australian and New Zealand studies, British and Irish studies, and Canadian studies, including all sub-fields. The repository is provided by the Specialised Information Service (SIS) Anglo-American Culture and is operated by Göttingen State and University Library. Besides self-archiving publications (journal articles and monographs), scholars can also deposit previously unpublished works, for example conference papers, teaching materials, and conference programmes. All documents are made available in open access either immediately or after a freely selectable embargo period. The repository was awarded the current version of the DINI Certificate in 2021. 
  • Humanities Commons (CORE): CORE is an interdisciplinary open access repository for the humanities that is operated inter alia by the Modern Language Association (MLA). Its holdings also include grey literature (teaching materials, conference papers). 
  • GenderOpen, a disciplinary repository for gender studies, is operated by the Margherita von Brentano Center for Gender Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Women and Gender at Technische Universität Berlin.
  • media/rep/, a disciplinary repository for media studies and neighbouring disciplines, is operated by the Institute for Media Studies in cooperation with Marburg University Library.
  • CompaRe, a repository for comparative literature, is maintained by the Specialised Information Service Comparative Literature. 

An overview of relevant repositories in the areas of “Language and Literature” and “Geography and Regional Studies” is also provided by the Open Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR). The English Language and Literature Commons section of the database Digital Commons Network lists full-text articles from institutional repositories worldwide (with a focus on US institutions).

Source: Brehm, E. (2021). Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht für Wissenschaftler*innen [german], open-access.network. Brinken, Helene. https://doi.org/10.5446/51789 (CC BY 3.0 DE)

Other Offerings

The online archives JSTOR and Project MUSE now also make available open access content of relevance to English and American studies.

Open Science in English and American Studies

Major open science initiatives such as CLARIAH-DE (a merger of the projects CLARIN-D and DARIAH-DE) are not usually discipline-specific, but rather are addressed to the humanities as a whole. Here, the term “open science” refers primarily to providing access to digital materials (historical sources, literary texts, language corpora) and to preparing (mostly text-based) research data by means of digital tools and making them available in the long term (e.g. in the DARIAH-DE Repository).  

Especially in research areas in which the research object includes not only texts but also audiovisual sources, pioneer projects were conducted at an early stage on the Internet to benefit from the opportunities afforded by hypermedia, and to enable free access and – above all, also interdisciplinary – reusability. For example, the Rossetti Archive and the Victorian Web date back to the 1990s. Recent major edition projects include, for example, the Walt Whitman Archive and the James Joyce Digital Archive

In Germany, scholars in the area of digital humanities, and projects at scholarly libraries, in particular, are forging new paths. So far, the anchoring of open science in the main professional associations has only partially been implemented, for example by the Digital American Studies Initiative (DASI), a working group within the German Association for American Studies that organises among other things thematic discussion forums at the annual conferences. 

Potential for a central strategy for dealing with language- and text-based research data currently also lies in the humanities consortia (e.g. Text+) within the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI), which is currently under construction.

Further Reading

Content editors of this page: Wiebke Kartheus (SIS Anglo-American Culture) and Dorothea Schuller (Subject Specialist, English and American Language and Literatur at Göttingen State and University Library)

Last updated: July 2021