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 in Romance Studies

Although access to digital publications is highly valued in Romance studies, open access is rather underrepresented here compared with other disciplines. Romance studies has a heterogeneous publication culture, in which established models of publication and dissemination of research results play a central role. Printed monographs continue to occupy a special place; besides journals, edited collections are also an important form of publication. 
Publishers and independent journals as well as researchers and associations are increasingly breaking new ground in the form of open access publications and initiatives – to date, mainly in the journals area, but increasingly also in the area of monographs and collections. 

In a position paper on open access and research data (Schöch et al., 2017), the Digital Romance Studies Working Group (AG Digitale Romanistik) of the German Association of Romance Philologists (Deutscher Romanistenverband) underscored the importance of these topics and stressed the need for discussion within the discipline. In addition, efforts are being made by the working group as well as by transdisciplinary and Romance studies infrastructure projects to develop and publicise concrete offerings and information services. Exchanges between actors in the publication culture in Romance studies are also being promoted.

Best-practice examples and reports of concrete experiences were presented at a workshop in 2017 in which publishers, editors, and researchers participated (Hornung & Trapp, 2018). A survey of German-speaking Romance philologists (Hornung et al., 2017) conducted in 2016 by the Specialised Information Service for Romance Studies (FID Romanistik) provided insights into how open access is perceived in the discipline and what factors influence researchers when it comes to deciding whether to publish open or closed access. The survey found that the reputation of the publisher, the series, the journal, and the editors were decisive factors in this regard. In some cases, researchers’ decisions to publish in open or closed access depended on these factors; in other cases, their belief in the open access idea was an independent factor in their decisions. Peer-review procedures were not found to be a decisive factor – also in the quality assurance process, editors and publishers were assigned greater importance. Although respondents valued the high degree of dissemination and the findability of open access publications, these factors were not decisive either. The survey results suggest that Journal Impact Factors, which are of central importance in other disciplines, play hardly any role in Romance studies.

Open Access Journals

As of May 2021, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) listed 62 entries under Romanic languages and 170 entries under French literature - Italian literature - Spanish literature - Portuguese literature.

Important open access journals include:

Other journals from neighbouring and superordinate fields of linguistics and literary studies and from the digital humanities that are also of relevance for Romance studies include:

Also worthy of mention are review journals, such as for Franco-Romance studies.

Bibliodiversity is also apparent among open access publications that are more firmly anchored in the field of Romance studies outside Germany, especially among Latin American offerings provided by the platforms sciELO, Redalyc, AmeliCA, and Latindex (Müller, 2020).

Among the German-language offerings there are also early pioneer projects, in particular, PhiN – Philologie im Netz, which was launched in 1997 as a purely open access publication. The number of open access journals is growing, due, especially, to new periodicals such as Romanische Studien and apropos [Perspektiven auf die Romania]. By contrast, transformations of existing periodicals in this field are still rare. However, the Zeitschrift für Katalanistik has a certain exemplary character because all issues are hybrid in the sense that they are made available in print for a fee and online in open access. To the latter end, all older volumes dating back to the very first volume in 1988 have been retrodigitised. A similar repositioning can be seen in the case of Versants.The journal Horizonte – Neue Serie • Nuova Serie was newly founded as an independent open access publication after the discontinuation of its subscription-based predecessor, Horizonte. The founding of the open access journal Glossa in 2016 was spectacular in that it emerged from a conflict between the editorial board of the journal Lingua and the publisher Elsevier.

Whereas authors in other disciplines often have to pay article processing charges (APCs) to have their works published open access, that funding model is – with a few exceptions – not common in Romance studies, where publishing is usually free of charge for researchers.

In many cases, it is also part of publishers’ agendas to agree – either as a matter of principle or on request – to contributions being made freely available in a repository after an embargo period of 12 months. In the case of promptus – Würzburger Beiträge zur Romanistik, this is implemented by the editors.

In Romance studies, it is relatively common for journals to be hosted either in-house or by local libraries, some of which are also supra-regionally active. For example, the journal apropos [Perspektiven auf die Romania] is hosted by Hamburg University Press using the free software Open Journal Systems (OJS). The French platform OpenEdition Journals hosts numerous other journals of relevance to Romance studies from various countries. Supra-regional offerings of note also include the platform heiJOURNALS in Heidelberg, CeDiS at the Freie Universität Berlin, and the Open Library of Humanities.

Financing of Open Access Articles. [german] (CC BY 3.0 DE)
Source: Brinken, H. (2020). Finanzierung von Open-Access-Artikeln,

Open Access Books

As of May 2021, the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) listed 85 entries under the search term “Romance languages” and 60 entries under “Romance literature”; in addition, there are the titles in the individual Romance disciplines, for example Catalan language (22 entries as of May 2021). The online library and publication platform OAPEN listed 397 titles under “Romance languages” and 52 titles under “Romance literature” as of May 2021
Overall, offerings in the area of monographic OA publications in Romance studies tend to be isolated and heterogeneous. However, the presence of the format is increasing. Yet, none of the above-mentioned platforms fully cover the broad spectrum. Examples in the area of freely available monographs and collections include:

The panorama of these publications is extremely heterogeneous. It largely comprises new titles. In addition, there are titles that are made freely available after a certain period of time or that appear in open access as a new edition or a translation, as in the case of Joachim Küpper’s classic work Discursive “Renovatio” in Lope de Vega and Calderón. With Knowledge Unlatched, there have also been some initial initiatives to “unlatch” commercial publications in partnership with several specialised publishers. This is often financed via crowdfunding. As the German Research Foundation (DFG) has declared open access the priority publication mode for the projects it funds, and other research funders have already made the provision of open access mandatory, a strengthening of the open access monograph in Romance studies is to be expected. 


Disciplinary Repositories

The most important repositories in Romance studies to date include the transdisciplinary offerings and Archive ouverte HAL. The latter is the leading repository for the humanities and social sciences in France. Disciplinary repositories already exist for some sub-disciplines of Romance studies and for neighbouring disciplines, for example Archivum Medii Aevi Digitale for medieval research, AfricArXiv for African research, CompaRe for general and comparative literary studies, and the Linguistik-Repository for general and comparative linguistics. LA Referencia, a network of open access repositories in Latin America, is illustrative of the distinctive repository landscape in that region. Portugal’s scholarly repositories are aggregated by RCAAP
A repository for Romance studies as a whole is currently being developed by the Specialised Information Service for Romance Studies (FID Romanistik). The content of the above-mentioned repositories is, in part, searchable via regional and supra-regional search engines; the Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) can also be expediently used for searches with a specifically open access focus.
An overview of relevant repositories in the area of language and literature is also provided by the Open Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR).

Source: Brehm, E. (2021). Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht für Wissenschaftler*innen [german], Brinken, Helene. (CC BY 3.0 DE)

Other Useful Offerings

There are other useful offerings both with a specifically Romance studies orientation and a transdisciplinary orientation. The local libraries offer their publication and advisory services to researchers at the respective institutions. The Specialised Information Service for Romance Studies (FID Romanistik) offers a discipline-specific information and advisory service. Via the project website, basic information is presented on open access, especially on legal issues. When doing so, concrete application scenarios from publishing practice in Romance studies are discussed – for example, with respect to open access publishing and self-archiving, the role of translations, and publishers and repositories in various countries. Personal advice is also offered. The Romanistik-Blog features information on current topics, legal issues, funding conditions, and specific offerings and projects.
The online archives JSTOR and Project MUSE now also provide open access content relevant to romance studies.

Open Science in Romance Studies

The free accessibility and reusability of primary texts, images, and research data; the machine readability of texts and procedures; and procedures such as text and data mining are subjects of increasing discussion. Platforms with a corresponding agenda from Romance-language countries include, for example, Gallica (France), the Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes (Spain), and the Biblioteca Italiana (Italy). A recent example relating to the reusability of images is a decision by the Biblioteca Nacional de España that resulted in images from its holdings being made available free of charge since March 2020 for use in scholarly publications.

Of note in the area of research data are general humanities projects such as CLARIAH-DE and its predecessor projects CLARIN and DARIAH-DE, including the DARIAH-DE Repository for research data. A current initiative specific to Romance studies is the directory of research data on the information platform The Specialised Information Service for Romance Studies (FID Romanistik) provides an information and support service for research data. The series of blog posts published since 2020 by the Digital Romance Studies Working Group (AG Digitale Romanistik) places a special focus on the sustainable handling of research data in accordance with the FAIR Principles.


Further Reading

Content editor of this page: Christoph Hornung, Specialised Information Service for Romance Studies, FID Romanistik (Last updated: May 2021)