It is widely known now that scholarly communication is in crisis, resting on an academic publishing model that is unsustainable. One response to this crisis has been the emergence of Open Access (OA) publishing, bringing scholarly literature out from behind a paywall and making it freely available to anyone online. Many research and academic libraries are facilitating the change to OA by establishing institutional repositories, supporting OA policies, and hosting OA journals. In addition, research funding bodies, such as the Australian Research Council (ARC), are mandating that all published grant research outputs be made available in OA, unless legal and contractual obligations prevent this. Despite these broader changes, not all scholars are aware of the new publishing environment. In particular, the rate of adoption of OA models in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) has historically been lower than Science, Technology and Medicine (STM) disciplines. Nevertheless, some local and international OA exemplars exist in HSS.
At Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia, the faculty-administered environmental humanities journal, Landscapes, was migrated to the institutional open access repository in 2013. Subsequently, researchers in the Faculty of Education and Arts were surveyed regarding their knowledge, understandings, and perceptions of OA publishing. The survey was also designed to elicit the barriers to OA publishing perceived or experienced by HSS researchers. This article will present the findings of our small faculty-based OA survey, with particular attention to HSS academics (and within this subject group, particular attention to the arts and humanities), their perceptions of OA, and the impediments they encounter. We argue that OA publishing will continue to transform scholarship within the arts and humanities, especially through the role of institutional repositories. The “library-as-publisher” role offers the potential to transform academic and university-specific publishing activities. However, the ongoing training of university researchers and personnel is required to bring into balance their understandings of OA publisher and the demands of the broader Australian and international research environment.