How open access can support Humanities book authors: Interview with Andreas Hepp and Uwe Hasebrink

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Author: Guest contributor

Dr Andreas Hepp, Dr Uwe Hasebrink and Dr Andreas Breiter are co-editors of the open access book Communicative Figurations: Transforming Communications in Times of Deep Mediatization (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Their book has received 170,000 chapter downloads and 56 citations so far. In this interview, Dr Hepp and Dr Hasebrink talk about why open access was important for their book, and how it has led to a wider readership, enabling more scientific discourse. 

Why did you choose to make your book available on an open access basis?
Communicative Figurations

The idea of the book is to describe the role digital media plays in social transformations from a new perspective. Since we want to discuss this as broadly as possible, we decided to publish on an open access (OA) basis.

How was the open access fee (book processing charge) funded?

We were in the fortunate situation that our research was funded as a Creative Unit of the University of Bremen through the German Excellence Initiative. This provided us with the resources that made OA publication possible.

Tell us about the relationship with your funder(s) – do they have a strong open access policy? How did you start working with them?

In general, there is support for OA within the German Research Foundation (DFG), although not as an end in itself, but as support for open communication in the sciences and humanities. The same position is taken by the two research institutions involved in our volume, the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) at the University of Bremen and the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI).

Why did you choose to publish this book with Palgrave Macmillan?

We were looking for a publisher not just for a single volume, but for a whole book series on “Transforming Communications”. Here Palgrave simply made the most interesting offer. Our OA volume was also the start of this book series.

What were you hoping to achieve with your book?

Our hope with the volume is to initiate a discussion around new approaches to researching the connection between media and social change. We are particularly interested in a view that takes into account the relationality of different media as well as their increasing data-based and automated character.

How were you hoping that open access would help with achieving your goals?

Open exchange in science is made easier by open access. That's why we decided to take that route.

What benefits or impact have you seen from publishing this book open access? Do you think publishing OA helped?

Certainly, OA has led to large access figures, but we also know: downloaded is not necessarily read. So the scientific discourse will show what we were able to initiate with our work and what were not.

How did you and your co-editors promote the book?

For us, the book was the result of the aforementioned Creative Unit, whose research we have already presented at various conferences. In addition, the Creative Unit and the book are also the starting point for a larger research project on the refiguration of public communication that we have been carrying out together with other colleagues. And that, in turn, generates attention at this initial stage.

Do you have any advice to others considering publishing their next book or chapter open access? 

If you can get funding for it, we would always recommend doing so:

  Research should be as openly accessible as possible.

And unfortunately, scientific books are often far too expensive and often end up excluding readers from the Global South.

Would you publish open access again?

Absolutely. We are in the process of submitting a manuscript to Palgrave for an anthology on “Perspectives of Critical Data Studies”, to be published later this year in our book series. And we are also planning our book on the refiguration of public communication - which will be about pioneer journalism, audience relations, and public connections - as OA. 

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About authors

Uwe Hasebrink
Dr Uwe Hasebrink is Director of the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut and Professor of Empirical Communication Research at University of Hamburg, Germany. He has published on media usage in digital media environments and on children and media.

Andreas Hepp
Dr Andreas Hepp is Professor of Media and Communications and Head of ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen, Germany. His research focuses on how media change and transformations in the way we communicate are interrelated with re-figurations within culture and society. 


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