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School of Advanced Study breaks new ground with Humanities Digital Library

The new platform will give members more of a flexible source to access writing, monographs and collections

Tablet computer taking a photo of books
The resource combines new open-access publications with digital versions of existing print titles that will be freely available to anyone

The School of Advanced Study (SAS) will take a bold further step into the field of digital humanities with the launch of its new open-access scholarly books platform on 17 January 2017.

Called Humanities Digital Library, it is an initiative of SAS and the University of London, and is led by two of the School’s research centres — the Institutes of Historical Research (IHR) and Advanced Legal Studies.

Unlike other sites, the resource combines new open-access publications with digital versions of existing print titles that will now, for the first time, be freely available to, and reusable by, anyone. In addition, the library takes a flexible approach to scholarly writing, publishing monographs and edited collections as well as innovative research in longer and shorter formats.

‘The Humanities Digital Library marks a new chapter in open access scholarly publishing,’ explained Dr Philip Carter, IHR’s head of digital history. ‘For authors it offers new opportunities to bring original research directly to readers in a range of publishing formats. For teachers and students it will make books, currently only available in print, far more discoverable and accessible.’

The Library’s launch comes a month after the announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to ‘move towards an open access requirement for monographs’ in the Research Excellence Framework after 2020.

The Humanities Digital Library is open to contributing scholars and writers at the University of London, and beyond, and to partner organisations and learned societies wishing to publish new or existing works under open-access terms. Partners include the Royal Historical Society, the foremost society in the UK working with professional historians whose ‘New Historical Perspectives’ series will appear on the platform.

From January, scholarly titles in law, history, and classics will be on offer. This list will grow in the coming months to include publications from other humanities disciplines studied and researched at SAS.

Among the first publications to appear is Electronic Signatures in Law by Stephen Mason, a barrister and leading authority on electronic signatures and electronic evidence. Each title is published as an open access PDF, with copies also available to purchase in print and EPUB formats.

‘Our new Humanities Digital Library will showcase the breadth and depth of the School’s academic content as well as that of our publishing partners,’ said Professor Roger Kain, CBE FRA, Dean and Chief Executive of the School of Advanced Study. ‘We are delighted with it because the needs of researchers, librarians and authors will be at the heart of the digital library’s development, and that will continue as we strive to support the academic community through our digital publishing projects.’