Open Access: Duke University Press and the Knowledge Unlatched Initiative

We have created a series of five blog posts covering open access at Duke University Press. Today’s post features Knowledge Unlatched, an open-access initiative for humanities and social sciences books. We learned more about this initiative and the Press’s involvement through a conversation with Steve Cohn, Director of Duke University Press.

copy-of-ku_stacked_cmyk_green“The world is a better place when anyone can read what we’re publishing,” said Steve Cohn of Duke University Press’s 2013 decision to become one of the thirteen publisher participants in the original pilot collection for Knowledge Unlatched, an open-access initiative for humanities and social sciences books.

Through this pilot, libraries contributed funds to meet a target fee for a set of 28 books, covering the fees set by each publisher to “unlatch” a high-quality scholarly monograph. The “unlatched” titles were then made openly available on a Creative Commons license via OAPEN and HathiTrust as fully downloadable PDFs, while the publishers continued to sell their books in other formats. The pilot originally sought participation from 200 libraries, a target that was exceeded when close to 300 libraries from 24 countries joined Knowledge Unlatched.

Duke University Press participated with four books:

  • Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship by Sarah Franklin
  • In Search of the Amazon: Brazil, the United States, and the Nature of a Region by Seth Garfield
  • My Voice Is My Weapon: Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance by David A. McDonald
  • Ever Faithful: Race, Loyalty, and the Ends of Empire in Spanish Cuba by David Sartorius

Authors have been very enthusiastic about the Knowledge Unlatched program. David Sartorius, author of Ever Faithful: Race, Loyalty, and the Ends of Empire in Spanish Cuba, credits Knowledge Unlatched with making it possible for Cuban scholars to find his work. He writes at the Knowledge Unlatched website: “As a scholar of Cuba, and Latin America more broadly, it’s important for me to share my research with the people whose past I study. Knowledge Unlatched makes that possible in ways that costly paper editions do not allow. Issues of price and distribution make much North Atlantic scholarship on Latin America out of reach in the region, and open access facilitates the kind of transnational exchange of ideas that needs to accompany the proliferation of other transnational phenomena in our present moment.”

A second collection for Knowledge Unlatched, “KU Round 2 Collection,” for 20152016 consists of 78 new titles from 26 publishers, available on both OAPEN and HathiTrust. Some publishers contributed individual books to be collected in disciplinary groups of ten; some publishers, like Duke and Michigan, offered a publisher package of ten books. Duke University Press contributed

  • Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology by David H. Price
  • Dalit Studies by Ramnarayan S. Rawat and K. Satyanarayana
  • Diaspora and Trust: Cuba, Mexico, and the Rise of China by Adrian H. Hearn
  • Disciplinary Conquest: U.S. Scholars in South America, 1900–1945 by Ricardo D. Salvatore
  • Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo by Yolanda Covington-Ward
  • Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine by Catherine Besteman
  • Metroimperial Intimacies: Fantasy, Racial-Sexual Governance, and the Philippines in U.S. Imperialism, 18991913 by Victor Román Mendoza
  • Moral Economies of Corruption: State Formation and Political Culture in Nigeria by Steven Pierce
  • Negro Soy Yo: Hip Hop and Raced Citizenship in Neoliberal Cuba by Marc D. Perry
  • Sexual States: Governance and the Struggle over the Antisodomy Law in India by Jyoti Puri

The library pledging period for a third collection, “KU Select 2016,” closed January 31, 2017. This collection will feature 343 titles: 147 on the frontlist and 196 on the backlist. Currently, Duke University Press has 15 titles waiting to be made open access on the “KU Select 2016” frontlist and 11 titles on the backlist. To learn more about “KU Select 2016,” visit the Knowledge Unlatched Select 2016 Pledging Process.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s