Open Access Publications

Open Access Publications

Databases, digitized historical sources, computer-based tools for their analysis, as well the network of links integrating them with scholarly interpretations play an important role in a history of science that increasingly becomes part of the digital humanities. Yet, current traditional and digital publications still fall short of using this potential. In a joint initiative with two other Max Planck Institutes, the Fritz Haber Institute of the MPG and the MPI for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), the Department has therefore launched a new open-access publishing venture, the Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge (Peter Damerow†, Lindy Divarci, Jörg Kantel, Jürgen Renn, Simone Rieger, Matthias Schemmel, Kai Surendorf).

The project is part of the wider framework of the Edition Open Access, which aims to establish open access publication, not so much as a new economic model but as the backbone for a new knowledge infrastructure in compliance with the idea of an Epistemic Web (www.edition-open-access.de). This is also in line with the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities, which was launched by the Max Planck Society in 2003 and is supported by more than 400 signatory institutions worldwide.

The Max Planck Research Library combines the advantages of printed books with the potential of the electronic medium, for instance, to present, search, and annotate sources in high-quality reproductions. The vision is to build a complete workflow from digital libraries, such as the ECHO environment, to scholarly publications in the form of a “Digital Scrapbook” (see here), supporting every step of the research and dissemination process. For the Edition Open Access, a workflow has been established producing from a single source text a freely downloadable PDF file, an e-book, and a print-on-demand volume, available via the book market. The books include a rich hypertext structure including links to online historical documents, dictionaries, and multimedia material, as well as a commentary function. The Max Planck Research Library comprises a number of subseries, among them “Sources,” “Studies,” “Proceedings,” and “Textbooks. The entire infrastructure was set up within two years. Thirteen volumes have since been published and several more are in preparation.