Scandia debatt: Funding Swedish Academic Journals - An Insidious Problem for the Humanities
Keywords:publishing, academic journals, open access, humanities, funding
The question of how to fund Swedish academic journals such as Scandia has become a wicked problem, not only for history but also for the humanities as a whole. This issue is confounded by the difficulty in terms of categorizing these journals and their funding needs and further complicated by the global movement towards open access. For the humanities, the issue of how to fund these journals is of great concern mainly due to a more pluralistic approach to publishing, where not only high-impact journals but also monographs, edited volumes and essays aimed at multiple audiences are still considered prestigious and relevant for society as a whole. At the same time, these journals are not necessarily perceived as relevant by the rest of the scientific community. The main reason is that, even though traces of more traditional forms of publishing can still be found in both the social and the natural sciences, a uniform publishing ideal is dominant in most disciplines and most prestigious outlets are owned by international publishing houses. Complicating matters further, publishing practices in the humanities are not only changing rapidly but vary between and within disciplines, generations and even universities.
Despite the fact that this problem has been recognized both internationally and in Sweden, a solution has remained elusive, causing frustration among researchers and editors. This essay argues that the first step is to view the question of funding as embedded in both local and global processes and that in order to find a sustainable model, several stakeholders need to take responsibility and collaborate at the national level. An important argument for sharing responsibility between and across departments, disciplines, funders and, lastly, the government is that Swedish journals are not only part of the ecosystem of prestige within academia but also serve as an infrastructure for authoritative knowledge aimed at the public sphere.