Open Access, Closed Minds

Plans to measure the impact of historical research as if it were a science will mean fewer history books that excite the general reader. 

A Literary Joust, by Jonathan Wolstenholme, 2006 © Jonathan Wolstenholme/Bridgeman Images.

The sort of history books that excite readers of History Today are probably those that combine original research with elegant, accessible prose: perhaps a book such as Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers or Lyndal Roper’s Martin Luther or Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads. All three were written by academic historians researching and writing their books in the research time allowed to them in their posts; all three were published by non-academic or ‘trade’ publishers. So, it should dismay you to learn of changes being proposed that will discourage scholars from writing precisely these sorts of books.

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