RHS Update – Autumn 2019

It’s been a busy few months at the RHS. As we put the summer behind us, here is an update on the projects that we are working on at the moment, and how you can get involved with our work.

LGBT+ Survey 

We launched our LGBT+ Survey of historians at the beginning of July, with the aim of finding out more about the research, teaching and dissemination of LGBT+ histories, as well as the experience of LGBT+ historians. To date we have  received well over 600 responses, and with two weeks to go, we would like to reach 750. We know from our previous reports on Gender Equality and Historians (2015 and 2018) and Race, Ethnicity and Equality (2018) that the more replies we receive, the more effective the report will be.

The survey closes on Monday September 30th, and we would like to hear from ALL historians, including students and those who work/research beyond academic departments, whether or not you identify as LGBT+. Please do complete the survey, if you haven’t already.

Race, Ethnicity and Equality

The RHS Race, Ethnicity and Equality Working Group, now co-chaired by Drs Sadiah Qureshi and Jonathan Saha, continues to work on this vital agenda. The group is much strengthened by the appointment of several new members, and of Shahmima Akhtar, our new Past and Present Fellow. Shahmima’s time will be divided between working with the REEWG and developing her own research.

As we approach a year since the publication of the Race, Ethnicity and Equality in UK History report, the Working Group is reflecting on how the report has been received, the impact it has had within departments, and how to build on the discussions and changes in practice that the report has motivated. If you, or your department, has used the Report to implement change, please let us know by contacting REEWG@royalhistsoc.org.

All RHS Working Groups rely almost entirely on the input of volunteers to develop the surveys, write the reports, and then continue the important ongoing work of attending meetings, workshops and events. We are very conscious of, and grateful for, the emotional and intellectual labour, as well as the time and physical energy that this work involves.

New Historical Perspectives

We are excited to see the first volumes in our New Historical Perspectives open access book series. Edward Owens’ The Family Firm: monarchy, mass media and the British public, 1932-53, is first to be published, out on October 15.  It will be available in hardback, paperback, ebook and open access formats.

We are delighted to be working with the IHR and University of London Press to launch this new series, the successor to our long-running Studies in History seriesNew Historical Perspectives is for early career scholars, and we take an innovative approach to the publication process. Authors receive a workshop with invited specialists to discuss the manuscript before final submission, as well as guidance from the NHP’s academic editorial board who oversee a careful peer-review process. If you would like to consider publishing your monograph or edited collection in New Historical Perspectives series, you can find out more here.

Plan S

While we are committed to supporting open access publishing, we are also continuing to work on the implications of Plan S for historians. Over the summer our focus has been on working with journal editors. In July 2019 we published an Interim Working Paper on Plan S and the Hybrid History Journal Landscape. This was based on initial responses to a survey of UK and international ‘hybrid’ History journal editors about current preparedness for Plan S open access implementation. Since then we have been seeking further evidence, feedback and corrections. In October we will publish a more comprehensive analysis – based on survey responses from over 100 UK and international History journals – in time for the upcoming UKRI Open Access Review. More information on all our Open Access work is here.

GDPR and historians

We are currently developing a set of guidelines that we hope will help historians navigate the implications of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the accompanying UK Data Protection Act, which came into effect on 25 May 2018.

The GDPR governs how individuals, companies and organisations operating in the EU can process personal data relating to individuals, and the rights of individuals in relation to the data held about them. It applies to any business, individual, charity, museum, library, research group or project that collects information about an individual. As such, the GDPR has important implications for how historians access, process, use and publish information about (or that might identify) living individuals.

We hope to help historians understand their responsibilities under the law, and how to make best use of the exemptions for historical research. As we develop our guidelines, we will be working with colleagues at the TNA, British Library and Information Commissioner’s Office, and hope to have the document ready for use by the end of 2019.

Supporting the RHS

The support of our Fellows and Members is vital to all of the work that we do to represent the interests of historical researchers in universities, libraries, archives, museums, and independent researchers. The annual subscriptions of our membership are essential to sustaining our work and supporting our activities.

If you are not already a member, please consider applying for Fellowship or Membership; the next deadline is 7 October. If you are a Fellow and would be interested in finding out more about contributing to the work of the Society as a Working Group, Council or Committee member, please do get in touch.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the projects discussed above, or would like to become more involved with the Royal Historical Society, please get in touch with Dr Katherine Foxhall, RHS Research and Communications Officer by email at rescommsofficer@royalhistsoc.org.