As is now common knowledge, the Finch report has recommended the Gold Open Access route and the government policy implementation has followed the advice that all publications from RCUK must be published in Open Access destinations (or in Institutional Repositories after a short embargo period). This includes the AHRC. It's important to ask, then: where are the OA venues for the humanities disciplines? What changes are being made by our top-ranking journals to implement this? And what the hell will happen to the next REF cycle if the venues remain on the fringes and those funded by the AHRC have no highly-ranked destinations.
The sciences are currently moving ahead at good speed in the transition to OA. However, I can't see the transition being advanced in the humanities. I edit Orbit, but it's not a highly ranked journal (yet?!) There is, of course, the OAPEN-UK project looking at OA monographs in the humanities, but most of our journals remain closed.
A notable exception to this is the Sage Open platform, which is a new Gold venue for the humanities and social sciences. There is, though, in my mind, a fundamental problem: many humanists are not clued up on the OA debate. They still equate "open" with "lack of peer review".
Finch changes all this. Those funded by the prestigious AHRC grants will, from next year, have to find venues that will support them, or allow Green OA after a short embargo. They will have to get clued up pretty quickly, sort their Green from Gold, and the system of prestige will begin to shift. The challenge, as I see it, for the humanities is ensuring that, by the time of the next REF cycle, we have venues that provide access that can still measure well in the hideous, but necessary, REF culture. It is possible of course that humanities publishers simply won't shift and that the UK will be left behind with a research council for which prestigious venues simply don't exist. I doubt it, but just thinking about it causes some strange inversions to the hierarchy and prestige of grants...