Open Access Week 2019

Posted on October 22, 2019 by Alison Fox

A round-up of recent developments

With Open Access Week 2019 upon us it is worth having a round-up of the plethora of  activities, announcements and reports that have recently been announced, in particular in the world of open access monographs.

The most recent is the Open Access and Monographs Evidence Review from the Universities UK Open Access Monographs Working Group, which provides a summary of findings from their activities over the last couple of years.

The report draws on a quantitative analysis of the current landscape of long-form publications in the higher education sector, and its engagement with more than 90 organisations at two events, and puts forward a set of stakeholder recommendations to be considered as part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Research Excellence Framework (REF) Open Access reviews.

And related to the UUK OA Monographs Evidence Review, the British Academy has published a report on open access book chapters which examines the book chapter’s role within the research and publication profiles of different academic disciplines, and includes a quantitative analysis drawing on data about projects funded by UKRI Research Councils and on returns to REF 2014.

In June 2019, Digital Science released a report, The State of Open Monographs, which surveyed the current status of OA monographs and makes recommendations for how publishers and funders can support a transition to increased OA for monographs, through greater use of digital infrastructures and systems such as DOIs for example, and via appropriate levels of funding.

While not specifically an open access report, the recent global survey by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press on the scholarly monograph confirms that for scholars of Humanities and Social Sciences, the monograph remains a vital part of the scholarly ecosystem, albeit with concerns expressed about the pressure to publish and unintended consequences of ever-increasing numbers of monographs published and the challenge of maintaining quality.

In the last few months, several grants have been awarded to open access initiatives including an award made by Research England of £2.2m to Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM), a partnership of university libraries and academic-led publishers. COPIM plans to transform open access book publishing by moving away from a model of competing commercial operations to a more horizontal and cooperative, knowledge-sharing approach.

In August, Arcadia awarded $2.2m to Educopia to support a partnership between Educopia Institute, California Digital Library (CDL), the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), Longleaf Services, LYRASIS, and Strategies for Open Science (Stratos). The partnership will work to advance library publishing and rival the current commercial infrastructure. It will help to develop new, cost-effective and community-governed publishing tools and services for authors, editors and readers. And in October, Arcadia awarded $850,000 to MIT Press  to develop and pilot a sustainable framework for open access monographs.

And there was also news for learned societies, with ALPSP, Wellcome Trust and UKRI launching their independent report and transformative agreement toolkit to support learned society publishers transition to immediate open access and align with Plan S.

Here at UCL Press, we are delighted to have published 120 open access monographs since we launched in 2015. In that time we’ve achieved global download figures approaching 2.5 million. Our most downloaded title is How the World Changed Social Media, which has achieved nearly 360,000 downloads; and our Textbook of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has had over 70,000. We are proud to have taken our research to 230 countries. You can take a look at the statistics for every book we’ve published.

We wish everyone a Happy Open Access Week and look forward to seeing how the announcements and developments outlined above play out in the coming months.

Lara Speicher
Head of Publishing, UCL Press

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