1. The Problem
What is the problem that this paper is trying to solve? Louise Adler, Chief Executive of Melbourne University Press, has summed up the position of monograph publishing as follows:
The future of the monograph in Australia is precarious. Rising production costs and dwindling library budgets are threatening the traditional lifeblood of Australia’s four university presses.
Now Melbourne University Press Chief Executive Louise Adler has called on each of Australia’s 39 universities to contribute to supporting and expanding the publication of loss-making academic monographs.
Spiralling costs for the purchase of content make monograph publishing a difficult activity to sustain. Many indicators trace the rate of increase in the cost of journals ands books. Under such pressures, what can libraries do? They can cancel journal titles, on the grounds that they cannot afford them. They can also move money from book funds to support journal acquisition budgets, thus placing pressure on the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, which traditionally use monograph publishing as a vehicle for the dissemination of scholarly research.
2. European Research Area (ERA)
In a European context, the European Research Area is designed to support research activities across the Member States.The ERA wishes to help support world-class infrastructures, strenghten research organisations, and facilitate the sharing of knowledge. In this European context, what can European universities do to support their researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences?
3. What do academic researchers want?
In UCL (University College London), academic researchers were asked this question. Here are their replies:
- They all want to be published by Oxford or Cambridge University Presses
- However, they admit that the future of the scholarly monograph is in doubt. They are not sure what the future is
- Open Access has not made a great impact in these subject areas
- What about Open Access research monographs?
o Research colleagues would be prepared to consider them
o However, what is the role of peer review in this context?
o Will such monographs count for the REF (Research Excellence Framework) and other research evaluations, and for academic promotion?
4. How can the problem be fixed?
This paper suggests that shared Gold Open Access publishing infrastructures are the way forward. In this landscape, university libraries coukd take on an explicit role as Open Access publishers. For such ventures to be successful, acdademics would have to be confident of the stature of the publishing which is being undertaken. Such publishing infrastructures could be shared, in the spirit of co-operation in the EUA. Funding for the construction of shared infrastructures could come from EU project funding. Such a development, however, would need a sustainable Business Model to ensure its long-term sustainability.
5. Potential members of an EU project
Three founding partners for an EU project in the field of Open Access monograph publishing have agreed to work together:
- Amsterdam University Press
- UCL (University College London) Library Services
Discussons are also ongoing with partners in the following countries:
Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK
Some of these potential partners came forward after the presentation of this project at the LIBER Conference in Tartu.
6. What infrastructure could be provided?
The diagrem below outlines what a possible infrastructure would look like. Items in dark blue are the shared infrastructure that would be available to all partners.
- Authors and Editorial Boards exist in the normal way. They solicit content for the momograph series and undertake peer review
- Using production software, the University Library produces a Master XML version of the book
- This sits in a Master repository, perhaps the OAPEN repository
- Metadata is made available for search and retrieval to the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) and to other catalogues
- A PDF version of the book is also made available, free in Open Access, for storing in a local institutional or subject repository
- While the basic text is available in Open Access and free at point of use, other versions can be sold commercially to generate some income – e.g. print-on-demand and Kindle versions
- A system would be put in place to manage the orders and the finances behind the book production; which could interact with University administrative systems?
- In a sustainable service, how would the book production charges be paid for? There are a number of options:
o Book Publication Charges (BPC), analogous to Article Publication Charges, would be levied on submitting authors
- Where the research is funded by an external funder, the funder can pay the BPCs
- Participating universities will be encouraged to establish University Publication Funds to pay the costs of publication for those authors who are not funded by research funders
- A library membership model will also be investigated; in this scenario libraries would be invited to subscribe to book series, much as they do now. However, by purchasing access to the monograph series, libraries would also be supporting Open Access
- Order plugins would be added at various stages of the workflow to facilitate ordering and income generation by/from the end user
7. Next Steps and Issues
- The partners have agreed to work with a project management unit, who will write the EU project bid and manage the project if/when funded. Submission of the bid will take place in 2013?
- The partners will continue to refine the infrastructure diagram (above) as work progresses
- The partnership is currently working with academic colleagues in their universities to identify possible book series for this Open Access venture
- Work on the Business Model contiues
Will Open Acces publishing be popular with academics? In a sense, the partnership will have an answer to this question once/if suggestions for Book Publishing series have been received. Issues around the impact of such publications on career progression will also have to be assessed.
The Finch Report in the UK on Opening Up Access to Research Publications has recommended Gold Open Access publishing as the way forward for the global research community. While the findings of Finch have been criticised, Finch does recommend further experimentation in Open Access monograph publishing. It is such a wish that the envisaged project seeks to fulfil.
 See, for example, this author's critique at http://poynder.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/finch-report-in-global-open-access.html?spref=tw