Knowledge shared worldwide

One of elements of open access is that, without any barriers to access, it has the potential to widen readership – to make what was once only accessible to those that could afford it – open to all. The UK monograph market sells on average about 200 – 300 per title, mainly to libraries, and there is a concern that the economics of the book market are restricting access to knowledge, especially in the humanities and social sciences. It is therefore extremely pleasing to see (check out the picture and link below) that the titles that we have made open access as part of the OAPEN-UK project are being downloaded worldwide. Whilst this is not concrete evidence that open access increases access (as we don’t have equivalent stats from before the titles we made OA to do the same mapping), it is none the less a positive story and one that we wanted to start the New Year with.

Downloads of OAPEN-UK titles

Click on the link to see the number of downloads by country: Downloads of the OAPEN-UK titles

#OAbooks Conference Report

Continuing on the high note that was Open Access Week, Jisc Collections and OAPEN are pleased to release the report of the Open Access Monographs in Humanities and Social Sciences Conference that took place in July 2013 at the British Library.

Collaboration was the key theme of the Open Access Monographs in Humanities and Social Sciences conference which had over 250 delegates from across Europe attend on each day. Librarians, publishers, learned societies, researchers, funders and university administrators came together to discuss how embracing the digital gives scholars an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate more widely.  Speakers repeatedly consigned to history the idea that producing a book is solitary task and that the book is a finished piece of work – the discussions, new modes of production, possibilities for open peer review and commenting are all collaborative processes that are at the heart of humanities and social sciences scholarship.

However, the conference also acknowledged the challenges that come with a move to open access publishing and these new more collaborative models, delving into the issues of funding, quality, licensing, dissemination, prestige, impact and innovation. At no point did the conference lose sight of the significant opportunities that lie ahead. As Martin Hall, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Salford and the conference chair says in his introduction to the conference report  ‘while there’s a good way to go in shaping the future form of scholarly publishing, this conference was an important milestone on the road’.

The conference report provides an overview of all the presentation and sessions and distils the key messages into four points:

  • Open access for monographs is not only possible but necessary if we want to be able to innovate, to communicate and disseminate humanities and social science research widely, and to build a sustainable future for the monograph
  • Effective quality assurance is key to the successful adoption of OA publishing
  • Collaboration throughout the supply chain and across national boundaries will be required
  • We must be flexible and willing to accommodate innovative models, not only to sustain the monograph, but for peer review, impact and reputation.

The report also provides recommendations for consideration by all those involved in scholarly monograph publishing which we hope will help us all collaborate. So come on, let’s have those discussions, let’s explore new innovations and let’s help to make scholarship better.

Read the full report

View the presentations from the conference

View the videos from the conference

Why did I join OAPEN-UK: an author’s view

Andrew Pettinger is the author of The Republic in Danger. Published by OUP, Andrew talks of his reasons for accepting the invitation to participate in OAPEN-UK and make his book open access.  Andrew writes ‘The obligation to share findings with as many people as possible is fundamental to scholarship.’  You can read his blog online on the OUP blog.


Costing OA monographs

Ronald Snijder, Technical Coordinator; Project manager digital publications at OAPEN Foundation has presented some extremely interesting slides on the costs associated with an open access monograph. The analysis has been done by title, rather than by publisher, on the books included in the OAPEN-NL project. He has analysed the print costs and the OA costs (fixed and variable) but excluded profit (surplus as some like to call it) and VAT. The findings show that on average, the OA costs account for 49.1% (5,970 EUR) of the total costs and print costs account for 50.9% (6,196 EUR) of the total. The presentation ends with two proposed funding models for funders to consider and how these models fared for the titles in the pilot. It is a really useful presentation for those considering the costs for OA monographs.

View the presentation below:

OAPEN-NL releases final report

The OAPEN-NL project (our sister project in the Netherlands) yesterday published its final report and it is essential reading for all those interested in OA monograph publishing.

OAPEN-NL has explored the opportunities and possibilities for the open access business model for monographs and compared open access costs and impacts to conventional publishing. Between June 2011 and November 2012, fifty Open Access monographs in various subject areas were published in Open Access by nine participating publishers. For every Open Access title, the publishers provided a similar title that was published in the conventional way. Data were collected about usage, sales and costs, to study the effect of Open Access on monographs.

OAPEN-NL developed four models for cost recovery, used by the participating publishers. OAPEN-NL found no evidence of an effect of Open Access on sales. Neither was there evidence of the effect of Open Access on citations. But there was a clear effect on online usage. Online usage improved for the Open Access books.

The exploration resulted in recommendations to improve Open Access for monographs, and are aimed at all stakeholders in academic book publishing: funders, libraries, publishers and authors. Additional there are overall recommendations and recommendations for future research and for OAPEN.

OA monographs in OA week

This week, as part of Open Access week, Caren Milloy gave a presentation at Dundee University on open access monographs –why, how and what next.

If you are new to open access monographs, you may find this presentation useful as it talks about the role of the monograph in humanities and social science research, why a transition to open access is needed, what is happening in the current environment and an overview of the OAPEN-UK project. It ends with 5 things that researchers should be considering now. The presentation can be viewed below:

All presentations given as part of the OAPEN-UK project are available on the Events page and in Slideshare.


Oxford University Press (OUP) joins OAPEN-UK, a collaborative research project exploring open access (OA) scholarly monograph publishing in the humanities and social sciences. OAPEN-UK is co-funded by Jisc and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and is gathering data in order to help funders, authors, publishers and institutions make informed decisions on the future of OA monographs.

OAPEN-UK marks OUP’s first move into the developing world of open access scholarly monographs. Mandy Hill, Publishing Director, Global Academic Business, OUP, said: ‘We’re excited to join the OAPEN-UK project. OUP has a proud history as a major publisher of scholarly monographs and we are committed to their global dissemination. OAPEN-UK, with its objectives to develop awareness of and data around OA monographs, will play an important part for us in working with the scholarly community to determine the best business models for the future. ’

‘The participation of OUP in OAPEN-UK marks a significant step in the recognition and acceptance that OA monographs will be part of the scholarly publishing future’ said Caren Milloy, Head of Projects at Jisc Collections. ‘The inclusion of the 18 OUP titles will strengthen the usage and sales data we are collecting to compare the performance of open access titles against non open access titles and will complement the knowledge and expertise feeding into the research.’

The OUP titles cover a range of subjects including law, politics, economics and the early church and are freely available as PDFs to be read and re-used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives Licence (CC BY-NC-ND. The titles are available via the OUP catalogue, Oxford Scholarship Online, OAPEN Library, and they are also 100% available in Google Books. More information on the OUP titles and the OAPEN-UK project can be found here.


For further details, please contact:

Caren Milloy, Head of Projects, Jisc Collections | +44 (0) 203 0066003

Rhodri Jackson, Senior Publisher, Oxford Open | +44 (0) 1865 353510

A unified approach to OAbooks

Caren Milloy and Eelco Ferwerda have published an article in Research Europe that explore the need for a unified approach across Europe to support a vibrant market for open-access monographs. Read the article.

Learned societies & OAbooks

Our case study of the Regional Studies Association is now available to read. This learned society case study explores their current monograph publishing programme and how income from publications supports their work researchers across the world.

The case study, alongside the one with the Royal Historical Society provide a really useful overview of the contribution of learned societies to the humanities and social sciences and the challenges and opportunities they face in transitioning to open access monograph publishing.

Learned Society Case Studies

Quite early in our research programme, we picked up on the importance of learned societies in the humanities and social sciences. We ran a focus group for learned society representatives and identified some important themes about the role of publishing in their activities and business models. We subsequently ran two case studies with learned societies in order to better understand the detailed relationships between their publishing work and their disciplinary support activities.

The first case study was with the Royal Historical Society. This well-established and prestigious association is run by officers, mostly academics, who are responsible for managing its publications, events and researcher support activities. We interviewed six officers and synthesised the findings, which can be found here.

The second case study was with the Regional Studies Association. This is a slightly newer society with a strong inter-disciplinary focus and a larger professional staff than the RHS. We interviewed two staff members and several officers (again, mostly academics). The findings are currently being finalised and will be shared shortly.

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