October 28, 2016, by Sarah
Open access monographs – changing the nature of the traditional academic book
It’s Open Access Week. As part of our own celebrations, we thought we’d tell you more about the library’s support for open access monograph publishing. The benefits and challenges associated with publishing monographs as open access have been well articulated (HEFCE report on open access and monographs). At the core, however, it is about ensuring the access of research to the widest possible audience, helping the academic achieve the greatest impact possible.
We all know that academic books are expensive to buy. This puts valuable research out of the reach of many readers, with students in developing countries being particularly disadvantaged. In recent years, we’ve invested library funds to open up access to book collections from Open Book Publishers and Knowledge Unlatched. You can read more about this in our guest blog post for ‘Libraries and Open Access’. Open access certainly doesn’t mean inferior quality – the books have gone through a normal editorial selection and peer review process. Open access means that everyone, everywhere can have the same access to quality educational and academic research material and we’re very keen to support this.
For the last 6 months, we’ve been a Library Member of Open Book Publishers (OBP). This means that you have access to the various digital editions of all OBP titles and – most importantly – we’re helping to ensure that readers around the globe have access to high quality academic research for free. OBP currently has over 80 monographs and textbooks in their catalogue, covering all disciplines. They have received over a million book visits from readers in 207 countries, and they have attracted some of the world’s best known scholars to publish with them, including Amartya Sen, Noam Chomsky, Gordon Brown, and our own academics Wendy Rosslyn and Rebekah Scott. If you’d like to know more about OBP, check out their FAQs. Do get in touch if you’d like to publish your research with them!
“The Creative Commons approach appealed to me for two main reasons 1) I do not write my work for profit, and the philosophy undergirding it is anti-exclusionist 2) As an academic locked in the h-index game, the idea of opening up access to multiple readers without a paywall suggested my work could reach more people and achieve greater ‘impact.’”
Dr David H. Fleming, Assistant Professor in Film and Media, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China
Knowledge Unlatched (KU) is a crowd-funding model that allows libraries from around the world to share the cost of making monographs open access. Since 2014, Nottingham has helped ‘unlatch’ two collections of over 100 Humanities and Social Sciences titles, selected by a committee of librarians from around the world. The first collection has averaged 2,400 downloads per title across 180 countries, which is vastly more than the couple of hundred copies sold of similar monographs that remain closed.
KU is now inviting libraries to pledge to secure access to its third collection. There are 14 subject packages available in the Humanities and Social Sciences made up of 147 front list and 196 back list titles. Two of our own academics are amongst the authors in this latest collection – Ruth Maxey and David Fleming.
You can find out more and download the title list from the KU Downloads page. The pricing for this third collection is higher than in previous rounds. We’d like to support this collection in some way and would love to know what you think. Please let us know in the comments below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest and support of Knowledge Unlatched. May I make a comment on the cost – which as you say is higher than the previous round. Last time we made 78 new books open with library support. This time we are aiming for 343 – both front and backlist. The cost per new book is the same per book to the library as in the last round, backlist prices are very much lower. We are trying to find an optimal number of books each year that will help build up to a core corpus of OA books in the Humanities and Social Sciences that are used all the world round, but we can only do that at scale. Delighted to see two Nottingham academics on the list. I hope more Nottingham authors will ask their publishers to take part in the scheme in the future.
Frances Pinter, Founder, Knowledge Unlatched