Perhaps the most positive news came this month from the United States, where the Mellon Foundation has extended its already considerable support for the academic monograph by awarding a two-year grant worth nearly one million dollars to the John Hopkins University for the development and deployment of MUSE Open, an Open Access platform aggregating monographs in the humanities and social sciences. Working in collaboration with partners Brilliant Experience and the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation, the university’s Project MUSE will help increase the exposure of open access monographs by making them available and discoverable to its 23 million unique annual visitors.
It’s been a particularly busy month for university presses. Liverpool University Press has announced the acquisition of around 400 titles from Casemate/Oxbow’s Aris & Phillips imprint, including both backlist and forthcoming titles. The majority are facing-page translations of Classics or Hispanic texts with detailed introductions and commentaries, which Press MD Anthony Cond suggested should complement the Press’s existing strengths in classics and modern languages.
Oxford University Press has released its Annual Report for 2015/16. Though profits for the year ending March 2016 declined slightly from £85.5m to £74.8m, on a turnover of £781m, the Press was still able to make a contribution of £45m to its parent university. A drop in demand for ebooks, squeezed library budgets, and changes in library ordering behaviour all contributed to a challenging environment for academic books, but journals continued to grow, and the Press published its first USB-only medical title: the Manual of Neurological Signs, comprising more than a thousand neurology videos.
Cambridge University Press has announced new support for Text and Data Mining (TDM), allowing non-commercial users to mine any of its academic journal and book content that they are authorised to access; the results may be made available publicly provided that no original content is reproduced beyond what is allowed by copyright law.
Policy Press, based in the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a party for authors, staff, and supporters at the university’s Goldney Hall. Publishing 120 titles and 7 journals each year, the press is now well-established as a major player and innovator in the field of social sciences. Founder and director Alison Shaw thanked the university for its continuing support of a press that, she confessed, it had never actually asked her to establish, and whose many successes have included being named the IPG’s Independent Publisher of the Year award earlier this year.
The growing trend towards pre-print servers in the ‘hard’ sciences as a means of making research more widely available ahead of formal publication – with bioRxiv for Biology, and arXiv covering Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science – has now spread into the social sciences with the launch of SocArXiv, developed by a committee of sociologists and librarians in partnership with the Center for Open Science’s Open Science Framework. The first phase of the project will incorporate free and open registration, uploading, and reading; discussion, analytics and social sharing; future plans include post-publication peer review, and the development of open access electronic journals.
Finally, Bloomsbury has announced two notable new additions to its Drama Online digital collection, as part of an intended doubling of the video content available on the platform. On the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the two Hollow Crown series of filmed adaptations of his history plays – comprising Richard II, Henry IV parts one and two, and Henry V; and Richard III, and Henry VI parts one and two, respectively – will be added to the resource this autumn, along with a collection of films from BBC Drama, including works from Sophocles to Strindberg, Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw.