Open access dominates this month’s news, as the debate about monographs in REF2027 simmers on, the London School of Economics founds its own press, and UCL passes a milestone.
British Academy steps into row over open access REF requirement for monographs
Repercussions from HEFCE Head of Research Policy Steven Hill’s speech at this year’s Redux conference continue to be felt. The British Academy has published a position paper – Open access and monographs: Where are we now? – which raises several concerns about the decision, reiterated by Hill, that current policies on open access for journal articles would be extended in REF2027 to cover long-form scholarly content such as monographs. Issues including funding, academic freedom, third-party rights, commercial opportunities, and the need for exceptions are all addressed in the paper, which expresses disappointment at HEFCE’s failure to address them itself, its ‘opaque approach to communication’, and its apparent abandonment of its previous policy that REF should assess but not alter research practices. Hill, now Director of Research at HEFCE successor organisation Research England, responded by saying he welcomed the call for dialogue.
UCL Press hits one million downloads
Open access publisher UCL Press has announced that its books have been downloaded more than one million times. In the three years since the press’s launch, readers in all but one of the world’s 223 countries have downloaded at least one of its eighty books and eight journals; last year saw output double, with 36 new titles published by the six-person team. The top title so far, downloaded more than 225,000 times, is How the World Changed Social Media, the opening volume in what has now become an eleven-book series analysing social media, Why We Post. Publishing Manager Lara Speicher praised the press’s staff and authors, and the vision and support offered by senior management at UCL, suggesting that ‘This milestone shows the power and potential of Open Access publishing and the global popularity of our books proves OA is the future.’
London School of Economics launches new open access press
The number of open access university presses in the UK has grown still further with the news that the London School of Economics is launching its own press, focusing on the social sciences; its first publication will be the Journal of Illicit Economies and Development, led by researchers in the school’s International Drugs Policy Unit. LSE Press will publish journals and a range of books, including traditional research monographs, short-form monographs, and textbooks; it also aims to support the launch and development of academic-led publications that will be ‘innovative in their format, content, and reach’, including potentially experiments with ‘new kinds of content’.
Knowledge Unlatched announces latest pledging round
Open access crowdfunding platform Knowledge Unlatched has announced its fifth pledging round, offering 343 books and three journals in the humanities and social sciences plus, for the first time, two collections of STEM content, comprising a further 100 books and eight journals. In another new development, the organisation has partnered with eight other open access initiatives including OpenEdition, OAPEN’s Library Membership Program, and the University of California Press’s Luminos, to enable libraries to support such initiatives alongside their funding of open access collections. Knowledge Unlatched has also joined forces with fifteen of the most significant vendors and platform providers in scholarly publishing to form the Anti-Double Dipping Alliance, which aims to help librarians avoid purchasing titles they have already acquired through other means.
Bloomsbury buys I.B.Tauris
Bloomsbury has acquired I.B.Tauris at a cost of £5.8 million. The formerly independent publisher, founded in 1983 and best known for its lists in the Middle East and the Islamic World, Classics and Ancient History, and Politics and International Relations, publishes 200 new books each year and has a backlist of 3000 titles. I.B.Tauris MD Jonathan McDonnell will remain with the company until the late summer to ensure an orderly transfer of the business; meanwhile, Bloomsbury has just announced in its interim results statement a rise of 4% in academic and professional sales for the financial year 2016-17, up to £59.3 million.
Liverpool takes on Writers and their Work
Liverpool University Press has agreed a strategic partnership with Northcote House Publishers that will see the press assume responsibility for publication of the long-running series Writers and their Work. Launched in 1994 in association with the British Council, the series now amounts to more than 400 titles, which will now be digitised and made available as ebooks, many for the first time. Liverpool will also publish around ten new titles in the series annually.
First titles from Bristol
Bristol University Press has published its first titles, the topical monograph Squaring the Circle on Brexit: Could the Norway model work? and the Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, available online for the first time since its launch in 1983. More are set to follow, with a second journal, the European Journal of Politics and Gender, launching in July, and five more books coming soon, including titles on stand-up comedy, vagueness in political language, immigration, rights, and the soul of the university.
SAGE has partnered with the National Economic Association to publish The Review of Black Political Economy. Cambridge University Press author Peter Fane-Saunders has been awarded the Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Prize by the Renaissance Society of America for his book Pliny the Elder and the Emergence of Renaissance Architecture, published by Cambridge in 2016.
Alastair Horne is a PhD student at the British Library and Bath Spa University