Academic Publishing – August 2020

Academic Publishing – August 2020

Annual reports from Oxford and Cambridge

In an otherwise relatively quiet month for academic publishing, the country’s two largest university presses have both released their annual reports.

Overall, Oxford reported a 0.3% growth in turnover to £844.9m, and a slight fall in its surplus of 0.4% to £108.1m. Journals usage rose 7%, while site visits to Oxford Scholarship Online approached 20 million as 1,200 new titles were published, taking the total available via the platform to more than 17,000. The most-viewed title, with 43,000 views, was Manufacturing Transformation, an open access economics title, reflecting the Press’s growing focus on OA – 70 of its 442 journals are now fully open access, with several new OA titles launched this year; new read-and-publish deals have been signed with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the University of Vienna, and Iowa State University; additionally, 2,500 articles were made freely accessible to researchers to support coronavirus response efforts.

Coronavirus and open access both featured prominently in Cambridge’s annual report also, which saw turnover increase by 2% to £336m, but profits fall by 16% to £19.3m. Chief Executive Peter Phillips noted in his overview that the Press ‘enjoyed 46 weeks of strong revenue growth and excellent progress’ followed by ‘a very different final six weeks’ as the pandemic took hold. To support researchers and students during the crisis, Cambridge gave free access to a growing collection of COVID-19 research through its Cambridge Core platform and made more than 700 textbooks freely available online via university libraries. On open access, the Press signed a further seventeen read-and-publish deals, and launched a new open platform, Cambridge Open Engage, in partnership with the American Political Science Association, plus several new OA journals, including Experimental Results, its bid to tackle the growing reproducibility crisis in science. By the end of the year, Cambridge had 43 Gold open access journals, and OA articles accounted for 15% of its annual output, almost double the figure from a year ago. Across its entire business, Cambridge also passed a significant milestone with more than 50% of its revenues deriving from digital or blended products for the very first time.


The inaugural University Press Redux Sustainability Award has been won by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for its SDG Pathfinder open digital discovery tool, which enables policy makers and other interested parties to find up-to-date content and data on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from a range of international organisations. The award was launched by the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) and Cambridge University Press to reward an initiative, publication, product, or project aiming to address at least one of the 17 SDGs; the other shortlisted candidates were Bristol University Press – for its imprint, Policy Press, which has addressed sustainable development since its launch in 1995 – and Taylor & Francis for their product Sustainable Development Goals Online. Mandy Hill, Managing Director of Academic Publishing at Cambridge University Press, and one of the prize’s three-strong judging panel, urged university presses to consider which of the UN SDGs best resonate with their own missions, and to ‘develop clear actions and programmes so that we can collectively say that we are stepping up to play our part on this critical, global range of issues’.

The Edinburgh University Press-published monograph The Kizilbash-Alevis in Ottoman Anatolia: Sufism, Politics and Community, written by Ayfer Karakaya-Stump, has been awarded the 2020 SERMEISS Book Award for outstanding scholarship in Middle Eastern/Islamic Studies.

Alastair Horne is a PhD student at the British Library and Bath Spa University.

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