The Visibility of Open Access Monographs in a European Context: A Report Prepared by Knowledge Unlatched Research

Authors : Lucy Montgomery, Cameron Neylon, Alkim Ozaygen, Frances Pinter, Neil Saunders

This report explores the extent to which Open Access (OA) specialist scholarly books can be seen by the communities that might make use of them. It also identifies the key challenges that will need to be tackled in order to ensure that OA books are fully integrated into digital landscapes of scholarship; as well as the steps that need to be taken to achieve this goal.

The report focuses on Open Access books made available by publishers and platforms that are part of the OPERAS network, which is focused on the development of European research infrastructure for the development of open scholarly communication.

Specialist scholarly books are the core research output of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Ensuring that they are integrated into digital landscapes of scholarship will play a decisive role in the future of these disciplines, and their impact on the world. Identifying gaps in existing infrastructure and creating a roadmap to address them is vital groundwork.

This report forms part of the OPERAS-D project, which focuses on the development of a European e-infrastructure for open access publications in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Knowledge Unlatched Research is a core partner in the OPERAS-D project.

KU Research is an independent research and analysis group focusing on strategy and analytics that support the ecosystem of scholarly monographs.


A landscape study on open access and monographs : Policies, funding and publishing in eight European countries

Authors : Eelco Ferwerda, Frances Pinter, Niels Stern

The report builds on i.a. 73 in-depth conversations, conducted across eight different countries (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Norway and Austria) to understand current developments among three stakeholder groups: Publishers, funders and libraries. The importance of author attitudes, scholarly reward and incentive systems is also raised throughout the study by numerous interviewees.

The study shows that although the main OA policies do not include monographs, conversations about OA and monographs are surfacing and are expected to be accelerating over the next few years. The general explanation for monographs not being included in policies is the global focus on journal publishing and the perception that monographs are more complex to deal with than journals. Some also point to a lack of demand yet from authors.

In general, OA book publishers will comply with gold OA policies from funders and institutions. This is not the case for green OA. It appears that the current self archiving policies from publishers for books are largely restricted to book chapters.

The report also points towards the fact that funding schemes for books are lagging behind schemes for articles and their availability to fund the publishing process is somewhat ad hoc across the countries we’ve surveyed. Nevertheless the authors are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the prospects for OA and monographs.

The report creates an overview of both the OA monographs policies, funding streams and publishing models for all eight countries for the first time.

URL : A landscape study on open access and monographs : Policies, funding and publishing in eight European countries

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Knowledge Unlatched: A Global Library Consortium Model for Funding Open Access Scholarly Books

« This special issue of Cultural Science Journal is devoted to the report of a groundbreaking experiment in re-coordinating global markets for specialist scholarly books and enabling the knowledge commons: the Knowledge Unlatched proof-of-concept pilot. The pilot took place between January 2012 and September 2014. It involved libraries, publishers, authors, readers and research funders in the process of developing and testing a global library consortium model for supporting Open Access books. The experiment established that authors, librarians, publishers and research funding agencies can work together in powerful new ways to enable open access; that doing so is cost effective; and that a global library consortium model has the potential dramatically to widen access to the knowledge and ideas contained in book-length scholarly works. »


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Monographs and Open Access : A report to HEFCE

« This report examines, and seeks to clarify, the range of issues that emerge when we think about the relationship between open access and monographs (including under this latter term other long scholarly publications). It arises from the immediate need of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and its sister funding councils in the UK, to examine the issues for open access in relation to books in a context where both funding and research councils in the UK have already established open-access requirements for publications in journals and conference proceedings, but the issues are much greater than those of defining the practicalities of mandates and the sustainability of open-access models. Furthermore, although the principal focus of the report is defined by the culture and policy preoccupations of higher education in this country, the international character of research, publishing, and academic careers has to be acknowledged. »


Modes of access: the influence of dissemination channels on the use of open access monographs

« Introduction. This paper studies the effects of several dissemination channels in an open access environment by analysing the download data of the OAPEN Library.

Method. Download data were obtained containing the number of downloads and the name of the Internet provider. Based on public information, each Internet provider was categorised. The subject and language of each book were determined using metadata from the OAPEN Library.

Analysis. Quantitative analysis was done using Excel, while the qualitative analysis was carried out using the statistical package SPSS.

Results. Almost three quarters of all downloads come from users who do not use the Website, but find the books by other means. Qualitative analysis found no evidence that channel use was influenced by user groups or the state of users’ Internet infrastructure; nor was any effect on channel use found for either the language or the subjects of the monographs.

Conclusions. The results show that most readers are using the « direct download » channel, which occur if the readers use systems other than the OAPEN Library Website. This implies that making the metadata available in the user’s systems, the infrastructure used on a daily basis, ensures the best results. »


Open Access monographs in the humanities and social sciences conference

« As academics in most disciplines know, the unit cost of traditionally printed monographs is rising, while sales have been in steady decline. This is a particular problem in the humanities and social sciences, in which monographs are often the output of choice for scholars and the benchmark against which standing and academic performance are judged. Open Access (OA) is a model that has the potential to support a vibrant research environment, enabling non restricted access, widening readerships, facilitating collaboration and the creation of new ideas and increasing impact. Yet the problems inherent in moving to OA publishing for books seem so numerous, and so hard to solve, that even the Finch Report concluded that it couldn’t be insisted upon without further experimentation. Two organisations, leading experimentation, Jisc Collections and OAPEN, thought it was high time to bring together experts from across academia and publishing to explore open access as a means not just to secure the monograph’s future, but also to transform it, extending its reach and ‘making the scholarship better’. »

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A project exploring Open Access monograph publishing in…

A project exploring Open Access monograph publishing in the Netherlands :

« Monographs still play an important role in scholarly communication, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The availability of publication outlets for research monographs is crucial to the careers of researchers and to research assessment opportunities for universities with departments in those disciplines. Humanities and Social Sciences have suffered from the serials crises, as library funds for the purchase of monographs came under pressure.
The Open Access model addresses the monograph crisis in two ways. By making a digital edition freely available through the Internet the access to and discoverability of the monograph are greatly improved. The Open Access model also provides the opportunity to find a new sustainable business model for monographs, based on the reduced production costs of the digital edition and building on emerging business models for Open Access journals. Open Access models for monographs differ from the models for Open Access journals, because the Open Access version of a monograph does not substitute printed books in the same way that e-journals are substituting printed journals. But although the business models may differ, there are no obstacles to achieve Open Access for books. There are clear benefits to the academic community and society at large and both publishers and funders are experimenting with a variety of models to enable Open Access to monographs. »