A Landscape Study on Open Access and Monographs

Our new Knowledge Exchange report maps the open access monograph landscape in the six Knowledge Exchange countries Finland, the Netherlands, UK, France, Denmark and Germany together with Norway and Austria.

A large part of the Open Access discussion has so far been concentrated on journals but in recent years the focus is also starting to move towards making publicly funded monographs open access. It is likely that monograph mandates will follow where mandates for journal articles have lead the way. In the UK, HEFCE has stated its intention to move towards an open access requirement for monographs in the exercise that follows the next REF (expected in the mid 2020). This doesn’t seem to be too far in the future as it can take many years to write a book!

There are several projects and initiatives experimenting in the area of open access monograph publishing. In spite of of this rich evolving landscape, it was so far hard to get a systematic overview on characteristic developments and to assess which specific issues would benefit from further attention and discussion. To fill this gap and in order to effectively support open access monograph publishing in its partner countries, the Knowledge Exchange initiated this new landscape study on Open Access Monographs. The study was supported by Knowledge ExchangeFWF Austrian Science Fund, CRIStin and Couperin and written by Frances Pinter, Eelco Ferwerda and Niels Stern. It builds on in-depth interviews with experts from over 70 institutions across Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, UK, France, Norway and Austria, a survey and also an analysis of existing information. The focus is on three areas: the inclusion of open access monographs in open access policies, funding streams to support open access monographs and business models for publishing open acess monographs. The report has been designed to be read in a number of ways. The reader can either concentrate on particular areas of interest or focus on the eight very rich country studies.

It is clear that the eight countries examined in the report are at different stages towards enabling monographs to go open access and that no country has found the perfect solution for this transition but by looking at how particular issues have been addressed we can learn from each other and hopefully build a better system.

The report mentions a number of interesting open access book publishing initiatives which are experimenting with new business models and other innovative features. For example, Language Science press in Germany is a very successful new academic-led press with a discipline specific focus. It has already gained significant credibility among the community and was initially developed with support from DFG (German Research Foundation). The knowledge gained by this press and other examples mentioned will be valuable when considering similar projects in other disciplines. The KE study also complements the  Jisc Changing publishing ecologies report by Graham Stone and Janneke Adema which maps the rise in the number of independent presses set up by academics next to university presses in the UK.

The report closes with recommendations for a number of groups including Knowledge Exchange. For example, it suggests for the Knowledge Exchange to facilitate the exchange of ideas and to encourage awareness for policy makers across countries on the issues around mandating of open access monographs. Could this lead to policies than can be adopted across countries?

Jisc will also review the report in order to recommend best practice for open access monograph publishing in the UK as part of research being undertaken by the Jisc Collections research team on open access publishing infrastructure in the UK.