Archive for the 'Open Access' Category

University Press Redux: The Return

By Lara Speicher, on 16 November 2017

For me, and I think for many others in the university press sector, the first University Press Redux Conference in March 2016 marked a sea change in the way UK university presses are seen, and see themselves.

Kick-started by the momentum generated by the Academic Book of the Futureproject (a two-year research project into the scholarly publishing industry, funded and supported by AHRC and the British Library, 2015-2017), the first University Press Redux Conference in Liverpool in March 2016 was launched by Anthony Cond, Managing Director of Liverpool University Press (winner of both the Bookseller and the IPG Awards for Independent Academic Publisher of the Year in 2015).

I use the word ‘launched’ deliberately, since ‘organised’ does not fully convey what Anthony achieved in that first conference. Attended by over 150 delegates from around the world and with speakers from the US, UK and Europe covering all aspects of university press (UP) activities, and with representatives from all levels and functions, the conference offered an opportunity on this side of the Atlantic for university presses to meet, discuss and exchange ideas and information. The mood was buoyant, the presentations were stimulating, and we all learnt a huge amount.

Redux 2016 happened at a particular moment, which also helps to explain its success. Scholarly publishing is undergoing significant change, with a challenging market, changes in library supply, digital distribution, new HE policies, and changing university missions which have led to a reexamination of the purpose of university presses. At the same time, many new presses have been springing up, signaling a desire on the part of institutions to do things differently. Redux was an opportunity to share those challenges and changes with all those who work in the sector – not just the UPs, but also the affiliated sectors that we work with: libraries, authors, academics, suppliers, policy makers, funders and our own institutions.

The things that shone through clearly to me during that conference were threefold:

1) that we are a ‘thing’, with distinct skills, responsibilities and challenges, quite different from scholarly publishing generally, even though we share many similarities
2) that despite our shared identity, we are also remarkably diverse in our outputs, activities, practices, sizes and missions
3) that we should be incredibly proud of what we do, and that our parent institutions should also be incredibly proud of what we do for scholarship and for our universities’ brand recognition

And what also came through very clearly was the feeling that we must do this again.

And so Redux was born as a regular event on the conference calendar. The University Press Redux 2018 takes place on 13-14 February 2018, at the British Library Conference Centre. It will take place every two years, and it is now ably supported by ALPSP, putting it on a firm footing for the future. Each conference will be hosted in a different location by a different university press which is responsible for organizing the speakers and the programme.

I volunteered for Redux 2018 for the main reason that having only launched in 2015, UCL is very new university press with a fully open access model which is still very unusual. As such, UCL Press is keen to collaborate as much as possible with other university presses – to help establish itself, to learn, and to share its experience of its OA model. But also, I volunteered because it’s fun. I think we are incredibly lucky to work in such a collegial sector. There is a genuine eagerness to collaborate and help each other which really stands out.

Registration for Redux 2018 bookings is now open and well underway – please join us for two full days of stimulating conversation and presentations. We look forward to seeing you in February!

Publishing with UCL Press – an author’s perspective

By Alison Major, on 6 November 2017

Today’s guest post is by Gabriel Moshenska, Senior Lecturer in Public Archaeology at UCL and author of Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, a textbook produced as part of JISC’s Institution as E-Textbook Publisher study

The book is out. It has gone where academic books are supposed to go: a copy in the library, a copy to my parents, one to my former PhD supervisor, and one placed casually on the coffee-table in my office as if to say ‘Oh this? Just my latest with UCL Press’. In these moments of pride, it’s easy to forget the blood, the sweat and the tears, so let’s take a few minutes to look back.

The colourful cover image of Stonehenge is a visual cliché in archaeology, and Key Concepts in Public Archaeology is a textbook example. Public archaeology is a mixture of science communication and science studies focused on archaeology and the ancient world, and UCL has been a leader in research, practice and teaching in this field for decades. The textbook draws on UCL Institute of Archaeology’s undergraduate module and the MA degree in public archaeology, and most of the authors of the chapters are regular guest lecturers on these courses.

Collections of papers by multiple authors are challenging to edit: one or two recalcitrant authors can delay publication and strain professional relationships, while the need to maintain a consistent standard and ‘voice’ requires a considerable effort, particularly for a textbook that needs to be more straightforwardly readable than other academic texts. The finished product, beautiful though it is, is considerably later and marginally slimmer than originally intended, but the Press remained supportive and encouraging throughout.

Public archaeology is grounded in a philosophy of openness and sharing scholarship, so the opportunity to publish an Open Access textbook with a Creative Commons license was extremely welcome. To combine this with the high editorial and production standards and the prestige of a University Press was a unique and brilliant opportunity. As chapter authors dragged their feet the Press decided to take advantage of the open, digital publishing format to launch the volume as a ‘living book’ to which additional chapters could be added until the final version appeared in print, pdf and a variety of other digital formats. This willingness to innovate was a significant part of the pleasure of working with UCL Press.

The print-runs for many academic books have dipped from the hundreds into the tens, while their prices have gone in precisely the opposite direction, and production values have apparently fallen out of somebody’s window. In contrast to this, UCL Press have produced a high-quality textbook that is improbably, gloriously free to download in pdf (as nearly two thousand people have discovered), and very reasonably priced in print. From an author/editor perspective the process has been exemplary, and I very much hope to work with UCL Press again in the future.

Open Access Week 2017: 23-27 October 2017

By Lara Speicher, on 26 October 2017

This year UCL Press is celebrating Open Access Week with the news that the 52 books we have published since launching two-and-a-half years ago have been downloaded over 500,000 times in over 200 countries around the world. This is wonderful evidence of the potential of scholarly monographs to travel when they are made freely available. The evidence is similar from other open access publishers as two reports due out in the next two weeks will show: one from Knowledge Unlatched Research and JSTOR, about the usage of open access books on its open access monograph platform, and the other from Springer Nature on its OA books usage.

Universities and other organisations around the world are celebrating Open Access Week with events to raise awareness among stakeholders of the benefits of publishing scholarly research as open access. Today I spoke at an event at Cambridge University aimed at helping researchers understand the open access publishing landscape. Speakers included publishers (Cambridge University Press, Open Humanities Press, Open Book Publishers, UCL Press), SocArxiv (a preprints platform), and The Conversation (a free online news site featuring articles written by academics). For researchers grappling with open access it was useful to hear such a range of publishing options, many of which demonstrated that authors are achieving considerable global reach with different OA models.

The questions from the floor indicated that many misconceptions and concerns about open access still persist: early career researchers are still advised by their supervisors to publish with well-known traditional presses; worry that REF panels are influenced by publisher brand; and concern that open access publishing is lower quality.

There is much work still to be done but Open Access Week is a good opportunity to focus on the positives. Cambridge University Library was celebrating a particular success – it had just released Stephen Hawking’s PhD thesis as open access on its repository. In just a few days it has had over 750,000 unique views and received media attention from far and wide. A great open access success story.

The International Convention of University Presses

By Jaimee Biggins, on 23 October 2017

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest trade fair for books. It takes place in October every year. UCL Press had a stand at the Fair this year where we could showcase our books, and have meetings with other academic publishers and suppliers. While at the Fair, I attended the 5th International Convention of University Presses. The Convention featured about 100 representatives from more than 22 countries and each year it offers an opportunity to discuss new trends in international academic publishing. It is a great way to network with other university presses and those working in academic publishing and gain an international perspective.

The topic this year was ‘Translation: Unlocking New Worlds of Ideas’. The day focussed mainly on foreign language authors who want to be translated into English. The keynote ‘What factors determine the circulation of scholarly books in translation?’ by Gisèle Sapiro (Director of Research at the CNRS –The French National Center for Scientific Research) set the scene for the discussion. It sparked quite a debate especially around the funding for translation of scholarly works. Scholarly books are costly to translate and do not sell many copies, so there is quite a dependence on subsidies. Other sources of funding are international organisations and private foundations. Also interesting to note is the trend of scholars choosing to write in English so they will be read right away – this is sometimes at the sacrifice of publishing in their national language. There is also a certain pressure by publishers on academics to publish in English to gain access to the widest readership possible.

In the round table discussion there was a presentation of different translation grant programmes, with speakers from organisations in countries such as Canada, Germany, Norway and France all outlining funding programmes that support translation. It was interesting to hear about schemes to support authors by offering grants which cover the cost of translation and also expenses such as book launches and promotional activities. All of the programmes aimed to make academic books more visible through translations. The criteria for this funding varied – for example the Council for the Arts, Canada, base their funding on the impact, merit and feasibility of the project. Unfortunately it is a trend that there are many more applications received than grants available. Astrid Thorn Hillig from the Association of European University Presses said that university presses need to come together collectively to claim the importance of translations and support more translations.

The day ended with pitching of a number of projects for translation by various publishers. Each speaker had two minutes to pitch their potential project, offering a synopsis of the book, and the selling points which provide a case for it to be translated. All in all the day was a real eye-opener into the world of translation and was a great way to connect with international colleagues.

October titles from UCL Press

By Alison Major, on 2 October 2017

We are delighted to announce the publication of two new open access books from UCL Press in October

In case you missed it, UCL Press also published three titles in September:

 

COASP – Conference of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (Lisbon, 20-21 September 2017)

By Lara Speicher, on 27 September 2017

The annual conference organised by OASPA took place in Lisbon this year, and for the first time members of UCL Press were there to present a paper and to attend the conference. Now in its 9th year, COASP presents a key opportunity for publishers and affiliated colleagues – such as librarians, funding agencies, government, academics and higher education communities – to gather and discuss developments in open access for scholarly research.

This year’s conference started with an inspiring talk by Jean-Claude Burgelman, Head of Open Data Policy and Science Cloud for the European Commission, who outlined the Commission’s vision for open access to scholarly research. This included an announcement that the Commission would start to publish articles themselves and would be seeking a partner to provide a journal publishing platform with fast publication times and open peer review, along the lines of that adopted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust (both of whom use the F1000 publishing platform).

Sessions followed on open infrastructure, APCs, research evaluation and assessment and peer review, with speakers including the Head of Scholarly Communications at Cambridge University Library, Danny Kingsley, the Publisher for PLOS, Louise Page, and the Head of Open Research for the Wellcome Trust, Robert Kiley. Interspersed, were panel presentations featuring related initiatives in OA infrastructure, policy and publishing.

The conference and the society are geared towards scientific journals, and there was therefore very little on OA monograph publishing. I was on the only panel discussing OA book publishing, focussing on peer review for OA monographs, along with Anke Beck, CEO of De Gruyter, and Aina Svensson, Head of the Electronic Publishing Centre at Uppsala University Library. Many delegates commented after our presentations on how different peer review is for books than for journals, since it involves considerably more editorial development and discussion, and often makes a significant contribution towards the shaping of the overall book, rather than simply evaluating quality.

Overall, it was an immensely useful couple of days and, as always at conferences, it was also a chance to see our many colleagues and partners in the industry who come from far and wide and who we don’t see very often, and to meet new publishers and hear about other initiatives and practices from around the world. I was particularly interested to meet the university presses of the University of Technology Sydney and Adelaide University, who both have thriving OA book and journal publishing programmes. It was also great to meet the Head of University of Missouri Library’s Open Scholarship and Publishing Services, who have a fantastic open access textbook programme that has seen great success so far, and from which UCL Press’s developing OA textbook programme can draw inspiration.

Bloomsbury Scientists Reviewed in the Daily Telegraph

By Alison Major, on 25 September 2017

bloomsburyWe’re delighted that the Daily Telegraph chose to review Bloomsbury Scientists: Science and Art in the Wake of Darwin in Saturday’s issue of Review. Spanning pages 27 and 28, andpublished under the title ‘Imbeciles should certainly be killed’, the review notes that the book ‘concocts a confusing, ugly, fascinating account of the battle between arts and sciences’ and describes it as ‘absorbing’.

As with all UCL Press outputs, the book is available to download free, and also in reasonably priced paperback and hardback editions.

Win a copy of Why Icebergs Float with Goodreads!

By Alison Major, on 19 September 2017

To celebrate a year since the publication of Why Icebergs Float, we’ve teamed up with Goodreads to offer avid readers the opportunity to win one of three copies! To enter, use the line below [free membership required].

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Why Icebergs Float by Andrew Morris

Why Icebergs Float

by Andrew Morris

Giveaway ends October 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


From paintings and food to illness and icebergs, science is happening everywhere. Rather than follow the path of a syllabus or textbook, Andrew Morris takes examples from the science we see every day and uses them as entry points to explain a number of fundamental scientific concepts – from understanding colour to the nature of hormones – in ways that anyone can grasp. While each chapter offers a separate story, they are linked together by their fascinating relevance to our daily lives. If you can’t wait to read it, it can be downloaded for free from here, or viewed online here.

The topics explored in each chapter are based on hundreds of discussions the author has led with adult science learners over many years – people who came from all walks of life and had no scientific training, but had developed a burning curiosity to understand the world around them. This book encourages us to reflect on our own relationship with science and serves as an important reminder of why we should continue learning as adults

Intermittent fasting could help tackle diabetes – here’s the science

By Alison Major, on 29 August 2017

Today’s guest post is by Nicholas Lesica, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at UCL and author of A Conversation about Healthy Eating. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.File 20170810 27661 18ax5ba
iordani/shutterstock

Nick Lesica, UCL

Intermittent fasting is currently all the rage. But don’t be fooled: it’s much more than just the latest fad. Recent studies of this kind of fasting – with restricted eating part of the time, but not all of the time – have produced a number of successes, but the latest involving diabetes might be the most impressive yet.

The idea of intermittent fasting arose after scientists were wowed by the effects of constant calorie restriction. A number of studies in many different animals have shown that restricted eating throughout adulthood leads to dramatic improvements in lifespan and general health.

The reasons for these improvements aren’t yet clear. Part of it seems to be that going without food gives cells in the body a much needed break to perform maintenance and repair. But the lack of food also forces cells to resort to alternative sources of energy. Some of these, such as ketones – molecules created in the liver from recycled fat – appear to be beneficial.

‘Fasting’ without fasting

The problem is that constant calorie restriction isn’t practical: it’s easy for scientists to impose upon lab animals, but hard for humans to impose upon themselves in the real world. Fortunately, we’ve learned that constant calorie restriction isn’t really necessary. Intermittent fasting seems to have many of the same benefits.

There are two main types of intermittent fasting. One type, known as “time restricted feeding”, requires eating only during a few hours of the day – say between 10am and 6pm. This approach gives the body a long break from food each night, and also reinforces beneficial circadian rhythms.

The other type of intermittent fasting – made popular by the 5:2 diet – is known as “periodic fasting”. This approach involves alternating between long periods of unrestricted eating and short periods of eating very little (five days of eating normally, two days of eating restricted calories).

It isn’t yet clear whether one type of intermittent fasting is better than the other. But the data so far suggest that both types can work.

Tackling diabetes in mice and men

The recent studies of the effects of intermittent fasting on diabetes have focused on periodic fasting in particular. As a first step, researchers led by Valter Longo at the University of Southern California, began by testing whether periodic fasting could cure diabetes in mice. They used mutant mice that lack the fat hormone leptin to regulate their food intake. These mice constantly overeat and become obese and diabetic in early adulthood.

The researchers found that after just a few months of periodic fasting – alternating seven unrestricted eating days with four restricted days – the diabetes was cured. This is an amazing result. But what’s even more amazing is the reason behind it.

The mice lost weight during the periodic fasting, which helped of course. But that wasn’t the whole story. Periodic fasting actually solved the problem directly at one of its sources: the pancreas.

Diabetes is a disease characterised by excess blood “sugar”, which really means excess blood glucose. It’s largely an insulin problem. Normally, insulin causes cells in the body to take in glucose from the blood. But with diabetes, glucose stays in the blood because cells no longer take it in. This is partly because many cells lose their sensitivity to insulin, but also because the pancreas stops making it.


Glucose meter, healthy lifestyles and nutrition.
ratmaner/shutterstock

It turns out that the periodic fasting made the pancreas start producing insulin again. The days of restricted eating gave the pancreas a break that allowed it to remove and recycle many of its cells. Then, when the mice started eating again, new cells that were capable of producing insulin emerged.

So the pancreas actually shrunk during the four restricted eating days, and regrew during the seven unrestricted eating days. After several such cycles of shrinking, recycling, and regrowing, the pancreas was nearly as good as new.

The big question, of course, it whether intermittent fasting will have the same effects in humans. The answer is not yet clear, but the initial indications from a recently published phase two clinical trial, again led by Longo, are promising.

In this study, 100 people went through a series of 30-day cycles of periodic fasting, each with 25 days of unrestricted eating and five days of restricted eating. After only three cycles, those subjects who started the trial with high blood sugar saw big improvements. And, importantly, none of the subjects in the trial experienced any harmful effects.

So the evidence in support of intermittent fasting keeps growing. Does that mean that we should all be doing it? Not necessarily.

Intermittent fasting seems to be most beneficial for those who are already overweight and unhealthy. While it does also seem to have some benefits for lean and healthy lab animals, it’s not yet clear whether the same is true for humans.

The ConversationA much larger phase three trial of intermittent fasting in humans that will clarify a lot of things is set to begin soon. The results will no doubt be very exciting.

Win a copy of A Conversation about Healthy Eating with Goodreads!

By Alison Major, on 10 August 2017

To the launch of A Conversation about Healthy Eating, we’ve teamed up with Goodreads to offer avid readers the opportunity to win one of five copies! To enter, use the line below [free membership required].

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A conversation about Healthy Eating by Nicholas Lesica

A Conversation about Healthy Eating

by Nicholas Lesica

Giveaway ends September 19, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway