Archive for the 'Textbooks' Category

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.

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:

 

JISC Institution as e-textbook publisher project workshop

By Jaimee Biggins, on 17 May 2017

UCL Press is delighted to be taking part in JISC’s Institution as e-textbook publisher project workshop on Friday  four-year institution as e-textbook publisher project which investigates the viability of higher education institutions publishing their own e-textbooks.  Book now to reserve your place.

Projects have been undertaken by UCL Press,  University of LiverpoolUniversity of Nottingham and University of the Highlands and Islands with Edinburgh Napier University. The overall objective is to assess whether the textbooks that have been created provide:

  • A more affordable higher education for students
  • Better value for money than commercial alternatives
  • An improved, more sustainable information environment for all

During the project, participating institutions are creating eight textbooks covering a range of subjects, applying business, licensing and distribution models and reporting back on the impact, value and viability of the models they choose.

Workshop overview

The four project teams will reflect back on the last three years of the project under a number of broad themes:

  • Costs: how long did the books take to write, what were the hidden costs?
  • Benchmarking: cost benefit analysis and evidence to invest in more e-textbooks
  • Technology: the technology used including lessons learned and issues faced
  • Licensing: issues encountered including CC licenses, 3rd party copyright issues
  • Dissemination, distributions and discovery: concepts and process behind the dissemination, uptake, and wider adoption of the e-textbooks
  • Uptake: evidence of usage by students and courses
  • Feedback: Would the authors do it again, would they act as champions?
  • Implications of implementation: What are the implications for the wider adoption of the e-textbooks at other institutions?

Delegates will be encouraged to make notes on these areas and to contribute thoughts and ideas in relation to their own institutions in the afternoon workshop. This will allow participants to discuss the themes and look at the notes made by others. These ideas will help shape a proposed toolkit for institutions, which will be a major outcome of the project.

The workshop will appeal to potential authors, librarians, learning technologists and senior university staff who may wish to consider publishing their own e-textbooks. Find out more here.