OPERAS – Open Access in the Scholarly Research Area through Scholarly Communication

By Lara Speicher, on 18 July 2017

In June, I took part in the first meeting of all the members of a European consortium developing pan-European infrastructure and services for open access in the social sciences and humanities, led by the French organisation Open Edition. Partners from 22 organisations in 10 countries (Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the UK) gathered to discuss the progress of the project to date and next steps in development. UCL Press joined in March 2017 as one of eight core members of the consortium.

OPERAS already has two projects underway that have received significant funding from Horizon 2020. The first of these is OPERAS-D, a design study to address the long-term requirements for governance models, structures and scientific and technical concepts for future services that the infrastructure will provide. The second is HIRMEOS (High Integration of Research Monographs in the European Open Science Infrastructure), which focuses on the monograph as a significant mode of scholarly communication, and tackles the main obstacles preventing the full integration of publishing platforms supporting open access monographs. It will do this by improving five existing open access books platforms, enhancing their technical capacities and services, ensuring their interoperability and embedding them fully into the European Open Science Cloud.

OPERAS’ final goal is to clarify the landscape of Open Access book for libraries and funders through a certification service (DOAB – Directory of Open Access Books); to improve the accessibility and dissemination of research outputs in SSH through a single discovery service; and to increase the impact of multidisciplinary research on societal challenges through a single ‘research for society’ service. It will also provide communication and advocacy, training, R&D, development of business models, standardization of technologies, and adoption of best practices for open access.

OPERAS is now planning its next stages of development – its governance, business model, legal status, and operational development over the coming years, and UCL Press is looking forward to being more involved in the next stages. At the meeting its new work packages were launched, and UCL Press will be involved in the Business Models and Communications work packages. This highly ambitious project aims to address many of the challenges that currently hamper open access from becoming the standard practice for scholarly communication. By pooling resources and expertise from across Europe, OPERAS is developing a significant step forward on the path towards open access for all.

Find out more:

UCL Press and Academic Book of the Future BOOC presentation

By Jaimee Biggins, on 31 January 2017

Last week Lara Speicher (Publishing Manager, UCL Press) and I presented a session at the British Library on UCL Press and its new online BOOC platform as part of the second Academic Book Week (23-28 January 2017). Our presentation consisted of an overview of UCL Press followed by an introduction to our new online publication platform, BOOC (to be launched in February 2017).  BOOC stands for Books as Open Online Content, and the format consists of a living book that is hosted on a browser-based platform. Material includes traditional content such as reports and presentations alongside non-traditional genres such as videos, presentations, blogs and Storifys. The first project to be published on BOOC is content from the Academic Book of the Future research project, (a project funded by the AHRC and British Library and run by academics at UCL and King’s College London to investigate the future of the academic book) and the pieces included are peer reviewed contributions from industry professionals and academics involved in the project. Content can be added to the platform over time rather than in one go allowing for an ongoing, dynamic evolution.

The audience at our talk was made up of librarians, academics, booksellers and other people invested in the academic book. There was genuine interest in the UCL Press model and we received some questions about funding and how academics had reacted to us within the institution.  It was great to show the impact UCL Press has achieved in terms of download figures and number of countries reached since launching in June 2015.  There was also real engagement from the audience about BOOC. Questions that came up included: how does copyright deposit work with something like BOOC? How are BOOC articles cited? What license does BOOC use? Does BOOC have an ISBN?  Is BOOC actually a book or is it just a collection of articles? The latter question feeds directly into the debates that were core to the Academic Book of the Future project – these questions still need to be answered. How do we define an academic book? Is a book a stable thing? What about new editions? Editors of BOOC, Dr Samantha Rayner and Rebecca Lyons were on hand to talk about this. They also discussed the process of curating the material for BOOC and their role as a quality checkpoint along the way. We also gave a demo of BOOC and got very useful feedback from the audience. Most people seemed to admire the clean, simple layout of the site. We had some questions about the searchability functions of BOOC and whether content tagging could be used so that users could click on a keyword and be taken to content on that subject. Others said a bookmarking tool would be useful. We will feedback on this to our digital developer. The beauty of BOOC is that improvements can be made over time. We were pleased with the interesting discussion our talk sparked and look forward to following the continued debates about the future of the academic book!

New University Presses

By Lara Speicher, on 24 October 2016

On 12 October, some of the UCL Press team attended the launch of the first book published by the recently established University of Westminster Press, a fellow open access press. It was a well-attended event that took place in the beautiful Fyvie Hall in the Regent Street Campus. Speeches by the Provost, Professor Graham Megson, and the Press Manager, Andrew Lockett, described the motivations behind the setting up of an open access press. Professor Christian Fuchs, described as one of the world’s leading theorists of digital media, and author of UWP’s launch title, Critical Theory of Communication, spoke engagingly about the book, which offers a vital set of new insights on how communication operates in the age of information, digital media and social media. This is the first book in the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series (edited by Professor Fuchs), which has a promising list of titles to look forward to.

University of Westminster Press is one of four new open access university presses that launched in 2015, of which UCL Press was the first, followed by UWP, White Rose University Press (a consortium of Leeds, Sheffield and York universities) and Cardiff University Press. In further UK university press developments, Goldsmiths Press launched its first title in May this year, and declares its interest in publishing non-traditional works that explore the very purpose of why academics publish. And just this week, Policy Press (established at Bristol University 20 years ago), announced that they would be expanding to establish University of Bristol Press, with a wider remit.

This revival of interest in university presses saw the establishment of a conference earlier this year, the University Press Redux, the first conference to be held in the UK dedicated to university presses, and initiated by the Academic Book of the Future project (we look forward to its report, due out later this year after a two-year study by academics at UCL and Kings College London). One-hundred-and-fifty delegates from UK, US and European university presses – large and small, new and old – gathered to discuss industry developments and challenges. Those discussions are reflected in a special open access issue of Learned Publishing, the journal of the ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers). Featuring articles by the heads of various university presses including California, Manchester, Liverpool, UCL, Westminster and Goldsmiths, the issue is a fascinating snapshot of the university press scene and scholarly publishing at a pivotal moment in its history. Read more here.

Lara Speicher

Publishing Manager, UCL Press

24.10.16

Anything but selfies…

By Daniel Miller, on 15 August 2016

different-genres-of-selfies-768x1000In every respect we are delighted with the launch of our project. We now engage in daily interaction with the thousands of students registered on our FutureLearn course, plus many thousands more on the translated versions on UCL eXtend. The almost 20,000 downloads of our books is a real boost for Open Access.

But there has been one element that I found rather irritating. Here is a project that dealt with tensions on the Syrian-Turkish border, 250 million Chinese factory workers, the nature of Englishness, transformations in human communication, politics, gender, and education. Yet almost every single media enquiry, and we are happy that there were so many, seemed to focus upon the selfie and almost inevitably mentioned a specific kind of selfie taken in Chile of people’s feet. Which is why, given the choice, I would love to answer questions about our project on any topic under the sun – other than bloody selfies.

But as an anthropologist I have to transcend any personal feelings and always ask ‘why?’. My explanation is going to be as benign as I can make it – what I would like to believe to be the case – though certainly it may be otherwise. My supposition is that the selfie is iconic of social media because it speaks to the single dominant story we want to tell ourselves and which, by creating anxiety, also sells newspapers. We tend to argue that social media is the latest stage in an inevitable journey from the kind of intense kinship-based sociality studied by anthropologists to the fragmented narcissistic individualists studied as a kind of modern pathology by sociologists and psychologists. So the media and others find it strange that it is anthropologists, the group who are supposed to represent the other end of this story – kinship and tribes – who are talking about the selfie. Perhaps this represents a kind of profound disconnect.

It may then follow that the best way anthropology can be presented as a repudiation of this simple story is by noting that as anthropologists we have refused to regard the selfie as this icon of the fall of humanity from the graces of proper and intense sociality. A photo of unpretentious feet is the opposite of the self-absorbed look-at-me selfie of the face. If this explanation is correct it would be parallel to my early blog post about the ‘no-make-up selfie’ where adults in my fieldsite only started posting selfies when they found a cancer charity-based model which seemed to repudiate the association between the selfie and supposed teenage self-centeredness.

We do indeed repudiate the simple story of a decline in humanity and indeed we try and show why even these teenagers are more complex, mature and social than this story implied. If this is the case then I should be happy that the media has made our point so succinctly. Hopefully once that point has burst the selfie boil, this then clears the way for the media and others to focus on the way we tell a hugely different story of highly socialised and diverse social media that has important consequences for almost every other aspect of our lives. For example, the way we use our analysis to critique the very concept of ‘superficiality’ which is the premise of much of this discussion of the selfie. Perhaps now we can argue that in most respects social media takes society in the opposite direction: more social, less individual, closer to the way society is represented by anthropology and less close to the pathologies of the individual studied in psychology. At least that is the story I hope we will eventually be allowed to tell.

About the author

Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology at UCL and author of 37 books including How the World Changed Social Media,  Social Media in an English VillageThe Comfort of Things, Stuff, Tales from Facebook and A Theory of Shopping.  Find out more about the Why We Post series at  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/why-we-post.

This post is an updated/adapted version of a post that originally appeared on the Global Social Media Impact Study blog, using the title ‘Anything but Selfies’. It has been re-posted with permission.

People behind the press: meet our Admin Assistant

By Elli Sullivan, on 3 August 2016

elliIn a semi-regular blog series, we’ll introduce you to the people behind the press.  Today we’re introducing you to Elli Sullivan, our Admin Assistant.

What is your role and what does it involve?

My role within UCL Press is Administration Assistant.  My role involves supporting all of the UCL Press team members.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I’ve been at UCL Press since December 2015. Before landing the job at UCL Press,  I was an Administration Officer for a charity back home in Perth, Australia. Our mission was to optimise the lives of people living with disabilities.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

The working achievement I’m most proud of is getting a great job in the UK. After all the stories I’ve heard from friends/family it seemed that it would be a long and hard journey. But I did it, and within a short time frame of arriving, I’m very proud of my persistence and motivation.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of you to-do list?

The top of my to do list at the moment is making sure that everything is in place for our new title management system.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album – Watch the Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West)

Film – this is a huge tie between the Shawshank Redemption and the Wedding Singer

Novel – The Messenger (Markus Zusak)

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

What’s green and has wheels? The grass, I lied about the wheels.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Elvis Presley

My parents (Mum & Dad cook a great BBQ!)

Kim Kardashian

Kanye West

Karl Lagerfeld

Jennifer Lawrence

Marc Jacobs

RuPaul

J.K Rowling

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t let negativity get you down, and don’t let other people’s opinion stop you.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I was a West Australian State Ice Hockey player. I’m also pianist.

What is your favourite place?

That’s a tie between New York and Coogee Beach back home in Perth.

1st Birthday Party for UCL Press

By Alison Major, on 24 June 2016

Today’s guest post is posted on behalf of Paul Ayris, Director of Library Services at UCL and CEO of UCL Press.

UCL-Press-birthday-party-600x800

16 June 2016 was an auspicious day for UCL Press. This was the day when we held  a Birthday Party to celebrate 1 year of publishing activity.

100 people accepted the Press’s invitation to join them at the Party, which was held in Waterstone’s Bookshop. The Guest of Honour was Professor David Price, who spoke of his pride that UCL has established such an innovative publishing programme. UCL Press is the first fully Open Access University Press in the UK.

Following David Price’s speech, I gave a brief summary of the achievements of the Press in its 1st year of operation – over 30,000 downloads in over 160 countries. This is an amazing record for a young Press in its 1st year. I admitted that establishing the Press was my idea, but that it had needed the insight, expertise and support of very many people to make it happen. That the Press has achieved so much so quickly is really a testament to all their hard work.

The audience was then entertained by 6 UCL Press authors, who told us what they felt about working with the Press and why they had chosen UCL Press as their publisher. I was struck by two things. First, a number of authors who have published with us said they wanted to publish with us again. That is real praise. Second, some speakers spoke about the textbooks which they are publishing with UCL Press. I had a long talk with Deepak Kalaskar from the Royal Free about his forthcoming (July 2016) Textbook of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Commercial publishers have been slow to offer textbooks as digital textbooks, let alone Open Access textbooks. In its work on developing an Open Access digital textbook model, UCL Press is being truly innovative.

The audience toasted the 1st year of the Press, and wished it well in the next 12 months, with glasses of Prosecco. Cup cakes with the UCL Press logo iced on the top crowned a generous finger buffet, which was well received by those attending. The evening bodes well for the growing success of UCL Press.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services & CEO UCL Press

UCL Press – One Year, and 35,000 Readers On

By Lara Speicher, on 13 June 2016

UCL Press infographic1As we celebrate our first year of publishing, it is apposite to pause for a moment and look back at all that has happened, before we launch into busy and exciting plans for the future. Most pleasing is the wide readership our books are reaching – in one year, our books and journals have reached a combined total of over 35,000 readers in over 160 countries round the world. That’s an average of nearly 3,000 downloads per book. In an age when many scholarly monograph publishers report sales figures of around 400 copies in print, it’s a really encouraging response.

Our open access model is proving to be very popular with authors too and we have had well over 150 book and journal proposals. Since we launched in June 2015 as the UK’s first fully open access university press, it has also been interesting to see the publishing landscape changing and more new university presses spring up, many of them also open access, including Westminster University Press, White Rose University Press and Cardiff University Press. Goldsmiths also launched its new press recently with a mission of publishing innovative and less constrained academic works.

We have published 14 books and 3 journals so far in a wide range of subjects including archaeology, anthropology, Jewish studies, urban studies and history, and

UCL Press infographic5the forward programme is building up quickly. In 2017 we are on course to publish 35 books and several more journals. Later this year and next year we look forward to publishing our first textbooks, on plastic surgery and public archaeology. We are publishing our first popular science book called Why Icebergs Float (Andrew Morris), a book that examines urban food production as a potential solution to the global food crisis (Sustainable Food Systems by Robert Biel), and our first BOOC (Books as Open Online Content), an innovative digital format that will launch with the outputs of the Academic Book of the Future project, an AHRC/British Library project led by academics at UCL and Kings College London investigating how scholarly publishing will look in years to come.

Here are a few key facts about our publishing since we started publishing in June 2015:

  • Our books have been downloaded over *35,000 times (that’s an average of 2,916 times each)
  • Our books have been downloaded in over 160 countries round the world, from Albania to Zimbabwe
  • Our most downloaded book is How the World Changed Social Media by Danny Miller et al, which was downloaded over 10,000 times between 1 March and 1 June 2016
  • Our books have been reviewed in THE, The Economist, The Atlantic’s CityLab, BBC World Service, BBC Today programme, LSE Review of Books and Wired, amongst others
  • This month sees the launch of our new interactive digital platform that offers scholars new ways of publishing their research in non-traditional formats

UCL Press infographic3There is a lot to celebrate, but most important of all is our authors and journal editors. We feel incredibly honoured that so many talented academics from UCL and beyond have chosen to publish with us, a new press with an alternative business model, and we look forward to working with them on more exciting projects in the coming years. And indeed, it is our business model that is driving our authors to choose UCL Press. As demonstrated in the figures above, open access means that books and journals are read and distributed globally in significant numbers. And what could be more important for scholarship?

In the words of Daniel Coit Gilman, founder of Johns Hopkins University Press:

It is one of the noblest duties of a university to advance knowledge and to diffuse it not merely among those who can attend the daily lectures but far and wide.

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

*At 1 June 2016

 

Open Access reaches readers round the world

By Lara Speicher, on 2 June 2016

When UCL Press launched in June 2015 as the UK’s first fully open access university press, we did not have a sense of the level of readership we might attract. We were confident that via open access we would reach a wide readership and we knew from other open access publishers the kind of figures they were achieving. We also knew that downloads of articles and PhD theses on UCL Discovery, where UCL Press’s titles are stored, were very encouraging.

Now, just over eight months since UCL Press’s first titles were published, it is a good moment to reflect on what has been achieved in that time. The total download figures for eight books in eight months has now reached nearly 16,000 copies in over 150 countries. That number might not mean much out of context, so it is interesting to look at the figures for the individual books and the length of time they have been published:

Total Downloads @ 8 Feb 2016 Pub. date  Downloads
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: Characters and Collections by Alice Stevenson et al 04-Jun-15 4005
Temptation in the Archives: Essays in Golden Age Dutch Cultureby Lisa Jardine 04-Jun-15 3629
Treasures from UCL by Gillian Furlong 04-Jun-15 1208
Burning Bright: Essays in Honour of David Bindman by Diana Dethloff et al 11-Sep-15 1224
Poems of 1890: Herman Gorter translated by Paul Vincent 02-Oct-15 747
Biostratigraphic and Geological Significance of Planktonic Foraminifera by Marcelle K. BouDagher Fadel 22-Oct-15 1396
Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street by Laura Vaughan et al 12-Nov-15 2603
Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique by Vanesa Castan Broto et al 13-Nov-15 1170
Total 15982

With typical print sales for scholarly monographs now often estimated at around 200-500 copies worldwide, and the difficulties of access to print books in some parts of the world, open access can clearly be seen to deliver on readership. The reasons for the variance in download figures between the individual books are numerous and can not always be easily pinned down, but can include: the size of the potential market, the promotion undertaken, associated events and anniversaries that help promote the book, and the author’s involvement in promotion.

John Byron, executive director of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, cautioned that ‘a failure to disseminate research will be read as a failure of quality’. The goal of UCL Press and other open access publishers is to disseminate research widely and these figures show encouraging results after just a few months.

This post previously appeared as UCL Press news. 

Open Access reaches readers round the world

By Lara Speicher, on 11 February 2016

OA Logo (300px)

When UCL Press launched in June 2015 as the UK’s first fully open access university press, we did not have a sense of the level of readership we might attract. We were confident that via open access we would reach a wide readership and we knew from other open access publishers the kind of figures they were achieving. We also knew that downloads of articles and PhD theses on UCL Discovery, where UCL Press’s titles are stored, were very encouraging.

Now, just over eight months since UCL Press’s first titles were published, it is a good moment to reflect on what has been achieved in that time. The total download figures for eight books in eight months has now reached nearly 16,000 copies in over 150 countries. That number might not mean much out of context, so it is interesting to look at the figures for the individual books and the length of time they have been published:

Total Downloads @ 8 Feb 2016 Pub. date  Downloads
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: Characters and Collections by Alice Stevenson et al 04-Jun-15 4005
Temptation in the Archives: Essays in Golden Age Dutch Cultureby Lisa Jardine 04-Jun-15 3629
Treasures from UCL by Gillian Furlong 04-Jun-15 1208
Burning Bright: Essays in Honour of David Bindman by Diana Dethloff et al 11-Sep-15 1224
Poems of 1890: Herman Gorter translated by Paul Vincent 02-Oct-15 747
Biostratigraphic and Geological Significance of Planktonic Foraminifera by Marcelle K. BouDagher Fadel 22-Oct-15 1396
Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street by Laura Vaughan et al 12-Nov-15 2603
Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique by Vanesa Castan Broto et al 13-Nov-15 1170
Total 15982

With typical print sales for scholarly monographs now often estimated at around 200-500 copies worldwide, and the difficulties of access to print books in some parts of the world, open access can clearly be seen to deliver on readership. The reasons for the variance in download figures between the individual books are numerous and can not always be easily pinned down, but can include: the size of the potential market, the promotion undertaken, associated events and anniversaries that help promote the book, and the author’s involvement in promotion.

John Byron, executive director of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, cautioned that ‘a failure to disseminate research will be read as a failure of quality’. The goal of UCL Press and other open access publishers is to disseminate research widely and these figures show encouraging results after just a few months.

After Paris, What Do We Do Next? #COP21

By Alison Major, on 26 January 2016

This article was originally published on the UCL Development Planning Unit blog. It has been reposted with permission.

After the Paris Agreement roll up your sleeves: much work will be needed, and participatory planning can help to put citizens at the centre of climate change adaptation efforts.

Maputo

The COP21 in Paris ended up with a rush of optimism. After a nerve-racking end of conference, the French government finally announced an agreed text for the agreement on the 12 of December. What happened next is the stuff of legend: a technical complaint from the US led to further space for complaining. Nicaragua raised the obvious: that existing voluntary commitments do not add to the emissions reductions needed for a safe climate future. Nervous phone calls allegedly involving everyone, even the Pope Francis, to assure that the agreement was coming through. And then, the euphoria.

There are of course many untied ends and questions to answer. Understandably, there are serious problems with the agreement from the voluntary nature of national commitments to the scale of ambition required. But the Agreement made a clear point: climate change needs a serious compromise by everyone. After the disappointing experience of 2009 in Copenhagen, the Paris Agreement is a great success. In the coming years our task will be to use that agreement to achieve climate justice, both facilitating a transition to a low carbon society and protecting those who are already suffering the impacts of climate change.

A key realisation emerging in the last decade of climate policy is that effective action for climate change mitigation and adaptation can happen in any corner and led by anybody. This is why in 2011 DPU’s Vanesa Castan Broto led a team of academic practitioners – or pracademics, as they like to call themselves – to learn how communities, even in very poor areas, can work together to adapt to climate change. The experience was life changing. So much was learned that they decided to share the whole process in a book. This book has now been published by UCL Press, in a bilingual edition in English and Portuguese. With this book we hope to influence the way sustainable cities are thought of, putting common citizens at the heart of building resilience.

The book is available to download on this website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/participatory-planning-for-climate-compatible-development-in-maputo