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!

Frankfurt Book Fair

By Lara Speicher, on 24 October 2017

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the oldest and largest book fair in the world. Founded in 1454, it has taken place regularly ever since, and it attracts more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and over 278,000 visitors annuallydownload(2016 figures). It has five separate halls each with several floors. The Fair has a dual purpose: for most international publishers it is a trade fair where they come to do business every year: to sell international rights, and meet with suppliers and other collaborators and colleagues, and that is what the first three days of the Fair are devoted to. For many of the German publishers, it is very much a Fair to promote their new books to the public, and visitors come at the weekend to see the displays of books and attend author presentations.

Each year there is a country of honour, and this year it was France. The Fair was opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron, demonstrating the importance of the Fair to international trade and culture. Every day on the German news there are reports from the Fair’s activities, showing the central place it holds ifbfn the country’s calendar.

This year was the first year that UCL Press exhibited. We had a small stand in Hall 4.2 where we were surrounded by other UK and European university presses, and other science publishers and small scholarly publishers. I attended for the first three days then Jaimee Biggins, UCL Press’s Managing Editor, came to look after the stand for the weekend and attend a Convention of International University Presses (see here for more).

I had over 25 meetings during the three days I was there, and among those I met were other university presses and other institutions with whom we have collaborative projects already happening or in development, such as Chicago and Cornell University Presses; other university presses for sharing of knowledge and information, such as Sydney University Press and Wits University Press; publishing associations with whom we are collaborating such as the Association of American University Presses, the Association of European University Presses and ALPSP; our existing suppliers and distributors such as NBN, OAPEN, JSTOR and Science Open; and potential new suppliers and collaborators.

Among the most interesting of this last category was a company called Baobab who distribute both print and ebooks to African university libraries. As an open access publisher with a mission to disseminate scholarly research around the globe, I was particularly keen to hear whether Baobab might be able to help UCL Press distribute its open access books to African university libraries. It turned out that Baobab has an existing service that distributes free ebooks on behalf of NGOs and aid agencies that UCL Press can take part in. Although OA books are made freely available online, ensuring that they reach targeted communities is not always easy since OA supply chains for monographs are not fully developed. So this new partnership is very encouraging and exciting, and it meets one of the key drivers of UCL’s global strategic objective of ‘increasing independent research capability around the world’ by making high-quality scholarly research freely available.

All in all it was a very worthwhile event for raising UCL Press’s profile, strengthening our existing relationships, and forging new ones, and we are already planning Frankfurt 2018!

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.

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.

UCL Press new journals platform

By Ian Caswell, on 12 September 2017

UCL Press is pleased to announce a new hosting partnership with ScienceOpen, a platform which will host its open access journal programme. ScienceOpen is an open access indexing platform provider based in Berlin and Boston, which indexes journal abstracts or full text OA articles. The platform, for the first time offered as a white labelled hosting platform, extends UCL Press’s list of dedicated and enhanced content discoverability for its authors, editors and journals. Published as full text XML and metadata (as well as the more traditional PDF), UCL Press journals can link better into search engines and other online scholarly materials and outlets.

Authors, editors, reviewers and readers will be able to make use of post-publication peer review, online commenting, individual article and author metrics (like Altmetric), citation and access tracking, ORCiD integration, and a whole host of other benefits that you can read more about on the ScienceOpen website and blog, here.

Dr Stephanie Dawson, CEO of ScienceOpen, said ‘ScienceOpen’s new hosting service is the logical extension of our commitment to putting research in context. With our advanced technology, we can ensure that UCL Press articles are found by the right researchers and then give those readers the opportunity to interact with the content in a variety of ways. A range of aggregated journal – and article – level metrics then provide enriched usage statistics for the publisher to monitor impact.’

In the coming months, UCL Press plans to experiment with new forms of more transparent peer review and sees the open peer review infrastructure on the ScienceOpen platform as an ideal way to explore post-publication review workflows. All UCL Press journals will be available for continuous peer review – where articles can receive further review and comments after final publication, that are updated using a system of version control (meaning identified revisions and iterations of an article and its reviews) – to encourage collaboration and elicit debate and discussion. Further announcements on this will be made in due course.

Have a look at the journal webpages here!

Contact: Ian Caswell, UCL Press Journals Manager. Email: i.caswell@ucl.ac.uk | @UCLPress

 

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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