Futures of academic publishing

By Alison Fox, on 5 June 2018

Today’s guest post is by Ilan Kelman, from UCL’s Institute for Global Health and Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction, editor of Arcticness: Power and Voice from the North, and is part of a special series to celebrate UCL Press reaching one million downloads. 

Are the days over of roaming the dusty library shelves for sombre articles by world-renowned-but-never-seen scientific figures? Now, you can sit over ten kilometres up on an intercontinental flight downloading PDFs. Or seek the face of a prominent name through an image search or watching them lecture online.

No more must you queue at conferences to harangue them. On the same flight, or from your phone at home, drop them an email or social media message and skype across time zones.

Then, login to google docs from different hemispheres to co-author in real-time. Or use track changes and comments to edit with colleagues whom you have never met or spoken to.

Academic publishing is changing. New media and new ways of accessing media permeate science. With publishers, we can and should explore what could work or fall flat–while never diminishing world-renowned, cutting-edge, innovative science.

UCL Press already pursues personalisable and interactive PDFs. Images have long been part of manuscripts. Electronic publishing permits audio clips, videos, spreadsheets, GIS files, and other formats as embedded or supplementary material.

Patents and legislation are publication formats which academics can write and which are effectively peer-reviewed. Fine and performing arts accept non-written forms for academic credit, whether a composition, a performance, a painting, or a sculpture.

All disciplines should adopt similar approaches and beyond. Rather than being within, or supplemental to, a publication, different forms and formats could be the peer-reviewed academic publication.

A five-minute video of original choreography could express the islandness and urbanity of London or Bangkok as island cities. A dynamic holograph could illustrate decision-making under climate change. A computer programme could provide an online display which automatically collects, processes, and analyses real-time air pollution data.

Any such submission would have to be rigorously peer reviewed, as with papers, chapters, and books. The review process might require as much creativity and open-mindedness as the piece under review.

Other options require careful thought and implementation. Could material submitted for peer review, and peer-review processes, be crowdsourced with anyone contributing, as with wikis? Determining authorship could be challenging, but perhaps no more so than a paper for which the list of 5,154 authors is longer than the manuscript.

With a New Zealand river being granted some legal rights similar to human beings, could environmental features or processes be scientific co-authors? Isaac Asimov’s fiction writings set the stage for robots and other machines to be considered as peer-reviewed outputs and/or authors on them.

Nothing here mean eschewing the lengthy, erudite article or book with humdrum section headings. Nothing here means dismantling libraries or recycling the paper-based journals. It simply means different approaches, forms, and formats complementing and supplementing, not displacing, long-accepted scientific publication outputs.

We must continue standard approaches. We must also embrace and create futures of academic publishing without compromising scientific quality.

We can be creative, innovative, modern, and engaging without losing the positive aspects of what we have. All futures bring forward needed elements of the past.

A celebration of one million downloads

By Alison Fox, on 23 May 2018

On Monday evening, the UCL Press team were delighted to celebrate reaching one million downloads of its open access books and journals with authors, academics, senior university members and other honoured guests. The event took place in UCL’s beautiful North Cloisters.

Since the press was re-established as a fully open access press in 2015, its list has grown to 80 books and 8 journals in a variety of subject areas, and its publications have been widely praised, with reviews in The Telegraph, The Australian, Times Higher Education and many others.

Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research) congratulated the Press on achieving its remarkable impact figures and pointed out that UCL Press titles were now downloaded in 222 countries and territories across the world. Notable downloads include those from North Korea, where UCL Press titles have been downloaded 15 times.

Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost and CEO of the Press, congratulated the team on their achievements and told those gathered

how astounded he was by the download figures. One of the key questions when the Press was set up was what success might look like, said Dr Ayris, adding that, initially, he would have been pleased with ten thousand downloads in the first couple of years, but, this month, the Press achieved its millionth download. Dr Ayris also shared his passionate belief that the model that UCL Press pioneered can be emulated across Europe.

The party also marked the launch of the fourth edition of a landmark book about the history of UCL: The World of UCL.  The author of the book, Georgina Brewis explained that extensive work went into creating the new edition, which replaces one published in 2004. A new chapter has been added, and the number of images were reduced, and much work went into ensuring that UCL’s commitment to equality and diversity are reflected in the earlier materials in the book.

We were delighted to be able to celebrate with so many those who have contributed to the success of the press so far, and look forward to the next million downloads!

 

Note: UCL Press books and journals can be downmlaoded from ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press

Could you be our new admin assistant?

By Alison Fox, on 29 January 2018

We’re looking for a new admin assistant to help support the UCL Press team! Could it be you?

This is a rare opportunity to join a fantastic team who are incredibly knowledgeable, experienced and friendly, who have already made a splash in the academic publishing world. Reporting to the Publishing Manager, the postholder will mainly be responsible for assisting with the Press’s marketing and distribution activities as well as other general administrative duties to support the UCL Press team on a part-time basis.

The postholder will play a key role in the team,  supporting the Publishing Manager, Managing Editor, Commissioning Editor, Marketing and Distribution Manager and Journals Manager in a wide variety of tasks. The ideal candidate will be someone with some marketing and publicity experience, preferably in book publishing, with strong Excel and Powerpoint skills, social media and website experience, with excellent interpersonal skills who is highly organised and methodical.

The role holder will also be expected to undertake other related tasks such as updating the website, writing and commissioning blog posts, writing AIs, and other associated sales and marketing activities. This is a wonderful opportunity to play a key role in the early phases of a dynamic new university press at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Applications close at 23:59GMT on 13 February 2018.

For more information, to see a job description, or to apply, click here

Book Launch Event: Brexit and Beyond

By Alison Fox, on 10 January 2018

Date: Mon 29th January 2018
Time: 18:00 – 19:30
Location: G29 JZ Young Lecture Theatre, Anatomy Building, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Join us for the launch of a new book with contributions from 28 leading experts on Brexit and the future of Europe, edited by Uta Staiger and Benjamin Martill.

Brexit will have significant consequences for the country, for Europe, and for global order. And yet much discussion of Brexit in the UK has focused on the causes of the vote and on its consequences for the future of British politics. This volume examines the consequences of Brexit for the future of Europe and the European Union, adopting an explicitly regional and future-oriented perspective missing from many existing analyses.

Drawing on the expertise of 28 leading scholars from a range of disciplines, ‘Brexit and Beyond’ (UCL Press) offers various different perspectives on the future of Europe, charting the likely effects of Brexit across a range of areas, including institutional relations, political economy, law and justice, foreign affairs, democratic governance, and the idea of Europe itself. Whilst the contributors offer divergent predictions for the future of Europe after Brexit, they share the same conviction that careful scholarly analysis is in need – now more than ever – if we are understand what lies ahead for the EU.

Speakers:

Helen Drake, Professor of French and European Studies, Loughborough
Piet Eeckhout, Dean of the Faculty of Laws and Professor of EU Law, UCL
Simon Hix, Harold Laski Professor of Political Science, LSE
Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford

The panel discussion will be followed by a drinks reception.

About the editors:

Dr Uta Staiger is the co-founder and Executive Director of the UCL European Institute. Her research examines the relationship between culture and politics, drawing together insights from modern European thought, the arts, and the history of European integration. She is particularly interested in mid-twentieth-century German theory and philosophy that seeks to straddle aesthetics and the idea of the political. Uta also holds the position of Pro-Vice-Provost (Europe), a strategic role shaping UCL’s engagement with Europe, and acting as advocate for UCL’s work on the continent.

Dr Benjamin Martill is a Dahrendorf Fellow in Europe after Brexit at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research looks at how political ideology and party politics affect foreign policymaking, with particular reference to the politics of Cold War strategy in Europe. At LSE, Benjamin contributes to the work of the Dahrendorf Forum, a joint research venture between LSE Ideas and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He was previously Lecturer in Politics at Canterbury Christ Church University and Research Associate at the UCL European Institute.

Call for Nominations: The University Press Redux Award 2018

By Alison Fox, on 3 January 2018

Launching at The University Press Redux Conference hosted by UCL Press and ALPSP in February 2018, the University Press Redux Award will recognise an individual, team or university press that has made an outstanding contribution to university press publishing through innovation, providing inspiration and visibility for the sector as a whole, or challenging university presses to rethink or evolve their practice.

Nominations should state the individual/team/press name, an explanation in no more than 100 words of why they deserve the Award, and the name and contact details of the nominator (who will remain anonymous unless they choose otherwise). Nominators are encouraged to consider all aspects of university press publishing and to consider colleagues at all career stages.

A shortlist of four will be formed from those most frequently nominated, and conference delegates will be invited to vote by email to select the inaugural recipient. In this way the Award will democratically reflect the views of the university press community.

Nominations
Should be submitted by email no later than Friday 19 January to Lara Speicher at UCL – l.speicher@ucl.ac.uk

Shortlist
The shortlist will be announced and details of how to vote sent to delegates w/c 28 January 2018 (voting closes Friday 2 February)

The award 
The award will be announced at the close of day one on Tuesday 13 February at the University Press Redux Conference.

Please do not nominate or vote for your own press as this will invalidate your entry.

New film from UCL Grand Challenges explores Biel’s work on sustainable food systems

By Alison Fox, on 24 November 2017

UCL’s Grand Challenges team have produced a short film detailing the work done by Dr Robert Biel, author of the popular open access book Sustainable Food Systems: The Role of the City, and Senior Lecturer Development Planning Unit in the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. Watch the film below, and download Dr Biel’s book for free here.

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.