X Close

LibNet staff news



UCL’s innovative open access megajournal starts taking submissions

Alison Fox31 January 2019

Posted on behalf of Ian Caswell, UCL Press Journals Manager

UCL Press has launched its new open access megajournal ‘UCL Open’ and will start accepting academic research submissions from today (January 31, 2019).

It is the first university megajournal providing an open access and transparent end to end publishing model, enabling research to be accessible to everyone.

It is being piloted with UCL Open: Environment which focuses on environment-related research and will include contributions from life and earth sciences, as well as medical, physical, population, engineering, and social sciences. The model is expected to be developed and rolled out across a broad range of multidisciplinary research subjects.

Dr Paul Ayris, CEO of UCL Press and Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services), said: “UCL believes that the future of academic and scholarly pursuit is best served by an open science agenda and fully open access publishing because knowledge should be accessible to all, regardless of location or financial means.

“By establishing UCL Press and bringing the publication and dissemination of knowledge back into the academy, UCL will stimulate disruptive thinking and challenge prevailing scholarly publishing models across and beyond the university itself. We want to transform the way new knowledge is shared openly and without barriers.”

UCL first announced that it would be launching a new open access megajournal in January 2018, signalling its continued commitment through UCL Press to providing academics and students with ground-breaking research free of charge in a move that challenges traditional commercial publishing models.

Powered by the ScienceOpen discovery and publication platform, the megajournal aims to showcase radical and critical thinking applied to real world problems that benefit humanity.

The megajournal will champion the open science/scholarship agenda by openly and transparently reviewing and publishing articles that generate new knowledge, ideas and new ways of thinking.

Articles will be judged on the merit and scientific validity (sound science/scholarship) of the work. The journal is inviting submissions from any grade of researcher at and beyond UCL, at all career stages, including early career researchers, professionals, and mid to late career scholars. Editors are welcoming research from all parts of the globe that particularly focus on inter- and multi-disciplinary research.

Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research), said: “UCL seeks to transform how knowledge is shared and applied to humanity’s problems. Only by sharing academic research as openly and widely as possible – with, for example, researchers, educators, students, policymakers, partners and members of the public – can its benefits to humanity be maximised. The traditional scholarly publication system is not fit for, nor does it intend to serve, this purpose.

“UCL Open is a further innovative step towards delivering our ambitions, building on UCL Press’s leading accomplishments in open access. Operating dually as an e-journal with a linked preprint server, accepted papers will first appear as open access preprints, then undergo Open Peer Review before the final article is published in the e-journal. In this way, the entire publishing process will be accessible, transparent, accountable, and faster.”

Stephanie Dawson, CEO of ScienceOpen, said: “Working with UCL Press to further develop the concept of the ‘megajournal’ within the context of an interactive discovery environment has been enriching for all. Drawing on the ScienceOpen infrastructure for preprints, open peer review and community curation, UCL Press is creating new ways to for scholars to interact with research results and rethinking the current publishing paradigm.”

Preprints are defined as scholarly articles that precede publication in a peer-reviewed journal. They speed the delivery and accessibility of academic research work and lead to faster reuse and collaboration by the research community.

UCL Open: Environment is now open and accepting new submissions. To read more about the megajournal, how it works and how to submit, as well as all its peer review and editorial policies, please visit ucl.scienceopen.com.

“Global popularity proves Open Access is the future” says UCL Press as it hits one million book downloads milestone

Alison Fox23 May 2018

UCL Press, the UK’s first fully Open Access University Press, has announced that one million copies of its books have been downloaded around the world.

The announcement comes as the publisher celebrates its third anniversary since launching in 2015.

Its academic books – which feature monographs, edited collections and textbooks – have reached readers in 222 of a possible 223 countries and territories, giving readers in nations as far afield as North Korea and Haiti access to important academic research.

While traditionally published scholarly monographs sell an average of 250 copies per title, UCL Press’s Open Access monographs are downloaded free-of-charge approximately 12,500 times per title. This provides unequivocal evidence that publishing academic content via Open Access is the most effective way to reach a wider, more diverse and global audience.

The most popular title in the UCL Press list to date is How the World Changed Social Media by UCL Professor of Anthropology Daniel Miller and a collective of eight other esteemed global anthropologists.

The first title in the hugely popular 11-book Why We Post series has been downloaded an astonishing 227,336 times since it was published by UCL Press in early 2016.

Professor Margot Finn, Chair in Modern British History at UCL, and published UCL Press author, commented: “Our East India Company at Home volume was co-produced by academics, museum and heritage professionals and independent historians, and making the book open-access is essential to our dissemination plans. It’s a delight in this context to see that the book has already been downloaded in Algeria, Argentina and Azerbaijan as well as China, India and Japan.”

UCL Press’s pioneering publishing programme spans many of the major academic disciplines, from history to philosophy and the sciences to anthropology.

It has published 80 titles and launched eight journals since its inception, doubling its year-on-year output of scholarly monographs with the introduction of 31 new titles last year and expanding its staff head count to six.

Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost at UCL Library Services, said: “Institutional Open Access publishing is transformative, being a completely new model of how universities engage with readers and with Society. In the fifteenth century, the invention of moveable type printing in the West transformed Europe. In the twenty-first century, Open Access publishing can do the same.”

Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager at UCL Press, stated: “We are delighted to have reached one million downloads and this achievement is testament to the vision and support of UCL’s senior management, the hard work and commitment of the UCL Press team, and above all to the authors who have chosen to publish their wonderful books with us. This milestone shows the power and potential of Open Access publishing and the global popularity of our books proves OA is the future.”

Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris9 March 2018

The role of libraries in Open Science

One of the new responsibilities of my role as Pro-Vice-Provost is to steer the introduction of Open Science principles and practices into UCL. Open Science is a European term, and it covers all academic disciplines, including Arts, Humanities and all the Social Sciences. In the UK, we would more easily talk about Open Scholarship.

Burghley House, Lincolnshire

Open Science is the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible at all levels of an enquiring society (definition from the FOSTER project).

I am often asked what the role of libraries is in this new movement. So I have tried to answer this in a jointly-authored article which was first given as a Conference presentation in the 2017 LIBER Conference (Association of European Research Libraries), which took place in Patras in Greece:

Paul Ayris and Tiberius Ignat, ‘Defining the role of libraries in the Open Science landscape: a reflection on current European practice’, in De Gruyter’s Open Information Science, vol. 2 (1), at DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1515/opis-2018-0001.

The piece has lots of UCL examples and covers areas such as Open Access, Open Access publishing, Research Data Management, the European Open Science Cloud and Citizen Science. The paper ends by suggesting a 4-step test through which libraries can assess their engagement in Open Science.

Later this academic year, I am planning a 1-day Workshop on Open Science for academic and academic support colleagues across the whole of UCL. Please watch this space for more details, if you want to join us.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris15 February 2018

2nd International Conference for University Presses (REDUX 18)

13-14 February 2018 saw ALPSP (Association of Learned and Society Publishers) in association with UCL Press host the second international conference for University Presses, called REDUX 18.

Between 200 and 250 attenders from all over the world joined the event. There was a particularly strong contingent of University Presses from North America.

The purpose of the Conference is to provide a venue for all University Press publishers to meet together every 2 years to consider current publishing practices, possibilities for future developments and the relationships between the Press and their parent University bodies. Many, but not all, University Presses are run through University Libraries – UCL Press certainly is. There are clearly advantages in such a close relationship and these became clearer during the course of the 2 days. Shared digital infrastructures, shared leadership, an understanding of issues common to both parties, such as metadata creation and discoverability – these are all areas where sharing adds value to Press activity.

The Conference was a mixture of plenary and parallel sessions. UCL was well represented in all these activities. Ilan Kelman from the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction was a brilliant panelist, looking at authors and their publishing experiences in a paper entitled ‘To Suffer the Slings and Arrows of Academic Publishing?’. Ilan edited the book Arcticness: Power and Voice from the North which UCL Press published in 2017. Ilan also gave one of the best academic assessments of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which UCL has signed. DORA says that the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) cannot be used as a measure of quality for individual articles. On day 2, Rozz Evans spoke in the Libraries session of the Programme and gave a very good analysis of UCL’s ‘New Approaches to Collection Management – What Might it mean for Publishers?’.

I myself did not speak at the event, but was honoured to be asked to chair the session on Open Access, with speakers from the USA and France. Peter Berkery from the Association of University Presses spoke on collaboration. Pierre Mounier from OPERAS spoke about collaborative publishing infrastructures and how his consortium, of which UCL Press is a key member, is trying to build just such a public infrastructure for Europe. Frank Smith from JSTOR described how Open Access books have helped change and develop the services which JSTOR offers to the community. This is certainly true for UCL Press, where our download figures have doubled through putting copies of UCL Press titles onto the JSTOR platform.

REDUX 18 was a great event, and a particular success for UCL Press. Lots of people at the Conference spoke to me of their admiration for the UCL Press model and the tremendous results we are getting in terms of downloads – currently 737,148 since June 2015 in 221 countries/territories. It all bodes well for the future of UCL Press and the innovative publishing models for research monographs, textbooks and journals/megajournals that we are developing to bring disruptive change to academic publishing.

Paul Ayris


UCL Library Services




The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris19 August 2017

The future of monograph publishing

The future of the scholarly monograph is much debated in academic and publishing circles. Dwindling print sales and pressure on library acquisition funds mean that the future of the scholarly monograph as a unit of output is in some doubt. A recent report, The Academic Book of the Future, underlined the drop in sales figures being experienced by such monographs.

In a recent letter, published by the THE (Times Higher Education), 17-23 August 2017, p. 29, I offered evidence from the experiences of UCL Press to cast light on this thorny topic. Here is the letter as it was published:

Open optimism

Annual Report 15-16In her article “Open access monograph dash could lead us off a cliff” (Opinion [in THE], 27 July), Marilyn Deegan warns of the dangers of open access monograph publishng”. As head of UCL Press, the UK’s first fully open access university press, let me look at some of these concerns in more detail.

UCL Press has been in existence as an open access press since June 2015. In that time, we have published 42 books. These have been downloaded, along with our journals, 448,524 times. The most downloaded book, How the World Changed Social Media, has been downloaded 127,836 times. It is still possible to purchase copies of all UCL Press books in other formats, digital and paper, and these comprise 4,795 copies to date – an average of just over 114 per title. In addition, UCL Press titles are downloaded in 218 countries and dependencies around the world.

If it is true, as The Academic Book of the Future report shows, that monograph sales have fallen from an average of 100 to 60 per book in the UK in the past decade, the figures from UCL Press seem to show that open access represents a lifeline. Far from killing the book, open access is a possible route to salvation in an area of publishing that otherwise seems to be in terminal decline.

Paul Ayris


The Director’s View: European Open Science Cloud

Paul Ayris12 October 2016

Sharing in an Open environment

One of my duties in UCL Library Services is to represent this university in LERU, the League of European Research Universities. In that capacity, I am a member of the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on an exciting new initiative – the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

11 October saw the publication of our first Report, which can be found here. The  Recommendations provide a solid starting point for further reflection and engagement of scientific user communities, research funders and Member States in the making of this global initiative. This is important for UCL Library Services because research data management  and support for open access to publications are a big new agenda in how we can support our users.

EOSCEOSC aims to accelerate and support the current transition to more effective Open Science and Open Innovation in the Digital Single Market. It should enable trusted access to services, systems and the re-use of shared scientific data across disciplinary, social and geographical borders. The term cloud is understood by the EOSC High Level Expert Group as a metaphor to help convey both seamlessness and the idea of a commons based on existing and emerging elements in the Member States, with light-weight international guidance and governance and a large degree of freedom regarding practical implementation. The EOSC is indeed a European infrastructure, but it should be globally interoperable and accessible. It includes the required human expertise, resources, standards, and best practices as well as underpinning technical infrastructures. An important aspect of the EOSC is systematic and professional data management and long-term stewardship of scientific data assets and services in Europe and globally. However, data stewardship is not a goal in itself and the final realm of the EOSC is the frontier of science and innovation in Europe [Realising the European Open Science Cloud. First Report of the Commission’s High Level Expert Group on the European Open Science Cloud, p. 6].

Now the Report is published, the Expert Group is following up with how we make this Cloud a reality. Exciting and challenging times.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services