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|
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.