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Archive for May, 2018

Brexit and the democratisation of knowledge

AlisonFox31 May 2018

Today’s guest post is by Benjamin Martill and Uta Staiger, editors of Brexit and Beyond: Rethinking the Futures of Europe, and is part of a special series to celebrate UCL Press reaching one million downloads. 

We started working on Brexit and Beyond in early 2017 when we realised there was a distinct gap in the market when it came to easily accessible yet scholarly works on Brexit. Full-length academic articles were often too lengthy and discipline-specific to appeal to the average reader. In any case, they take a rather long time to reach the market, such that by then the real world often has moved on. Nowhere more so than with Brexit! By contrast, the readily availabile opinion pieces and op-eds through which much of the ‘here and now’ of the Brexit debate took place lacked the rigour of academic works.

So we resolved to create a volume of short, accessible pieces on Brexit which would appeal to a general audience, while being informed by their authors’ long-standing scholarship. UCL Press embraced the idea with enthusiasm.

We also wanted to work with UCL Press because of the benefits of the open access model. Given the acrimony surrounding Britain’s changing relationship to Europe, we felt it was particularly important to bring rigorous discussion of the topic out of the academic ivory tower. To freely provide a volume with some of the biggest names in their field to students and interested citizens alike was, we believed, the easiest – and most direct – way to achieve this. The Brexit vote highlighted a yawning gap between academic debates and the concerns of many British citizens. Meanwhile, the social media ‘echo chambers’ have contributed to divided conversations and the polarisation of viewpoints. Breaking through these divisions and starting a shared conversation on the future of Europe was our aim with this volume.

UCL Press supported our book every step of the way. We had frequent meetings to discuss content, production and marketing, benefitting from the input of all the team members. The book itself came out in January and has been downloaded over 10,000 times in the past three months. What has been most heartening, though, is how pleased readers themselves have been about receiving their ‘free book’. One individual who approached us at our launch event in Brussels couldn’t believe – his words – that such a high quality product would be available for anyone to download. And, more pleasing still, he had sent copies to his friends and family. The hope is that, as more and more people engage with our contributors’ arguments, a greater number of citizens – of the UK and the EU – are brought into the detailed discussions we should be having after the referendum. Only in this way can we attempt to further the democratisation of knowledge. For facilitating these conversations – more and more every day – we are very grateful to the team at UCL Press.

Brexit and Beyond: Rethinking the Futures of Europe can be downloaded for free here.

A celebration of one million downloads

AlisonFox23 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

New Open Access Books for May 2018

AlisonFox1 May 2018

From polar ghosts and country houses to how data can be used for good and digital museums, we’ve got an exciting host of new publications this month.

First up on May 1, is the Shane McCorristine’s spooky The Spectral Arctic, a fascinating history of ghosts and dreams in the Arctic. In contrast to oft-told tales of heroism and disaster, this book reveals the hidden stories of dreaming and haunted explorers, of frozen mummies, of rescue balloons, visits to Inuit shamans, and of the entranced female clairvoyants who travelled to the Arctic in search of John Franklin’s lost expedition. Well worth adding to your Summer reading list!

Consumer Data Research follows on 2 May. Based on the work of the innovative Consumer Data Research Centre, it provides the first consolidated statement of the enormous potential of consumer data research in the academic, commercial and government sectors – and a timely appraisal of the ways in which consumer data challenge scientific orthodoxies.

The fascinating Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age by Haidy Geismar follows on 14th May. This book is sure to be essential reading for anyone in anthropology, archaeology, the heritage and museum sector and beyond. Drawing on the author’s extensive experience working with collections across the world, Geismar argues for an understanding of digital media as material, rather than immaterial, and advocates for a more nuanced, ethnographic and historicised view of museum digitisation projects than those usually adopted in the celebratory accounts of new media in museums.

Next up is Fonthill Recovered: A Cultural History on May 16. Wealth, collections, politics, power, sexual misdemeanours… this one has it all. If you’ve ever wondered what kinds of secrets a country house can tell you, this is a great place to start.

Finally, our last book of the month:  The World of UCL. Publishing on 21st May, this book charts the history of UCL from 1826 through to the present day, highlighting its many contributions to society in Britain and around the world, and its rise to becoming one of the powerhouses of research and teaching, and a truly global university.