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.
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.
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!
Intermittent fasting is currently all the rage. But don’t be fooled: it’s much more than just the latest fad. Recent studies of this kind of fasting – with restricted eating part of the time, but not all of the time – have produced a number of successes, but the latest involving diabetes might be the most impressive yet.
The idea of intermittent fasting arose after scientists were wowed by the effects of constant calorie restriction. A number of studies in many different animals have shown that restricted eating throughout adulthood leads to dramatic improvements in lifespan and general health.
The reasons for these improvements aren’t yet clear. Part of it seems to be that going without food gives cells in the body a much needed break to perform maintenance and repair. But the lack of food also forces cells to resort to alternative sources of energy. Some of these, such as ketones – molecules created in the liver from recycled fat – appear to be beneficial.
‘Fasting’ without fasting
The problem is that constant calorie restriction isn’t practical: it’s easy for scientists to impose upon lab animals, but hard for humans to impose upon themselves in the real world. Fortunately, we’ve learned that constant calorie restriction isn’t really necessary. Intermittent fasting seems to have many of the same benefits.
There are two main types of intermittent fasting. One type, known as “time restricted feeding”, requires eating only during a few hours of the day – say between 10am and 6pm. This approach gives the body a long break from food each night, and also reinforces beneficial circadian rhythms.
The other type of intermittent fasting – made popular by the 5:2 diet – is known as “periodic fasting”. This approach involves alternating between long periods of unrestricted eating and short periods of eating very little (five days of eating normally, two days of eating restricted calories).
It isn’t yet clear whether one type of intermittent fasting is better than the other. But the data so far suggest that both types can work.
Tackling diabetes in mice and men
The recent studies of the effects of intermittent fasting on diabetes have focused on periodic fasting in particular. As a first step, researchers led by Valter Longo at the University of Southern California, began by testing whether periodic fasting could cure diabetes in mice. They used mutant mice that lack the fat hormone leptin to regulate their food intake. These mice constantly overeat and become obese and diabetic in early adulthood.
The researchers found that after just a few months of periodic fasting – alternating seven unrestricted eating days with four restricted days – the diabetes was cured. This is an amazing result. But what’s even more amazing is the reason behind it.
The mice lost weight during the periodic fasting, which helped of course. But that wasn’t the whole story. Periodic fasting actually solved the problem directly at one of its sources: the pancreas.
Diabetes is a disease characterised by excess blood “sugar”, which really means excess blood glucose. It’s largely an insulin problem. Normally, insulin causes cells in the body to take in glucose from the blood. But with diabetes, glucose stays in the blood because cells no longer take it in. This is partly because many cells lose their sensitivity to insulin, but also because the pancreas stops making it.
It turns out that the periodic fasting made the pancreas start producing insulin again. The days of restricted eating gave the pancreas a break that allowed it to remove and recycle many of its cells. Then, when the mice started eating again, new cells that were capable of producing insulin emerged.
So the pancreas actually shrunk during the four restricted eating days, and regrew during the seven unrestricted eating days. After several such cycles of shrinking, recycling, and regrowing, the pancreas was nearly as good as new.
The big question, of course, it whether intermittent fasting will have the same effects in humans. The answer is not yet clear, but the initial indications from a recently published phase two clinical trial, again led by Longo, are promising.
In this study, 100 people went through a series of 30-day cycles of periodic fasting, each with 25 days of unrestricted eating and five days of restricted eating. After only three cycles, those subjects who started the trial with high blood sugar saw big improvements. And, importantly, none of the subjects in the trial experienced any harmful effects.
So the evidence in support of intermittent fasting keeps growing. Does that mean that we should all be doing it? Not necessarily.
Intermittent fasting seems to be most beneficial for those who are already overweight and unhealthy. While it does also seem to have some benefits for lean and healthy lab animals, it’s not yet clear whether the same is true for humans.
A much larger phase three trial of intermittent fasting in humans that will clarify a lot of things is set to begin soon. The results will no doubt be very exciting.
The OPERAS consortium is launching a survey on the usage of open scholarly communication in Europe, in particular in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). The purpose of the survey is to identify current practices and services that should be developed or invented. It will serve as a basis for defining the future infrastructure of OPERAS.
The survey is aimed at 5 different audiences, all of whom are impacted by open access: publishers, researchers, libraries, funders and the general public. It will primarily collect information and suggestions about common standards, good practices, new features and new integrated services.
Your participation would be welcomed- the links below are open until the 31 May 2017.
We are delighted to note that Sustainable Food Systems: The Role of the City has been reviewed in the Journal of Political Ecology. The reviewer notes that this fascinating book is:
“…a breath of fresh air, taking, as it does, a strong and convincing political ecology argument into conversation with more scientific debates around food security in a way which manages to be both critical and constructive at the same time. The subtitle is perhaps slightly misleading given that urban agriculture specifically doesn’t become a significant focus for the book until the penultimate chapter. Nonetheless, the book’s main contribution – to argue for a closer connection between Marxist thought and the principles behind what we might term ‘alternative’ approaches to food growing (for example, the organics movement, permaculture, agroecology) – is both important and timely..”
Read more of this fascinating review here, and download the book here.
On 22nd March I had the great pleasure of meeting a delegation of 15 Chinese publishers from the largest publisher in China, the China Publishing Group, and presented a two-hour session to them on academic publishing in the UK and, more specifically, the university-based open access publishing model forged by UCL Press.
CPG, which was ranked no.14 in the 2014 Top 50 Global Publishing Groups, has been in the Top 30 of Chinese Cultural Enterprises for six consecutive years, and owns 40 individual publishing companies and imprints which produce over 10,000 titles per year. Importantly, it concludes licensing agreements with overseas publishers for over 1,000 books and journals per year, and comprises China’s biggest publications import and export enterprise, importing and exporting over 200,000 titles every year. CPG also owns 28 overseas publishing houses and bookshops.
The publishers I met reflected the wide range of publishing that takes place in the CPG family – scholarly, children’s, poetry, encyclopedias, and art and architecture to name just a few. The delegates were in England as part of a three-week training programme during which they met publishers, wholesalers, PR agencies and others in the publishing industry, to gain greater insights into the possibilities for doing business with publishers in the UK, and their trip also included attendance at the London Book Fair, who had organized their training programme.
I was joined during the session by one of UCL Press’s authors, Dr Gabriel Moshenska, Senior Lecturer in the UCL Institute of Archaeology, whose textbook, Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, has just been published by UCL Press. Gabe explained from an author’s point of view why open access publishing is so important i.e. the ability to communicate his ideas to a wide global readership, and why open access textbooks in particular are increasingly important for supporting the student experience and for making UCL teaching resources available globally, thereby raising the profile of UCL teaching and research. We demonstrated UCL Press’s online publishing platform, which features scholarly functionalities such as highlighting, making notes, saving personalised copies of books, sharing and citation. The CPG publisher for fine art books was particularly interested in the subject of public archaeology, a field that was pioneered at UCL and has been taught here for twenty years. There is growing international interest in public archaeology in countries such as the US, Australia, Italy, Sweden and China. We were able to tell the delegates about UCL’s global standing, particularly in subjects such as archaeology, architecture and education.
The publishers asked a range of perceptive questions about the Press’s model, for example, could a particularly successful OA book raise an author’s profile to the extent that they decide to publish elsewhere with a commercial publisher, and how the endeavour is financed.
In China, open access does exist for journals but not yet for books. Print books are in any case sold at a very low price, between £2.50 and £3.50 typically, and, according to one of the publishers who works for CPG’s academic imprint, scholarly monographs can sell in relatively large numbers ie 4000-5000 copies, so the scholarly publishing model in China does not suffer from the same degree of problems as the Western one. One particular barrier in China to open access for monographs is a culture in which free things are not trusted to be of good quality. And as in the UK and US, publisher brand prestige is hugely important.
In order for UCL Press to make its books available in China in Chinese, it will need to arrange licensing deals between a Chinese publisher and the author, for the Chinese publisher to translate and sell the work in China, which is the usual way books are licensed to foreign-language publishers. UCL Press has had expressions of interest in some of its books from Chinese publishers and as our publishing programme continues to expand, this interest is likely to grow. While we would ideally like our books to be published open access around the world, we recognize that the OA model for books is not yet widely enough developed and therefore we accept that a commercial model for making the books available in other languages can be the only available route. This is with the notable exception of books in our social media series, Why We Post, which the WWP project has undertaken to translate into all eight languages of the project. These will be published by UCL Press as open access, with the exception perhaps of the two Chinese titles, Social Media in Industrial China and Social Media in Rural China, for which there is strong interest from Chinese publishers who are unlikely to agree to publication of a simultaneous OA Chinese version.
UCL Press will of course always make the English language version of our books available as open access to a global audience, something the publishers from CPG did not think would be a barrier to Chinese publication. All in all, it was a fascinating couple of hours exchanging ideas and information about different publishing models. The Beijing Book Fair beckons!
The London Book Fair is one of the highlights of the year for many publishers from all over the world, and is one of two key annual publisher trade fairs, along with the Frankfurt Book Fair held in October every year. This year, there were 1,577 exhibitors from 57 countries, showing their books and services and meeting with their business partners. For many publishers at the Fair, selling rights to publishers in other countries is the main purpose. UCL Press had a stand this year on the IPG (Independent Publishers’ Guild) collective stand, and all UCL Press staff spent two or three days at the Fair, having meetings and attending seminars.
Altogether we had over 40 meetings over the three days, Lara took part in two panel sessions in The Faculty area (one on the Academic Book of the Future project, and one with Ingenta and Wiley on how to reach readers in a world of overwhelming content), and Press staff attended several seminars relevant to their roles. Our meetings were with existing partners and suppliers, freelance editors and designers, our counterparts at other university presses, as well as potential new suppliers and partners. We also had chance meetings with many others who saw our stand and came to talk to us – booksellers, sales representatives, editors etc. Even before the Fair, a number of meetings had already taken place with people who were in town for the Fair – Jaimee (UCL Press Managing Editor) met up with the Managing Editors and Production Managers of other university presses, a regular twice-yearly meet up for sharing knowledge, and Lara met up with the Association of American University Presses Director who are helping the Press with a number of interesting projects.
At such a critical point in UCL Press’s development, when we are in the process of appointing a North American distributor, developing a new website, expanding to 50 books a year, planning a major conference for university presses in 2018 (University Press Redux 2018), participating in a European OA infrastructure project (OPERAS), developing publishing services for other institutions and reviewing journal publishing models, the Fair was the perfect opportunity to advance all these projects with key people and potential new partners in one intensive block. It also enhances visibility for the Press via the stand, appearances on discussion panels, and articles and interviews by staff links.
We were also very proud to see the UCL Publishing Studies MA students launching the magazine element of their new student journal, Interscript, which is hosted on UCL Press’s OA student journal platform. With plenty of social media promotion, publicity at the Fair and a launch at the Association of Publishing Educators’ stand, it has got off to a very promising start. It’s inspiring to see the publishers of the future in action.
Altogether, the Fair provides a very exciting and collegial environment. As ever after the Fair, I have come away feeling that I have learnt a great deal, forged new relationships and been inspired by the sheer creativity and commitment of my fellow publishers.
Earlier this month, I was very fortunate to be interviewed by the BBC on my research onto the use of technology in China. The article that was published as a result of the interview is a good example of ‘public anthropology’,
Photo: Gillian Bolsover
showing how the discipline’s research can made relevant to a wider audience.
This commitment to engaging with the public through anthropology is something that is also mirrored in two books that I published last year: Social Media in Rural China and How the World Changed Social Media (the latter is co-authored with the rest of the Why We Post team). Both of these volumes tried to respond to the immense interest in social media from the general public, by writing in an accessible and open style. We chose to keep all citations and the discussion of wider academic issues to endnotes. Many readers seem to have enjoyed this style of easy-to-understand writing.
A central aim of the book Social Media in Rural China was to try and help non-Chinese audiences, who have limited experience of Chinese social media and find it hard to imagine what they are like, to understand the nature of these platforms and the kind of social effects they are bringing to a small rural community in China.
Given this, it’s also been surprising to see how the book has been received in Hong Kong and Mainland China. I’ve gained a lot from discussing sections of the book with undergraduate and postgraduate students—most of whom are Chinese—in my Local Cultures, Global Markets and New Media and Digital Culture courses. Readers are often interested to understand a “foreigner’s” reflections on contemporary rural China.
Photo: Gillian Bolsover
This feedback will be particularly useful as I put together articles for academic journals over the coming months. In this way, I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to balance two quite different forms of writing: academic writing aimed at fellow researchers in universities, and a more accessible writing for a general public which can also inspire articles such as the one that appeared on the BBC.
The editors of Europe and the World – A Law Review are delighted to announce the launch of their journal and invite papers for publication.
Europe and the World – A Law Review aims to contribute to legal scholarship on the place of Europe in the world, with a particular but by no means exclusive focus on EU external relations law. As a peer-reviewed open-access journal by a renowned university publisher it makes highest-quality work promptly available to a global audience. Open-access makes individual contributions and legal scholarship more visible, accessible, and accountable.
The journal serves as a forum where the national, international and EU perspectives meet and engage. The journal is therefore irreverent of traditional distinctions between EU, international, and national law. While primarily offering legal doctrinal and theoretical analyses, the journal also publishes multi-disciplinary work and political science and international relations contributions with an external perspective on the law of EU’s external relations.
The journal publishes article-length papers and shorter pieces offering an analysis of topical issues or recent cases, as well as review articles and special issues. The journal welcomes the submission of highest-quality papers in the following formats:
‘Articles’ (8-12,000 words),
‘European Law and Practice’: case notes, current legal developments (5-8,000 words),
‘Book reviews/review articles’ (once a year)
Papers published in the journal will be freely available online via UCL Press, starting with the first issue in July 2017.
Please submit your paper with an abstract of about 250 words and 5 keywords (for details please see the journal’s Author Guidelines) by email to email@example.com. We are aiming for a quick revision process, which should not usually exceed 10 weeks.
For all queries concerning the submission of papers please contact the Editors-in-chief at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted papers should adhere to the format requirements of Europe and the World: A Law Review. Before your submission please visit the author guidelines for the journal at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/europe-and-the-world.
Christina Eckes, University of Amsterdam
Piet Eeckhout, University College London
Anne Thies, University of Reading
For more information on the Editors, the Editorial Board and the Journal please visit: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/europe-and-the-world