Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Developing new models for OA monographs

Monograph sales have been declining since the '70s, says Eelco Ferwerda, Amsterdam University Press / OAPEN. One impact of this is that there are fewer outlets for authors, which can make it harder for some to get started in publishing. Open access monographs will benefit all stakeholders; increasing authors' visibilities and impact; enabling researchers to search and make connections across platforms.

In most cases, OA monograph presses' business models cannot sustain them alone - they are subsidised e.g. by grants or institutional support. Business models include value added services and separate editions (one of which can be charged for). The OAPEN project is developing an OA publication model to improve accessibility and impact, create an OA library, engage stakeholders in the publication process, develop common funding models and standards, and build a platform that can shared with other presses. The project is broadly aimed at academic publishers in the humanities and social sciences, and hopes to create a network around a changing business model - the network already includes publishers of all shapes and sizes, old and new, commercial and NFP. "There is a lot of interest in the idea."

OAPEN's publication model will be a hybrid model - a free web version but also paid-for versions e.g. for specific ebook platforms. Authors will retain copyright, and the monograph's long-term availability will be assured both by the platform that is being developed and by an arrangement with the Dutch National Library. The model requires payment of publication fees - by research funders or institutions. "The library is already spending money on books, making choices between print and e-books, and thinking about open access models. Greco and Wharton suggest that libraries should use their existing acquisition budgets to fund open access publishing instead of buying books." Institutions should pay for OA to ensure effective dissemination and unrestricted access, to advance the spread of knowledge, and to ensure publication of peer-reviewed research results - because not all manuscripts that pass peer review are published, for economic reasons - which is a barrier to entry for young researchers.

OA books are a collaboration between publishers and funders. But how do you calculate the costs, particularly if you are creating a separate, paid-for print version? Ferwerda argues for only including basic marketing as part of the free e-book costs [will authors benefit sufficiently from / be happy with this lower level of service? In my experience many expect / hope that publishers will run glossy publicity campaigns for their books!]

Key OAPEN recommendations include HE institutes establishing dedicated budgets to which researchers can apply for publication funds. Next steps include a pilot to get funders on board; conversations are underway with organisations including JISC. Interested parties can join the OAPEN network - oapen.org.

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