Blog post by Christina Lenz, Managing Editor at Stockholm University Press
How do university presses adapt to changes and what does it take to be seen as a professional university press? That was on the agenda when 53 conference participants from university presses and other stakeholders met in the beautiful city of Brno to discuss the constantly changing landscape of scholarly publishing.
The Association of European University Presses (AEUP) 2nd conference (Re-) Shaping University Presses and Institutional Publishing: Profiles – Challenges – Benefits, took place on June 14-15 in Brno, Czech Republic.
This blog post will be focusing on some ways for university presses to make a difference. Part 2 will follow shortly on how university presses must keep up the good work and make it visible.
The landscape of scholarly publishing is changing for both researchers and publishers
Andrew Lockett, from the University of Westminster Press described the developments in the UK, where many universities are starting their own open access presses, often in close collaboration with, or as part of, their university libraries. Recommended further reading on the topic could be the Jisc report by Adema, J., & Stone, G. (2017) Changing Publishing Ecologies. A landscape study of New University Presses for more analysis on the current landscape. Stockholm University Press is another example following the same trend.
However, one can ask what the benefits are for researchers when publishing becomes more institutionalised? The near and close relationship to the researchers, and to be able to listen to the researchers’ needs are definitely some of the most important advantages.
Open Science is “the new big”
The first keynote speaker Pierre Mournier, Associate Director of OpenEdition and coordinator for the OPERAS project, emphasised that all discussions now focus on open science. The open access movement has been institutionalised to open science as a policy.
Pierre pointed out that we must keep talking about how open access is made. Do we even mean the same thing when we talk about open access publishing? Open access is complex and the transition to fully open access publishing will take time. This is highly relevant for university presses, and we need to be able to help our authors in this “jungle” of open access publishing.
It is also essential also to have support from the university. The President of Stockholm University, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, is herself an ambassador for open science and open access, i.e. as Chair in the Bibsam consortium’s steering committee, which recently made a new open access agreement with Springer Nature. “This is only the beginning“, the President states. Researchers at Stockholm University can, from July 15, publish open access without any charges in more than 500 journals from Springer Nature.
For us at Stockholm University Press, however, it will take time for us as a fully open access publisher to fully prosper, although we have already published 25 OA books and have eight open access journals.
Still, as Pierre Mournier pointed out, there are many questions to work with and to ask, i.e. regarding standards and quality of open access, not to mention the consequences of Plan S. (See Stone, G., & Marques, M. (2018). Knowledge Exchange Survey on Open Access Monographs [Report])
Is Plan S for books as well?
Many discussions and presentations in Brno mentioned the topic of Plan S as an issue to be considered. Even if the time frame for implementation of the initiative from cOAlition S has been extended, it is important for all university presses to figure out how to become compliant with the new guidelines from research funders. The question is now how AEUP could be active in these discussions representing all its participants and their different points of views?
Andrew Lockett, for example, pointed out that the revised version of Plan S clearly states that there should be a version in place for OA books as well, within a not too distant future. Work has already begun, among stakeholders like for example Science Europe, who will release a briefing paper later this year with recommendations for research funders on how to add books to their policy. So how can we as small players make a difference?
Open access should include bibliodiversity, said Pierre Mournier. We need bibliodiversity to see the whole spectrum of open access publishing, as well as in content, authorship and in business models.
Pierre also emphasized the importance for libraries and university presses to collaborate on i.e. infrastructure for publishing platforms. International commercial players are now taking the opportunity to invest and they charge for services that should be openly available.
To prevent this development small university presses and publishing support at libraries can be small players with big influences in the transition to open access. Or, as Andrea Bertino, from SUB Göttingen (and also HIRMEOS Project Manager), also pointed out, we need to make horizontal alliances. We need to cooperate with the right institutions, organisations or societies. We must and will always be part of something bigger and together we can make a difference.
This is something the Stockholm University Press teamwork with, i.e. via networking and inviting scholars from all around the world to publish in our journals and book series. This way the research and disciplines, with a connection to Stockholm University, will be visible and disseminated for the right target groups, both locally and globally.
Fulvio Guatelli, from Florence University Press, used the word “Glocal”, telling about how they created a “scientific cloud” of all the metadata of the book. This could be seen as an enrichment of data coming from platforms such as the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB).
Monographs are the result of a long process of scientific network, with i.e. the publisher, editorial boards, peer reviewers, etc., and Fulvio Guatelli said that the academic publisher is a commodity of science, with the aim to get better performance of the dissemination of open monographs.
I find the word glocal fitting, describing how a university press needs to focus on the local – local impact, audiences and practices – and at the same time make sure the researchers’ work is disseminated in relevant global channels.
University presses as an integrated part of the university or library structure, have the networks and possibility to reach specific target groups in smaller disciplines, which is definitely a great advantage to work glocally.
University presses might be small and some not highly ranked or prestigious, but we can work glocally and embrace bibliodiversity. This in particular also applies for the growing open access library publishing support we see in Europe.
There are some good examples already being done and lessons learned, which i.e. Stockholm University Press is an example of. We must all share our stories and experiences. For this, we should make an effort to collaborate and create fruitful alliances. Together we can make a difference for scholarly communication.
Read also Part 2 take-aways from 2nd AEUP Conference – Misconceptions and how to make invisible work visible.
About AEUP and the 2nd conference
The Association of European Presses (AEUP) has 40 members from 18 different European countries. Stockholm University Press is a member of AEUP since 2016.
The conference had 53 participants from university publishers and other stakeholders from, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Slovakia, Sweden, and United Kingdom.
About Christina Lenz
Christina Lenz is an Editor of Books at Stockholm University Press and she is also the secretary of the AEUP Board. At this 2nd AEUP conference, she held a presentation on How does a small researcher driven University Press live up to professionalism? Perspectives from Library based Stockholm University Press (slides will be published at the AEUP website later on). She was also the Chair of the third session, where new challenges and roles for the editor was discussed.