Blog post by Christina Lenz, Managing Editor at Stockholm University Press
University Presses need to make their work visible and give each other feedback on what they do. We can all learn from each other and keep up the good work of publishing high-quality scholarly work.
However, there are misconceptions about what we do and what researchers think we do not do, especially regarding open access publishing. How can we counteract to these misconceptions and make our work more visible?
This is a second blog post about takeaways from the Association of European University presses 2nd Conference, in Brno, the Czech Republic, June 14-15, Re-) Shaping University Presses and Institutional Publishing: Profiles – Challenges – Benefits.
The first post, Part 1 take-aways, was Together we can make a difference glocally.
Invisible work made visible
Smaller university presses do not always receive credit for their work, although they do the same editorial quality work as bigger commercial publishers. They have much more resources, are internationally oriented with often high ranked trademarks. Smaller presses struggle with language editing in their native languages and with translations into English and try to disseminate their researchers work best as they can.
Therefore, it was very inspiring to hear the second keynote speaker of the conference, Alena Mizerova, Director of Masaryk University Press, highlight the important role of the editors to ensure the quality of publications, with a video recording from Andrea Slováková, Director of the independent publisher Nová beseda, about “The Ideal Editor”.
In the video, Andrea Slováková described different kinds of readings that should be made on a manuscript. It includes the work of copy editors, proofreaders, external reviewers, and someone who does the sensitive reading, etc. There should be persons with specialist expertise who makes these different readings.
However, we all know that often of the editor of the press has to make all work with the manuscript by her-/ or himself, mostly due to lack of money and deadlines. Still, editors do magnificent work and we should keep up on the good work and make it visible.
Further work on this topic should be encouraged, to learn from each to the benefit of the good work of high-quality scholarly publications. However, what skills do we need and want to learn more about?
Survey on Editorial Skills
Together with the AEUP Board, Jacob Andersson, librarian at Malmö University Library Publishing, did a survey on Editorial Skills and Courses, which was spread only some days before the conference to AEUP members, the participant of the conference and through social media internationally. The survey is still open.
Jacob Andersson presented the first results of 42 respondents. All respondents find text editing important, however, turning back feedback from peer review and working with translations are challenging work. Also, 60 % outsource text editing and 60 % of the respondents have had professional training in text editing.
These first results also show that there are many other skills the respondents would like to learn more about, such as trends in digital publishing, indexing, XML, management skills and much more.
Open access publishers and open access library publishing support often meet misconceptions about what they do. Some researchers seem to believe that content must originate from big commercial publishers to become highly ranked, and that smaller publishers do not disseminate their work in the right channels. Researchers have questions about if the local publisher can live up to their demands, i.e. about how peer review is conducted and the editorial process.
Leena Kaakinen, from Helsinki University Press (HUP), talked about challenges starting up a new fully open access University Press. She gave examples of how education about open access and publishing for researchers matter. It is important to have good conversations to be able to convince them to publish, etc. The team at Stockholm University Press recognises this challenge, where we still have to ensure that we explain what we do to prevent misconceptions about not being a “real” publisher.
Therefore, at Stockholm University Library, and the whole Stockholm University Press team, we see ourselves as open access ambassadors. We always listen to the researchers, but we also see an important role for us to educate our Editorial Boards and the researchers at the university about open access publishing.
However, it is of great importance to have support from the university. The President of Stockholm University, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, is herself an ambassador for open science and open access, as mentioned in my earlier blogpost. To have the support of the President of the University is essential for us at Stockholm University Press to counteract misconceptions about open access publishing and to make our work more visible.
Misconceptions about not being a “real” publisher were also something that Anna Ruth, from Tampere University Press (TUP), focused on, but from another point of view, which was highly interesting. Tampere University Press is a fully open access publisher and they do not distribute print editions. The experience is that most researchers do not regard TUP as a “real” publisher, because of the decision not to print books. After many years of pressure from the researchers, they have now decided to start working with print books and develop a new business model for books.
The meaning and value of metrics
One way to make things visible is to talk about results. Metrics is used to measure and evaluate the dissemination of open access publications. Authors, naturally, want to see results of how their book has reached its audience and if it has been sold and downloaded.
Pierre Mournier, from OpenEdition and OPERAS coordinator, pointed out that it is important how we talk about statistics, downloads and altmetrics. Statistics can be interpreted almost in any way, but we do not know what is hidden behind the figures. For that reason, we must be careful with how we interpret the results from statistics.
One example on how publications from Stockholm University Press has been analysed was published and presented at the Elpub Conference in Marseille, France in June this year (read the conference paper, or, see the presentation slides and the data from an author survey about metrics). The results from this survey note that the interpretation of metrics is sometimes up to the authors, and there is no consensus on what is highly cited, or how many downloads are considered as widely used.
Skills about dissemination, marketing and “how do we do this” were some of the result shown in the interactive Mentimeter evaluation at the conference. Ideas and topics for AEUP events could be a way for university presses to find ways to work together, learn more from each other and make our invisible work more visible.
University presses might be operating on a smaller scale and could be considered to be less prestigious, but together we can find new ways to make our invisible work visible and to counteract to misconceptions about what we do.
For this we also need bibliodiversity and make alliances keep up the good work we do together glocally – read more about this in Together we can make a difference glocally – Part 1 takeaways from 2nd AEUP Conference #AEUP19.
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 were discussed.