With a little help from our friends… A productive year for Stockholm University Press – increasing engagement and improving services

Another year is coming to an end, and it has been as productive and interesting as in previous years but also a little bit better due to the constant process of improving routines and systems. Stockholm University Press is proud to have published another five open access and peer-reviewed books in 2019, and to have managed eight journals during the year with a total of 81 new articles published.

The Press team would like to end the year with taking a look at some of the accomplishments. None of this would, however, be possible without all the dedicated Editors, Editorial Board members, Authors, Reviewers and collaborators who help us figure out how we can improve our services to serve the readership better.

Thank you! We needed a little help from our friends to get by.

Parts of the Stockholm University Press team holding four of the books published in 2019.

Shorter review times and increased usage of books

The new workflow for books was implemented in full this year which has considerably shortened our handling times for proposals. The complete manuscripts are, as before, peer-reviewed by at least two experts in the field, while the proposals are reviewed by an Editorial Board. We would like to sincerely thank everyone involved for their hard work this year. We could not have done this without you!

As time is of the essence when it comes to academic publishing, so here are some facts about the editorial work with books in 2019:

  • Five titles were published in 2019 with an average handling time of six months for processing the book proposals and 10 months for managing book manuscripts from submission to published files.
  • The team managed 12 proposals in 2019, of which three were accepted for publication, five are still pending under review. Four proposals were rejected or withdrawn – This gives an approximate rejection rate of 33%.
  • The team currently manage 15 book manuscripts in different stages of the process. Eight projects are still pending full manuscripts to be submitted for review, while seven manuscripts are under review or in revision.

All processing of proposals and manuscripts in the works depend on close collaboration between the Press staff and researchers as authors, editors and reviewers. We are eternally grateful that for those who choose to work with us, we know you are sharing a scarce resource in academia: time.

Book usage in 2019

The next important factor for all involved in the process is to know whether or not someone is interested in reading the published book. The accumulated usage for all 27 books published so far 16,240 downloads of entire titles (data based on our own platform usage and from OAPEN). In addition to this, the 19 anthologies rendered 70,535 downloads to single chapters, which is an increase of 80% since the last measure in February 2019. The chapter downloads seem to be increasing rapidly as they are uploaded in databases and gets recommended by researchers (i.e. on reading and reference lists). The most downloaded book of all time as of November 2019 is “From Clerks to Corpora: Essays on the English Language Yesterday and Today” with 2,726 records of usage, showing an increase of 78% in the past 10 months. The most downloaded chapter is “Las metáforas espacio-temporales y la percepción del tiempo: un estudio comparativo sobre el español y el sueco” by Emmanuel Bylund and Linn Andersson Konke from the anthology Festival Romanistica. One title from 2019, “Myth, Materiality and Lived Religion: In Merovingian and Viking Scandinavia” has been downloaded more frequently, with bout 70 downloads per month since publication (the average is about 24 downloads per title and month).

Printed Books

While Stockholm University Press publishes books online first, we offer a print-on-demand service for readers who prefer to read print books. The online bookstores indexing our content have sold 747 books in total since we released our first title in 2015. 269 books were sold in 2019, mostly copies of books published in 2018, which was a productive year with nine published titles.

The most sold book in 2019 was the anthology Myth, Materiality and Lived Religion (74 copies), which is also one of the most frequently downloaded titles this year, edited by Klas Wikström af Edholm, Peter Jackson Rova, Andreas Nordberg, Olof Sundqvist, and Torun Zachrisson from the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies at Stockholm University. Other titles popular in print version are Platonic Occasions (a total of 90 copies, also the first book we ever published), Essays in Anarchism & Religion, Volume I (82 copies) and De Estetiska Ämnenas Didaktik (in English: The Didactics in the Aesthetic Subjects, 74 copies).

When looking at the data, it is clear that electronic books reach a larger audience by means of databases, library catalogues and university repositories. 4.6% of the readership seems to be choosing the print version, according to our statistics. However, we can also see that some of the most downloaded books are at the same time showing a higher amount of print orders. A dissertation on the topic from 2019, The deliverance of open access books: examining usage and dissemination by R. Snijder from Leiden University in The Netherlands seems to indicate a similar pattern among other publishers.

Book Citations

Many publications seem to not gain traffic until several years after publication. This is significant for many publications within the humanities, an area in which most Stockholm University Press books are classified. It is likely that the number of downloads can be related to the citation rate, as shown in a recent study based on an authors’ survey and data presented in a conference paper earlier this year. The aim of the study was to investigate the relation between downloads and citations and, to make the connection with how stakeholders then value these metrics. This is further explained in the article The significant difference in impact: An exploratory study about the meaning and value of metrics for open access monographs (Wennström et al., 2019). The presentation from the conference, the metrics (see also Figure 1 below) and the survey data is also openly available to download. The relationship between downloads and citations is, however, debated, and there are few extensive studies on the correlation of book citation statistics and other metrics.

Figure 1: A graph showing the correlation between the number of Google Scholar citations and the download rate of books published until February 2019 (Wennström et al., 2019).

The Stockholm University Press books have been cited 59 times in the past years, according to the database Web of Science. The most cited source in this database is the anthology in French from 2015 entitled “Médiations interculturelles entre la France et la Suède Trajectoires et circulations de 1945 à nos jours” with 18 citation records.

These numbers tell us that the books we published are being used, and hopefully read as well. This fills us and the authors and editors with joy, as it took a lot of hard work to accomplish these publications.

Increased article usage and growing catalogue for Journals

Publishing journals with Stockholm University Press means that you will get an all-inclusive service package suitable for a modern Open Access journal. However, it also means that you will have to live up to specific quality standards such as following the general peer-review policy, keeping your Editorial Board up-to-date and publishing according to a budgeted number of articles each year.

A recent follow-up of the eight journals currently contracted shows that they attracted 112,675 full-text article views and 34,626 PDF downloads. The total amount of articles in their collected archives is 1,091 showing an increase of 81 articles in the last year. The manuscripts of the articles published in 2019 took, on average 266 days to process, and the average acceptance rate between the titles was 56%.

The Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research just completed its second volume of Open Access publishing with Stockholm University Press, and we could see that the usage increased significantly with 66,791 full-text views and 20,876 PDF downloads, which means a growth of more than 300%. This great development is likely because most databases linking to the journal content now is up-to-date with the correct reference to the new journal home. This is also due to the hard work of the Editorial Team who not only promoted their journal well in Social Media but also went through staff changes and welcomed their new Editor-in-Chief, Inger Marie Lid from VID University in Oslo, Norway. Well done!

Other highlights among the journals on our list are that Rural Landscapes: Society, Environment, History managed to shorten their manuscript management time considerably. The journals Designs for Learning and Iberoamericana – Nordic Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies completed their budget on time. The latter also doubled their full-text views of articles in the past year, which is another great achievement!

We do have two more journal titles underway to be added to our list next year, so watch this space for more news, or follow us on Twitter.

Thanks for a Great Year!

None of these achievements for both books and journals could have been accomplished without the hard work of the Editors, Authors, Reviewers, Editorial Board members and the Publishing Committee of Stockholm University Press. We have enjoyed working with you all, and hope to continue to do so.

The team is also grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the friends at Ubiquity Press, which delivers reliable platforms and professional production service and systems support to all our stakeholders.

We are also thankful to our greater network of experts colleagues and friends at the Association of European University Presses (AEUP), the LIBER Open Access Working Group, Jisc, Utrecht University Library, Mattering PressScholarLed, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), OAPEN & DOAB, OPERAS and many more. Thank you for all your support!

We would hereby like to wish you all a Happy Holiday and a Joyful New Year! Let’s meet up again in the new decennium to continue working for more open publications within all disciplines.

With warmest greetings,

Christina, Leif, Karl, Eva, Wilhelm and Sofie.

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