On Jisc: Within the world of publishing, we are seeing some new trends emerge. Born from a desire to change the current publishing landscape, dominated by a handful of large commercial publishers, there is an increase in new publishing models, being led by universities and academics […]
To get a sense of the scale of these new publishing models, we recently completed an in-depth study; changing publishing ecologies: a landscape study of new university presses and academic-led publishing, which revealed a growing trend in alternative publishing, both globally, and within UK higher education in particular.
The report was inspired by a white paper from the Northern Collaboration, made up of 27 higher education libraries in England, which called on us to fund a study, collecting hard evidence on the extent to which these new publishing ventures support the sector.
The last study of its kind1 took place in 2004, and showed a shrinking number of university presses (UPs) in the UK. However, the study was positive about a future for UPs and since then there has been a surge in new university presses (NUPs) and also academic-led publishing (ALPs) - especially in Australia, the United States, Germany, and now the UK.
The incentives for a new approach
One of the key findings from the latest landscape report is that the open access (OA) agenda is shifting publishing preferences - new models are becoming more desirable for research academics, and enable people to share their work with the wider world.
There are motivations and challenges which are pushing for changes in publishing processes – among them is a desire to move away from the existing model and the huge profits made in the sector.
As a result of challenges to get research published, ALPs and NUPs are now more widespread within the UK and, judging by our primary research, the reasons are as follows:
- Demand from/for early career researchers and academics, including encouraging first-time publishing
- Developing OA publishing
- Supporting the university’s strategy/objectives
- Funder mandates/research excellence framework (REF) compliance
- Undergraduate research journals to give post-graduates practice in peer reviews
- Hosting facilities for journals/conference proceedings
- Moving print to online OA
- Monograph crisis
- To enhance the reputation of the university
- The policy landscape
We're likely to see more NUPs and academic-lead publishing across UK higher education as they offer an alternative and less onerous route to publishing research, while maintaining the academic rigour required for scholarly work.
The Research Excellence Framework calls on research and higher education institutes to ensure open access publishing becomes the norm. In addition, there is the possibility that UK funding bodies will extend the current open access policy to include monographs2 in a future REF. With rising publishing costs, and budgets that don’t follow suit, the sector is taking an innovative approach to ensuring it is prepared.
Senior research manager, Jisc. "I manage research activity for Jisc Collections in order to ensure the highest quality of service provision to libraries in the higher education sector. This includes designing and conducting a range of planned and ad-hoc quantitative and qualitative research and implementing policies, processes and systems to enable the effective evaluation, monitoring and communication of research activity to enable informed decision making."
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