Even the last seat of the conference room was taken. That was something the organisers of “Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences Conference” hadn’t expected. JISC Collections in partnership with OAPEN Foundation have obviously hit a nerve with their two days event in the British Library, and their excellent choice of experts discussing the current state of OA monograph publishing may have helped. (Lovely keynote by Jean-Claude Guédon!)
In a nutshell: there is a lot going on in academic publishing at the moment that is of interest for our Hybrid Publishing Consortium researching and developing Open Source publishing software. This blogpost can not do the conference justice but only mentions a few points.
On the future of funding, Carl-Christian Buhr from the European Comission informed the audience (slideshare) that the upcoming EU framework “Horizon 2020” will have about €200m per year of funding, and they are looking for Open Access. He also said that the EU is developing a data pilot to ensure an Open Access approach to data that will work as well as for publications. That is good to hear!
£4,000 or 11,000 – how much does a book cost?
Funding is indeed necessary. There has been a lot of talk about money at this conference which in OA is still a big problem. One good example: To answer the demand of their authors, commercial publishers like Palgrave Macmillan have by now embraced Open Access and put a price on it: £11,000 for a monograph (likewise a book with SpringerOpen costs €15,000). The problem is, there are not enough grants to cover these costs. Caren Calder of Palgrave said that this is one reason why OA publishing is still low at her publishing house – she expects one OA book by the end of the year and maybe ten next year.
Besides publishers who adopt Open Access making use of the article processing fee, new players emerge: Two projects that target the libraries and built platforms or services to assist the transition to Open Access are Frances Pinter’s Knowledge Unlatched and the Open Library for the Humanities. Also long term preservation which is not only a topic mentioned several times but a business model: The E-Book Preservation Service “Portico” asks publishers to pay a financial contribution depending on their revenues, other solutions are Stanford’s project Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Save (LOCKSS) and its ‘controlled’ version (CLOCKSS), of course.
The difference of open and closed peer review
One of the most interesting speakers from my point of view was Kathleen Fitzpatrick who discussed the chances and problems of new models of peer review. Presenting several experiments, she pointed out to the audience that the open peer review allows to engage not only your academic peers but the wider communities of practice. Her own book “Planned Obsolescence. Publishing, Technology and the Future of the Academy” was peer reviewed both open (here) and closed, and both outcomes were useful and quite different from one another. Guided by the commenting system, the open peer review engaged more with a single paragraph, while the closed one guided by the publishers question, commented on the overall arch.
Now looking forward to day two.