Guest post: Overcoming the challenges of open access books – part 2/2

We are pleased to share the second part of this guest blogpost by one of our DOAB Gold Sponsors, written by Leila Moore, Taylor and Francis. Part one is available here.

Leila Moore is Open Access Books Lead at Taylor & Francis. After graduating from the University of Reading with a BA honours in English Leila went on to a career in publishing, working across a variety of disciplines and publishing formats. A keen interest in the emergence of the open access model encouraged Leila to take the leap into open access publishing. Leila now specialises in open access books.

Overcoming the challenges of open access books – part 2/2

In part one of this series, we explored some of the challenges around policies and funding for OA books, that were highlighted by authors and editors who were kind enough to participate in interviews about their experiences with OA publishing.

In part two we will explore how we can better support researchers during the OA publication process and how the wider OA books community are collaborating to tackle the wider issues.

‘It was a bit weird that we had to do all the work for this OA publishing then as editors we would lose out on royalties.’

Although it was clear from speaking to authors and editors that financial incentives are not high on the list when it comes to the benefits of publishing monographs, the majority of the authors and editors I interviewed did mention the reduction in royalty payments as a negative outcome from OA publishing. It is worth noting that if print copies of OA books are available authors will receive royalties from these sales and studies have shown that there is minimal effect on print sales for OA books. For example, the OAPEN-CH report[1] published in 2018 indicates that making books available open access does not significantly affect print sales, these results are also in line with the OAPEN-NL report[2] published in 2013. Many authors believe the benefits of OA publishing far outweigh the financial incentives of keeping monographs behind a paywall, but for the OA community this raises some key questions about what can be done to incentivise authors to publish OA if the incentives are not financial. How are authors being recognised and rewarded for publishing OA by their academic institutions? Can publishing OA have a positive impact on academic career progression? How can publishers track and convey the impact of OA publications to better support researchers?

‘The overall situation with permissions and understanding how things go is still very complicated for all of the authors.’

Authors noted that the permissions process is complex even before you bring OA into the picture. There was a consensus that standardising the permissions process to reduce complexity and confusion would be very well received. Publishers and funding bodies need clear policies in place for managing third party material in OA books to ensure that authors can effectively comply with funder mandates and permissions rules set by third parties. This was a particularly relevant issue for authors and editors working in certain Arts, Humanities and Social Science subject areas where third party content can play an important role in the context and understanding of the work. Having to leave third party content out due to complex and expensive permissions issues can have a detrimental effect on the quality of the work.

‘I would have liked the Publisher to be more active in promoting the volumes as freely available.’

Authors noted that often OA books content is difficult to find on publisher websites and publishers could do more to make OA content more discoverable.  They were also unsure about where their OA content would be available, which repositories their work would be added to and whether their work would be discoverable via the major retailers’ websites.  Authors felt that sometimes they were lacking the key information that would enable them to proactively promote their work.

Working together to overcome the challenges of OA book

To overcome these obstacles, we need to work together as a community; academic institutions, research funding bodies and publishers all play an integral role in shaping the future of OA books. Book authors are looking for more consistent OA policies from academic institutions and research funding bodies. There is a need for a shared infrastructure and simpler processes that remove some of the confusion and complexity from the OA process and reduce the administrative burden on authors and editors.  Authors would benefit from more consistent guidelines around how to navigate the permissions process, ensuring authors of books with a large amount of third-party content are not prohibited from publishing OA. Clear and transparent explanations about the benefits of OA publishing backed up by impact metrics from publishers and incentives from academic institutions would help to remove some of the uncertainty around OA publishing, as would providing a central place to help authors find funding and navigate the complex funding ecosystem. Open access publishing should be an option for all, irrespective of geographical location or circumstance.

The good news is that as a community we are already responding to these needs and we have been able to begin creating some shared infrastructures for OA books, such as the Directory of Open Access Books which serves as a central hub for OA books and helps to improve discoverability, the OA Switchboard which has been created to remove some of the administrative burden around APC and BPC funding and the OA eBooks Usage Data Trust project is working to improve the measurement and analysis of OA books. We may not have solved all of the problems yet, but these initiatives show that we can come together as a community to ensure the sustainability of OA books.

My thanks go out to the authors and editors who took the time to speak to me about their OA publishing experiences. Particular thanks go to:

 

Dr Ir Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek is an associate professor at Eindhoven University of Technology,Netherlands.

Dr. Sc. Vitalija Danivska is a lecturer and researcher in the Academy for Hotel and Facility at Breda University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands.

 

 

Rianne and Vitalija are co-editors of the OA book

A Handbook of Theories on Designing Alignment Between People and the Office Environment

 

 

Rick Szostak is a professor at the University of Alberta, Canada.

 

 

 

Rick is the author of the OA textbook Making Sense of World History and the forthcoming OA title Making Sense of the Future

 

 

 

 

Jürgen Runge is a Professor of Physical Geography and Geoecology at the Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany. He is the director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies (ZIAF).

 

 

 

Jürgen is series-editor for the OA book Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics: The African Pollen Database

 

 

 

 

Joshua C. Gellers is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Florida, Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance Project, and former Fulbright Scholar to Sri Lanka.

 

 

 

Joshua is the author of the OA book Rights for Robots: Artificial Intelligence, Animal and Environmental Law

 

 

 

 

Kirsten Drotner is Professor of media studies at the University of Southern Denmark and director of two national R&D programmes DREAM and Our Museum.

 Kirsten is the co-editor of the OA book Experimental Museology: Institutions, Representations, Users

 

Discover open access books from Taylor and Francis here

[1] OAPEN-CH – The impact of open access on scientific monographs in Switzerland: A project conducted by the Swiss National Science Foundation (2018) https://www.snf.ch/SiteCollectionDocuments/OAPEN-CH_schlussbericht_en.pdf

[2] OAPEN-NL – A project exploring Open Access monograph publishing in the Netherlands (2013) https://oapen.fra1.digitaloceanspaces.com/0cdef1a177b6470ea5257240682b38e3.pdf

Guest post: Overcoming the challenges of open access books – part 1/2

We are pleased to share this guest post (published in two parts) by our latest DOAB Gold Sponsor, written by Leila Moore Open Access Book Lead at Taylor & Francis.

Overcoming the challenges of open access books – part 1/2

Leila Moore is Open Access Books Lead at Taylor & Francis. After graduating from the University of Reading with a BA honours in English Leila went on to a career in publishing, working across a variety of disciplines and publishing formats. A keen interest in the emergence of the open access model encouraged Leila to take the leap into open access publishing. Leila now specialises in open access books.

Benefits versus challenges

When I first started thinking about this article my aim was to focus on the benefits of open access (OA) books, but as I had more conversations with book authors and editors, the focus began to shift. One thing became clear to me; the benefits of OA publishing are obvious, but the challenges are more complex and varied and need to be tackled before any real progress can be made.

In part one of this two-part series, we’ll explore some of the challenges around policies and funding for OA books that were highlighted by authors and editors who were kind enough to participate in interviews about their experiences with OA publishing.

Each of the authors and editors I interviewed named wider dissemination and a more equitable research ecosystem as the main benefits of OA publishing. But they also highlighted a number of challenges which we will delve into below.

‘Dealing with different academic institutions, what are their requirements for books/book chapters/journal articles. Everybody is trying to understand the policy at their own academic institution, can they get funding or not. I think that was very complicated.’

Many of the researchers that I spoke with noted that it was not always easy to understand their own academic institution’s OA policy. It was not clear where enquiries to find out this information should be directed, or if it was at all likely that they would be able to get funding, particularly when it came to OA funding for book projects. For edited collections or multi-authored projects this is even more complex to navigate. There are differing rules for what constitutes lead author status, payments may need to be split between different academic institutions, and there may be different rules and processes to follow. For those authors who did manage to secure funding from their academic institutions the processes varied dramatically; some even varied for different book projects within the same academic institution.

‘Because authors would be expected to pay a certain amount of money for the ability to publish OA it does limit who could potentially serve as an author.’

Equitability for published authors was highlighted as an issue in OA publishing. Are the opportunities to publish OA limited to the chosen few? If an author is at a well-funded academic institution with a clear and robust OA policy, they are far more likely to apply for OA funding.  How do we ensure that authors without grants or funding still have the option to publish OA? Authors and editors did note that there are policies in place to try to combat this inequality, for example, book publishing charge (BPC) waivers for authors in low and lower middle-income economies are available, but there is still a clear inequality in OA outputs from authors in these regions that needs to be addressed. Who can afford to pay the OA fee is not something that authors or editors want to consider when making their publishing decisions.

‘The money. For most arts and humanities scholars, it is much too expensive to publish a new volume OA from the start. Our programme, which is the world’s largest of its kind, only had the option because of COVID. Our funders would probably not agree to the amounts spent under normal circumstances.’

All of the authors and editors that I spoke to mentioned funding as a major obstacle for OA books. Many of the authors received funding as a one off or acquired funding due to exceptional circumstances. For example, because of COVID authors were able to divert funds that may have been spent on conference attendance. Some authors resorted to crowd funding or donations from corporations to cover the cost of OA. Innovative and new approaches are underway that seek to address, in part, the issue of funding for OA books such as the COPIM project, and publishers such as Taylor & Francis are actively engaging with innovative new approaches such the Knowledge Unlatched initiative to enable more authors to publish OA books. However, there is still work to be done to address a funding ecosystem for OA books that is not yet fully fit for purpose. Much of the additional work that is taken on by authors/editors relates to funding; trying to find funding and trying to navigate complex and diverse processes and requirements. Some of the authors that I spoke to talked about article publishing charges (APCs) and how, particularly in the Science, Technology and Mathematics subjects, it is becoming the norm for researchers to request OA funding as part of their initial research grant application, making it much easier to manage when they do eventually get an article accepted in a journal. When we talk about Humanities and Social Sciences subjects and monograph publishing, it is not that simple. A large proportion of this research isn’t funded, so who picks up the book processing charge (BPC) bill? If it is the author’s academic institution, then we need to see a more robust approach to OA policies and for OA funding for books to be more widely available.

Coming up in part two we will explore how we can better support researchers during the OA books publication process and how the wider OA books community are collaborating to tackle the wider issues.