Open Access Week 2020

In recognition of Open Access Week, the University Library encourages academics to make their scholarly monograph open access.

There has been much discussion over the years about making research articles open access (OA). Indeed, the University Library is offering a workshop next week (Oct. 26) on this topic!

But what about OA monographs?

Books have been a trickier subject for many reasons. Although the philosophy of OA is the same for both journals and books (i.e. online format, reader never pays, and limited copyright restrictions), the complexity of book publishing makes achieving OA for books more challenging. Not to mention that the preferred format for journal articles is now predominantly a digital PDF, whereas the print format is still in demand for longer form reading like books[1].

An additional challenge is how to fund the publication costs of producing an OA book. Books are the dominant dissemination format for humanities and some social sciences disciplines where grant funding is often not as generous as in the sciences and health sciences. Therefore, the author-pays model that is so wide-spread in OA journal publishing is not usually viable for books. So, how to fund the publishing process for OA books?

Several different funding models are emerging, such as library membership models, institutional subsidy models, or various types of institutional crowdfunding options[2]. It is a quickly evolving and growing area – especially in our current days of remote research and study.

There are some compelling reasons to consider making your book OA. Academic monographs have a limited audience and often only academic libraries purchase such titles. This reduces your book’s discoverability, and accessibility, by potential readers. Research has shown that making a book OA increases its readership and impact (measured by increased citations)[3].

A free resource was recently launched to support authors in understanding these and other topics: the Open Access Books Toolkit. It was developed, and will be maintained, by a global partnership of stakeholders from various sectors, and overseen by OAPEN, a foundation based in the Netherlands that operates a repository of freely accessible academic books. So far, the toolkit contains over 30 articles addressing various topics concerning the OA book landscape; these articles are intended to be signposts with references that lead to further resources on each topic. If you are an author considering OA publishing for your monograph this toolkit is a great place to start learning more!

Also see our Open Access Research Guide (Open Books tab), for more resources and links.

By DeDe Dawson, associate librarian, science and scholarly communication


[1] Snijder, R. (2019). The deliverance of open access books. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Retrieved from http://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/25287

[2] Business models for open access book publishing. (2020) Retrieved from https://oabooks-toolkit.org/lifecycle/10944589-planning-funding/article/10432084-business-models-for-open-access-book-publishing

[3] The OA Effect: How does open access affect the usage of scholarly books? (2017) Retrieved from https://www.springernature.com/gp/open-research/journals-books/books/the-oa-effect

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