Sustainable Open Access Publishing: Preconditions, Dialog, and Continuous Adaptation: The Stockholm University Press Case
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This is the speaker notes of the author’s presentation given at IFLA 2016. View the video recording of the author’s presentation. The presentation begins at 48:57.
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Given the demand for open access publishing in the context of expensive article processing charges and acquisition costs scholarly publishing needs to be transformed. I believe that university libraries are in a good position to contribute to this change. I begin with describing what Stockholm University Press is, what we do and how. I continue with describing why we do it and for whom. I conclude by pointing out some lessons learned.
Stockholm University Press
Stockholm University Press opened up for proposals of books and journals in June 2014 followed by a decision by the Vice Chancellor/Provost at Stockholm University. The goal was to start a fully open university press for the dissemination of peer-reviewed books and journals. The library organisation was given the assignment to build a structure for this, with focus on quality assessment and affordable publishing fees. The task was also to ensure that these structures are sustainable, catered for and encourage ethical publishing practices. The main goal of its operation is to communicate research without paywalls in the most efficient way possible.
Books and journals, peer reviewed according to international standard in order to qualify to various registers and partnerships. For books we offer EPUB and PdF for free and PoD in Europe, the US and Australia to cost price. If the work is published under the Creative Common licence CC-BY (our strong recommendation) any interested body is welcome to do a print run and sell at cost price or on a commercial basis.
We have so far published 6 books, further 8 manuscripts has been reviewed and accepted and is to be published during 2016 and the beginning of 2017, about 8 proposals are under the first stage of review. Up to August 2016 we host 5 journals.
Structure and division of labour and responsibilities
The Stockholm University Press platform is designed to shift power from publishers to researchers and to encourage transparent publishing practices. In other words, the library wants to facilitate scholarly driven publishing, by focusing on the guidelines and infrastructure including metrics and impact. Thereby we make space for the researchers to concentrate on their expertise as writers and reviewers.
The press is governed by a Publishing Committee where faculty representatives ensure that the protocol for the quality assessment process is followed. The decisions made by the committee are based on thorough assessments and recommendations made by editorial boards within each discipline. The committee also serve as an advisory board for future adjustments and developments of the Press.
The editorial boards consists of faculty from Stockholm University and elsewhere (we strongly encourage national and international collaboration) and are responsible for book series or/and journals. The number of editorial boards are growing along with faculty initiatives as well as on the demand created by the inflow of manuscript proposals. The editorial boards select, assess and endorse book and article proposals. In practice this entail that they decide whether they want to proceed with a proposal, suggest reviewers and agree on a recommendation for action to be taken by the publishing committee.
The libraries responsibilities is to provide platforms, guidelines, transparent work flows and to support the scholarly community in securing quality and etics, The library also organize production, legal support and collaborations with other university presses and other institutional publishers. The Library can also raise concerns and dilemmas with the university management level (for example the need for change in the funding models of publishing as well as acquisitions).
The library staff acts as facilitators to support transparent and structured working methods as well as making publications visible and accessible by relevant indexing, metadata and marketing. From the library side we need to be perceptive and flexible, always keeping in mind why we do what we do and for whom we are working. We try to keep us updated on the developing trends in the eco system of scholarly publishing as well as open to new ways of doing things suggested by faculty. We are inspired by agile working methods and try to organize our work in a way that could quickly adjust to changing conditions.
From proposal to published book or article
The platform created is designed to take care of the infrastructure of publishing (structure, monitoring and production of publications) and make space for the researchers to concentrate on their expertise as writers and reviewers.
The coordination of peer review is right now run manually for books and with the help of Open Journal System (OJS) for journals. We have experimented with Open Monograph Publishing tool but is now trying out a system called RUA (https://github.com/ubiquitypress) as an alternative. The web site, adaption of OJS and RUA, production of print ready files, EPUB (copy editing, indexing, language editing, indexing and Print on Demand) etc is outsourced to an external partner (Ubiquity Press). The workload for the library contains of being the point of entry for proposals of books and journals, enquiries, supporting editorial boards, running the work of the publishing committee, marketing and advice for self-marketing, monitoring partnerships, benchmarking and keep track of in the library and at other departments of the university concerning scholarly communications (i.e data, repository, dissertation support, instruction and publishing informally peer reviewed manuscripts (Stockholm Publishing).
Everything we publish is Open Access from day one and combined with creative common licensing. All but our first book has been published under the CC-BY-license, combined with digital marketing (making use of the potential of viral dissemination). (Copy right stays with author)
As the library do not have any extra funding for the operation and the costs for acquisition still is high and still raising we charge article processing charges (in 2016 a flat rate of 300 euros per article and 4200 euros for a book of 200 pages). The library does not pay any royalties and do not pay for peer review. Salaries for the staff involved on part time (2.5 FTP) in the operations are paid for within the library budget.
Primarily researchers as in authors and consumers, but the press could also be viewed as a supporting editorial boards as well as universities and research councils in making the shift from publishing behind pay walls to OA publishing with reasonable APCs and BPCs. The press can also serve as a support and receive support from our partners in the network of other university presses of our kind. Consists right now of 13 university presses.
The assignment of a university library is to supply its users with research, by organising and providing information resources. Besides supplying information, libraries has more and more entered the field of publishing support. The Stockholm point of departure is that publishing support fits naturally in our portfolio of services.
The slide visualize how we perceive and understand the library´s role in the landscape of scholarly communication:
Roughly two services: one is the traditional service for libraries: providing researchers and students with resources they need (where ever it is located) and the other is publishing support. At Stockholm University Library the publishing support consists of five parts: 1. support to PhD candidates with their dissertations, 2. Stockholm Publishing for informally reviewed manuscripts and 3. Stockholm University Press for formally reviewed books and articles, 4. DiVA, a repository and 5. advice and instructions on metrics, copy right and publishing in general.
The best research is often hidden behind pay walls and gets more and more expensive.
Universities all over the world have problems to afford subscription rates and expensive APCs. Researchers and experts outside the universities (as well as the tax paying public) have even more restricted access if any at all. Most of the large publishing houses offer possibilities to publish open access but the processing charges are often high and not always affordable for the individual researcher. And from the university point of view, we often end up with paying twice for the same article (subscription plus APC).
By providing infrastructure for research driven open access publishing can we as libraries contribute to the, in our opinion, necessary transformation of the academic publishing landscape. Not as the sole solution, but as one among several possible alternatives to the traditional publishing industry. Universities including their libraries have comparative advantages compared to the traditional publishing industry in full access to the academic communities as well as expertise in the field of organizing academic information resources as well as making them searchable and accessible. We make use of the embeddedness of libraries within faculty (comparative advantage)
Being a part of the university organisation, the library is also well placed to contribute to the dialogue with policy-makers on a national and international level. It is also possible to nurture a close relation to funding agencies on issues of Open Access policies, which requires a fundamental shift of policies and copyright laws. Another aspect of library based publishing is that the press can focus on collaboration rather than competition with other university presses.
What do we add?
- Publishing for cost price, slim cost efficient organization (we did not get any extra money for this)
- Transparent structure that make sure that quality is safeguarded in an acknowledged way both regarding content and format. Library expertise guarantee that indexing and metadata is added in order to give optimized searchability and findability.
- We free up the researchers from some of the publishing aspects as administration, creating formats as well as copy right expertiese and distribution.
- Taking advantage of existing networks of our university. Here we have the network at our door step and we can contribute with organizing a structure for collaborating.
- Marketing from an institutional and nonprofit point of view. Dissemination of research rather than exclusivity and profit making
- We are working nationally by participating in advisory boards raising concerns regarding OA-policies, funding and copy right, and on a European level by initiating working groups on copyright and Open access advocacy within LIBER.
- We have a great comparative advantage in the potential of collaboration rather than competition with other university presses.
Lessons learned for SUB alt conclusions:
- We cannot/should not create a University Press in the sense of the old publishing paradigm (i.e. holding stock, royalties, relying on income from sales, traditional marketing, financing by pay walls or steep APCs). We have to rethink everything and keep the very purpose of scholarly communication in mind as well as its position within the public domain.
- We need to shift from the perspective on currency/value as in money to the currency/value as the use of research (i.e. citations). And we need to change our current system of evaluating research. Bibliometrics and impact factors belong to the old paradigm.
- We have to rethink the value of impact factors and the rational of the prevailing publishing paradigm
- Libraries are user focused rather than market oriented and good quality research is not always equal with astonishing sales
- We should make use of the “marketing” potential of Open access and the Internet and rethink traditional marketing strategies (why waste money on book launches and exhibitions? We need to focus more internet based ways of dissemination (the potential of sharing within relevant networks).
- Within the new paradigm no title is “to narrow” to publish as long as it is of good quality. As an institutional publishers we can give voice to the margins as well as to diversity.
- There are no longer a sound reasons for academic publications to go out of print.
- open access publishing is the most reasonable way from a democratic and public good perspective to handle research results and thereby also give scholars access as well as influence into the publishing process
- The publishing landscape exist within a larger ecco system and is changing rapidly. From the library point of view we need to understand the whole ecosystem and to work in an agile, transparent and responsive way in order to serve our researchers in line with their needs. We need to be able to adjust easily to the shift of paradigm we right now is in the middle of.