June 17, 2021

Now Available: Findings From Knowledge Exchange Survey on Open Access Monographs

From the Report:

2018-11-15_09-15-18In 2017, Knowledge Exchange, a collaboration between six national organisations to support the development of digital infrastructure to enable open scholarship, published a landscape study on open access monographs in eight European countries1. This report identified commonalities and differences across countries, areas of good practice, and important gaps in knowledge and information, which may need to be filled before open access for monographs can progress. In order to take this work forward, Knowledge Exchange conducted a survey between April and May 2018 to identify next steps that should be considered to support progress for open access for monographs.

Executive Summary

  • The survey received 233 usable responses from 25 countries. There was a bias towards European countries, particularly the UK. However, there were only slight differences when comparing UK responses with those from other European responses. As the number of responses from other regions was low, a further comparison across regions was not possible
  • Academic libraries and universities were the largest groups that responded to the survey, authors and publishers were also well represented
  • Three quarters of all respondents (75.1%) felt that ‘levels of publishing costs and how these relate to book publication charges’ were holding back the progress of OA monographs
  • Concerns of libraries broadly mapped onto the concerns of authors/readers. However, quality assurance was also of high relevance to authors/readers. Authors/readers did not see effect on sales and usage when a book is made OA as a major concern, whereas libraries ranked this quite highly. Publishers did not see the lack of quality as a major concern, but ranked effect on sales as the second most important issue
  • Librarians were identified as the most actively supportive group towards open access monographs, whereas intermediaries/distributors were viewed as the least interested group. Funders were considered to have no clear pattern of support, as were academics, funders and universities to some extent
  • When asked to select priorities for further development of OA monographs, better infrastructure ranked highly, as did better funding and better rewards for authors. Stricter enforcement of mandates was seen as the least important
  • When asked for comments on good practice and also blockages in the system, comments about policies and mandates and also lack of funding were at the forefront of concerns
  • University presses and academic-led publishing initiatives offering OA monographs were largely seen as a positive approach, although lack of institutional support was seen as an issue
  • Traditional publishers were criticised for a lack of viable and transparent business models
  • A number of OA platforms were highlighted. However, there were also concerns about the need for better platforms and the lack of discoverability
  • Issues around quality and peer review were seen as a major blockage to open access monographs. Many comments implied a link between OA and loss of quality, while others saw this perception as a major concern
  • There were mixed views around author awareness and engagement. At best it was thought that once academics became aware they would publish more in OA. At worst it was thought the academics were indifferent or even hostile to OA and that it would harm their careers
  • Concerns were expressed about moving to a book processing charge business model and that multiple models were required. Costs and their lack of transparency were also highlighted as a major issue

In total 233 valid responses were collected from 25 countries. The majority of responses were received from Europe, with a bias towards responses from the UK. Therefore, this report cannot provide a regional analysis of responses outside of Europe. Responses from the UK were compared with the responses in the complementary dataset. It appears that in most cases the UK responses did not skew the results. There was also a bias towards responses from academic libraries and universities. Consequently, the number of responses from publishers/ university presses, research institutes/foundations, funders, and learned societies were less well represented.

Direct to Full Text Report (23 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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