May 27, 2022

Digital Science Releases “The State of Open Monographs” Report

From DS:

Digital Science has today launched a report on the state of open access monographs. The report addresses the question of how we integrate and value monographs in the increasingly open digital scholarly network.

The State of Open Monographs looks at the open monograph landscape in 2019. Analysis from industry experts includes how we value and understand the monograph, their impact and role in the scholarly record, the move towards open access and the nuances in funding.


Key findings include:

    • Open access is still a relatively small part of the monograph landscape. As of mid-2019, the Directory of Open Access Books lists fewer than 20,000 OA books of all dates ( This is compared to an estimated 86,000 monographs published internationally every year.
    • Initiatives such as Knowledge Unlatched and TOME are experimenting with new business models that presume a world where open access becomes the norm for monographs.
    • While monographs continue to be central to the intellectual and professional identity of HSS fields, the technology for publishing them continues to be driven largely by the needs of a print and journal-based market. As a result, monographs remain largely outside the growing digital scholarly information infrastructure.
    • The challenges scholarly publishers face in adding open access monographs to their publishing programmes include issues with general discoverability and inclusion in library catalogues. They also face the challenge of how to measure the value and distribution of openaccess materials, in the absence of sales data and difficulties gaining usage data.
    • Monographs famously collect citations at a slower rate than journal-based research articles. Data in this report from Altmetric shows that monographs also accrue impact over a longer life cycle in a broader context, and show higher rates of impact in policy documents and Wikipedia, than equivalent journal-based articles.
  • OA sheds a harsh light into how academic book publishing is faring in its transition to a networked digital world, and reveals dusty corners and dirty piles of laundry that we might rather have forgotten.

Key report recommendations for fully integrating monographs into the digital scholarly information infrastructure include:

    • Urging publishers to adopt DOIs at both a volume and, preferably, chapter-level, that will support the discovery, monitoring and impact of monographs across the increasingly open scholarly infrastructure.
    • Recommending that distributors and aggregators make their usage data available in interoperable and standard forms, and support data aggregation and interoperability by consistent use of DOIs.
  • That funders recognize the value that monographs contribute to scholarship, and that they fund the move towards open access at an appropriately sustainable rate.



Michael Elliott, Dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Emory University

Main Authors

Sara Grimme, Cathy Holland, Peter Potter, Mike Taylor, Charles Watkinson

Direct to Full Text Report ||| Direct to Download
24 pages; PDF.

Direct to Introductory Blog Post

See Also: New Report: “Towards a Roadmap for Open Access Monographs” (May 30, 2019, via Knowledge Exchange)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.