Infrastructure is key to supporting the sector’s shift towards open access for monographs

Caroline Mackay

In a little more than 18 months, the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) open access (OA) policy for monographs, book chapters and edited collections will take effect. Jisc is considering the implications for this policy and how to support the sector through this in an affordable way.

A group research in a library.

Part of this shift is the need to support an effective infrastructure, which will underpin OA for books.

Institutions and libraries can play an active role in preparing for and implementing this new policy. At the University of Sussex, for example, the library has been supporting community-led OA initiatives for a while now.

The university’s library strategy says the institution “…will create a sector-leading and sustainable open infrastructure for research and education that will support our communities in their cultural transition to open practice”.

The strategy continues:

“As well as developing institutional infrastructure to support open research and scholarship, we are actively looking for ways to support innovation in open practice.

“This includes contributing financially to new models of open publishing such as Opening the Future, alongside supporting infrastructure such as the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), the global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS) and Open Book Publishers."

Suzanne Tatham, associate director at the university’s library, feels that the long-term health of the open publishing ecosystem relies on diversification. She says:

“Libraries have an important role to play in helping to build capacity for OA monograph publishing. One way to do this is by redirecting acquisition budget from pay-to-access to pay-to-publish.

“This necessitates a different approach to evaluation. As monograph publishing shifts to OA, book processing charges (BPCs) will become increasingly unaffordable for institutions, so they will need to act collectively to support new collective subscription models.”

The University of Sussex is developing new criteria which will focus on cost and the sustainability of the model and relevance to its teaching and research areas. It is also assessing whether this a useful contribution to the diversification of OA publishing.

To foster the continuation of the rich and varied book landscape through biblio-diversity and to provide a viable alternative to the BPC model, Jisc aims to make more community funding OA monograph agreements available from further scholar led, new and traditional university and commercial presses over the coming months.

For example, Jisc is working with the Open Book Collective (OBC) on a licensing agreement. OBC is an output of the COPIM project, which is funded by Research England and the Arcadia Trust.  Agreements will be made available using the Jisc model license to give institutions the reassurance that due diligence has been done to ensure that publishers provide a verified list of resources to support.

In addition, Jisc’s Open Access Community Framework pilot, launched in May 2022, has led to additional diamond OA agreements for new journals and books from mission-based and diamond publishers.  Ten new publishing agreements covering monographs, series and journals will be available for institutions to support. 

Infrastructure is a vital part of open access to ensure efficient discovery, use and standards for open access content and institutions can support Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)/Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN) via a Jisc agreement.

Should institutions wish to go further and set up their own library-led press to support their researchers in publishing in open access, Jisc has created a toolkit which outlines the thought processes, strategy planning and requirements involved. 

Collectively, with high-level institutional support, library strategies and Jisc agreements, the sector can make an impact in supporting OA diamond publishing and infrastructure platforms.

With a network of library-led presses in operation, UK institutions can take control and play an active part in the publishing landscape.  

About the author

Caroline Mackay
Licensing manager, Jisc