This toolkit will support and give guidance to new university presses and library-led publishing ventures as well as those with a hybrid model, who publish open access and non-open access material. It is free-to-access under a CC BY 4.0 licence, independent and interdisciplinary with articles written in English.
The toolkit is for institutions with existing new university presses (NUPs) as well as those planning to launch or investigate whether to establish a press. It is aimed at all staff who may have an interest in the area of new university presses and library-led publishing. Depending on the size of the operation, the press itself may only have one or two dedicated staff so other staff may be involved. Specific sections of the toolkit will be of use to:
- University press staff
- Information professionals (subject liaison librarians)
- Library directors (wishing to set up a press and inform senior university staff)
- Educational technologists
- Scholarly communications managers and research officers
- Academic staff (both as authors, editors and publishers)
- Senior university staff (heads of department, PVCs for research)
It is initially aimed at UK institutions, but will draw on international best practice and case studies and will appeal to a global audience (although reference to policy will centre on UK policy in the first instance).
How to use this toolkit
You can read this toolkit as a whole, or consult individual sections as appropriate.
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to publishing open access and this toolkit aims to provide guidance, including different processes depending on the size or mission of the press. Much of the content is written from the personal experience of the editorial advisory board as well as content from existing sources where licenses permit reuse.
We welcome comments from all presses who have or are considering an open access option. If you have any feedback, please email Graham Stone, subject matter expert – open access monographs, Jisc (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For the purposes of this toolkit, "library publishing" is defined as the set of activities led by college and university libraries to support the creation, dissemination, and curation of scholarly, creative, and/or educational works (Lippincott, 20161).
New university presses (NUPs) themselves differ in size and scope. For example, the following definitions of NUPs and library publishing are in scope:
- Consultation level - eg hosting of software, providing advice to researchers
- Full publishing service including support for authors and editors, using external suppliers or platforms to host content
- Full publishing service including support for authors and editors, including internal hosting of a publishing platform
Although topics on supporting researchers in relation to the publishing workflow and myth busting are included in this toolkit, direct support for individual researchers and libraries wishing to offer a supporting role are not in scope. Support for individual researchers who wish to understand more about open access for books is available at the OAPEN Open Access Books Toolkit2. Support for researchers wishing to select the appropriate open access journal is available at Sherpa Romeo as well via local library liaison staff.
This toolkit covers both journal and book formats in the first instance. It is hoped that other publication formats will be included over time.
This toolkit aims to help presses better understand the following key questions - depending on the maturity and size of the press:
- Why get started?
How to justify the start-up, getting institutional buy-in, and understanding resource and budget requirements
- After the initial five years, what is the next level?
How you can achieve sustainability and what it is - eg service to researchers, growing prestige, or both
- How to support your authors
Myth busting for academics and supporting the trailblazers and early adopters
2. About the toolkit
A look at why this toolkit was created, how it was compiled and the governance behind it.
3. Why start a new university press?
There are lots of reasons to start a university press. This section looks at the most common drivers, such as support for the dissemination of research, engagement with the wider open access agenda, and helping academics meet funder requirements as these increasingly include open access publication. Another driver is the growing need to evolve the publishing ecology to make academic publishing sustainable for publishers, academics and institutions given the growing costs of resources and tightening institutional budgets.
Once you have made the decision to set up a new university press, you need to plan what you are going to do in detail. This section helps to outline the main objectives of the press with the creation of an overall mission statement, how this is achievable through specific aims, and, ultimately, how this supports the press' business strategy.
5. Setting up the press
After you have decided on the goals of the press, and what it will publish, you need to think about its governance and the platforms and publishing services you will use to disseminate your publications. This will help you to establish the initial costs of the press and to establish a foundation to attract authors.
6. Attracting authors to publish
When taking the decision to set up a new university press, a key question to be considered is how to attract authors to publish with the new press? Given the extensive range of alternative publishing options, many of them long-established and well-known, why would an author decide to take the leap of faith and publish with a new press that is essentially an unknown entity?
This section tackles key questions about some of the common misconceptions about open access, areas for legitimate concern, what authors are looking for in a press and how a new press can quickly establish those essential qualities that will reassure and appeal to authors.
7. Publishing journals
Many new university presses publish open access journals, using models ranging from offering hosting services to providing full publishing services. This section examines these different options and describes the governance structures required to ensure that journals maintain quality processes for publishing their outputs.
8. Publishing books
This section covers how to drive book submissions, the processes for evaluating them, the role of the editorial board, the peer review process and manuscript preparation. It also describes the role at a university press that most commonly coordinates this stage of the publishing process - the commissioning or acquisitions editor - and the alternative models that some presses adopt.
Having strong production processes in place is essential to ensure that content is produced in a timely fashion, to high standards and within a reasonable budget.
This section outlines the key processes and workflows that will help to ensure that this process runs smoothly. This includes use of third-party material under a Creative Commons licence subject to the content owner's agreement. This section also describes the main formats and options for a press and its chosen routes for dissemination.
(The section mostly refers to books, but the values are transferable to journals, particularly the final sub-section.)
This section looks at dissemination and distribution. Basic metadata types and persistent identifiers (PIDs) are discussed, as are the issues facing open access presses in getting content into the traditional library supply chain. Advice is given on cultural change within the press' own institution. The section also describes the key indexing services which will ensure discoverability of press content. Finally, the main routes for selling print copies to retailers are outlined.
This section briefly covers the importance of preserving the output of a new university press. There are a number of options for the press. However, many of these come at a substantial cost. This is an emerging area and a number of projects are investigating more cost effective, open source alternatives.
Marketing the books and journals the press publishes is important to ensure publications are seen by their intended audiences and communities. There are a number of ways to raise visibility and reach the target audience, many of which are inexpensive, but they will usually require some human resource, skills and knowledge to implement the marketing effectively.
A press' marketing strategy will guide the press and be informed by its planned activities, desired outcomes, stage of development and agreed measures of success. This section looks at a number of different marketing methods with an evaluation of their effectiveness and pros and cons.
Measuring impact will depend on the range of outputs being published, the funding of the press and the point at which the press finds itself. This section of the toolkit will touch on a number of methods, which can be used to measure the impact of the return on investment of the press.
- 1 Lippincott, S.K. (2016). The Library Publishing Coalition: Organizing Libraries to Enhance Scholarly Publishing. Insights 29(2): 186–91. http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.296
- 2 OAPEN. (2020). OAPEN open access books toolkit. Retrieved form https://www.oapen.org/resources/15152035-oa-books-toolkit