A sustainable transition to open access

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Matthew Day, Head of Open Research Policy & Partnerships at Cambridge University Press Scholarly Communications R&D tells us about where open-access publishing is headed

The theme this year is climate justice and sustainability – how does that tie in with your goals as an open-access publisher?

We are part of Cambridge University Press and Assessment, which is a global force for education and scholarship. That means we have a responsibility to people and to the planet. Our goal is to improve society and the environment through our products and services. We aim to inform and educate people around the world, helping them to create diverse, sustainable, and vibrant communities. Open access can play a major part in widening access to knowledge, encouraging collaboration, sparking curiosity and speeding up discovery by unlocking the potential of research. We are pushing that as hard as we can in all directions, whether it is helping increase the number of researchers able to publish open access through transformative agreements; actively encouraging diverse, global perspectives and collaboration through new open access journal concepts like Cambridge Prisms or Research Directions; speeding up discovery through our early research platform, Cambridge Open Engage; or pioneering new publishing models for books like Flip it Open.

Why is open access important, and why does Open Access Week matter?

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that we are thinking about open access – and open research more widely – all the time. The increased reach, impact and transparency an open approach brings to research is absolutely central to what we are about as a university press and to our mission, which is to contribute to society through the pursuit of learning and research. Getting that open flow of information increases collaboration and speeds discovery, which is important to all of us. For us, Open Access Week provides a focal point in the year and a chance to take stock of our progress in moving our research publishing open access, removing barriers to open access publication and supporting our customers and partners in realising its benefits. It is also important for us as an organisation internally, as an opportunity to celebrate what colleagues have achieved over the last year and to further engage and inspire them with all we are doing to build an open future with our customers and partners.  

How will you be marking this year’s Open Access Week?

This year, we have two major initiatives launching in and around Open Access Week. Our open access monograph pilot, Flip it Open is becoming a wider part of our publishing programme and is being extended to cover another 100 titles across both HSS and STM. It works by making titles available open access through Cambridge Core, the online home for our academic content, once they meet a set amount of revenue. It is a way to put the core open-access principles of availability, inclusivity and dissemination into practice in our books publishing. We’ve also announced a new series of open access journals called Cambridge Prisms. These will address global challenges by bringing together researchers across national and subject boundaries. As the publisher, we will work with editorial boards to make those connections, helping researchers find co-authors that complement their work and bring new perspectives. Again, open access is vital for the success of these journals; they are looking at global challenges that need global research to address them. Cambridge Prisms will help by uniting researchers across disciplines and from different parts of the world. Making them open access will ensure the widest possible reach and impact for their research, with both an authorship and a readership that is as diverse as possible. The themes of the journals – Coastal Futures, Precision Medicine, Global Metal Health, Extinction, Plastics, Water – are also a close match with the themes of Open Access Week, which are climate justice and sustainability. Cambridge Prisms joins our other recent open access journal series, Research Directions, which brings researchers together around fundamental questions that cut across traditional disciplines. Its publishing model mirrors the research lifecycle, with results, analysis and impact reviews all published as separate, open access, peer-reviewed and citable outputs.

What is the future of open-access publishing?

Open-access publishing is the future of scholarly publishing. The pressing need is to make that future sustainable, so that we can realise its huge potential while maintaining the highest standard of quality, integrity and transparency. Research must be trusted and trustworthy as well as widely available. So the immediate future is one of continuing flux and change, with new initiatives and publishing models being tried and tested as technology constantly pushes the envelope of what is possible. We believe our role as a university press is to act as a trusted partner, helping to guide and support our customers and partners through this period of change, while investing in new solutions and setting the pace for a fair and sustainable transition to open access.

Matthew Day, Head of Open Research Policy & Partnerships at Cambridge University Press Scholarly Communications R&D