New models of publishing: Libraries as publishers

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Today marks the launch of Research Information Live, a three-day series of webcasts, sponsored by The MIT Press. Proceedings started with a great line-up of expert speakers who all centred their discussions around the evolving business models that libraries can engage with to strengthen publishing research.

First, we heard from Simon Bains, university librarian at the University of Aberdeen, who gave a brief overview of the history of university presses to begin with, as they are not a new phenomenon, but rather have had something of a re-emergence in recent years. Some of the challenges that Bains highlighted, taken from his experience at the University of Aberdeen, were that of culture alignment and sustainably shifting from a more established model to the new era of open access research. Further to this, the existing model of traditional journal publishing and the reliance on impact factor metrics was interrogated, leading to Bains concluding that publishing models need to be more inclusive and diverse if supporting open research is to become a reality.

This was echoed in Tracey Stanley’s presentation where she gave the perspective of Cardiff University Press, which was established in 2014. We heard about how the mission of Cardiff University press is to create ‘academic capital’ and foster a research community – and this is evidenced by their recent research excellence framework (REF) submission results. Stanley advised those seeking to build open access presses to create and build networks of researchers and other stakeholders, but also to raise the profile and visibility of the work being built. The REF is a key lever for this according to Stanley because as she aptly put it “it’s more about the quality of research rather than the quantity of a press’ output”. All of this will tie into the academic mission of the university.

With regards to REF, tune in to Research Information Live on Thursday to learn more about the REF and how research output is assessed in other parts of the world.

Megan Taylor, who works with many researchers as part of her role at the International Bunch, outlined some of the challenges that researchers face and particular emphasis was given to the case of early career researchers (ECRs). Libraries can help this particular segment of the research community by acting as a ‘one stop shop’ and implementing a clear communication strategy that is also in alignment with the overall university strategy. This will consequently ease institutional buy-in. Taylor ended with a clear call to action for library-publishers:

  • Listen to researchers

  • Give clear information and guidance to support researchers

  • Increase support for ECRs 

  • Build interest from senior leadership

An international context was outlined as well by Emma Molls, the president of the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC). Molls outlined the publishing programme at the LPC and also gave insights in to library outputs from her experience as a library publisher herself. The evolution of publishing platforms was discussed as they serve as critical tools that library publishers can use to disseminate their content. Interestingly, Molls also pointed out that the content that libraries publish can take many forms – branching away from just the book or journal content that is more commonly known. Even though this perspective is largely based on LPC members, it is clear that there are shared challenges and opportunities for those in open access research across the world.

 To view the full webcast, please see the on-demand replay on the Research Information website here.


Annabel Ola, editor of Research Information