Project investigates monographs and open access

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The Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) has launched a project to investigate the issues regarding open-access publishing of monographs and other long-form scholarly works.

The project, being undertaken in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, aims to identify and draw together a body of evidence concerning monographs and open access publishing.

Geoffrey Crossick, distinguished professor of the humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, who is leading the work commented: 'The monograph and other book publications have long been a key way for academics in many humanities and social science disciplines to communicate their research. We know that both digital publication and open access will become increasingly prominent over the next decade, and it is essential that the implications of these trends are considered for those disciplines where the book holds an important place.'

He continued: 'This means understanding the current situation of the monograph. Is it in crisis, as some claim? And what are the scholarly and cultural forces that make it so important? Only if we set consideration of open access and monographs in that context can we think about the future, and think about the different publishing and business models that are being proposed for open access monographs.'

The project includes an expert reference group tasked with establishing what evidence is needed in this area, and providing advice on an appropriate programme of work to gather this evidence. The group is said to bring together key representatives from interested organisations to improve understanding of the challenges and opportunities for open-access monograph publishing.

David Sweeney, HEFCE’s director for research, innovation and skills, said: ‘This new project will be of vital importance in helping HEFCE, the research councils and the wider community to identify what more we can all do to support sustainable book publishing in the humanities and social sciences. We believe there is a pressing need to examine closely the myriad opportunities presented by open access publishing to sustain and enhance scholarly communication in these disciplines.’

The project is expected to run until mid-2014.