A number of university presses have been launched recently, with five new UK university presses (NUPs) launched in 2015–2016,1 and a 2018 Jisc report2 indicates there are a total of 21 NUPs in the UK. This increase in publishing activity within the university sector means that an increasing number of library professionals are developing publishing expertise and skills. We believe that by sharing knowledge, skills and best practice across the higher education sector we can work towards forming a supportive and collaborative publishing community which is inclusive of a diverse range of products, business models and practices.
With this in mind, in June 2018 the University of Huddersfield Press organized a best practice sharing event to bring together those working in university and library publishing, and initial findings from the event were shared on the Press blog in September 2018.3 Participants were all at different stages of developing a press; in some cases there was a well-established business model, whereas others had no funding model or definite mission statement in place.
From the analysis we identified three main themes:
Based around these themes and the discussions that emerged during the events, we have developed a structural model: A university press model – guiding principles and key stages of the publishing process (Figure 1).
The model features three interconnected main guiding principles: strategic alignment, stakeholder relationships and demonstrating impact. These principles are based on the findings from the event, which highlighted the overall importance of working in partnership and building relationships as key to developing and maintaining a successful press.
The strategic alignment principle is about making the most of existing internal and external agendas, including research, teaching and international strategy plans, and ensuring that press activities and developments are designed to support and enhance these. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) – the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions – with its increased requirements for open access (OA) for both journals and monographs is an example of an opportunity for NUPs to provide a platform and a service for a growing body of OA research. Of course, NUPs are not the only publishers looking to respond to this requirement, as the ecology of the publishing landscape is ever changing and highly competitive.4 The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP)5 now lists over 940 mandates and policies currently held by institutions and funders. Open research is fast becoming embedded in the policies which shape how research is supported, funded and presented. In this complex environment, stakeholders, with competing interests, are increasingly demanding information around the impact of research, driving the need for impact data to be collected, analyzed and summarized. These tasks are being taken up more and more by professionals within the library sector.6 Plan S is also part of the building momentum of OA publishing and open science and how the landscape of scholarly communication is constantly shifting. Later on in this article we look at Plan S and how it relates to the publishing model we have developed.
It can be a challenge for presses to find out about relevant research developments. However, it is essential for a university press to position itself in relation to priorities that may differ by subject area, faculty level and university level. If a university press is to provide a platform for research that the scholarly community will use, it is key to involve that community in the strategic planning and decisions which are made along the way. This leads us on to the second guiding principle.
Embedding stakeholder relationships throughout the publishing journey is related to the above principle of alignment and about understanding how important it is to work in partnership with a number of different people, including but not limited to authors, editors, readers/audiences, research leaders, people in marketing, people in IT and of course a range of colleagues in the library. Creating meaningful relationships with such a diverse range of stakeholders is a challenging process. Practical ways to do this can be grouped into four themes:
The third guiding principle deals with demonstrating impact and is about having an awareness of why and how to evidence the outcomes of the press activities. It is important to create a two-way conversation around impact and what useful analysis and metrics look like. As NUPs we need to be having conversations with our stakeholders, whether researchers, community groups or members of the public, and finding out what impact means to them. As public engagement and the impact agenda gain in importance as part of the research process, including funder requirements and assessment processes, NUPs can be well placed to be part of this collaborative conversation. Using metrics to evidence benefits of OA publishing can be one way to demonstrate to academics the worth of publishing with a university press, but it is equally important to listen to and respond to the scholarly community’s needs in terms of support, resources and platforms.
The publishing process outlined in the outer ring of the model is made up of six sections: editorial, production, dissemination, preservation, communication and analytics. These sections are based on the main stages that a journal article or monograph goes through from proposal or commissioning stage through to publication and beyond.
Within each stage of the publishing process there are a number of strategic points to consider in order to implement a plan to build a sustainable university press. We use the term sustainable, as defined by Graham Stone, to mean ‘…both stability for the Press and the need to innovate and grow in order to achieve longer term viability’.7
These strategic points represent a summary of the key issues facing university presses. We are not suggesting that every stage of the process takes an equal amount of staff time or resources, and it was clear from the participants at the event that they were much more involved in some stages than others.
The guiding principles, publishing stages and strategic points all constitute the building blocks necessary to implement and maintain a sustainable university press. It is important to note that the model is designed to be applicable to a range of business models, including subscription, OA and hybrid.
Plan S was announced in September 2018,8 as the push organized by COAlition S for all publicly funded research to be immediately OA upon publication. There are a number of Plan S requirements, still being finalized, which we have summarized below.
Adapted from COAlition S Implementation9
The current model has been evaluated against what we currently know about Plan S. As Plan S requirements will no doubt be updated and added to, the model can be re-evaluated and adapted.
The aim is for the model to be a useful tool for the university press community – and for that, we really need more community input. We would love to hear from those of you working in scholarly communications and publishing about whether you would find this model useful, and whether you think there is anything missing which could make it of more practical use to those setting up and developing university presses. Please do get in touch with your feedback and questions.
The authors would like to thank Mike Spikin for his skills in designing the graphics of the model and Andrew Lockett and Kate Petheridge for their detailed and useful feedback on the original draft of the model.
A list of the abbreviations and acronyms used in this and other Insights articles can be accessed here – click on the URL below and then select the ‘full list of industry A&As’ link: http://www.uksg.org/publications#aa.
The authors have declared no competing interests.
Andrew Lockett and Lara Speicher, “New University Presses in the UK: Accessing a mission,” Learned Publishing 29 (2016): 320–329; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1049 (accessed 13 May 2019).
Graham Stone and Caren Milloy, “Open access monographs in the UK. Open access briefing paper,” Jisc (2018), http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/7090/1/2018JiscOABriefingOAMonographsUK.pdf (accessed 13 May 2019).
Megan Taylor and Kathrine Jensen, “Sharing university press practices – our initial findings,” University of Huddersfield Press blog September 5, 2018, https://hudunipress.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/sharing-university-press-practices-our-initial-findings/ (accessed 13 May 2019).
Janneke Adema and Graham Stone, Changing publishing ecologies: a landscape study of new university presses and academic-led publishing, a report to Jisc (2017), http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/6666/1/Changing-publishing-ecologies-report.pdf (accessed 13 May 2019).
ROARMAP, https://roarmap.eprints.org/ (accessed 13 May 2019).
Megan Taylor and Kathrine Jensen, “Engaging and supporting a university press scholarly community,” Publications 6, No. 2 (2018), https://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/6/2/13 (accessed 13 May 2019); DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/publications6020013
Graham Stone, “Sustaining the growth of library scholarly publishing in a New University Press,” Information Services & Use 36, No. 3–4 (2017): 147–158, https://content.iospress.com/articles/information-services-and-use/isu812 (accessed 13 May 2019); DOI: https://doi.org/10.3233/ISU-160812
“About,” COAlition S, 2018, https://www.coalition-s.org/about/ (accessed 14 May 2019).
“Implementation,” COAlition S, 2018, https://www.coalition-s.org/implementation/ (accessed 13 May 2019).