Category: Policy and Governance

Supporting Open Access Monographs: Ingredients for a Prototype?

Supporting Open Access Monographs: Ingredients for a Prototype?

With the UKRI consultation on Open Access deadline imminent UWP’s Press Manager, Andrew Lockett wonders out loud what kind of additional pilot project to further encourage OA monographs might be worth considering. 

Calls to support public publishing infrastructure, ‘new’ ‘business’ models and alternative approaches to monograph publishing are popular. With the work of COPIM progressing well and building on established ventures like the Scholar-Led consortium, OBP and OLH (in journals) here are some thoughts about what a ambitious pilot scheme could look like. Caveats abound. Agreement between parties, governance and practicalities would be difficult in context. But could it be useful to think of values in the sector and consider the merits of a carrot- rather than stick-based approach? 

I have called it COUL after a long search for an upbeat acronym. 

Collective Open University Library – ­UK (Monographs Publishing)

Participating members based in UK universities should agree to match or add to new funding from UKRI/RLUK. The scheme should be based on a mixture of the best elements of the US TOME scheme (see https://www.openmonographs.org) which is a venture organised between the Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Association of University Presses (AUPresses) and the Lever Press idea: https://www.leverpress.org. The latter is a useful warning of dangers inherent. The premise is a good one but its outcomes in terms of published outputs have been modest in number, considering. For the scheme to work to optimum levels, experienced publishers should be paired with librarian experts and publishing-orientated academics to work towards lean governance and structures, each of whom should already be aware of the standpoint of the others and not just be ‘batting’ for their side. All three expertise groups being fully engaged in the project design would be vital for success. 

The basis of the scheme would be to encourage the following three elements:

I) Non-profit low cost monograph publishing at a local and small scale level that could be undertaken by any participating members.

II) Dissemination of open access monographs and awareness raising within the members.

III) The scheme would financially support publishing at those institutions that produce monographs working with a rubric that rewards activity in several ways:

  • based on the numbers of titles published to a maximum of 10 titles per imprint in the first instance but expand thereafter
  • based on the success in reaching audiences in views and downloads and other relevant metrics that may be developed 
  • recognise publications that go beyond tick-box equality, diversion and inclusion and demonstrate progressive orientation in the research or publication procedures, whether that be student co-creation, commons orientation, ethics aware citation practice, a focus on human well-being, and communications or impact strategy or outcomes that truly serve to educate
  • as the above implies the scheme should include a small element of research-into-teaching titles that focus on the communication of new research to undergraduate and graduate students in this author’s belief that bridges need to be built between research and teaching in scholarly communications that are being lost under current REF orientations

As a result a proportion of funding say 70% would be up-front based on submission. With 30% to follow reflecting delivery so that stronger projects are incentivised. The funding should be competitive (but not too competitive as to be greed-inducing) and be expressed over a period of a minimum of 5 years with the expectation that it could and would be renewed. I would recommend funding in the region of up to a maximum (depending on project scope) of£6000 per monograph to start with;£2500 for retrospective recognition. The idea would not to be to cover entirety of all costs of a publication in form of a ‘pure’ subsidy (though these sums can be sufficient) but to get publishing initiatives off the starting blocks with ‘seed and support funding’ on the basis of lists of titles not individual books. This weighting would bake in a degree of realism and discourage support of too long, ill-considered, very marginal publications that OA should not be considered the answer for – i.e. The ‘vanity’ publication or the ‘impractical’ monograph. Experimental publishing should be approached separately and via separate means: the ‘vanilla monograph’ hugely valuable as it is, poses enough challenges.  

The funding allocations would be agnostic about where it would be directed (to allow for local circumstances but also efficiency of existing providers). It would not include funding elements for research but would permit:

  1. Publication by traditional and new university presses
  2. Spending on publishing services by cost-effective third party private providers 
  3. Spend on in-house resources for the projects 
  4. Use of self-publishing services in conjunction with any of the above
  5. Non-intrusive monitoring of readership patterns of monographs funded for research purposes

The following priorities should be kept in mind:

  1. Encouragement of low-cost monograph production at all suitable sites with UK university libraries and those they work with or via scholarly associations and scholar-led groups. 
  2. High standards made visible, transparent, flexible but consistent. These should not necessarily just be concerned with technical or workflow orientated but also about the practice of wider ethics and community-building and based around ideas of a knowledge commons and aimed at the reduction of existing inequalities in the system across the university sector being considered a priority. 
  3. Raising of awareness of scholarly communications within specific academic communities as a prime objective of the scheme: those benefiting from funding could work with Jisc (perhaps?) on publication and marketing of specific tool kits to libraries and specific academic groups explaining merits to individuals and groups of publishing this way. 
  4. Directed support as a priority to humanities and social sciences and those STEM topics that do not receive grant support from funders. 
  5. Encouragement of publishers or groups who publish well, who use the opportunities afforded by open access and the internet proactively and not just to shore up existing workflows, sunk costs and unexamined overheads; operations that seek to keep costs and prices low with mission based motives and who do not seek to trade on exclusivity, elitism, ring-fencing and prestige; the scheme should look to encourage established operations willing to look at a different future as well as the new kids on the block.

The aim should be to create a vehicle with long term potential that learns from a variety of experiences and adjusts accordingly and build momentum over years. The starting point I would suggest might be 100-200 titles could be supported using collective subscription mechanisms similar to or building on those/working with those established by Open Book Publishers, Knowledge Unlatched (in its early days), Jisc, Open Library of Humanities or in the future by the COPIM project. It is important not to proliferate too many schemes rather focus on a maximum of 2-3 that could seriously and reliably build capacity. Perhaps one has to take the view in the light of the complexity and actors involved there is the risk ‘the perfect could be the enemy of the good’. But a bigger risk is that the ‘timid is the enemy of any improvement’ and might lead to further decades of OA monograph trench warfare, unintended consequences and heightened, even dangerous scholarly communications inequalities and resource concentration. The question for myself reconsidering whether COUL is possible, is at once, it is too ambitious or just not nearly ambitious enough?

ANDREW LOCKETT
Press Manager, University of Westminster Press
The views expressed are those of the author only and not the University of Westminster or agreed policy of the University of Westminster Press.

(Image blue sky, facing London)

Network ideologies and the myth of the Internet

Network ideologies and the myth of the Internet

UWP‘s latest title The Internet Myth by Paolo Bory has just been released, available in print and open access. Below we have extracted the concluding paragraph from an enlightening Preface by Gabriele Balbi explaining why research like Bory’s is so important in a contemporary setting in understanding digital culture and what the internet has come to mean. And how.

Internet imaginaries, ideologies, narratives, and myths (all terms used and explained by Paolo in his book) take time to be built, spread, accepted, and maybe then killed by society. They all have effects in the long term, they need long periods to be metabolized, and their effects are persistent even if often unnoticed. This book uses history, one of the few disciplines able to grasp long-term changes and continuities, in order to understand crucial issues in the relationships between contemporary societies and the Internet. It is an attempt to retrace how the digital culture today is based on forgotten ideas, to revitalize the powerful and persistent narratives behind failed projects, and to understand how the Internet was built with a mix of mythologies, human needs and limits. Every technology of communication is a byproduct of the society that created it. And in every society, imaginaries, ideologies, narratives, and myths play a crucial role in establishing a taken-for-granted and yet powerful system of looking at the world. This book ultimately aims to study the habitus where the Internet was created and, in the end, to better understand the ways in which contemporary societies decide to imagine, show, and limit themselves

The Internet Myth is the second of our Critical and Digital Social Media Studies series titles looking at digital and internet history in 2020, the other Incorporating the Digital Commons by Benjamine Birkinbine. Robert Hassan explored the conceptual shift to the digital too since 1989, in The Condition of Digitality (also 2020).

Journal of Deliberative Democracy relaunched

Journal of Deliberative Democracy relaunched

UWP is delighted to announce a new open access journal within its roster, the Journal of Deliberative Democracy. In the journal’s own words:

‘This journal was previously published as the International Journal for Public Participation (2007-2010) and, in November 2010, merged with the Journal for Public Deliberation as a joint venture between the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and IAP2. This initiative aimed to extend the discourse in the field benefiting from firsthand experience of public participation practitioners. In 2020, the journal was relaunched as the Journal of Deliberative Democracy. Funding for the migration of back content was provided by Åbo Akademi and Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance.

The journal has a truly global team of editorials and editorial board including scholars from Brazil, Japan, Lebanon, Ghana as well as leading universities in Europe, USA, New Zealand and other countries. The lead editors are Nicole Curato, University of Canberra, Kim Strandberg, Åbo Akademi University, Finland, Graham Smith of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster and André Bächtiger of the University of Stuttgart.

Public Sector Broadcasting – facing up to new challenges!

Public Sector Broadcasting – facing up to new challenges!

Achieving Viability for Public Service Media in Challenging Settings, the fifth in the CAMRI Policy Brief series was published recently. Authors James Deane, Pierre François Docquir, Winston Mano, Tarik Sabry and Naomi Sakr outline the paths and flexibility of thinking required to promote the cause of public service broadcasting in challenging settings that is arguably needed now more than ever before. As with all titles in the CAMRI series the booklet outlines key messages, the issue, surveys the research evidence and policy options. Each concludes with policy recommendations as how to take this vital media policy areas forward.

The series so far has recommended policy options for an online advertising tax (short and extended versions); AI and the Internet of Things in the UK; the gig economy and mental health; and portraying disfigurement fairly in the media.

The title is a collaboration between University of Westminster academics and leading PSB practitioners working for BBC Media Action and ARTICLE 19 and is more fully described below.

In the face of challenges posed by a shifting digital media landscape, an array of international bodies continue to endorse public service media (PSM) as an essential component of democratisation. Yet how can PSM achieve viability in settings where models of media independence and credibility are unfamiliar or rejected by political leaders? The answer lies in a holistic approach that is neither media-centric nor defeatist about PSM’s place in a landscape marked by younger generations’ widespread preference for social media platforms. There are more ways of working towards PSM than are often recognised. Wide-ranging research from media NGOs and academics demonstrates the potential of diverse, incremental approaches to embedding the values and mechanisms of PSM. These are as likely to involve regulatory and licensing institutions, unions of media practitioners, audiences, advocacy groups or social media platforms as content producers themselves. This Policy Brief considers the issues, research and policy options around achieving viability for PSM. It concludes with six recommendations that are relevant to policymakers, practitioners and media studies specialists. 

Crowdfunding for culture: Origins of a new system or no alternative at all?

Crowdfunding for culture: Origins of a new system or no alternative at all?

What follows from decisions to outsource modes of creation and funding to consumers? This is the question posed by a new open access book –CULTURAL CROWDFUNDING: Platform Capitalism, Labour and Globalization that considers how platforms are used to organize cultural labour following a logic of suggestion rather than overt injunction.

Four key areas are considered: the history of crowdfunding as a system; whose interests crowdfunding may serve; the implications for digital labour and lastly crowdfunding’s interface with globalization and contemporary capitalism. The book concludes with an assessment of claims that crowdfunding can democratize culture.

CONTENTS
1. Introduction Vincent Rouzé 2. Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding: The Origins of a New System? Vincent Rouzé 3. Far from an Alternative: New Cultural Intermediaries Vincent Rouzé 4. Participatory Cultural Platforms and Labour Jacob Matthews and Vincent Rouzé 5. Globalization and the Logics of Capitalism Jacob Matthews, Stéphane Costantini and Alix Bénistant 6. General Conclusion  Vincent Rouzé   Index

EDITOR
Vincent Rouzé is Associate Professor of Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Paris 8 and a member of the Centre for Media, Technology and Internationalization Studies (Cemti). Contributors: Jacob Matthews, Stéphane Costantini, Alix Bénistant.

Published open access by the University of Westminster Press. Published 29 November 2019

This book is published in the Critical Digital and Social Media Studies Series

FORMAT
128 pages paperback 229 x 152mm
978-1-912656-38-7    £19.99

OPEN ACCESS 
PDF, EPub and kindle versions available Free From uwestminsterpress.co.uk/site books: PDF 978-1-912656-39-4; ePub 978-1-912656-40-0 Kindle 978-1-912656-41-7: DOI:10.16997/book34

Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman

Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman

UWP launched a brand new journal today, now open for submissions.

Editors David Chandler, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos and Jane Lewis of the University of Westminster explain the background and their thinking that led to its creation:

Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman’ seeks to explore the implications of the Anthropocene from the perspectives of the social and life sciences, arts and humanities. We see the Anthropocene as an invitation to think differently about ways of being in the world and how we operate within, across and beyond our disciplinary framings. We take inspiration from Val Plumwood’s view that the Anthropocene poses the question: ‘Is it to be a posture of openness, of welcoming, of invitation, toward earth others, or is it to be a stance of prejudged superiority, of deafness, of closure?’ At present we feel that there is too little invitation: work on the Anthropocene often seems divided between climate scientists working along technical and managerial lines and, what can come across as, fairly aloof and abstract philosophical approaches. We seek to work to expand the area of Anthropocene work which can often be obscured by this divide; working out from the middle as it were.

For us, the Anthropocene poses questions that go far beyond narrow technical or governmental concerns of how to address issues such as climate change and global warming. While some contributors may, no doubt, be concerned with preventing, slowing or opposing the Anthropocene as a future to come, we hope that others will provide a critical, constructive and exploratory focus upon what it means to live within the Anthropocene as a time in which the certainties of the modernist world are becoming undone. Our desire is that this journal will pursue the open-ended and future-oriented invitations of the Anthropocene through building new cross-disciplinary research communities, facilitated through publishing in an open access format available to all.

We feel that the time is right to establish a world-leading interdisciplinary journal placing the University of Westminster at the centre of contemporary conceptual debates and practices. Drawing upon our unique strengths across diverse fields from the arts and media to the human sciences, via law, architecture and politics, Anthropocenes will engage and work with leading and upcoming international academics and practitioners looking for an interdisciplinary outlet and keen to develop and initiate debate through traditional and non-traditional forms of publication including visual and audio links.’