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Open Research


While open access is now the norm across journal publishing, it is also growing in prominence within monograph publishing. Many funders are mandating open access for the books and book chapters they fund, including Wellcome Trust and UKRI, and there are a variety of different models for supporting open access for long-form scholarship. This webpage provides resources and information for researchers looking to publish their books open access. Visit our webpage on open access books policies to see which funders now mandate open access books and the conditions according to which they do so.

Models for open access books

Many commercial and university presses now offer open access for the books they publish and there are also a host of new ‘born’ open access publishers who only publish freely accessible books. In general, however, the economics of book publishing require significant upfront investment on behalf of the publishers and many books in a traditional sales environment do not break even in terms of costs. Because of these economic complexities, and the relative paucity of funding for some book-based disciplines in the arts and humanities, the turn to open access for long-form scholarship is more complicated than with journals and is consequently moving at a slower pace with more flexibility being shown by research funders.

As with journal articles, open access books are supported by green or gold models. Green models are those where access is provided through a repository, while gold models are those where the version of record is made openly available by a publisher.

Green open access

While many books can be uploaded to an institutional or subject repository, embargo periods are common in academic book publishing and so you might not be able to make your book open access immediately. You should also discuss with your publisher whether you are able to upload the version of record of the accepted manuscript. Some publishers are starting to charge fees for shorter embargo periods. We strongly recommend that you do not pay for these models. Because books are subject to lengthier contractual negotiations than journal articles, you may be able to negotiate green open access as part of your contract, or at least a shorter embargo period. Some presses may accept open access in exchange for lower author royalties, for example. It is also possible to use ‘rights retention’ for your book or chapter whereby you notify the publisher at the outset of your intention to retain the right to make the accepted manuscript freely available in a repository. You can read more about rights retention for books in a post by Rupert Gatti on our Unlocking Research blog.

Gold open access

There are a range of models supporting gold open access books, including via print sales, library memberships and processing charges. Publishers are also experimenting with different packages of titles that become open when a certain number of sales are made or libraries subscribe. For example, Cambridge University Press’s Flip it Open model makes selected books open access if enough copies have been sold within the first two years. MIT Press and University of Michigan Press make frontlist titles available when enough libraries subscribe to their backlist titles. Many open access book publishers are experimenting with collective funding models through the Open Book Collective. The library supports a number of these approaches with a particular goal of nurturing a no-author-fees ecosystem of book publishing.

While there is a growing ecosystem of book publishers that do not charge authors, the book processing charge is still a significant feature of the landscape. Presses such as InTechOpen, Palgrave MacMillan and Routledge all charge researchers to publish their open access monograph – often totalling upwards of £12,000. Book processing charges are designed for those in receipt of grant funding and many funders allow you to charge these fees to your grant or include them in the original budget proposal. See more here on the books policies page. At present, there is no funding available within the library for open access book publishing charges and we are keen to avoid supporting models that exclude authors on economic grounds.

Where can I find an open access book publisher?

The following information is taken from the Open Access Books Toolkit, licensed under CC BY:

The most extensive resource to find open access book publishers is the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB). DOAB lists academic, peer-reviewed books that are available under an open licence. Publishers that apply to have their books listed here are screened for their peer review process and licensing policy.

DOAB provides the option to browse by publisher, which results in an alphabetical list of around 400 publishers, followed by the number of open access books which they have listed in DOAB. You can also browse by subject, to find publishers who work with authors in your field. If you are interested in a particular publisher, click on the link, and you will find the URL of their website and, in many cases, tabs with more information: ‘about’, ‘peer review’ and ‘licence’. If you are looking for publishers in your language area, start by searching for a subject and then select the language area of your choice on the results page.

OAPEN maintains a list of publishers that comply with the open access requirements of European research funders, currently the European Research Council (ERC), Wellcome, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The list aims to inform authors about compliant publishers. Listed publishers need to confirm their compliance to be included (OAPEN n.d.).

Many book publishers are members of OASPA, the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association, which means they fulfil OASPA membership criteria.



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