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For open monographs, collective library subscription is the key

By Anthony Cond and Jane Bunker

Published in Times Higher Education in April 2024

“The Research Excellence Framework (REF) dictates UK academic practice, but it doesn’t always reflect it. That disconnect appears most acutely in the humanities, challenged by policy thinking oriented around STEM journals.

“Consider the current proposal to require a book’s Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM) – post-peer review, pre-copyediting and typesetting – to be deposited in an institutional repository after 24 months if the book is not fully open access on publication. The use of the AAM is logical for STEM journals. Science papers’ significant content is data, rather than narrative, and they are only a few thousand words long – relatively inexpensive to edit and typeset in comparison to a book.

“Now consider a 100,000-word scholarly monograph, the primary research output of the humanities and, to some extent, the social sciences. A book manuscript may not yet be written when its author approaches an acquisitions editor….”

In this Times Higher Education opinion piece, Cond and Bunker explore unanswered questions arising from the REF’s proposed use of AAMs for long-form humanities scholarship, describe university presses’ rarely acknowledged investments in AAMs, and suggest a better model for open monographs: that of collective subscription, which university presses are already piloting.

The unabridged article, entitled “Policy making and the future of scholarly monographs,” is available in our Digital Digest blog.

Anthony Cond is Chief Executive of Liverpool University Press and President-elect of the Association of University Presses. Jane Bunker is Director of Cornell University Press and President of the Association of University Presses.

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