Lancaster University part of £2.8m project to increase access to valuable research

Books on a bookshelf

A new project to help universities, researchers, libraries and publishers make more, and better, use of open access books will enable greater access to world-leading research and increase its impact.

Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) is a partnership led by Coventry University and also involving Lancaster University’s Institute for Social Futures and Centre for Mobilities Research, Birkbeck, University of London and Trinity College, Cambridge.

Research England has awarded £2.2 million of funding to COPIM – with the Lancaster element of the programme worth £375,000 – from the Research England Development (RED) Fund, which supports innovation in research and knowledge exchange in higher education that offers significant public benefits.

COPIM also involves the ScholarLed consortium of open access presses, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library, Loughborough University Library, infrastructure providers the Directory of Open Access Books and Jisc, and international membership organisation The Digital Preservation Coalition.

The project aims to transform open access book publishing – which allows research outputs, such as journal articles, papers and books, to be published without requiring payment to view or use them –by moving away from a model of competing commercial operations to a more cooperative, knowledge-sharing approach.

This will involve improving and innovating the infrastructures used by both existing open access book publishers and commercial publishers making a transition to open access; enabling more productive collaborations between librarians, publishers, researchers and others involved in the open access landscape; and expanding opportunities by creating open source toolkits to develop the skills necessary to run open access publishing operations.

Dr Joe Deville, of Lancaster University’s Departments of Sociology and Organisation, Work & Technology, will be working alongside the university library as part of the project.

“This represents something of a watershed moment for open access book publishing,” said Dr Deville, who is also an Associate at the Institute for Social Futures and co-director of the Centre for Mobilities Research at Lancaster. “I and my colleagues have long been arguing that diverse scholarly communities should be at the forefront of developing the practices and infrastructures urgently needed to deliver an inclusive and sustainable future for open access.

“This grant brings this future much closer by creating new partnerships between the increasing number of academics, like me, who are directly involved in open access publishing and university libraries, infrastructure providers and membership organisations. Collaborations like this are essential to ensure the research we produce in universities reaches the very widest audience.”

COPIM will support and sustain diverse publishing initiatives and models, particularly within the Humanities and Social Sciences, in the UK and internationally, offering universities and researchers sustainable publishing models they control, increased publishing options, and cost reductions.

Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said: “Open access plays an important role in maximising the impact of publicly funded research and innovation by making it more widely available to all who might benefit from it. Open access is a key priority both for Research England, and for UK Research and Innovation as a whole.

“I am delighted that we are able to support this ambitious project in developing new and innovative open access publishing ecosystems. It will help us ensure that all publicly funded research is widely and freely accessible to everyone as soon as possible.”

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