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Birkbeck to play leading role in project to transform open access academic publishing

Professor Martin Eve will lead Birkbeck’s part in the project, which has been made possible through a £2.2 million grant from Research England.

Birkbeck, University of London is to play a leading role in the transformation of the academic book-publishing environment, thanks to over two million pounds worth of funding from Research England.

The Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) project partners Birkbeck with Coventry University, who led on the bid, Lancaster University, the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Library, Loughborough University Library, and Trinity College, Cambridge, as well as forging external links with ScholarLed (Mattering Press, meson press, Open Book Publishers, Open Humanities Press, punctum books), Jisc Collections, The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), The British Library, and The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC).

The project will put in place the currently missing but requisite infrastructures, business models, governance procedures, re-use strategies, preservation structures, and outreach programmes for the proposed mandate for open access books in the anticipated Third Research Excellence Framework. Birkbeck, in particular, will be seeking to work with external publishing partners to transform their business models.

Professor Martin Paul Eve, Birkbeck’s lead on the project, said: “This is a moment of key transition for open access monographs. The economic, social, and technical challenges have, until now, served to block progress in this area. With this support from Research England, we are taking the initiative to bring academic books to the open, digital age. Birkbeck has long believed that there are substantial benefits to society when education is openly accessible and I see this as a continuation of that work, allowing anyone to read academic work in monographic form from the humanities and social scientific disciplines, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Professor Eve, the author of the Cambridge University Press book Open Access and the Humanities, has substantial experience in the realm of open access publishing, having given evidence as an expert witness to the House of Commons BIS Select Committee on the subject in 2013. Professor Eve has also been a member of the HEFCE Expert Reference Group on Open Access Monographs, the UUK Open Access Monographs Working Group, and was a co-founder of the Open Library of Humanities with Dr Caroline Edwards, also of Birkbeck. For his services to the advancement of open access, Professor Eve was awarded the Medal of Honour in the Humanities and Social Sciences by KU Leuven University and was a finalist for the Guardian’s Most Inspirational Leader in Higher Education, both in 2018.

Professor Heike Bauer, Head of the Department of English and Humanities, said: "We are delighted to be involved in this collaboration. The Department has a long history of fostering innovative interdisciplinary research. The open access work of Professor Eve and his colleagues promotes the arts and humanities in a way that is now more important than ever.”

Professor Anthony Bale, Dean of the School of Arts, said: “This is an excellent recognition of Birkbeck’s key role in researching and transforming thinking on publishing. The COPIM project recognises the importance of collaboration between universities, and collaborations with other partners outside the academic sector. Professor Eve’s voice is central to current and future thinking around open-access publishing, and Birkbeck is pleased to support this work in ing up the arts and humanities.”

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