Academic Publishing, Learning from Libraries, Libraries, Open Access

White Rose University Press: the Library as Publisher

Triggered in part by the Open Access movement and also by the desire of early-career researchers and students (undergraduates as well as postgraduates) to find reputable publishing outlets for their work, in recent years there has been a steep increase in the number of university libraries setting up or encouraging the foundation of presses for their own universities.  (In 2015-16, Gold Leaf conducted research to determine the feasibility of one such project, on behalf of the University of Manchester.)

Most of these presses support the publication of new journals. Less common, but also steadily increasing, are publishing projects started by university libraries for the creation of Open Access monographs.  White Rose University Press [WRUP], founded jointly by the libraries of the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, publishes both journals and monographs.  WRUP was created to ensure academic quality, support Open Access and support innovation in publishing. It welcomes proposals across all disciplines and from across the academic community, not just from its host universities.

There are four live WRUP journals (JACHS, JESLA, UJPIR and BIOJ), with another on Contemporary Chinese Writing in development. Each journal has its own website, from which articles are available to access and download without charge. 

WRUP’s first monograph, Star Carr, published in two stunning volumes, was released in April 2018 and has now had more than 20,000 views/downloads.  Three more monographs have since been released with the most recent, Voices and Practices in Applied Linguistics, seeing nearly 1000 views/downloads since publication in Sept 2019. Further monographs have been commissioned, with three expected to be published in 2020.

Books are made available in a variety of e-formats, (HTML and downloadable PDF, ePUB and MOBI files). These are offered through the book listing page on the WRUP website, as well as via other content providers like JSTOR, and are free to access, download, etc. WRUP also offers print versions (via POD), so that for a modest fee people can obtain a hard copy of the book.  This means there is no embargo period; authors retain copyright; the Open Access version is the published Version of Record; charges apply: both APCs and BPCs; and, as WRUP is not-for-profit, the charges levied are enough to cover production costs only.

Sarah Thompson, Head of Content and Open Research at the University of York, was involved in early conversations about the possibility of establishing a shared university open access press and is also one of its board members.  She says that setting up and working with the Press has been very exciting and has involved a steep learning curve.  In common with more commercial publishers, WRUP has found that monograph publication schedules are hard to stick to.  Many academics have still to get to grips with the concept of Open Access and need support in navigating the choice of OA licences and in e.g. securing the right permissions for images. 

Sarah says: “White Rose University Press has been a very worthwhile enterprise.  We are fortunate in having been able to secure the support of our Vice-Chancellors and other senior administrators at the WRUP universities.  We were also lucky to be able to supply the relevant expertise in-house.  We are looking forward to continuing the White Rose University Press adventure in 2020.”

For more information about White Rose University Press, please go to https://universitypress.whiterose.ac.uk/

Sincere thanks to Sarah Thompson and Kate Petheridge, WRUP Manager, for providing the information for this article.

Sarah Thompson

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