The Monographs and Open Access Project was set up to consider the place of monographs in the arts, humanities and social science disciplines, and how they fit into the developing world of open access to research. The project was led by Geoffrey Crossick, Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and was commissioned by HEFCE in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Evidence to support the project was gathered through an programme of consultations, surveys, data-gathering and research activities. The research was supported and shaped by an Expert Reference Group of publishers, academics, librarians, funders, open access experts in the UK and overseas.
The main findings of the report are as follows:
- Monographs are a vitally important and distinctive vehicle for research communication, and must be sustained in any moves to open access. The availability of printed books alongside the open-access versions will be essential.
- Contrary to many perceptions, it would not be appropriate to talk of a crisis of the monograph; this does not mean that monographs are not facing challenges, but the arguments for open access would appear to be for broader and more positive reasons than solving some supposed crisis.
- Open access offers both short- and long-term advantages for monograph publication and use; many of these are bound up with a transition to digital publishing that has not been at the same speed as that for journals.
- There is no single dominant emerging business model for supporting open-access publishing of monographs; a range of approaches will coexist for some time and it is unlikely that any single model will emerge as dominant. Policies will therefore need to be flexible.
HEFCE will consider this report and discuss its policy implications with other research funders including AHRC and ESRC, recognising that any steps towards policies for open-access monographs should be preceded by a thorough process of consultation and engagement.