Summit to consider full implications of open access books

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Debates about the long-term impact of moving to open access by default for scholarly books will be on the agenda for a major conference later this spring at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Critical Issues in Open Access and Scholarly Communications will be held at Goldsmiths’ campus in South East London on Friday 24 May 2019, and will bring together representatives from research funding bodies, learned societies and publishers, alongside Research Excellence Framework (REF) panelists and other academics.

The four UK research funding bodies have signalled their intention to move towards an open access policy for long-form publications and to mandate open access book publishing for the REF exercise due in 2027. Meanwhile UKRI has signed up to Plan S, a Europe-wide coalition that aims to accelerate the transition to full and immediate open access.

While advocates of open access publishing cite the benefits of making long-form publications more accessible to the public and other researchers, others question the likely impact on publishing models and fear that the arts and humanities will fare particularly poorly in the face of increased publisher processing charges and budgetary pressure on university libraries.

The announcement of the event follows this week’s publication of a preliminary report of ongoing consultation with academics and publishers on the topic, co-ordinated by Universities UK. The report, summarising feedback from two events held last autumn, will inform a final report scheduled to be published by Universities UK later this spring.

The event at Goldsmiths will include participation from representatives of Jisc and Research England. It seeks to reflect on the latest available findings from the Universities UK project, and provide a platform for gathering additional evidence and feedback from across the university sector.

Sarah Kember, Professor of New Technologies of Communication and Director of Goldsmiths Press, said: “This event will bring together a range of voices which might not previously have engaged in this important debate. We’re calling on the academy to wake up to the full implications of open access for books – both the opportunities and the challenges. Join the conversation!”.

Places are free. More information and booking details can be found online here.