How a University Press can engage and support Open Access scholarly communities

Universities are looking beyond traditional publishing pathways to disseminate research. Megan Taylor and Kathrine Jensen outline ways that a University Press can engage scholarly communities.

The University of Huddersfield Press is one of an expanding number of new university presses (NUPs) in the UK (Adema & Stone, 2017). This increase in university publishing activity is part of changes in the wider research environment to requirements for scholarly research to be made available beyond traditional academic spaces. With research increasingly expected to be accessible to public, private, professional and international audiences, universities are looking at ways to disseminate research as alternatives to traditional academic publishing pathways.

The University of Huddersfield Press provides an open access platform that can support emerging researchers and foster research communities as well as help to develop niche academic areas. In 2016 the Press Manager role was established by the Library to enable a higher level of dedicated professional resource including active commissioning, raising awareness of open access publishing and developing and evaluating publishing processes, platforms and resources. A large part of this role is also to manage community relationships with authors, editors, reviewers and researchers and to support them in becoming more active in open access publishing.

Allowing free access to research may actually be essential as the arts typically suffer from funding cuts, with some secondary schools recently appearing in the mainstream news for removing music and arts education from their curriculum altogether. Open access publishing not only provides students and researchers with viable methods to disseminate their work but it also expands the opportunity for anyone, anywhere, to gain access to essential inspirational and educational material.

James Fox for the University of Huddersfield Press blog

During our most recent research, we found that the University of Huddersfield Press blog and the Press Twitter account were really useful platforms in terms of raising awareness of the Press, disseminating the publications and as a tool to contribute to – and join in - national and international scholarly events such as Open Access Week and Peer Review Week. The blog is especially useful as a content hub, featuring interviews with authors, event reviews and Press updates, as other social media platforms can signpost back to the blog. All these additional activities and more informal posts are key to engaging readers and therefore a way to enhance downloads, citations and perhaps ultimately impact for the research.

But, in order to grow publishing activity with real impact and develop these ongoing crucial community support and engagement activities, Universities must invest in systems and infrastructure as well as the people to develop and sustain it.

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Taylor, Megan and Jensen, Kathrine S.H. (2018). Engaging and Supporting a University Press Scholarly Community. Publications. 2018, 6, 13. doi:10.3390/publications6020013

Adema, J.; Stone, G. (2017). Changing Publishing Ecologies: A Landscape Study of New University Presses and Academic-Led Publishing; Jisc: London, UK.

Megan Taylor is the Manager of The University of Huddersfield Press and Kathrine Jensen is an independent research consultant. Megan Taylor:; Kathrine Jensen: