Learned Society Case Studies

Quite early in our research programme, we picked up on the importance of learned societies in the humanities and social sciences. We ran a focus group for learned society representatives and identified some important themes about the role of publishing in their activities and business models. We subsequently ran two case studies with learned societies in order to better understand the detailed relationships between their publishing work and their disciplinary support activities.

The first case study was with the Royal Historical Society. This well-established and prestigious association is run by officers, mostly academics, who are responsible for managing its publications, events and researcher support activities. We interviewed six officers and synthesised the findings, which can be found here.

The second case study was with the Regional Studies Association. This is a slightly newer society with a strong inter-disciplinary focus and a larger professional staff than the RHS. We interviewed two staff members and several officers (again, mostly academics). The findings are currently being finalised and will be shared shortly.

OAPEN-UK Project update May 2013

It’s been a little while since we checked in on the OAPEN-UK project but we have been very busy since the steering group meeting in February this year. Here’s an update on some of the key things we’ve been working on.

  • We’ve completed the case studies with the Royal Historical Society and with the Regional Studies Association. The RHS case study can be seen in our Research Findings section: the RSA is being finalised and should be published by the end of the month.
  • Our programme of publisher interviews begins later this month. We’re working with all kinds of publishers – commercial, university presses and new open access start-ups – to investigate some of the issues that they might face in implementing an open access business model for monographs. We’re trying to make sure that we interview two or three people from each publisher, to get a really rounded view of the challenges and opportunities from a number of perspectives.
  • We’re also busy setting up our institutional case studies with Sussex, York, Lincoln and Nottingham: these will begin in June. Again, we’ll be talking to several people in each university – between six and ten, usually – to get a really comprehensive picture of what they think might be the main issues in supporting open access monographs within their institution. We’re keen to understand practical issues, but also cultural ones – the university’s ability to influence the behaviours and preferences of researchers, and the pressure points where views would need to be changed if open access monographs are to be accepted (and not just by researchers!).
  • We’re working on a guide to Creative Commons licences for monograph authors in the humanities and social sciences. Our research so far has shown that this is a major concern for academics, and it’s clear that the information that’s currently available can be confusing for them. We are putting together a guide, responding to some of the concerns about Creative Commons expressed in Government enquiries and other places, which will be checked by legal representatives and edited by academics to ensure it is reliable and relevant. We’re excited about this one, and hope to launch it at the Open Access Monogrpahs Conference in July.
  • We’re still plugging away at the quantitative data. We’ve worked with the steering group to develop a methodology that we’re all comfortable with, but it requires some additional data before it’s really robust so we’ve decided not to release the first year of data just yet. We’re hopeful that after our next round of data collection in September we will be ready to share some early findings.

We’ve also been busy attending meetings and conferences, talking about the OAPEN-UK project, and have had enthusiastic responses to lots of our findings. The researcher survey from last year was a particular hit at the recent UKSG conference – we ran a ‘pub quiz’ for attendees at our breakout session and were surprised at how difficult it was for them to guess the answers to questions about researchers’ publishing habits and open access views. An educational experience all round!