Open Access

Open Access Week Q&A with Director Steve Cohn

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Today our Director Steve Cohn answers questions in honor of Open Access Week, a global event dedicated to discussion and education about Open Access within the scholarly and research community and to the expansion of access to research and information across disciplines. Steve Cohn got his start in publishing as the managing editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, which he brought with him to the Press in 1984 as the Press’s eighth journal (we now publish over fifty), and which the Press continues to publish today. He came to the Press as the Journals Manager, and after building and strengthening that program he became Director in 1993. Steve led the Press back from a period of financial insecurity in the nineties, through the transition from print to digital formats, and through significant growth and expansion of its publishing program.

Why is it important that Duke University Press experiment with Open Access?

Given the way our world is changing—with many librarians, funding agencies, and governments pushing towards a fully open-access publishing environment—we feel it is imperative that we begin experimenting with open-access publishing, even though we see no way for open-access publishing to be feasible (or desirable) on a broad scale for the sort of publishing we are now doing.

Mainly for that reason, but also because we believe that demonstrating ways to publish open-access projects successfully can allow us to attract some excellent projects that we could not otherwise have attracted, we have begun publishing both journals and books in open-access arrangements, in each case insisting that the OA arrangement must be financially sustainable over the long term.

What was the Press’s first venture into OA publishing?

Our longest-running OA project by far is the Carlyle Letters Online (CLO), the electronic database that has mainly superseded the long series of printed volumes (now nearing fifty) that began in 1970 and will continue to be published steadily at the pace one volume per year, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, until we reach the end of this voluminous set of letters from Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle in a few more years.

The CLO is widely considered to be a model “lives and letters” database, much used, much loved, and much imitated. We hope it can soon start to serve as the model and the base for a much wider set of annotated letters, diaries, and other Victorian life-writing.  

What open access initiatives have been most successful for Duke University Press?

In the realm of journals, we have concentrated our open-access efforts on what are alternatively called diamond or platinum models, i.e., models that do not depend on author payments as their source of sustainability. In the areas we publish in primarily—the humanities, the interpretive social sciences, and mathematics—most authors do not have grant funding to cover OA charges, as they do in the sciences; so they would have to pay article fees out of their own pockets.

The model for those efforts is our very successful publication of Environmental Humanities, a journal that is supported through annual contributions of $5,000 each from five academic centers scattered among Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. (Magazines for Libraries said, “Environmental Humanities is one of the most beautifully realized open access journals I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing. This is a title whose URL should be shouted from the rooftops: it’s that good.”)  

This is a model we are promoting for other open-access journals that want to work with us, and we have recently signed an agreement with Judith Butler and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs for taking on a fledgling journal called Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, which we expect will be equally successful.

How do you decide whether to participate in an OA initiative? What are your criteria?

Our criteria for publishing an OA project of any sort are the very same criteria we use for choosing to take on any publishing project: the project must be intellectually significant and it must be financially sustainable. Both our OA books and our OA journals pass through the very same peer-review processes, including final approval by our faculty board, as everything else we publish.

The books we have published in OA form have almost always already been through the approval process long before they are chosen for OA publication. The main OA funding programs for books that we now use—Knowledge Unlatched and TOME—have so far been focused on already-accepted books that are well along in the production process by the time they are chosen for receiving the financial support that will allow the access to be opened up.

But even if we knew from the first that a book would be published OA, we would take it through the same review and approval process; and also we would design, edit, produce, market, and sell it in all the same ways as a book that had no open access.

How do you find ways to make OA book publishing financially sustainable?

So far, we find it impossible to imagine receiving funding that would be sufficient to pay all the costs for our very labor-intensive methods of book publication. Our books are expensive to produce, given the amount of time and care we put into them, and the unlatching amounts provided so far by OA funding sponsors like Knowledge Unlatched and TOME are not nearly sufficient to cover our full publishing costs (including staff time). So, with the exception of a few early and not very successful experiments, all of the books we publish in open access form electronically are also for sale through all our usual sales channels: we print them like any other book we publish; and we also offer them for sale in electronic formats in all the usual ways.

This is sometimes called “hybrid” OA publishing. We expect that the subventions or “unlatching fees” that enable us to open these books up can cover the revenue losses that come from electronic availability, as people choose to use the OA version rather than buy a copy. But we definitely do not expect those fees—on the order of $15,000—to be our sole source of sustainable income on these books, as it would not be nearly enough. With 75 books that are hybrid OA now on the market, we are starting to be in a position to collect good data on the effect of electronic OA publishing on the sales of these books. The ability to measure the effect of OA in a hybrid publishing arena is crucial for us to be able to assess whether a payment of something like $15,000 is enough to cover our revenue losses when we open the electronic access.

Open Access: Environmental Humanities

We have created a series of five blog posts covering open access at Duke University Press. Today’s post features Environmental Humanities, an international, open-access journal focused on the most current interdisciplinary research on the environment. ddenv_8_2_cover

Responding to the rapid environmental and social change in our time,  Environmental Humanities’ scholarship draws humanities disciplines into conversation with each other and with the natural and social sciences.

Currently in its fourth year, Environmental Humanities publishes interdisciplinary papers that do not fit comfortably within the established environmental subdisciplines, as well as submissions from within these fields whose authors want to reach a broader readership. Such scholarship has taken its readers into the worlds of sheep and young French shepherds; of stones, worms, and forest-devouring beetles; of the potential weaponization of echolocation; of crows, seals, and lava flows in Hawaii. The journal also publishes a special section called “The Living Lexicon,” a series of 1,000-word essays on keywords in the environmental humanities that highlight how each term can move the field forward under the dual imperative of critique and action.

Funding Access

Open access is an important part of Environmental Humanities’ mission to reach new readers who can develop bold, innovative interdisciplinary approaches to environmental scholarship. The journal is currently sustained by a collaborative partnership among five universities, but the journal’s editors and the Press hope to establish a broader base of support among additional universities and libraries to ensure the journal’s future.

The journal’s current sponsors are Concordia University, Canada; the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney, Australia; the University of California, Los Angeles, USA; the Environmental Humanities Laboratory, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; the Environmental Humanities Program, University of New South Wales, Australia. These sponsoring institutions make Environmental Humanities’ content readily available to scholars across the world.

Open Access: Duke University Press and the Knowledge Unlatched Initiative

We have created a series of five blog posts covering open access at Duke University Press. Today’s post features Knowledge Unlatched, an open-access initiative for humanities and social sciences books. We learned more about this initiative and the Press’s involvement through a conversation with Steve Cohn, Director of Duke University Press.

copy-of-ku_stacked_cmyk_green“The world is a better place when anyone can read what we’re publishing,” said Steve Cohn of Duke University Press’s 2013 decision to become one of the thirteen publisher participants in the original pilot collection for Knowledge Unlatched, an open-access initiative for humanities and social sciences books.

Through this pilot, libraries contributed funds to meet a target fee for a set of 28 books, covering the fees set by each publisher to “unlatch” a high-quality scholarly monograph. The “unlatched” titles were then made openly available on a Creative Commons license via OAPEN and HathiTrust as fully downloadable PDFs, while the publishers continued to sell their books in other formats. The pilot originally sought participation from 200 libraries, a target that was exceeded when close to 300 libraries from 24 countries joined Knowledge Unlatched.

Duke University Press participated with four books:

  • Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship by Sarah Franklin
  • In Search of the Amazon: Brazil, the United States, and the Nature of a Region by Seth Garfield
  • My Voice Is My Weapon: Music, Nationalism, and the Poetics of Palestinian Resistance by David A. McDonald
  • Ever Faithful: Race, Loyalty, and the Ends of Empire in Spanish Cuba by David Sartorius

Authors have been very enthusiastic about the Knowledge Unlatched program. David Sartorius, author of Ever Faithful: Race, Loyalty, and the Ends of Empire in Spanish Cuba, credits Knowledge Unlatched with making it possible for Cuban scholars to find his work. He writes at the Knowledge Unlatched website: “As a scholar of Cuba, and Latin America more broadly, it’s important for me to share my research with the people whose past I study. Knowledge Unlatched makes that possible in ways that costly paper editions do not allow. Issues of price and distribution make much North Atlantic scholarship on Latin America out of reach in the region, and open access facilitates the kind of transnational exchange of ideas that needs to accompany the proliferation of other transnational phenomena in our present moment.”

A second collection for Knowledge Unlatched, “KU Round 2 Collection,” for 20152016 consists of 78 new titles from 26 publishers, available on both OAPEN and HathiTrust. Some publishers contributed individual books to be collected in disciplinary groups of ten; some publishers, like Duke and Michigan, offered a publisher package of ten books. Duke University Press contributed

  • Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology by David H. Price
  • Dalit Studies by Ramnarayan S. Rawat and K. Satyanarayana
  • Diaspora and Trust: Cuba, Mexico, and the Rise of China by Adrian H. Hearn
  • Disciplinary Conquest: U.S. Scholars in South America, 1900–1945 by Ricardo D. Salvatore
  • Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo by Yolanda Covington-Ward
  • Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine by Catherine Besteman
  • Metroimperial Intimacies: Fantasy, Racial-Sexual Governance, and the Philippines in U.S. Imperialism, 18991913 by Victor Román Mendoza
  • Moral Economies of Corruption: State Formation and Political Culture in Nigeria by Steven Pierce
  • Negro Soy Yo: Hip Hop and Raced Citizenship in Neoliberal Cuba by Marc D. Perry
  • Sexual States: Governance and the Struggle over the Antisodomy Law in India by Jyoti Puri

The library pledging period for a third collection, “KU Select 2016,” closed January 31, 2017. This collection will feature 343 titles: 147 on the frontlist and 196 on the backlist. Currently, Duke University Press has 15 titles waiting to be made open access on the “KU Select 2016” frontlist and 11 titles on the backlist. To learn more about “KU Select 2016,” visit the Knowledge Unlatched Select 2016 Pledging Process.

Open Access: The Carlyle Letters Online

We have created a series of five blog posts covering Open Access at Duke University Press. Today’s post features The Carlyle Letters Online, a digital archive based on the Duke-Edinburgh edition of The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle.

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The Carlyle Letters Online (CLO) provides free access to the letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, an outstanding resource in Victorian literature, philosophy, and culture. During their marriage and throughout the middle of the nineteenth century, the couple wrote over 10,000 letters to a circle of well-respected contemporaries, such as Charles Dickens, John Stuart Mill, George Eliot, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. After a multiyear development process, the letters debuted digitally in 2006 and have remained open access, averaging nearly 20,000 unique views a month since its move to a new platform.

Features of the platform
In July 2016 the CLO migrated to a new platform hosted by the University of South Carolina Center for Digital Humanities (USC-CDH). This platform included new features such as an updated look, a tweaked letter viewer, and the ability to enlarge certain images and words for easier engagement with the content.  Users also have immediate access to the raw XML code of each letter on this new platform. These features provide readers, especially those involved with the digital humanities, with a more streamlined reading experience. The new platform employs both whole-word searching (which searches exact phrases) and fuzzy searching (which finds matches when users misspell words or enter only partial words). Using these two search options, users can filter letters by volume, date, recipient, and subject.
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The Future of the CLO

The move to USC-CDH’s platform has created the opportunity to display manuscript images, a feature that will soon be available on the site through a new manuscript image viewer as opposed to PDF attachments. The Rare Books Library at Columbia University is also digitizing the Carlyle family photograph albums, which will soon be hosted alongside the letters on the new platform.

Meanwhile, the completion of the print edition of the Carlyle Project looms on the horizon, and with it the digitation of the letters. But while the last volume of the letters is projected to be added to the CLO in 2021, the CLO project will not end there. Coordinating editor Brent Kinser hopes to see the CLO evolve to meet the needs of its users and of changing technology, paving the way for other digital databases on Victorian life to thrive, such as the Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium.

“In the post-truth age of fake news, anyone interested in the pursuit of truth and knowledge and wisdom needs to double their efforts to envision, build, and maintain sites that offer new ways of exploring the past and the present, which Carlyle dubbed ‘the conflux of two eternities,’ both of which help to shape the future,” Kinser says. “Truth may be out of fashion, but if it goes forever, we are, all of us, lost. But as Carlyle once said, ‘The World is the Place of Hope.’ Let us be of good hope. Efforts such as the CLO have an important part to play. The results need to be made available to as many people in as many places as possible. That means open access.”

Stay up to date with the Carlyles on Twitter by following @carlyleletters.

Open Access: Project Euclid

We have created a series of five blog posts covering open access at Duke University Press. Today’s post features Project Euclid, a not-for-profit hosting and publishing platform for the mathematics and statistics communities, managed jointly by Cornell University Library and Duke University Press. Here Leslie Eager, Director of Publishing Services for Project Euclid, shares more about the platform and the ways it supports open access in the mathematics and statistics world.

peOur goal at Project Euclid is to make mathematics and statistics publications easy and affordable to find and read online. Supporting open-access publishing is a huge part of that mission. About 70% of Project Euclid is open access.

With Project Euclid the idea is to provide low-cost but feature-rich hosting services for journals, books, and conference proceedings so that publishers can keep the scholarship affordable and widely available to libraries and researchers while sustaining themselves financially. We partner with math and stats publishers around the world.

Some editors of open-access journals ask us why they should work with a formal publishing platform at all. It’s true that anyone can post articles on a web page at little or no cost, but it’s much harder for readers to discover those articles. Journals hosted on Euclid are fully indexed, compatible with library discovery systems, tagged with Mathematics Subject Classifications, search-engine-optimized, and linked directly to crucial mathematics resources like MathSciNet reviews, zbMATH, and arXiv.

We work with subscription-based publications as well as open access, but we offer special low pricing to publications with no access restrictions. We also encourage publishers to make their subscription-based content freely available after three to five years. The result is that across the 87 titles that we host, over 70% of the pages on Project Euclid are freely available to everyone.

Exciting opportunities

acta-mathematicaIt’s very exciting when long-standing, highly regarded journals find ways to open their content and become more easily available. Beginning in 2017, Acta Mathematica and Arkiv för Matematik will become open access and will be hosted on Project Euclid with issues going back to 1882. Both are high-quality journals (published by the Institut Mittag-Leffler and produced and distributed by International Press), and Acta is consistently ranked among the very top journals in the field, according to Impact Factor. We believe that making journals of their stature open access will bring new visibility to the open-access business model and to Euclid as a leading partner in open-access publishing.

We also offer partial open-access solutions to publishers that are unable to secure full funding for their publications. The Euclid Prime collection hybrid model allows 25% of its material to be open access in the first five years, and all the journal content becomes openly available to all after that time. Prime publishers pay no out-of-pocket hosting fees and earn royalties from Euclid’s sale of the collection to libraries. Through Euclid Prime, Project Euclid is able to help fund partially open publishing initiatives by charging a low fee for the most recent content. Visit the Project Euclid site for a full list of all open-access titles.

To learn more about Project Euclid and to browse our open-access content, visit projecteuclid.org.