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UCL Press exceeds three million global downloads

15 May 2020

UCL Press recently reached three million global downloads of its books and journals, ahead of its fifth anniversary next month

Global digital downloads concept

June 2020 will mark the five-year anniversary of UCL Press, the UK's first fully open access university publisher, which passed the momentous milestone of three million global downloads last month.

Since launching in 2015, UCL Press has published over 140 academic books, including monographs, edited collections and textbooks. Downloads have taken place in 243 countries and territories, reaching readers in countries as far afield as Benin, North Korea, the Vatican City and even Antarctica.

A Vast Global Readership

The top 10 countries for downloads are the United States, United Kingdom, India, Canada and Germany, followed by China, Australia, the Philippines, the Netherlands and Nigeria.

[Related: UCL Press download statistics]

The most popular title on the list continues to be How the World Changed Social Media by Professor of Anthropology Daniel Miller and a collective of eight other esteemed global anthropologists. The title has been downloaded over 400,000 times since it was published in March 2016 and has been translated into four languages.

Other popular titles include Brexit and Beyond, edited by Dr Benjamin Martill and Dr Uta Staiger from the UCL European Institute, which has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, and the Textbook of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery by UCL and Royal Free London academics and practitioners, which has been downloaded 80,000 times in 194 territories, including India, China and Iraq.

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Many of the books and journals published by UCL Press address the major challenges facing society today: the environment, food shortages, water resources, global industry, urban development and housing, refugees, social media, public health, immigration, politics and education. By making the latest research on such topics freely available, UCL Press is contributing to improving understanding of these complex topics.

A Leader in Open Access Publishing

These engagement figures show that publishing academic content via open access is an effective way to reach a wide and diverse global audience. A Springer Nature report from 2017 found that open access books receive on average seven times more downloads than non-open access books.

UCL Press was an early innovator in open access publishing and its list spans a range of academic interests from history to translation, the sciences to archaeology. 

The publisher has established 13 new journal titles, including its interdisciplinary journal Open Environment, which showcases radical and critical thinking to address real world problems such as sustainability and climate change.

Open access publishing in the academic community remains a high priority, with new funder mandates on the horizon from both UK Research and Innovation and the Science Europe Plan S initiative for open access publishing.

Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost for UCL Library Services, said: "Open access is a revolution because it enables publishers to reach a new, global audience.

“It means that important medical textbooks and radical interdisciplinary approaches to tackling health crises such as covid-19 can be accessed by the people that need them regardless of where they live in the world. We believe that open access is the future of scholarly publishing.”

Lara Speicher, Head of Publishing at UCL Press, stated: “We are delighted to have surpassed three million downloads and this is a testament to UCL’s commitment to open access from the outset. The engagement figures demonstrate that there is demand and wide appeal for the outputs by academics, students and external audiences.”

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