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UCL Open Access Conference 2015

4 November 2015

What a great turn out. How wonderful to have reached a point where so many researchers are realising that OA could really benefit them and are coming to conferences with an open mind to find out more.’

Dr Alma Swan, Convenor, Enabling Open Scholarship

The UCL Press team had a busy and eventful Open Access Week presenting and attending a number of talks and events at other universities, and culminating in UCL’s own Open Access conference. With around 120 attendees it was the best attended UCL Open Access conference so far, and delegates came from numerous institutions and a wide range of backgrounds – librarians, funders, repository managers, academics, students and publishers were present.

UCLOA15

Focussing on the theme of ‘Publishing Options’, the speakers represented a range of Open Access activities and publishing models. Dr Alma Swan, Convenor for Enabling Open Scholarship, an organisation of university managers around the world that promotes the principles of open scholarship and open science, and a director of the Directory of Open Access Journals, gave a broad overview of Open Access take-up across Europe, including a fascinating insight into the different strategies used by universities to encourage their academics to make their published work available in institutional repositories. This formed the perfect backdrop to the talks that followed, each of them showing a different model of Open Access publishing.

Dr Martin Paul Eve, one of the founders of the recently launched Open Library of the Humanities journals platform, talked eloquently about the problems with the current publishing ecosystem and how Open Access can be achieved - without charging APCs to authors - by scholars, publishers, funders and libraries working together. OLH has had support from 112 libraries round the world in the first 10 months. This truly collaborative, not-for-profit model is also attracting much interest from journals wishing to join.

Ros Pyne, Research and Development Manager for Open Research, Nature-Springer / Palgrave Macmillan, described the ways that the company supports Open Access publishing, including significant investment in technology, over 550 fully Open Access journals, market research into the publishing needs of academics, and waiver schemes for researchers from low-income countries and those who can demonstrate no other means of securing funding.

Finally, Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager of the newly relaunched UCL Press spoke about the experience of establishing the UK’s first fully Open Access university press. UCL has been at the forefront of supporting OA initiatives for some time, and the addition of an Open Access press to UCL’s OA offerings to its academics has proved very popular, with well over 100 proposals for books received in the first 18 months or so. All books published by the Press so far have been downloaded in their hundreds – and thousands in two cases – within less than five months of publication.

These figures were commented on by many, including David Prosser, Executive Director of RLUK, who joined the speakers for the final panel session. He noted that usage figures in the thousands was significantly higher than typical expectations for print sales of scholarly books, demonstrating that the readership is there – when scholarly publications can be made freely available. The panel went on to discuss the ongoing challenges of how to achieve this as well as reflecting on some of the solutions that had been presented by the speakers.

Dr Paul Ayris, Director of UCL Library Services, and CEO of UCL Press, chaired the event and rounded off the afternoon with an announcement by LERU (the League of European Research Universities) calling on the European Commission to work with stakeholders to support the transition to Open Access by bringing sensible solutions to the fore. LERU asks universities, research institutes, research funders and researchers to sign the statement, which can be found here:

http://www.leru.org/index.php/public/extra/signtheLERUstatement/

To all who spoke, attended, and helped to organise the event, many thanks!