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The British Academy publishes new report on open access and book chapters

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The British Academy has published a new report exploring the opportunities and challenges of widening open access for book chapters.

‘Open Access and Book Chapters’ was commissioned by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to inform future open access policy and to underpin the decisions that UK higher education funding bodies will need to take for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) after REF 2021.

The report defines what is meant by ‘book chapter’, examines the book chapter’s role within the research and publication profiles of different academic disciplines, and includes a quantitative analysis drawing on data about projects funded by UKRI Research Councils and on returns to REF 2014. The report finds that open access in respect of book chapters is much less developed than it is in respect of journal articles.

The report also makes recommendations to policy-makers, funders and publishers for developing policies for book chapters. These include recommendations that:

  • Book chapters need to be brought within the scope of policies aimed at extending the use of open access
  • Publishers should aim to overcome any technical obstacles to extending open access to individual book chapters, and should be clear about their open access policies
  • Consideration should be given to developing a ‘delayed open access’ model for whole edited book collections of chapters – under which the publisher’s version of record is made available after an initial embargo period in which the publisher is able to earn revenue – and that funders should consult on the implications of this model.

‘Open Access and Book Chapters’ complements Universities UK’s recent ‘Open Access and Monographs: Evidence Review’, which also recommends exploration of a delayed open access model.

Professor Nigel Vincent FBA, a member of the British Academy’s Open Access Working Group, said:

‘Book chapters are an important yet surprisingly neglected form of academic writing. While there has been much discussion of whether the model of open access originally designed to deal with journal articles can be scaled up to incorporate monographs and other “long-form” outputs, the issues that attend the definition and evaluation of book chapters have been overlooked.

‘This report sheds light on these issues and highlights the importance of this form of academic communication, and of making sure that it forms part of any future discussions about open access.’

Professor Hamish Scott FBA, the British Academy’s Vice-President (Publications), said:

‘The British Academy helped support the preparation of the data analysis that lies behind the UUK report on “Open Access and Monographs”, and it has now produced this report on “Open Access and Book Chapters”. Together, these two reports represent significant and timely contributions to current debates about extending open access to academic books.’ 

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