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The Academic Book of the Future

Posted on 19/08/2014

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Library are launching a two-year research project which will explore the future of the academic books in the context of open access publishing and continuing digital change.  

Dr Samantha Rayner, Director of the Centre for Publishing at the University College London (UCL) will lead the project ‘Communities of Practice: The Academic Book of the Future’. Alongside colleagues Simon Tanner and Professor Marilyn Deegan from King’s College London and Nick Canty from UCL, this multi-disciplinary team will engage with the publishing and academic community to better understand the current landscape of academic publishing. A combination of large scale scoping work and more focussed mini-projects will ensure that opinions, approaches and ideas are included from the UK and beyond.  

The Research Information Network will provide the consultancy for the large scale surveying work, under the leadership of Dr Michael Jubb, while a Community Coalition of partners will work with the core research team to manage the mini-projects.The research project will be managed by a Project Board, which will be chaired by Professor Kathryn Sutherland, Professor of Bibliography and Textual Criticism at Oxford University.

Dr Rayner said: 'Collaboration is at the centre of our approach to this project: we have put together an initial community coalition made up of a distinguished and diverse team of collaborators from all the sectors concerned with this critical issue, and we will consult as broadly as possible over the two-year funding period in order to gain the most comprehensive understanding of the publication needs of scholars at all stages of their careers, and the practical, economic and legal issues relating to the publication, dissemination, use and curation of the long-form publication in traditional and new formats.  The energy already generated by this project has been amazing – we can’t wait to kick off more formally in the autumn, and look forward to working with everyone, thanking them for their support and encouragement so far.'

It is expected that this project will have a significant impact on a wide range of stakeholders in research, library and publishing communities and generate new evidence and dialogue that will inform policy and national approaches to this important area of scholarly communications.  

 

In order to facilitate the ongoing strategic dialogue, Anne Jarvis, Librarian of the University of Cambridge, will chair the Strategy Board, which will bring together key national policy and funding bodies that share a common interest in enabling  UK researchers, publishers and libraries to continue to innovate and  compete internationally by exploiting the opportunities afforded by digital change. The Strategy Board will be informed by the research project, but will be an independent high-level policy forum. The Board will ensure that there are complementary links with other key projects in this area, including the current work led by the Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE).

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