LSE launches new open-access publishing platform

LSE Press becomes latest open-access platform launched by universities in response to industry shift towards online publishing methods

May 16, 2018
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LSE has become the latest university to launch its own open-access publishing platform to compete with major online journals, as institutions turn increasingly online and away from traditional publishing methods.

LSE Press, managed through the LSE Library and Ubiquity Press publishing group, will host research publications in the social sciences contributed by academics from within the institution and external scholars. It follows a similar move made by UCL, which became the first British university to launch a competitive open-access megajournal earlier this year.

Researchers will be invited to start their own open-access journals on the LSE platform, submit a book proposal or explore other styles of academic publication, according to the platform’s founders.

Julia Black, pro director for research at LSE, said that the platform’s launch had “arrived at an important time for academic publishing, as the open access policy landscape shifts to include books as well as journal articles”.

Professor Black’s comments follow continued debate over plans to require books which are submitted for the 2027 research excellence framework to have been published in open-access format.

UK research funding groups argue that the move reflects an industry shift towards open-access models in recent years, but critics have questioned the extra costs associated with book-processing charges, as well as freedom of choice for scholars on where to publish.

Martin Eve, professor of literature, technology and publishing at Birkbeck, University of London, and the co-founder of an open-access platform, the Open Library of Humanities, said that it was “interesting“ to observe “big players“ such as UCL and LSE, as well as the European Commission and Wellcome Trust, take advantage of the new opportunities offered in online publishing.

“The challenge will be in how they expect to sustain these endeavours in the long run,” he told Times Higher Education. “Do the universities see them as long-term investments into which they will simply continue to pour their cash reserves or do they intend the platforms to eventually become revenue-generating for the institution? If the latter, then the question might arise: does the long-term future of scholarly communications look that different, albeit with different players at the centre?”

UCL’s open-access platform was launched with the intention of becoming a megajournal – competing with the likes of Plos One and Scientific Reports by publishing huge numbers of articles from across a range of disciplines.

UCL may have been the first UK institution to do so, but the University of California Press has operated a successful broad journal, Collabra - now Collabra: Psychology - since 2015. Several research funders have also established their own open-access platforms, including the Wellcome Trust’s Wellcome Open Research, launched in October 2016.

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