Open Access and the Humanities: Economics, Books, and the Coming Storm

ISMTE. 8th November 2018.

A research paper

Professor Martin Paul Eve, Birkbeck, University of London

Plan S

Pan-European (and possibly broader) initiative for OA by 2020. Includes monographs with time delay.

A book

How much does it cost to publish a (digital) book?

  • Mellon Ithaka study (2016): $15,140 - $129,909
    • (Don't tell the Deans)
  • Palgrave: $95 x 200 copies = $19,000
  • Palgrave: Book Processing Charge: $17,000
  • CUP: Book Processing Charge: $10,000
  • Ubiquity Press: Book Processing Charge: £6,020
    • [~$7k USD]

Where do these costs go?

Assume fixed costs:

  • 3x staff + on and estates costs
  • Travel
  • CLOCKSS, Crossref, COPE, COUNTER memberships
  • Crossref membership
  • Around £190k per year

Assume production costs:

  • Typesetting: £500
  • Copyediting: £500

How many books with 3x staff?

Book costs

BPCs for monographs scale badly + concentrate costs

  • 5,023 monographs in UK in 2013 by largest 4 publishers (source: Crossick)
  • At a £5,050 BPC (UP price): £25,366,150
  • At a £6,500 BPC (CUP price): £32,649,500
  • At an £11,000 BPC (Palgrave price): £55,253,000
  • UK spend on all books 2010/2011: ~£60,000,000 (source: SCONUL)

BPCs for monographs scale badly

BPC graph

UK REF costs for monographs

"to publish 75% of anticipated monographic submission output for the next REF would require approximately £96m investment over the census period. This is equivalent to £19.2m per year. Academic library budgets as they are currently apportioned would not support this cost."

Eve, M.P. et al., (2017). Cost estimates of an open access mandate for monographs in the UK’s third Research Excellence Framework. Insights.

Political Will

It is possible to achieve OA monographs. It is a matter of political will. But: that will is not there to put money into the humanities.

Cost to UK would be 1.2% of QR funding, or 19.2% of the AHRC budget.

The End

Thank you!

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