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A National Consortium for Open Academic Books in Sweden: An investigation funded by National Library of Sweden, Swedish Research Council and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Linköping University, University Library.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1399-9872
Lund University.
Lund University.
University of Gothenburg.
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2013 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

2. Concluding recommendations

2.1 Overall

  • Academic books, particularly those published in Sweden and publically funded, should be made available via an open access version;
  • Academic books should undergo an independent peer-review process;
  • A national consortium should be set up that organizes a peer-review process for academic books and provides guidance on open access publishing;
  • A consortium must work closely with existing publishing channels such as commercial publishers, Acta series and university presses;
  • Peer-review should be single blind (i.e. reviewers are anonymous to authors but not vice versa) with two independent reviewers. New developments in peer-reviewing should be monitored for future potential application to academic books;
  • We recommend that the consortium should be the responsibility of Swedish Research Council (SRC).
  • We recommend that authors pay ca 10 000 SEK (non-refundable) for a peer review process; the remainder of the cost of the consortium should be covered as part of a national infrastructure;
  • We recommend that publishers not be paid an extra sum to publish an OA version of a book, in recognition that they get peer review done cost-free;

2.2 Recommendations for National Funders

  • National funding agencies should require for books that they support a freely accessible version and that the book has undergone independent peer review. We recommend funding agencies to increase the printing subsidy by 10 000 SEK to cover the cost of the peer review. It could also work if the 10 000 SEK could be included in project funding (or applied for separately in cases where project money comes from, e.g., a university and publishing subsidy from another source). A publishing subsidy of this nature would be in line with funders taking responsibility for the entire workflow associated with a project, from initiation to dissemination and ensuring high-quality output;
  • Implementation of the first point also requires that someone takes central responsibility for the infrastructure required to allow an OA possibility for academic books (i.e. a national consortium for open academic books as outline here). Our suggestion is that this responsibility is taken by SRC, in their already given assignment to be Sweden’s national coordinator for OA.
  • The issue of elite international publishers is going to require extra consideration in the short term. They do not generally offer an OA option (at present) yet resulting books are considered highly prestigious by universities and advantageous for a researcher’s career. Even reviewers of grant applications tend to put significant weight upon these books (as a tangential point, guidelines for grant application reviewers need to be consistent with OA requirements). The long-term goal can be total OA, but a short-term transition could include an exception for “level 2” publishers[1];

2.3 Consideration for publishers

  • Be aware that in the academic world, open access, has gone from “why OA” (i.e. justifying and motivating the concept) to “how OA” (i.e. large-scale implementation). Focus to date has mainly been on journals, but interest is now coming to books;
  • For researchers there is an expectation that material that they want to use is visible (searchable) online;
  • While researchers still think a print version of a book is important, there is a growing number that questions the distribution and availability of print-only material;
  • There is evidence that freely available, electronic versions of academic books increases sales of print editions[2],[3]. A freemium model, where a simple electronic version is freely available and where extra products (e.g. print version, more advanced electronic version) are available for a fee, is one business model in use for OA books.
  • Academic books need as much as possible to go through a peer-review process;
  • The role of the publishing in the book production process is very important and will continue to be. However, it is important to recognize how technology changes are affecting academia (both how it works and what is expected). University libraries are taking an increasingly active role in the publishing process to provide solutions for problems that researchers are noticing[4]. It can be quite probable that there will be a shift from smaller commercial publishers towards university presses in Sweden.

[1] As defined by, or Swedish equivalent if developed.

[2] John Hilton III and David Wiley (2010) The Short-Term Influence of Free Digital Versions of Books on Print Sales, the Journal of Electronic Publishing (DOI:

[3] Eelco Ferwerda (2012) Preliminary results from two OAPEN projects (

[4] Helena Francke (2013), Publicera! Svenska forskningsbiblioteks arbete med publiceringsfrågor, Svensk biblioteksförening

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 20 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-94273DOI: 10.3384/liu:diva-94273OAI: diva2:631200
Swedish Research CouncilRiksbankens Jubileumsfond
Available from: 2013-06-20 Created: 2013-06-20 Last updated: 2013-12-05

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