Open Monographs (& chapters) at Kent

This post is part of a series written for Academic Liaison Services at the University of Kent, as introduction to research support. While we hope it is of more general interest, please read it with this in mind.

Open book with dog, rose and lamp emerging from it.

Research England has said that monographs must be published Open Access for inclusion in the ‘Next REF’ (Somewhat bizarrely, this doesn’t actually refer to the REF2021 submission, but the one after that…!). The world of open access books, unlike open access articles, has a wide and varied approach to publishing models and funding, and there is no one model that is outstripping the others. This is exciting in terms of flexibility and choice, but can also be confusing. In this post, we look a little at the landscape of open access monographs and the types of choices available.

It does come with a warning – this is not a definitive list of publishers. Those selected below are illustrative of the publishing model only, and many academic publishers now offer routes to open access monographs. If you are interested in publishing on an open platform, do come and talk to us.


In October 2018, Jisc scholarly communications published “Open access briefing: OA monographs in the UK” which is a comprehensive overview of the current situation, the challenges and the possible remedy for these. These include Book Processing Charges becoming a dominant model, escalating costs, the challenges to the supporting infrastructure and the corresponding challenge to discoverability.

The Universities UK Open Access Monographs working group was established in 2016 and its remit includes:

  • Monitor and evaluate progress towards OA book publishing.
  • Promote and accelerate cultural change towards OA publishing within academia and among traditional publishers.
  • Advise on technical barriers to OA publishing and make recommendations for further work and investment.
  • Promote innovation and diversity in business models for OA book publishing, including potentially via encouraging support for existing pilots
  • Advise on how best to overcome perceived and actual policy and legal barriers to OA, including to funders, third-party rights holders, academic communities and publishers

In a blog post last July, Research England highlighted their next steps for Open access and monographs saying that they will “seek to answer a set of challenges and questions posed by sector representatives” in response to Open access and monographs Where are we now? A position paper by the British Academy and other comments from the sector.

Green open access

This route means you deposit a version of your work in the Kent Academic Repository (KAR).

  • This costs nothing.
  • It is most suitable for book sections and chapters – but talk to us about DOI’s
  • It works for books which are published in print or online.
  • You need to get the permission of the publisher to put your work in KAR. Many publishers allow this.
  • You are usually only allowed to use the Author Accepted Manuscript of a chapter.
  • You usually need to use an embargo, which means your work won’t be Open Access until a set period of time has passed.

Open access monograph publishers

These are publishers that are primarily established to create openly available work – examples include Open Book Publishers where a free online edition can be read via the website and many other online platforms. Books are also available in hardback, paperback and ebook editions for a fee. Another example is Ubiquity Press which is a fully open access publisher, making all electronic formats of the monograph available online with a print on demand option.

Community funded initiatives

Knowledge Unlatched provide one of many way of making a monograph openly available – uniquely, they offer a route for making already published monographs openly available. They cannot approve all titles, but if your title is approved then it removes the need for a Book Processing Charge (BPC) (technically, the BPC is paid by the pledged funds).

Unglueit is a crowdsourcing initiative for publishing – it works more for monographs with public interest that others are keen to make available for a wider audience. It provides a platform, but otherwise little of the added services a publisher would provide.

New University Presses

There are increasing numbers of University Presses emerging, for example University of Huddersfield press or UCL press – these are often smaller in scale and many (although not all) have specific targets or themes for their book publishing. The book processing charges are usually comparable with other open access monograph publishers, and lower than commercial publishers offering an open access option.

Pay what you can

This is a controversial model for some – Counterpress is the primary example. This enables the work to be made openly available, but asks users to pay what they can, including nothing. For some, this doesn’t count as ‘open’, for others is it is an innovative model to enable open to be commercially viable…

Commercial publishers offering an open access option

These are often referred to as ‘BPC’ model publishing – where you approach a traditional, commercial publisher but pay a BPC for the work to be made open – most academic publishers now offer this option, including Brill Open, SpringerOpen … the list goes on! BPC’s can vary substantially, and this is usually the most costly route (BPC’s can be £11,000 or higher through this route), but some publishers offer lower BPC’s than others.

What support is available?

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