Opening Access

The Association views Open Access (OA) to scholarship published in books and journals as a model, ideal, set of practices, and policy driver that, like any other, can only be judged against the rubric of our core values. Is access to both the knowledge published and the routes to publication equitable across disciplines and geographies? Do systems of access and distribution uphold the integrity of the scholarly record? Do practices of publication respect the labor and rights of creators and publishing workers? The university press community has approached new Open Access policies and experiments with their common mission and responsibilities in mind, and the Association works to support active learning and productive advocacy around OA modes of publishing. Approximately 70% of our members have undertaken OA publishing projects, ranging from opening backlist collection to at least 8 presses that are fully Open in all publishing programs; this is a growing area of practice and interest.

The Open Access Task Force continued its work through a second year, taking an opportunity to develop thoughtful recommendations for future projects and to conduct a second community survey on OA practices and perspectives. The 2021 OA Survey, completed in February, is intended both to confirm trends identified in the original 2020 document and uncover whether the pandemic has shifted community approaches to OA. Summary 2020 results are available to members as an appendix to the Task Force June 2020 Interim Report, and summary results from the 2021 survey will be made more widely accessible.

More than 85 member presses responded to the pandemic lockdowns last spring by opening free access to book and journals material available on aggregator platforms such as Project MUSE and JSTOR during the suddenly disrupted academic semester. Many continued that access through the summer and fall to serve communities of students and researchers locked out of traditional library routes to access. A number of presses quickly opened access to materials that had direct bearing on the coronavirus and public health measures—from works of history to policy guidebooks to rapid new scientific research work—as well.

AUPresses continues to work with our partners ARL and AAU in the TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem) project, now entering the fifth and final year of a pilot stage. The Figshare site that hosts all TOME-funded books, as of March of the year, lists 72 monographs published by 16 member presses. Over the coming year, the partner organizations, publishers, and institutional funders will be assessing the results and promise of the TOME concept of funding OA monographs in the humanities and social sciences from a variety of angles.