Take 5 with PALOMERA partners – Open Book Publishers | OPERAS blog

flavoursofopenscience's bookmarks 2024-02-07

The “Take 5 with PALOMERA partners” is a blog series featuring the members of the PALOMERA project; you can get to know them with 5 questions and a quick read! 

The PALOMERA project is dedicated to understanding why so few open access funder policies include books, and to provide actionable recommendations to change this situation. PALOMERA is funded for two years under the Horizon Europe: Reforming and enhancing the European R&I System. In February, we talked with Lucy Barnes, Senior Editor and Outreach Coordinator at Open Book Publishers (OBP).

5 questions

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Open Book Publishers (OBP) as an organisation and your role in it? 

Open Book Publishers is a leading independent, scholar-led, born-OA, non-profit publisher. We were founded in 2008 in the UK by academics who wanted to make high-quality academic books freely available everywhere, and as well as our publishing programme (around 40-50 OA books per year) we’ve become deeply involved in: i) building infrastructure to support OA books with the Copim community, and ii) outreach and advocacy, via initiatives like Copim and the Open Access Books Network (OABN).

We see our involvement in PALOMERA as something that combines our interest in infrastructure and advocacy – successful policymaking requires both!

We’ve built up a reputation as a creative and excellent press, publishing prizewinning books and taking on innovative projects. We aim to put equity at the heart of our work, so we don’t charge authors Book Processing Charges (BPCs), instead building a mixed funding model with the support of our Library Membership Programme. We want to see more OA books equitably published, whether by our own press or by supporting the work of other presses. My role is a mix of editorial and outreach: I work closely on manuscripts, and I’m also involved in outreach with Copim, as a coordinator of the OABN – and via PALOMERA!

2. Why do you think the PALOMERA project is relevant and timely?

For far too long open access for books has lagged behind journal publishing, but in recent years there has been significant progress, with OA presses launching and building up their publishing programmes and reputations, and some non-OA publishers beginning to think seriously and strategically about how to publish more OA books. We’ve also seen the growth of more equitable funding models, including OBP’s own Library Membership Programme, Copim’s Opening the Future and Open Book Collective, and, in America, MIT’s Direct2Open, to give just a few examples of many. 

However, this progress has been patchy across Europe, and early growth needs support if it is to develop and spread more widely. Rigorous policies are needed to underpin the expansion of OA book publishing, both to secure funder income for OA books and to have an impact on behaviour, research assessment and budgetary systems that currently favour ‘closed’ over ‘open’ for books. But the goal should not simply be to divert cash to pay for expensive BPCs, so a lot of thought and planning is needed to make the shift to OA for books much more equitable than it has been for journals. We believe PALOMERA is an important step in this process.

Lucy Barnes, Senior Editor and Outreach Coordinator at OBP

3. What is your role within the project?

I am part of the communication and outreach team within the project. This involves two main tasks: i) helping to secure broad community input into the project from different stakeholder groups across Europe, to make sure we understand the current realities across the continent and can create networks and offer recommendations that will make a real impact, and ii) to effectively communicate the project’s outputs so that there is broad awareness of these across the scholarly communications and research communities in Europe, and so that they can be put to good use in creating robust, effective and equitable policies to support open access for books. As part of this activity, I’m glad to be able to bring into play my role as a coordinator of the Open Access Books Network, as it is one important forum for this outreach and dissemination work.

4. In your opinion, what is the biggest impact PALOMERA will have within the scholarly communication sphere?

I hope it will achieve its goal of enabling the creation of – as I said in my previous answer – more ‘robust, effective and equitable policies to support open access for books’.

But I think one of its biggest impacts, and one we can already see through PALOMERA initiatives such as the Funder Forum, is the creation of information-sharing networks through which people can learn more about how open access book publishing works on the ground, what are the issues at play and how can we develop an open access book publishing culture that is fair, equitable, and shares high-quality research for the good of all?

This goes beyond policymaking, but the relationships and resources that we create as part of PALOMERA will help to achieve this much broader and more difficult goal.

5. How do you see things evolving after the project finishes? 

It’s very difficult to predict too far into the future, as the last few years have taught all of us. I hope that resources we create, like the Knowledge Base and the Funder Forum, will continue beyond the life of the project and be well used, and I hope we will continue to build a future for open access books that is focused on knowledge-sharing, and not on funneling large amounts of library cash to a small number of megapublishers and their shareholders.

If I am correct in my assessment that this is a time of transition and development for OA books, then it’s a time when multiple futures are possible – so we will see how things evolve.

To get to know more about the PALOMERA project: visit the project’s page. 

This series is produced by the Work Package 5 team from the PALOMERA project. Stay tuned for the next posts coming soon!