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"I think that OA is the future of publishing for serious scholarly work"

Q&A with our first open access books authors


We recently spoke to a selection of authors, all of whom published an open access book with us this year. Here is what they had to say about the experience, and the OA landscape.

The authors we spoke to were:


Johanna L.H. Birkland

Institution: Bridgewater College, USA
Book: Gerontechnology


Indrek Ibrus

Insitituion: Tallinn University, Estonia
Book: Emergence of Cross-innovation Systems


Why did you choose to publish this research as an Open Access book? If this was a condition of funding, what would you say are the benefits of publishing research within an OA book?

Indrek Ibrus: “It was not a condition of funding. But we included the “publication support” funding into the budget. And we realised that we could use if most effectively for publishing an OA book. As it was an EU project it was also clear that they like OA publications better. As the funding was available we chose it also simply because OA book is much easier to disseminate and it can reach a much wider audience.” 

Klas Backholm: “I think it was rather a strong recommendation from the funder, and it is also a strong recommendation from our University. The main benefit is that you reach out to a larger audience, which, of course, is how research should work.”

Johanna Birkland: “I thought it was an amazing opportunity to have my work more widely read and further worked on by others. I was very hopeful that the collection would be funded (which it was, by Knowledge Unlatched) because I knew having the book be open access meant more scholars and practitioners would be reading my work. In addition, I could assign my work in my classes and not feel guilty for using my own materials that students would need to pay for.” 

Why did you choose Emerald as your publishing partner?

Indrek Ibrus: “We opened initial discussions on the conditions with three publishers. It was clear early on that Emerald’s conditions were the best - slightly cheaper OA publication, and an opportunity to print a paperback edition of the book.” 

Klas Backholm: “Several reasons: we were contacted by Emerald during a conference, and were already then thinking about an OA book, so it fit in well. We also had offers from other publishers, but chose Emerald since we knew the brand, the publication fee was lower than in other offers, and we knew the promotion of the final product would be broader than with other publishers.”

Johanna Birkland: “My editor, Jen McCall was very responsive and supportive. I could have taken my work numerous places, but I liked the personal touch that Jen and her assistant, Rachel Ward, gave my work and my questions. Some of my colleagues who have used other publishing houses have not been so blessed with good editors and assistant editors, and I was cautioned by a colleague to choose a publisher based upon my editor, given that 90% of my interactions with the publisher would go through my editor: a good editor is worth their weight in gold.”

What has the response been like/ what do you anticipate the response will be like from people using the content?

Indrek Ibrus: “The book has some very encouraging responses from leading scholars in our field. It has been also easy to share due to its OA nature. So, it is reasonable to anticipate positive response - especially due to opening some new avenues for our field. I know that other people are already considering new books, related to this research project and the book.”

Klas Backholm: “We are receiving offers related to new research project, opportunities to collaborate with end user organizations, and interview requests from mass media. It is of course difficult to say how much of these are directly related to the book, and how much is related to our other research activities, but I would say there has been an increase after the book was published.”

Johanna Birkland: “So far, people are excited that they could read my work and not have to purchase an ebook or copy. I've been told that more people are planning to check out my work because it is open access. Some people have indicated that they would like to buy a print copy as well given the reduced price for open access.”

Would you publish your research within an open access book again?

Indrek Ibrus: “Yes, definitely - if the funding is available.”

Klas Backholm: “Yes, absolutely, if funding for publishing fees are provided. OA books offer a good channel to spread one's research.”

Johanna Birkland: “Definitely.”

Do you see OA books becoming a bigger feature of the publishing landscape in your research field?

Indrek Ibrus: “I would think so. For instance, the EU funding agencies generally presume OA publications and therefore allow the inclusion of relevant funds into budgets. Publishing OA books is also more cost-efficient than OA articles.” 

Klas Backholm: "At least OA publishing in general will grow - but I'm not sure about whether it will be in the form of whole books (for example due to the problems with funders reluctance to pay high publisher fees with little transparency into how this money is used) or rather as scientific OA articles.”

Johanna Birkland: “I do. I think that OA is the future of publishing for serious scholarly work, particularly work that academics do that they want to have disseminated, but that they know will not be a "money-maker." In particular, I think this is true for work that academics want to disseminate beyond an academic audience to a non-scholarly or more "general" audience, who may use part of the work but not be interested in the more technical or academic parts of their work.”