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The Academic Book of the Future

Date: 19/08/2014

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Library are launching a two-year research project which will explore the future of academic books in the context of open access publishing and continuing digital change.

Dr Samantha Rayner, Director of the Centre for Publishing at the University College London (UCL) will lead the project ‘Communities of Practice: The Academic Book of the Future’. Alongside colleagues Simon Tanner and Professor Marilyn Deegan from King's College London and Nick Canty from UCL this multi-disciplinary team will engage with the publishing and academic community to better understand the current landscape of academic publishing. A combination of large scale scoping work and more focussed mini-projects will ensure that opinions, approaches and ideas are included from the UK and beyond.

The Research Information Network will provide the consultancy for the large scale surveying work, under the leadership of Dr Michael Jubb while a Community Coalition of partners will work with the core research team to manage the mini-projects. The research project will be managed by a Project Board, which will be chaired by Professor Kathryn Sutherland, Professor of Bibliography and Textual Criticism at Oxford University.

Dr Rayner commented: Collaboration is at the centre of our approach to this project: we have put together an initial community coalition made up of a distinguished and diverse team of collaborators from all the sectors concerned with this critical issue, and we will consult as broadly as possible over the two-year funding period in order to gain the most comprehensive understanding of the publication needs of scholars at all stages of their careers, and the practical, economic and legal issues relating to the publication, dissemination, use and curation of the long-form publication in traditional and new formats. The energy already generated by this project has been amazing – we can't wait to kick off more formally in the autumn, and look forward to working with everyone, thanking them for their support and encouragement so far.

It is expected that this project will have a significant impact on a wide range of stakeholders in research, library and publishing communities and generate new evidence and dialogue that will inform policy and national approaches to this important area of scholarly communications.

In order to facilitate the on-going strategic dialogue, Anne Jarvis, Librarian of the University of Cambridge, will chair the Strategy Board, which will bring together key national policy and funding bodies that share a common interest in enabling UK researchers, publishers and libraries to continue to innovate and compete internationally by exploiting the opportunities afforded by digital change. The Strategy Board will be informed by the research project, but will be an independent high-level policy forum. The Board will ensure that there are complementary links with other key projects in this area, including the current work led by the Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE).

Follow this announcement on Twitter: #AcBookFuture.

For further information, please contact: Alex Pryce (AHRC) on 01793 416025 or a.pryce@ahrc.ac.uk

Image by Michael Porter (Flickr): 'eBook Readers Galore'.

Notes for editors:

  • Anne Jarvis is University Librarian at the University of Cambridge. She is responsible for the main University Library, its affiliated libraries, and the Centre for Research in Educational Technology. Anne is currently an elected member of the Board of Research Libraries UK (RLUK), she chairs the Board of Directors for the Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries and she is a Curator of the University Libraries, University of Oxford. Anne is a Leading Change (Frye Leadership) Institute Fellow (2000) and a former Vice-President (2005-2007) of Wolfson College, Cambridge.
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please go to: www.ahrc.ac.uk
  • The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website – www.bl.uk – every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.
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