“At the University of North Carolina Press, we recently completed a four-year initiative to support the publication of open access (OA) monographs by university presses in the discipline of history. Through the Sustainable History Monograph Pilot (SHMP)—generously funded by the Mellon Foundation — we published fifty-nine titles with nineteen different presses. SHMP was unique among OA initiatives in that it did more than simply provide offset funding. It required an intervention in publication workflows where university presses and their authors had to submit to a standardized process with templated outputs that aligned with the requirements of digital platforms. The pilot recorded successes and challenges indicative of ongoing and future needs, some of them general to all OA publishing and some specific to OA monograph publishing.
There were several areas of encouraging news. The titles we published are being accessed and used exponentially more than digital editions that are behind paywalls. And standardization significantly reduced the costs required to create a high-quality university press monograph. But there were also discouraging results. Authors and presses remain deeply cautious about OA as a legitimate, sustainable mode of publishing. They are even more skeptical about the trade-offs associated with standardization. And we learned that there are serious gaps in the infrastructure needed to disseminate open scholarship efficiently and measure its impact….”