Concordia excited to launch next generation of scholarly publishing – Montreal Gazette
Calling all scholars.
The Concordia University Press opened for business on Thursday, and is now accepting submissions for scholarly book proposals from around the world as the university ventures into the digital world of publishing with its revolutionary new open-access press.
The first university inÂ Quebec â€“ and only the third in Canada â€“ to offer open-access scholarly book publishing, Concordia isÂ heralding the move as the dawn of a new era.
â€œThis is a very important milestone,â€ said Guylaine Beaudry, Concordiaâ€™s head librarian. â€œAll titles will be available for free online to anyone with an Internet connection. To make all that knowledge available for free â€“ that is truly revolutionary.â€
Itâ€™s a big deal, she said, because peer-reviewed books areÂ a primary method of scholarly communication. â€œIt is fundamental to teaching and learning, and to the dissemination of new research.â€
Editor-in-chief Geoffrey Little said the motivation behind the non-profit, open-access press was to support the universityâ€™s mission by publishing high-quality books in the humanities, fine arts and social sciences without any access restrictions.
â€œThis is an exciting moment for us,â€ he said in an interview. â€œMany good books go unpublished and potentially revolutionary research isnâ€™t recognized.â€ He acknowledged that itâ€™s a â€œtransformativeâ€ time in publishing, when the Internet has profoundly changed how people find and engage with information â€“ including the academic books known as scholarly monographs.
The goal, he said, is to diversify the publishing landscape by offering authors a credible, trusted option for the production and disseminationÂ of their works, held to the highest standards of peer review and editorial rigour while reaffirming Concordiaâ€™s mission to share groundbreaking research.
â€œIt advances scholarly argument based on advanced research methodologies,â€ Little said. â€œAnd it propels new ideas into the community.â€
Beaudry said that five large publishers control more than half of the scholarly book market. That leads to high prices, puttingÂ increasing pressure on perpetually cash-strapped libraries.Â
â€œWhat happens is that fewer books are published because libraries are buying less. So many good books are not published,â€ she said. â€œAnd that affects research objectives.â€
The university has sent out a call for book proposals, and expects to publish four titles in its first year, with a goal of increasing that to 10 titles a year within the first five years.
And itâ€™s welcome news on campus.
David Douglas, president of the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association (CUPFA), said itâ€™s a worthwhile endeavour for the university to support.
â€œMany academic presses are shuttering their activities, and this has a very detrimental impact both on the circulation and dissemination of knowledge, and also on the ability of faculty to find appropriate places to publish their research,â€ he said. â€œWithout these places, academics will suffer.â€
So heâ€™s happy to see Concordia â€œmarshalling its resourcesâ€ in a way that he believes fits in perfectly with the universityâ€™s strategic plan â€œto shake things up, get our hands dirty and engage the world.â€
Little will work with an editorial board of Concordia faculty members responsible for approving all titles, providing guidance and support for acquisitions and setting the pressâ€™s editorial policy.
Many of the books will also be printed, but the Concordia press â€œwill privilege the e-book,â€ he said. The CU Press expects to be publishing books, in both French and English, by late 2017.Â
The press was made possible by a donation of $150,000 from the Birks Family Foundation and $100,000 from Brian Neysmith, whoÂ founded Canadaâ€™s first credit-rating agency.Â
â€œMaking high-quality research available to all is a vision they share with us,â€ said Beaudry.Â
Concordia provost Graham Carr said the new press supports the universityâ€™s commitment to innovation.
â€œThis is an investment by Concordia in the evolution and revolution of scholarly publishing,â€ he said. â€œIt confirms our belief in the social and scholarly relevance of books and of their adaptability â€¦ to technology and cultural change.â€
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