50 years, Anniversary, Open Access

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Lore Van Praag: ‘Successful peer review involves an open and fresh view on your research topic.’

Lore Van Praag

“The most significant change that academic publishing underwent is the increasing importance of academic publications as a basis for funding and career opportunities.”

Lore Van Praag, Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies (CeMIS) at the University of Antwerp

Academic publishing underwent significant changes over the last 50 years. Which ones do you find most striking or significant?

The increasing importance of academic publications as a basis for funding and career opportunities. 

What is your experience with academic publishing? Is there anything in particular that you look for or value in the collaboration with publishers?

I am always curious about the reviewers’ feedback. At Leuven University Press, the engaged reviewers try to give comprehensive feedback on the entire book. 

Peer review is central to the value of academic publishing. What characterises, in your view, successful peer review that empowers and respects authors and readers? Do you see ways in which peer review could be re-thought, for instance with respect to the inclusion of a broader set of voices that need to be heard?

An open and fresh view on your research topic, the flow of the book/chapter and to think outside the box.

What is your experience with Open Access publishing, either as an author or as a reader? Do you identify obvious benefits or perhaps also opportunities for future development?

My experience is that it is not yet included in all funding schemes and therefore sometimes costs too much for individuals. There is a growing tendency to add this into research proposals, but I often have the impression I have to make a choice between open access or language editing. [Leuven UP: At Leuven UP, language editing is included in an Open Access scenario.]

What do you prefer: print or digital books? Is there a difference between what you read online and what you read on paper?
I prefer digital books in general. If I buy a print book, it would mainly be a handbook.

Which are some emerging topics in your field of research and/or academic publishing?

Environmental migration.

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50 Years Leuven University Press – 23 Interesting Facts

LUP Factsheet
  1. Established in 1971 by KU Leuven
  2. More than 900 monographs, 650 edited volumes, 300 ebooks, 49 series, 63 textbooks and 6 periodicals
  1. Output in 1972: 7 books published
  2. Output in 2020: 47 books published + 17 journal issues + 15 books on behalf of third parties
  1. Total number of Open Access downloads in 2020: 148.285
  2. Recognised as Compliant Open Access Publisher since 2015
  3. More than 160 free available backlist titles
  4. 20 Published titles with support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access since 2018
  5. Fast-growing Open Access collection in all disciplines
  1. 4 Physical warehouses
  2. 7 Ebook distribution platforms
  3. Authors and editors (at book level) with KU Leuven affiliation in 2020: 35%
  4. International authors and editors (at book level) in 2020: 65%
  5. Visitors at lup.be in 2020: 36% Belgium, 64% international
  1. Most awarded series: J.F. Lyotard Writings on Contemporary Art and Artists
  2. Longest selling text book (8th edition since 1977): Economie. Een inleiding – Economy. An Introduction
  3. First born Open Access title: Glass Making in the Greco-Roman World (2015)
  4. Oldest active book series since the 1970s: Mediaevalia Lovaniensia – Series 1-Studia & Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
  5. Heaviest title, De territoriale indeling van België (1795-1963) – The Territorial Division of Belgium (1795-1963), weighs 7,5 kilo
  6. Book cover with the most colour varieties (28 versions since 1996): Lessen voor de 21ste eeuw – Lectures for the 21st century
  1. Gender balance of the Leuven University Press team since 1971: 99% female
  2. 25 Years of uninterrupted presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair
  3. Third director
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Demmy Verbeke : ‘There are at least three reasons to pursue full Open Access in all scholarly communication.’

DemmyVerbeke

“It is essential that mission-driven publishers which share the same scholarly values as the academic community remain a preferred partner in the publication and dissemination of scholarly work.”

 Demmy Verbeke, KU Leuven Libraries

Academic publishing underwent significant changes over the last 50 years. Which ones do you find most striking or significant?
Electronic publication and dissemination have brought major challenges and opportunities. The possibilities seem limitless, albeit that they have certainly not brought the democratisation that was originally envisaged.
Another major change, made possible by the digital turn, is the ever-growing importance of Open Access. It is essential that publishers such as Leuven University Press, which are mission-driven and share the same scholarly values as the academic community, remain a preferred partner in the publication and dissemination of scholarly work.

What is your experience with academic publishing? Is there anything in particular that you look for or value in the collaboration with publishers?
What I, as an author, look for in a publisher is a shared set of values which make me entrust the publisher with the final stage (namely the dissemination) of the scholarly work in which I have invested so much time and energy.

Peer review is central to the value of academic publishing. What characterises, in your view, successful peer review that empowers and respects authors and readers? Do you see ways in which peer review could be re-thought, for instance with respect to the inclusion of a broader set of voices that need to be heard?
I am not convinced that peer review is the only and/or best mechanism for quality control. I also worry that too much reliance on peer review, especially if we are talking about pre-publication and blind peer review, stands in the way of innovating scholarly communication. So I would like to see more experimentation with post-publication peer review, with open peer review, and with other forms of quality control.

What is your experience with Open Access publishing, either as an author or as a reader? Do you identify obvious benefits or perhaps also opportunities for future development?
There are at least three reasons to pursue full Open Access in all scholarly communication. The first is an ethical reason, namely the conviction that knowledge should be shared and that the results of scholarly research should therefore also be available to the general public worldwide. The second is an internal motivation: transparency ensures that scholarly research can be conducted more reliably and efficiently. Moreover, Open Access promotes broader scholarly and societal impact in a shorter time frame. The third reason is of an economic nature, in the sense that Open Access publications can help reduce pressure on the budgets of scholarly institutions and their libraries, which has been a growing problem for decades.

However, the latter will only happen if Open Access publishers are focused on scholarly values rather than on profit margins, working in a cost-effective rather than profit-driven manner. It is therefore essential that mission-driven academic presses such as Leuven University Press are treasured as professional partners in Open Access publishing.

What do you prefer: print or digital books? Is there a difference between what you read online and what you read on paper?
I prefer the combination. An Open Access ebook ensures maximal scholarly and societal impact. It thus benefits the author but also the reader, who has quick and free access wherever and whenever s/he wants and can efficiently trace a particular argument. A (preferably reasonably priced) physical version of the same book is a very welcome addition for the author, who typically enjoys holding the tangible result of his or her hard work, and for the reader who wants to delve deeper into a particular book and spend a more prolonged period of time with it.

How important is the book cover design to you?
I do think there is truth in the phrase “judging a book by its cover”, as it is frequently considered to be a first sign of the standards maintained in producing the book in question. It can help to establish the book as a professional publication and can help to attract readers.

Which are some emerging topics in your field of research and/or academic publishing?
Awareness that not all approaches and business models for Open Access imply progress. We might achieve more Open Access, but at a price which is too high and in a way that continues the inequality and unsustainability that currently mar scholarly communication. I therefore see a growing attention to mission-driven, non-profit solutions and a growing willingness to support community-driven, consortial funding approaches.

What would be your advice for junior researchers on the verge of publishing their first monograph?
Make sure to work with a publishing partner who shares the same values as you and allows you to stay in control of the publication and dissemination part of your research. You have worked too long and hard on getting to the stage where you are ready to publish the results of your research to then not think about whom you trust to support you with this and to run the risk of losing control over your own work. Also make sure that you add an Open Access component to the way you publish, as this will increase your scholarly and societal impact.

How do you expect academic publishing to evolve over the next 50 years? Will the monograph stand the test of time?
I think a place for the long form of scholarly argument as offered by the monograph will remain, but I am uncertain to what extent it will still be physically expressed and am doubtful whether it will still be considered the most dominant form of scholarly communication in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).

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Jeroen Dewulf: ‘Open Access is often the only way for scholars in developing countries to access your work’

JDewulf

“A university press is the best guarantee to find the right balance between academic rigor and the desire to reach a broad reading public.”

 
Jeroen Dewulf, Queen Beatrix Professor in Dutch Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Academic publishing underwent significant changes over the last 50 years. Which ones do you find most striking or significant?
The professionalisation of academic publishing, especially in Europe.

What is your experience with academic publishing? Is there anything in particular that you look for or value in the collaboration with publishers?
A university press is the best guarantee to find the right balance between academic rigour and the desire to reach a broad reading public.

Peer review is central to the value of academic publishing. What characterises, in your view, successful peer review that empowers and respects authors and readers? Do you see ways in which peer review could be re-thought, for instance with respect to the inclusion of a broader set of voices that need to be heard?
I think it is especially important to find a good balance of established scholars and junior academics in the peer-reviewing teams. Too often, such teams are dominated by established scholars.

What is your experience with Open Access publishing, either as an author or as a reader? Do you identify obvious benefits or perhaps also opportunities for future development?
It is often the only way for scholars in developing countries to access your work.

What do you prefer: print or digital books? Is there a difference between what you read online and what you read on paper?
The ideal is to have both; I read a book on paper when the entire book interests me, I read it online when only a certain passage or chapter is of interest.

How important is the book cover design to you?
As an author, I value cover design, as a reader, I value this much less.

Which are some emerging topics in your field of research and/or academic publishing?
Disability Studies, the attentions for “disability”, in the broadest sense, is booming.

What would be your advice for junior researchers on the verge of publishing their first monograph?
Always look for a balance between academic rigour and a pleasant writing style.

How do you expect academic publishing to evolve over the next 50 years? Will the monograph stand the test of time?
I am dreaming of a publication form that would allow authors to keep expanding and/or improving a book over the years.

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50 Years Leuven University Press – Meet the President of the Board Geert Bouckaert

Geert-Bouckaert

University Presses are among the most visible societal vehicles of universities. They are at the core of what academic communities do: discovering and inventing new and future realities.

 Geert Bouckaert, President of the Board since 2007

Please introduce yourself briefly

As a professor in public management and governance at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute (Faculty of Social Sciences) I had a varied academic training in business administration, political science, and philosophy. My academic focus is on how the public sector is functioning and changing to deliver services, implement policies, and organise a well-functioning society. Within this field of public administration, my focus is on structures of government, financial management, and performance of public systems.

It is a privilege to also hold the chair of the KU Leuven Commission for Contemporary Art. To combine a passion for contemporary science and contemporary art is a perfect stepping stone to understand how the relevance of science and art in our current times can be communicated.

How did you come to take responsibility for Leuven University Press?

Geert Bouckaert

In 2007, the previous general manager of KU Leuven, professor Koen De Backere, entrusted me with the role of Leuven UP’s board president. Supporting Leuven University Press in becoming a sound and sustainable scholarly publisher has been an extraordinary and enriching experience. The collaboration with the current and previous director, Veerle De Laet and Marike Schipper, in doing so has been truly a privilege. They have delivered outstanding work, and Veerle and her team will continue to do so.

Which moment, project or book at Leuven University Press will you always remember and why? 

When Thomas More published his ‘Utopia’ in Leuven in 1516, it was not with Leuven University Press (unfortunately), but it was with a press in the university town of Leuven. When celebrating the 500th anniversary of this milestone publication in 2016, it was a pleasure and an honour to have realised, in close cooperation with the colleagues from KU Leuven Metaforum, an edited book that constituted a truly university-wide effort. The collection spans the university’s multiple disciplines and focuses on the broad spectrum of utopian visions within these various fields of research.

This publication, ‘A Truly Golden Handbook’, will be of lasting importance since it documents how our university is able to leave its comfort zone and conceive the almost inconceivable and thus what is utopian. This book will retain its status as a reference work, likely until 2125, when KU Leuven will celebrate its 700th anniversary, or in 2116, when it will be 600 years since More’s Utopia was first published, to verify how right or wrong we were about our own futures.  

Which projects/activities are you particularly proud of?
I am very proud of the whole Leuven University Press team. They are professional, dedicated, hard-working, motivated, innovative, and creative in making the strategy happen. They are also patient, supportive, and helpful to all authors and editors. This is a dream team, and I am very proud of everyone involved in making Leuven University Press an outstanding university press.

Where do you see the future of Leuven University Press?
University Presses are among the most visible societal vehicles of universities. They stand at the very crux of what academic communities are engaged in: discovering and inventing new and future realities. University Presses both function as an essential hub and transmitter of knowledge and expertise within academic communities and as a bridge between the academic landscape and society at large. They play a pivotal role in communicating and demonstrating the broader relevance of science and art to the public as a whole.

Leuven University Press covers all these roles.

My dream is that Leuven University Press becomes The University Press in continental Europe, in a close network of other major university presses.

My dream is that Leuven University Press manages to realise free open access to communicate knowledge and research findings.

My dream is that Leuven University Press publishes books and articles that impact societal and academic agendas and debates, and therefore future realities.

This team, under the leadership of Veerle, will make this happen.

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Pictures: Geert Bouckaert at the Press’s 45th anniversary reception in 2016 // Geert Bouckaert, Koen De Backere and Marike Schipper at the Press’s 45th anniversary reception in 2016