Why I Published an Open Access Book

On April 23rd, Springer Nature is participating in Academic Book Week, a global awareness event that aims to champion and showcase the evolution of academic books. Authors Prof. Owen Davies (History, University of Hertfordshire) and Dr. Roseli Pellens (Macroecology, Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité, Paris), who are participating in a panel discussion share their experiences of publishing an open access book.

“Publishing is about communication beyond academia.”
– Prof. Owen Davies

Prof. Owen Davies has been interested in open access for more than ten years, having personally experimented with creating and uploading his own PDF online. There was interest in the article, but because it hadn’t been peer reviewed and published, he found academics were less willing or able to cite it. Since then he has published open access articles and in 2017, he and co-author Dr. Francesca Matteoni published Executing Magic in the Modern Era: Criminal Bodies and the Gallows in Popular Medicine (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) as an open access book, funded by the Wellcome Trust.

“I wanted my research to be easily accessible, easy for others to share, and for readers to download,” says Prof. Davies.

In a 2017 white paper published by Springer Nature, we found that publishing an open access book can lead to seven times more downloads, 50% more citations and ten times more online mentions, in comparison to a non-open access book. For Prof. Davies, his experience has certainly shown higher usage and downloads through 5,000 chapter downloads and 250 online mentions in less than a year, and he is reaching a wider audience too.

In addition to Palgrave Macmillan’s marketing service, Prof. Davies also heavily uses Twitter to promote his research to reach others in and outside of academia. He frequently receives feedback that readers appreciate the open access nature of his book, as they would not have been able to afford to buy it otherwise: “Open access has provided me with new opportunities to promote my work to new audiences,” he adds.

“We are moving faster as a society – we need things at the end of a click for immediate access. If it isn’t, then it won’t be used or cited as much.”
– Dr. Roseli Pellens

Dr. Roseli Pellens echoes the sentiment that a main advantage of publishing an open access book is to reach a wider audience. Dr. Pellens was co-editor of Biodiversity Conservation and Phylogenetic Systematics: Preserving our evolutionary heritage in an extinction crisis (SpringerOpen, 2016) along with Dr. Philippe Grandcolas. As her research spans multiple disciplines, she hoped for readers from a wide community all over the world.

Since 2016, this title has received over 116,000 chapter downloads, 20 citations and 80 online mentions. She was surprised that her book became recommended reading for university courses but it made sense to her:

“Teachers can recommend specific chapters or pages which students can easily access, rather than having to buy the whole book,” she said. The ease of downloading her book is very important for her as these are the people that she wants to reach.

Don’t miss out!

Listen to Prof. Davies’ and Dr. Pellens’ experiences publishing open access books at the Springer Nature Academic Book Week event in London on 23 April. Prof. Maureen Mackintosh, Economics, The Open University, will join them on the author panel. Also on the programme: how to track the impact of your research, and the future of open access book funding.

Register today >>


About open access books at Springer Nature
Springer Nature publishes open access books and chapters under its SpringerOpen and Palgrave Macmillan imprints. We helped to pioneer open access book publishing, first piloting open access publication for books in 2011. We publish open access books across a wide range of areas in science, technology, medicine, the humanities and social sciences.
Follow our new Twitter account @SN_OAbooks for the latest news and events around open access books.

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