‘Using Open Monograph Press for open access book publishing at Scottish institutions’ by Dominique Walker and Rebecca Wojturska
Welcome to a series of blog posts by publishers, talking about the platforms they use to publish their open access books. In these posts, a range of different presses tell us what platform they use, why they chose it, and how it fits (or occasionally doesn’t quite fit) their work.
The second post in the series is by Dominique Walker, Publishing Officer at Scottish Universities Press, and Rebecca Wojturska, Publishing Officer for Edinburgh Diamond. Dominique and Rebecca reflect on their experiences of using Open Monograph Press (OMP) to publish open access books at Scottish institutions. OMP is an open-source software platform, run by the Public Knowledge Project (PFP)
Scottish Universities Press (SUP) is a new fully open access and not-for-profit press owned and managed by 18 Scottish academic libraries, co-ordinated through the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL). The Press aims to provide a clear and cost-effective route for researchers at Scottish HEIs to make their work freely available to a global audience. We will initially focus on publishing monographs, mainly due to changing funder requirements around OA for books (e.g. the UKRI policy). In this part of the blog post I will discuss why SUP decided to use OMP as our platform and talk about our experiences of using the platform so far.
In 2019, SCURL commissioned research to test the proof of concept for a collaborative universities press. The report looked at the full range of options for a delivery model, such as a full partnership model, outsourcing the platform to a third party or hosting the platform ourselves. SUP aims to keep as much of our activity as possible within the SCURL community, using the skills and expertise available across the network to drive the project. We ultimately decided on a local rather than outsourced option. Since 2018, SCURL has co-ordinated a shared hosting service for online books and journals for member libraries, provided by the University of Edinburgh library. For a very reasonable hosting fee, staff will set up the OMP site, provide ongoing technical support and training, and offer general publishing guidance. All fees are invested back in to the shared service. We are also reassured that open-source software hosted by a participating library is unlikely to be sold to a commercial third party. This not only fits well with our not-for-profit ethos but gives us greater control over the future direction of the press and platform, as well as keeping costs at a minimum.
In early 2022, SUP set up a small working group with staff at the University of Edinburgh Library. They were very quickly able to establish the test OMP site on our behalf and we were able to start exploring what the platform can do. Our experience of setting up the platform was very positive. OMP provides clear documentation and user guides to help you get started, including how to use the editorial interface, publication workflows, creating user accounts and managing your website and catalogue. The administrative functions are all very intuitive and so far, we have not needed any technical expertise to manage the platform.
One of the main benefits of the OMP platform for SUP is the ability to manage the entire publication workflow on one system. The editorial interface allows us to easily keep track of submissions and the stage they are at. Authors can submit their proposals and manuscript files and we can communicate with authors via OMP. It is also possible to manage both the internal and external peer review process, inviting reviewers and setting reminders for the return of peer review reports. The copyediting and production of the book, such as the typesetting, has to be completed externally, but the completed files can be returned directly to OMP. Each user (e.g. author, reviewer, copyeditor, production manager etc.) has a specific profile and can only access the parts of the system that relate to their role. There are very clear instructions for creating user accounts that can be shared with users. Being able to manage the whole process in one place is of great benefit to SUP as we have limited staffing, and this lessens the administrative workload.
OMP has a very active Community Forum where you can ask questions and make suggestions for future improvements, and this is a useful place to look for information on aspects of OMP that still require improvement. It is encouraging that OMP are willing to develop the system to their users needs.
We are looking forward to publishing our first books on the OMP platform later in 2023!
Edinburgh University Library has been using Open Journals Systems (OJS) since 2009 in order to provide a free journal hosting service specifically for internal staff and students. This library-based hosting service grew organically until a post was made ten years later to specifically look after and grow our offering. Since then, the service has launched a free internal book hosting service, using OMP, and rebranded as Edinburgh Diamond.
Edinburgh University Library also provides a shared service with other members of SCURL. The service includes an installation of OJS or OMP (or both), so that users can run their own publishing programmes, hosting services, or, in the case of SUP, a fully-fledged university press. Everyone using the service meets three times a year
Edinburgh Diamond is managed by one full-time member of staff (me!) and receives one to two days of technical support per week, so it felt particularly important to pick a system for our books that was more intuitive and easy to navigate and fix, should any bugs arise! As the technical staff member who supports the service has over ten years of technical expertise with OJS, it made sense to use OMP for our books, especially as it is open-source software from the same company. We had received feedback from users in the past that they felt OJS was very user-friendly, and we have found the same to be true for OMP. With OJS we train our users to manage their own journals, but it is easier to upload books onto OMP ourselves. This is because we currently only use OMP to publish and host the content and don’t use the workflow aspect, meaning it is much quicker for us to publish the books when we receive the content and metadata, rather than train a new user who may only ever use the system once.
There is a large community of users around the world that use OJS and OMP. If the developers at PKP haven’t created a plugin for something, you can usually find an external developer in one of the PKP forums who has. It feels great to know that small teams can find comradery and solutions in these forums, instead of feeling lost at sea when a new issue or need arises.
The only limitation we have found with OMP is it doesn’t have an inbuilt plugin to download or submit DOI metadata to Crossref (which OJS does have). This means we have to manually assign the book and chapter DOIs ourselves, which can be an arduous task for the bulkier books! We are currently looking to see if there are additional plugins to support this, and are using Thoth as they have a fantastic metadata export system in place.
Although called Open Monograph Press, we have found OMP to be suitable for all types of books. We currently host seven books, including textbooks, edited collections, reports, and even cookbooks and colouring books! We are looking forward to developing the book side of our service and increasing our OMP knowledge.
You can also read the first post in this series, ‘The Case for PubPub’ by Jeff Pooley.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.