Quantifying the value of a University electronic press
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Contemporary scholarly environments are subject to shifting technological, governmental, educational and legal drivers. There are new scholarly knowledge streams replacing traditional academic products - both outputs (publishing) and inputs (resources). The concept of a University Press is not new, however library-based electronic publishing is gaining momentum. There is a trend to link existing library skills and systems with institutional imperatives of deepening engagement and impact through curation and promotion of the work of their scholars and researchers. The barriers to entry in the electronic publishing market continue to drop and increasingly, the push for open access scholarship encourages Universities to offer publishing services. The Griffith University ePress was established in 2009 to publish open access, peer-reviewed journals. In 2014, the ePress published five active titles, all of which have editors affiliated with the University. Resourcing is provided by the Division of Information Services (of which the library is a part). The aim of establishing the ePress was to increase open access to research findings and better serve scholars in research assessment exercises, especially in emerging disciplines. The time has come to gather the evidence: Has the Griffith University ePress met its aims? Can we quantify the value of the ePress? Is it sustainable? The business model relies heavily on being subsidised through existing library budget and staffing and service structures. What are the real economic and resource costs of the service? Are there emerging options and solutions that need to be considered? Can economies of scale be achieved? A case study of the Griffith University ePress is used to determine contribution to institutional performance in the national research assessment exercise. The case study also establishes the total cost of ownership for the ePress; derives a per-unit cost to analyse the impact of scale; and compares the service cost with alternative library-based services: funding article processing charges and traditional journal subscriptions. While library as publisher would seem a good fit, evidence-based analysis is required to ensure the provision of a digital publishing service which is economically worthwhile, sustainable and adding value.
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