Manchester University Press

The Future of Open Access Digital Publishing

Founded in 1904, MUP is the third largest University Press in England and publishes monographs and textbooks in the Humanities and Social Sciences by authors from all over the world. Currently publishing over 150 new books a year and managing a portfolio of 14 journals as well as an extensive backlist of over 1000 titles, the Press sells more than 150,000 books each year to a global audience. MUP has well-established editorial, production, design and marketing department and employs twenty-three staff.  MUP is a self-funding department of the University of Manchester (i.e. it has to be sustainable through the sales of its books and journals)


In the context of the current shift towards Digital Scholarship and the need for more and more research outputs to be made available for free (open Access), there are questions around the role of academic publishers in supporting the scholarly community, especially in light of the offerings from University Libraries.  MUP has funding for a digital platform, allowing the hosting of scholarly content across all digital formats, and the linking and tagging of this content to make it as discoverable, searchable and generally useful to researchers and other interested parties as possible. Our challenge to the REALab research team was:

  1. To ascertain the number of scholars creating digital outputs within UoM and, if possible, more widely in universities in the North West.
  2. To critically evaluate other publishers’ use of digital platforms from the point of view of scholars and end users (including students and librarians) and assess the current role and importance of publishers in creating/evaluating/making available these outputs
  3. To put forward a set of recommendations for key points to consider when planning a digital content platform, based on the evidence gathered

This project will require familiarisation with the basics of academic publishing and current debates around Open Access. Other skills include Data and Data Analysis, Report and executive summary, Recommendations building.


Christopher Fairless, Ph.D. candidate, Environmental Science. Christopher is coming to the end of his Ph.D. in the weather, where he has been examining the occurrence and structures of Arctic storms. Academia is a very political place, and he is keen to be involved in the debates around open access and the future of publishing. In his spare time he likes cooking and jokes about cloud computing.

Chunyuan Liu, Ph.D. candidate, School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. His Ph.D project is about fluid structure interaction in industrial applications, specifically in flow induced vibration of cylinder beams. He will conduct experiments using very advanced apparatus in the school, to investigate the mechanisms of vibration, and the ways to avoid the failures.

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