v26 #6 From University Press to the University’s Press

by | Mar 13, 2015 | 0 comments

Building a One-Stop Campus Resource for Scholarly Publishing

by Gary Dunham  (Director, Indiana University Press and Digital Publishing)
and Carolyn Walters (Executive Director, Indiana University, Office of Scholarly Publishing)

The Office of Scholarly Publishing (OSP) was established in 2012 by Indiana University in order to strengthen its central missions of scholarship and teaching, and to create a model of effective, sustainable 21st-century academic publishing.  Units of the OSP include Indiana University Press (IU Press), its premier imprint, and IUScholarWorks(IUSW), the open access publishing program of the IU Libraries.

The creation of the OSP is an important step in the evolution of scholarly publishing, as it shifts the engine of content dissemination on campus from the university press to the university itself.  It signals the University’s strong and ongoing commitment to academic publishing during a time when the sustainability and even relevance of the traditional university press are questioned frequently.

The Office of Scholarly Publishing also reflects the University’s recognition of scholarly publishing in all the forms and processes emerging from rapidly changing digital communication technologies.  As a centralizing publishing portal, the OSP supports a model of academic publishing that is intrinsically holistic and singular — many campus stakeholders participate in an integrated process of content development, enrichment, dissemination, curation, and knowledge transfer.  Indiana UniversityPress is playing a key role in bringing to fruition this new model by realigning with the mandate, goals, and areas of strength of the university;  building partnerships with vital campus stakeholders to optimize efficiencies, economies, and the scalability of the publishing process; and becoming a key fulcrum in the leveraging of scholarly content in ways that both effectively disseminate and showcase faculty research and other content providers at Indiana University.  As a showcase of campus research, the OSP helps to reinforce the brand of the University.

In addition to disseminating content, the Office of Scholarly Publishing — in effect, the University’s press — provides a complementary crucial service as a one-stop resource for graduate students and faculty concerning the process of academic publishing itself.  This includes programs and individual consultations on copyright, author rights, publishing options, and marketing and social media strategies; and overall becoming a more visible presence in the scholarly life of the campus.

Origins of the OSP

The Office of Scholarly Publishing was formed at the request of IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel, who sought to broaden and deepen research dissemination on campus and align that process strategically with the mandate and interests of the University.  At its creation, she stated, “The landscape of academic publishing is rapidly changing, and traditional presses, including university presses, continue to be impacted by new technologies and financial challenges.  Within this environment, it has become increasingly vital that we continue to build upon the considerable capabilities of our press while aggressively seeking new efficiencies, maximizing our use of new technologies and increasing collaborations among presses, libraries, and other potential partners.”

Robel appointed the OSP Scholarly Publishing Advisory Committee to advise the executive director, represent the faculty, and gather information on issues of importance to stakeholders.  The committee, chaired by the associate vice-provost for arts and humanities in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, included faculty from the humanities, the director of IU Press (ex-officio), and the library’s associate dean for collection development and scholarly communication (ex-officio).

The Scholarly Publishing Advisory Committee began the process of gathering information from stakeholders with an all-campus forum, led by the Provost, which kicked-off a series of three disciplined-focused salons (arts and humanities, sciences, and social and historical sciences) attended by faculty, press staff, library staff, and graduate students.  Discussions focused on the present and future state of academic publishing in the context of the campus mission “to create, disseminate, preserve, and apply knowledge.”

In its report to the Provost the committee stated that based on salon discussions its recommendations “point to some basic rethinking of what constitutes publication, as well as a reconceptualization of how scholarly publishing is accomplished within the university.”1 Of particular interest to the OSP were recommendations three and four that dealt with providing advice, support, and workshops for graduate students and faculty on scholarly communication in the digital age.  Workshops that focused on the publication process and useful tools in the production, dissemination, and publicizing of scholarly research were suggested.  Faculty also expressed interest in learning about strategies to promote and market their books, developing successful book proposals, altmetrics, copyright, and open access.

The OSP in Action

In March 2013, IU Press moved to Herman B Wells Library from a location in downtown Bloomington.  The move provided both a central campus location visited by faculty and graduate students as well as convenient access to seminar and classroom spaces.

Strategic planning for the alignment of IU Press with the University began in earnest in October 2014, with the appointment of Gary Dunham as Director of IU Press and Digital Publishing.  A key first step in the strategic planning process is an assessment of all facets of the press’s book and journal programs so as to then

1.  establish sustainable content deliverables and publishing services;

2.  ensure industry best practices in day-to-day operations; and

3.  align those deliverables and services with the strengths and interests of the University.

Significant demonstrations of the OSP as a publishing resource have already taken place.  In late October 2014, the IU Libraries opened the Scholars’ Commons2 located on the first floor of the Wells Library.  Both the move and the opening of the Scholars’ Commons provide the OSP with a unique opportunity to design and deliver workshops tailored to the recommendations in the advisory committee report and known needs of faculty and graduate students.

Designed to support the journey from curiosity to discovery to publication, the Scholars’ Commons offers space which includes individual and collaborative workspaces, a digitization lab, state-of-the-art technology, an interactive visualization or IQ wall, a lecture hall, and exhibit space.  Experts from across campus, including from the OSP, are available to consult with and advise faculty and students.

In this environment, OSP held the first of two panel discussions on publishing your first book.  The response was overwhelming.  The first panel had over 90 registrations for 50 seats.  The second was moved to a larger room and over 140 registered.  The IUP marketing director and a senior editor as well as two faculty members who published with IU Press participated on the panel.  In fall 2014, workshops on book proposals (50 registrants) and book contracts (45) were held.  Before each workshop, attendees are emailed and asked what questions they would like to see answered.  Examples from the book proposal session included:

•    How long should a proposal be?

•    What are the key elements in a good proposal?

•    At what stage in the preparation of the book manuscript should I start writing the proposal?

•    What supplementary materials should I send along with the book proposal?

•    What is the best way to get in touch with an editor?

A survey was sent to the attendees of the “Publish Your First Book” sessions, and a majority of the respondents wanted the session broken down into more focused topics such as turning your dissertation into a book, writing a proposal (the most requested topic), what you need to know before signing a contract, manuscript preparation, getting permissions, how to create an index, and marketing your book.  Other feedback recommended clearly defining the intended audience for all workshops as well as the discipline focus.  Many appreciated the expert advice but wanted to hear directly from faculty who had recently published their first book.  Samples of good proposals were also requested.  All of these ideas will be incorporated into planning future events.

The robust workshop program offered in the Scholars’ Commons is divided into four tracks.  OSP programs are offered in the “Surviving and Thriving in Academia” and “Tools in Context” tracks.3  Attendees at workshops, including those offered by OSP staff, are from a wide variety of disciplines.  Attendees at the session on publishing a first book were from education, telecommunications, Jewish studies, religious studies, theatre, communication and culture, law, music, informatics, fine arts, political science, applied health science, speech and hearing, English, and more.  “Before Signing a Book Contract” (waitlisted) and “Getting Permissions for Your Book” have been added to the workshop series based on feedback and the faculty advisory committee report.  Programs on open access publishing and using Open Journal Systems for peer review are also popular.  OSP staff also participated in Open Access Week programs on student publishing and the basics of publishing agreements.

IU Press staff (alternating among marketing, editorial, and journals), the copyright program librarian, and the open access publishing manager offer weekly consultation services in the Scholars’ Commons for two hour blocks of time for a total of six hours a week.  In addition to OSP, partners in providing consultation services include University Information Technology Services, Center for Survey Research, Office of Research Administration, Office of Vice-Provost for Research, HathiTrust Research Center, and Indiana Statistical Consulting Services.4

Consultations services and workshops are publicized through faculty newsletters, blogs, Websites, departmental listservs, email to Graduate and Professional Student organization members, and via email to previous workshop attendees.  So far, IU Press has amassed a mailing list of close to 300 previous workshop attendees to use when announcing new programs.

In today’s increasingly complex publishing environment, it is difficult for experienced faculty, and even more difficult for recently appointed tenure-track faculty, to determine the best publication option for their research.  Sharing publishing knowledge and expertise within our own institution is an invaluable service OSP staff can provide and one that is greatly appreciated by administrators, faculty, and graduate students.

By developing the Office of Scholarly Publishing, Indiana University seeks to offer a more encompassing, sustainable, and relevant model of academic publishing on campus.  Leveraging the strengths of the Libraries and Office of Scholarly Publishing visibly demonstrates the important roles that each have in supporting the research process.  In doing so, both will be stronger for working together to fulfill the campus mission to “create, disseminate, preserve, and apply knowledge” and be active participants in the intellectual life of the university.


1.  Scholarly Publishing Advisory Committee Report to the Provost, June 25, 2013:  http://provost.indiana.edu/docs/Scholarly_Publishing_Advisory_Committee_2013.pdf.

2.  Scholars’ Commons:  http://libraries.iub.edu/scholars-commons

3.  For information on the workshop series: http://libraries.iub.edu/tools/workshops/.

4.  For consulting schedule see: http://libraries.iub.edu/services/scholars-commons#n60085.


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