CIRCA:Willinski, John. "Toward the Design of an Open Monograph Press."


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Willinski, John. “Toward the Design of an Open Monograph Press.” The Journal of Electronic Publishing. 12.1 (2009). 16 Oct 2010. [1]

Reviewed by Amy Dyrbye

John Willinsky’s article “Toward the Design of an Open Monograph Press” (2009) presents his vision for an open access publication model for monographs or books. The model is designed to correct the problems currently facing monograph publishing. He clearly defines the challenges and deficiencies with the traditional mode of monograph publication and the concerns regarding access. In doing so, his purpose is twofold: to build support for the open access system, and to present his Open Monograph Press software as the best facilitator. The article is aimed the editors, authors, reviewers, copyeditors and other persons involved in traditional scholarly publication, demonstrating to them how such software can ease the costs and effort entailed by journal publication and allow them to provide quality scholarly writing without relying on a formal publisher.

The initial pages of the article are devoted to the state of monograph publication at present. Willinsky contrasts the rising importance of journal publication as the primary currency of scholarly merit within the academic economy with the rising financial burden on libraries as publication costs increase. He proposes that open access publication is a practical and feasible means to address the problem of university publishers increasingly viewing monographs as a risky investment and the corresponding negative impact on their availability. Some notable forays into digital publication are highlighted. Willinski also touches on issues of key relevance to open access publication, including digital rights management, preservation, subscription and maintaining the quality of content and the peer review process. All this is prologue to prepare the reader for a detailing of the regions in which well-designed software may assist the publication process, specifically the Open Monograph Press.

The bulk of the article is devoted to the design of the Open Monograph Press. Willinski pays particular attention to outlining the utility of the design to all stages of the publication process, even to how article authors could use plug-in software to become directly involved in the use of their writing. As the article is invested in promoting the open access model, the concerns that have been voiced about it are not addressed until the end of the article, where they become an afterthought relating risk to comfort. Rather than fending off criticism, Willinski’s approach is overwhelmingly to bypass it to focus on promoting the benefits of the Open Monograph Press. His article is thus well-paired with Peter Suber’s “A Primer on Open Access to Science and Scholarship”, which takes a point-by-point approach that provide a more balanced perspective. Even still, further research will be required to fully understand the opposing view.

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