The final push – what are we planning in the final year of the Institution as e-textbook publisher project?

This blog post was written by Graham Stone, Senior Research Manager, Jisc

The Institution as e-textbook publisher project started its journey in 2014 and will wrap up in the next 12 months. In that time the partner institutions have published seven textbooks, we have published a number of articles and the teams have presented at numerous events including the last project workshop in Birmingham last July.

As you can imagine, we’ll be ramping up the blog posts and communications this year as the projects move towards the completion of the project. We have an existing list of posts planned, starting with the first of what we hope will be many communications around the evaluation of the textbooks with academics, students and the authors themselves. We will also be looking at issues and opportunities around the dissemination of institutionally created textbooks and how to get them into the library supply chain. Marketing, including social media campaigns will also be featured in future blogs. Expect further blogs around the technology used and information on competitor analysis and benchmarking.

Later in the year, our partner institutions will talk about what they plan to do after the project finishes – they assure us they will all be carrying on with e-textbook publishing and some plan to scale things up considerably. They’ll share their lessons learned along the way and we’ll be hearing more from some of the authors on their motivations for taking part.

We are also very pleased to announce that we will release a toolkit to assist other institutions in starting the own e-textbook publishing. We hope to hold a workshop in the New Year to test the toolkit as a proof of concept with the community, before launching it in July 2018 as a major output of the project – alongside the textbooks of course. More news on that very soon.

Finally, we’ll let the projects tell you some of their own plans over the coming months…

UCL: ‘We are in the dissemination and evaluation stage of the project. As we have now released both textbooks, the next year will be spent collecting data and user feedback. We’ll be running focus groups and undertaking surveys to evaluate the success of our e-textbooks. We’ll also be looking into wider external course adoption of the textbooks and how to compete with commercial alternatives.’

University of Liverpool: ‘In the final year of this project, the team at the University of Liverpool plans to upload the outstanding chapters for Using Primary Sources and continue to promote the e-textbook internally as well as nationally and internationally. We will also evaluate the impact of the e-textbook and make decisive plans on how to take it forward. With regard to Essentials of Financial Management, we are still planning to publish the e-textbook within the next year, which would be a crucial text for nearly 1,000 students at the University of Liverpool. However, the content has not yet been delivered by the author so plans are currently provisional. If the content is delivered in the next few weeks, then we will edit, upload, publish the e-textbook, review internally, and disseminate in an Open Access capacity. If the manuscript is not delivered soon or the e-textbook is not published by the end of the year, then we will assess what we could have done differently and write up our lessons learned.‘

UHI/ Edinburgh Napier: ‘eTIPS, the UHI/Edinburgh Napier collaborated project, which saw the creation of two eTextbooks will focus, on its final year, on a number of issues. In the next phase, colleagues will look at student and academics reaction, in our Universities, to the publications and performing comparative analysis with similar texts. Further analysis will be put into describing and annotating the process of creation, authoring, publication and distribution, with particular interest in the efficacy of Kindle Direct Publishing for reaching to readers beyond our institutions. UHI will look to continue some form of e-textbook publishing beyond the end of the project and, to that end, a group will streamline the approach already taken. UHI will, in particular, be looking at the support system for resources and documentation required to be set up to continue publishing.‘

University of Nottingham: ‘As the ROMe project moves into the final stages it is important to refocus efforts on the final tasks to ensure that all benefits of the project and the effort put in by the many people that have supported the project can be realised and recognised. This means that between now and the summer of 2018 we will increasing the amount of communications to external audiences to promote the e-textbooks and also identify any opportunities there might be for the e-textbooks to be used by other HE and FE institutions. We will analyse and publish second and third year student usage and evaluation data; we will contribute regularly to the Jisc project blog so others can learn from our successes and our mistakes; and we will work closely with the other project partners to help design and deliver a toolkit in support of other institutions that wish to move into a self-publication model.’

Survey questions to assess value of e-textbooks produced in-house

Please note that the surveys presented in this blog post were created by the University of Liverpool, the University of Nottingham, the University of Highlands and Islands with Edinburgh Napier University, and University College London.

One of the core objectives of the Institution as e-textbook publisher project is to evaluate the value of the e-textbooks produced among various institutional stakeholders that either contributed to the production of the e-textbooks or that use them as a learning tool.

Each one of the project’s teams have developed and undertaken surveys that assess the usefulness and receptiveness of the e-textbooks in their institutions. Despite the focus of the surveys created by each team being relatively distinct, they all share commonalities and general questions can be asked to assess the value of e-textbooks regardless of the disciplines that they apply to or the institutions where they were produced.

This blog post aims to identify the main topics covered by the various surveys undertaken by the project teams and to list general and institution specific sample questions. These are linked to below. The main topics covered in the surveys include:

  1. Student/reader feedback (including questions on the resources used, views on the e-textbook used, and e-textbook specific questions)
  2. Lecturer/module convenor feedback (including questions on the resources used, expectations, features, improvements, and e-textbook specific questions)
  3. E-textbook author/contributor feedback (including general questions on time allocation, technical knowledge improvements and e-textbook specific questions)

We would like to encourage these survey questions to be used as a template by other universities that have published / are planning to publish e-textbooks and that want to assess their students and academics views on the e-textbooks.

We will also include these survey questions in the proposed Institution as e-textbook publisher toolkit. In the meantime, we would be very interested in receiving comments on these template questions and in hearing of other examples.

A forthcoming blog post will be released based on the original document used in section 3.3.

Exploring the University as an e-Textbook Provider of Scholarly Work

The article ‘Exploring the University as an e-Textbook Provider of Scholarly Work’ written by Frank Rennie, Keith Smyth, Gareth Davies, Scott Connor, Laurence Patterson has recently been published in the Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice.

Abstract

Despite the growth in the popularity of e-textbooks, there has yet to be adopted an effective model through which an academic institution can easily re-purpose the scholarly output of its staff to allow global and affordable access to students. This paper describes a research project designed to explore effective processes for the university to become a digital publisher of its own academic output. The project produced two e-textbooks, focusing on using Amazon Kindle for distribution, each book with a free companion website of open access learning resources. The use of the e-texts and the websites were then monitored for evaluation. The publication process was documented and will be made publicly available in the final report on the Jisc website. In summary, the pre-publication tasks are almost identical to the production of a conventional printed book, but at publication, everything else changes. The e-textbook system minimises the problems of storage, distribution, pricing, and updating which is faced by the printed book. The companion websites provide a global space with resources complementary to the e-book, which can be updated without the requirement to amend the e-textbook. Several different categories of e-books have been identified, from short handbooks for internal course use, through open-access textbooks, to flagship commercial publications. It is recognised that these e-publications may replace or co-exist with both printed books and companion websites.

The article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License and can be read in full in http://jpaap.napier.ac.uk/index.php/JPAAP/article/view/246  (doi: 10.14297/jpaap.v5i3.246).

The University of Nottingham’s 6C model of Open Educational Resource Publication (OER)

This blog post was written by Steve Stapleton, Associate Director – Learning Technology, University of Nottingham.

The University of Nottingham’s 6C model of Open Educational Resource Publication (OER). The 6C model (Figure 1) was first used at Nottingham in 2009 as part of the Jisc funded BERLiN project. The project manager for that project was Andy Beggan, and it was Andy who defined the 6C model to formalise the process that Nottingham used to create and publish Open Educational Resources (OER). The model remains in use at Nottingham as part of the OER publication model, and was adapted for use as part of the Jisc Collections funded ROMe project to publish Nottingham’s e-textbooks. The model would be easily adaptable to other institutions and other online content creation contexts, and has served Nottingham well over the years.

Picture1

Figure 1 – The 6C model and how it was used to facilitate the creation and publication of the e-textbooks

Contribution

This phase of the model involves setting up processes to receive content into the team that will carry out the clearance and construction phases. For the institutions as e-textbook publisher project, the Department of Philosophy and Nottingham University Business School provided their manuscript content and supporting images to the Learning Technology Team. The Applied Ethics book was contributed as a word file which was text only. The Corporate Social Responsibility in Practice (CSRP) book was contributed as multiple word files, with supporting media and instructions for how to build the book.

Clearance
This phase of the model looks at rights clearance, copyright issues and any IPR requirements. The Learning Technology team assessed the manuscripts and supporting images for potential copyright breaches; and where appropriate asked for clarification from the content providers to satisfy a number of copyright clearance categories:
• To ascertain if appropriate permissions had been secured for all third party content
• To ensure that where openly licenced content was used, correct attribution of the work was provided
• To ensure that where openly licenced content was used, appropriate licences had been selected

Construction
There are many approaches that can be taken in the construction phase. For the Applied Ethics etextbook multiple versions of the e-textbook were created, some for distribution through the Smashwords website which allows readers to download e-textbooks in multiple formats; and one for distribution through the Apple iBook store which would contain many images and some interactive elements. The three main formats used were: iBook, Mobi, and Epub.
The content creation of the Corporate Responsibility Sustainability in Practice e-textbook somewhat followed the content creation and publication plan set out in the funding proposal submitted to Jisc. A plain text version of the e-textbook was authored by the academic team and passed to the Learning Technology team to construct the e-textbook. A number of videos, audio and interactive elements were also created by the academic team, and a number of third party sites and services were also suggested. The creation of the content was completed over a longer time period than originally planned and a number of different authors were allocated sections to work on.

Cataloguing
The upload and metadata cataloguing was completed by the Learning Technology team. For the Applied Ethics book we were using third party sites and therefore. We did not consider following any specific metadata schema outside what was being asked for by the sites we were using to publish to. This is different to how our OER publication process works where we have taking the advice of the University’s metadata and cataloguing team to define the schema.
For the CRSP book we included some limited metadata available in Xerte.

Circulation
For the Applied Ethics e-textbook the circulation phase of the process was straightforward as the Learning Technology team were able to harness the distribution processes offered by both the Smashwords website and the Apple iBook store. These established platforms have clear paths to established markets.

For the CRSP e-textbook circulation was more difficult. Xerte does not have the same route to market as the established e-book platforms and therefore all work on circulation was and must be driven by the project team and particularly the academic team. This has been successful with over 6000 views of the material.

Connections
Building connections is the stage of the 6C model that the project team have reached with both e-textbook titles. Building connections will focus on establishing connections both with groups internally at Nottingham and external groups who may benefit from and be interested in using the e-textbooks. It will also focus on promotion work both internally and externally and will form a substantial piece of work for the remainder of the project.

Read the full blog post in here

 

Dissemination, distribution and discovery of the e-textbooks created as part of the ROMe project

This blog post was written by Steve Stapleton, Associate Director – Learning Technology, University of Nottingham.

Using Smashwords as one publication model for the Applied Ethics e-textbook ensured that the e-textbook was pushed out through a number of distributers and eBook stores. These are:

Picture1

Following this method ensures that the content is made widely available and appears where people are looking for e-book content. We also published the e-textbook to the Apple Store, using the iBook author software. This version of the book was more design led, with numerous images provided in support of the text. By having multiple formats available through Smashwords and by also using the Apple iBook store, we were able to make the content available in many locations. This is one of the key strengths of following established e-textbook publication routes.

Another advantage to following tan established route and using services that are designed to help support self-creation and publication of e-books, is the fact that the services provide a basic metadata profile for you to complete, which helps with discoverability of the resources. For example, the metadata that must be included when using the Smashwords service is:

Upload to Smashwords

Uploading the Applied Ethics e-textbook to Smashwords was done through its website interface and the metadata profile used for the Applied Ethics title on the Smashwords was:

Picture2

Dissemination of the Corporate Social Responsibility e-textbook did not follow an established e-textbook route as the book was created using Xerte Online Toolkits. This meant that all dissemination of the e-textbook was done by the project team.

The public facing parts of the e-book were made available on Nottingham’s e-book web pages alongside the other titles that had been previously published by the University as part of other projects. This is located at: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/open/ebooksandibooks.aspx

The Nottingham registered student versions of the e-book were made available in Moodle, the institutional VLE. And these versions require authentication to access them so they cannot be shared more widely.

The academic lead for the project has disseminated the e-book to his contacts and networks and this has been successful in driving over 6000 views of the public facing etextbooks.

We have more work to do in terms of disseminating both the Applied Ethics and Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability in Practice e-textbooks, with the focus being to work with the academic leads to identify likely institutions and networks where the resources might be embedded. There is also work to do to include the e-books in our own library collections to ensure they are available to a wider selection of our own students.

An Introduction to the ROMe Project

This blog post was written by Steve Stapleton, Associate Director – Learning Technology, University of Nottingham.

As part of the Jisc Collections funded e-textbook project the University of Nottingham has created and self-published two e-textbooks in two different subject areas. This will hopefully help address the question of whether institutional publication models can help provide a more affordable higher education, and promote a better, more sustainable information environment for libraries, students and faculty.

The title of the first e-textbook is Applied Ethics. This was authored by academic staff members from the Department of Philosophy. Nottingham’s Department of Philosophy is a centre of excellence in research and teaching and especially strong in the areas of metaphysics, mind and language, and ethics.

The title of the second e-textbook is Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability in Practice. The authoring of this publication was be led by a team from the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR) at Nottingham University Business School. The ICCSR was established in 2002 with the aim of leading the international development of responsible and sustainable corporate practice. The Business School team partnered with the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS), which is the new not-for-profit body being established to identify, recognise, promote and support high standards of practice by individual Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability professionals.

The University of Nottingham acted as the publisher of both titles but different business and distribution models were used for each. Applied Ethics was published as an Open Educational Resource (OER) under a Creative Commons licence. Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability in Practice was published using a Freemium model, with some versions of escalating functionality and support being offered to different audiences.

The e-textbooks (along with some other self-published e-textbooks from Nottingham) can be found at: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/open/ebooksandibooks.aspx

Two posts will follow on the specifics of the Nottingham project: 6C model and dissemination.

Institution as e-textbook publisher project workshop group sessions

This blog post was written by Graham Stone, Senior Research Manager, Jisc.

As part of our Institution as e-textbook publisher project workshop in Birmingham on 16 June 2017, we asked our projects to cover the following broad themes in their presentations:

• Costs: how long did the books take to write, what were the hidden costs?
• Benchmarking: cost benefit analysis and evidence to invest in more e-textbooks
• Technology: the technology used including lessons learned and issues faced
• Licensing: issues encountered including CC licenses, 3rd party copyright issues
• Dissemination, distributions and discovery: concepts and processes behind the dissemination, uptake, and wider adoption of the e-textbooks
• Uptake: evidence of usage by students and courses
• Feedback: Would the authors do it again, would they act as champions?
• Implications of implementation: What are the implications for the wider adoption of the e-textbooks at other institutions?

In the afternoon group session, delegates and speakers contributed their own thoughts and ideas in relation to their own institutions. We’ve distilled the ideas in this blog post to give you a flavour of the session. Next steps for us are to use the ideas to shape a proposed toolkit for institutions, which will be a major outcome of the project.

Costs
Institutions wanted to know more about ‘hidden costs’ of creating the textbooks in order to plan all the details. For example, the time taken to write, but also other areas that may progress at a different pace.

We hope to be able to make a number of survey documents live on the blog very soon – one is an excellent survey of authors, which will help institutions to understand these costs. We hope to survey all of our authors and provide an analysis too.

Questions were asked about the full costs of this form of publishing verses commercial publishing. This is more difficult to quantify due to the different nature of each project. As are the costs of dedicated staff, as each project uses a different business model. However, we hope to capture some of this for the toolkit too.

Business models around crowdfunding and subscriptions were also mentioned. There is an overlap here with the OA monographs toolkit, which is also planned for 2017/18.

Benchmarking
Benchmarking against commercial publishers was mentioned and we will provide some further details about this in the toolkit. It was thought that qualitative benchmarking might be too expensive to do. However, we think that the survey templates we hope to make available will help in this area.

There was some overlap here with evaluating uptake, international students and outreach were mentioned.

Regarding the question about the need to benchmark and for whom was it necessary, the USP and distinctiveness of a textbook was suggested. We will ask the projects to expand on this.

Technology
Comments on technology discussed the need to make sure that technology followed engagement and pedagogy and not the other way round. The need for proper resourcing and the use of open source technology was also mentioned. We will pull together the experiences of all the project as part of the toolkit.

Licensing
Issues around 3rd party rights and CC licences were prevalent. We will add more information to the toolkit. However the Jisc/AHRC OAPEN-UK guide to Creative Commons is still available. In addition, there might be external guidance such as Extended Collective Licensing.

Dissemination/Discovery
Delegates wanted to know about both internal (VLEs) and external dissemination (Kindle, Google Books). We will ask the projects to provide more information in the final year of the project about how they planned and evaluated their dissemination and discovery.

Uptake
Institutions want a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data and we hope to provide this, both as survey templates and analysis.

The need for pre-determined aims of success and the definition of value were mentioned and we will ask projects to provide their experience.

Student value was important and we will have more data on this during the final year.

Feedback
Feedback from authors and students was considered essential and we’ll provide some more details on this in the coming months. Learning technologists and tech companies were also mentioned.

We are planning some further case studies from authors and analysis form surveys in the next year. As mentioned above, we hope to provide some survey templates.

Implications for implementation

Opportunities
Delegates saw a number of opportunities, such as dissemination of ideas beyond the authors HEI, institutional reputation, collaboration, student experience, value to pedagogy and potential recruitment.

Challenges
Potential challenges were seen as IPR and licensing, too narrow a focus for widespread adoption, collaboration vs competition, accessibility, dissemination via platforms, issues around providing continual content, sustainability, preservation, working out pedagogical value and time.

We’ll ask the projects to report back on their experiences in due course.

Other
Finally, we asked delegates to tell us if there was anything we had missed regarding a potential toolkit. Collaboration, shared costs and centralised resources were mentioned as were shared platforms.

Concerns were expressed about which technology to use, long term preservation and the risk of dumbing down if HEIs produce their own learning resources.

A question was also asked about why a ‘core textbook’ was not featured in the project and whether it was too difficult. Regarding this, the second Liverpool book could be considered a ‘core textbook’ in this sense and a blog post will be published in due course.

We hope you find this useful – comments are always welcome. We will continue to blog as the toolkit takes shape.

The Rise of New University Presses and Academic-Led Presses in the UK

This blog post was written by Janneke Adema (University of Coventry), Graham Stone (Jisc) and Chris Keene (Jisc) and was first released in the Library & Scholarly Futures blog.

Our new report: Changing publishing ecologies: A landscape study of new university presses and academic-led publishing maps the rise of new university presses and academic-led presses in the UK.

The landscape of academic publishing has seen a discernible increase in new publishing initiatives entering the sector over the last few years. These new publishing initiatives have a potentially disruptive effect on the scholarly communication environment, providing new avenues for the dissemination of research outputs and acting as pathfinders for the evolution of academic publishing and the scholarly record.

In 2016 we commissioned a research project focused on institutional publishing initiatives which includes academic-led publishing ventures (ALPs) as well as new university presses and library-led initiatives (NUPs). We are pleased to announce the publication of the report ‘Changing Publishing Ecologies. A Landscape Study of New University Presses and Academic-led Publishing’, which charts the outcomes of this research.

The report, by Dr Janneke Adema (Coventry University) and Graham Stone (Jisc, formerly Collections and Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of Huddersfield), benchmarks the development of NUPs and ALPs and fills in knowledge gaps. It complements our previous  research, such as OAPEN-UK, the National Monographs strategy, the Jisc/OAPEN Investigating OA monograph services project and the new Knowledge Exchange Landscape Study on Open Access Monographs which will be published in September 2017.

The NUP and ALP strands of the research study were co-ordinated and run in tandem by Stone and Adema. This study was informed by a desk top review of current library publishing ventures in the US, Europe and Australia and an overview of international academic-led initiatives and their existing and future directions. The NUP strand consisted of a survey, which collected 43 responses, where the ALP strand was informed by interviews with 14 scholar-led presses. Taking different approaches for these two types of press, the report captures the take-up, reasoning and characteristics of these initiatives, as well as their future plans.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations to help support and foster new developments in this space, share best practice, collaboration and the tools and services to facilitate further innovation. As such the report recommends to support community building for both NUPs and ALPs, the establishment of guidelines for setting up a press, the provision of legal advice and guidelines for preservation and dissemination, and the development of future projects to support these new initiatives. In particular, the community professed a need for the development of a toolkit that would aid both existing NUPs and academic-led presses, as well as those universities and academics that are thinking about setting up their own publishing initiatives. This toolkit, based on information collated from the communities, could consist of how-to-manuals, best practices guidelines, standardised contracts and agreements and alternative FLOSS software able to support the production process.

The findings of the research carried out as part of this report provide an evidence base for future support for both new university presses and academic-led publishing initiatives to help create and maintain a diverse publishing ecology. We plan to work with both communities, its members, and partners to further build on these recommendations and seek suitable ways to take these ideas forward to realisation.

eTIPS Use Case Blogpost

This blog post was written by Jacky MacMillan, Head of the University of the Highlands and Islands Educational Development Unit*

As the eTIPS project has progressed, at an institutional level there has been a significant interest in ways in which the outputs of the project could be embedded to maximise the impact of the eTIPS team’s work. To that end the project team have identified four distinct use cases:

Global enhancement opportunity

The ease with which the eTIPS project has been able to access a global audience with the books published through the project, has left us in no doubt that it is possible for the university to command a global audience for ebooks published in the future. The distribution channel selected for the project, Amazon Kindle is both readily accessible and powerful. Whether or not the drivers for publishing work are about income generation, as an opportunity to enhance reputation or raise the profile of the university and promote the work that it does. The analytics available show that sales and page reads are worldwide including the EU, Japan, US and South Africa.

Digital learning resources

One driver for the initiation of the eTIPS project was the expertise which the university has through its Educational Development Unit in producing high quality engaging digital learning resources. Being able to create learning resources as ebooks is of significant value. The convenience and ease of use of the outputs of the eTIPS publications suggests that well formatted platform independent text based resources have merit in their own right as digital learning resources. Students tell us they appreciate the functionality and clarity offered by the Kindle format as well as the ease of access on and offline that the ability to download to a device brings.  Adding the ‘ebook’ to the suite of tools already available to staff has potential to widen access to learning programmes, enhance the student experience and contribute to the open agenda.

Professional development

Throughout the course of this project the eTIPS team have been mindful of the potential that epublishing has to develop writing skills in academics. The team recognises that writing skills, whether it be for academic publishing or for learning materials delivered on line is an important digital literacy competence required of our academic staff.  The team recognises that academic writing and publishing in peer reviewed journals may be a daunting prospect for an early career academic. It could be argued that an early foray into epublishing with support on hand from an experienced team has the potential to develop competence and increase confidence. The team argues that for an early career academic, epublishing provides a springboard to academic publishing and furthermore, supports engagement with the local and wider FE and HE communities.

Publishing for students

With many initiatives professing the benefits to the learning experience of student generated content it is difficult to ignore the potential that epublishing has in this regard. At the time of writing the university has initiated a pilot project to enable academic staff to support their students to write and publish a chapter of an ebook as part of their coursework. Furthermore the team has been approached on several occasions with requests to publish student dissertations. In a similar vein to the first use case, there is potential to take the best of our students work and publish and distribute it in ebook format. By publishing students’ work in this way there is potential to enhance organisational and individual reputation globally. Offering to publish the ‘top two dissertations’ could incentivise student achievement.

* As a Senior Fellow of the HEA, Jacky established and has led the University of the Highlands and Islands Educational Development Unit since its inception in 2011. With a passion for equivalence in access to education in the Highlands and Islands her experience is in establishing and managing technology enhanced learning (TeL) projects, such as eTIPS nationally and internationally. As well as TeL, her academic interests are in entrepreneurial leadership and virtual teams.

Feedback from an author: an academic’s experience

This blog post was written by Professor Frank Rennie*, Lews Castle College, University of the Highlands and Islands

The principle benefits that I have realised from participating in the e-tips project to explore the e-text publication of the scholarly output for a university are, the speed of publication to the global readership, and the added value that can be obtained by repurposing in a different format work which is already substantially completed.

In evaluating e-text publication, I think it is red herring to dwell upon the length of time required to produce the initial manuscript. As with a conventional hard-copy book, the time taken to complete the manuscript for e-publication can vary from a single week of authorship over-drive, to the patient aggregation of many years of painstaking working and re-working. The crucial consideration is that, like any good book, the text needs to be well-written and the subject needs to be worth reading. After completing the manuscript, I was pleasantly surprised how easy the process was to release the text for worldwide publication. After the proof-reading and the confirmation of the final draft, the actual formatting was completed in an afternoon, and the e-textbook was available online within 24 hours. As this was an experimental project, most of the team were closely involved with every aspect of the publication process, and while this can be fulfilling for an author, it can also lead to over-complication of decision-making, and the slowing down of production. I was certainly more closely involved with each stage than with any previous ‘conventional’ book publication. A recommendation for the future is that while there may be opportunities to involve the author(s) in various aspects of the publication process, these opportunities should be subsidiary to a strong central decision-making and time-tabling.

In the case of the e-textbooks produced by this project, there was no expectation of any royalties accruing to the authors, but this might be a consideration for future publications. It could be envisaged that different royalties agreements might be made on a sliding scale for different types of e-publication. In the case of re-purposing work for a module textbook, the main writing might be completed as part of a normal academic workload, with a quickly turned-around product for students and professional recognition of the author being the only rewards. At the other end, of the scale, a flagship e-textbook or the collected proceedings of a conference, could produce a financial incentive for the author or be designated to an appropriate charity.

The main reward for an author, as with some many other ‘conventional’ books, is for the author to see their name in print and have a feeling of satisfaction that their work is being read and appreciated. A key benefit for the institution is that the authors are recognised as being scholars/academics of a particular university, and that both the university and the authors gain an enhanced visibility on the global stage.

Having participated in this project, both as a lead author and as part of an editorial team, I can see many other opportunities for me to disseminate my work in e-publication format. This includes short texts/extended-essays which have been prepared for specific academic modules, or the aggregation of blog posts curated over a prolonged time on a particular theme. The advantage to me of the e-publication format is that it enables the global dissemination of my ideas to what might be a fairly specific minority-interest readership. It also useful for fast-moving areas of education/research where the half-life of useful knowledge is likely to change quickly. An advantage to the university is that it is a relatively low-risk means of making the scholarly products of the institution highly visible to a potentially large but anonymous readership. The success of academic e-publishing will be determined by reputational quality, of the institution and of the academic, but it is a meritocracy to which I will happily contribute.

 

* Frank Rennie is co-author of both eTIPS publications – Undertaking Your Research Project, and How To Write A Research Dissertation. He is Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland and Assistant Principal at Lews Castle College UHI. His research interests are in new approaches to online education and networking for sustainable rural development. See http://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/frennie and https://uheye.wordpress.com/ or @frankrennie  Contact mailto:frank.rennie@uhi.ac.uk