AHRC, British Library Launch Research Project on the Future of Academic Books


The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Library plan to launch a two-year research project which will explore the future of academic books in the context of open access publishing and continuing digital change.

Dr Samantha Rayner, Director of the Centre for Publishing at the University College London (UCL) will lead the project titled: ‘Communities of Practice: The Academic Book of the Future’.  Dr Rayner will carry out the project along with her colleagues Simon Tanner and Professor Marilyn Deegan from King’s College Londonand Nick Canty from UCL. This multi-disciplinary team will engage with the publishing and academic community to better understand the current landscape of academic publishing.

The Research Information Network will provide the consultancy for the large scale surveying work under the leadership of Dr Michael Jubb while a Community Coalition of partners will work with the core research team to manage the mini-projects. The research project will be managed by a Project Board, which will be chaired by Professor Kathryn Sutherland, Professor of Bibliography and Textual Criticism at Oxford University.

Dr Rayner enthused: “Collaboration is at the centre of our approach to this project: we have put together an initial community coalition made up of a distinguished and diverse team of collaborators from all the sectors concerned with this critical issue, and we will consult as broadly as possible over the two-year funding period in order to gain the most comprehensive understanding of the publication needs of scholars at all stages of their careers, and the practical, economic and legal issues relating to the publication, dissemination, use and curation of the long-form publication in traditional and new formats. The energy already generated by this project has been amazing – we can’t wait to kick off more formally in the autumn, and look forward to working with everyone, thanking them for their support and encouragement so far”.

It is expected that this project will have a significant impact on a wide range of stakeholders in research, library and publishing communities and generate new evidence and dialogue that will inform policy and national approaches to this important area of scholarly communications.