Open Access

At the University of Michigan Press, open access (OA) is one of many ways that we strive to deliver the best scholarship to the broadest possible audience. We work with every author to consider whether and how OA might raise a book’s profile, help it to reach the right audience, fulfill the author’s goals, or comply with the requirements of a funder or institution.

While open access isn’t appropriate for every book, for many scholarly works, it yields benefits to authors, sponsoring institutions, and readers. OA has the potential to extend the reach of scholarly works, promotes public engagement, and facilitates digital innovation. This page is meant to help each of these stakeholders understand open access at University of Michigan Press.

While OA has become an established approach within journal publishing, OA for academic books is an evolving field and the paths to sustainability are not yet clear. As part of the publishing division of University of Michigan Library, University of Michigan Press has been publishing and studying OA books for over a decade and our research, often conducted in partnership with other institutions, seeks to engage with practical challenges such as contract terms, discoverability, and sustainability so that OA works for the benefit of the author.


For Authors:

What does it mean for my University of Michigan Press book to be open access?

A University of Michigan Press open access book will be, at minimum, published openly on our platform in HTML for reading on the web, usually under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) license. In some cases, a complete PDF of the book may also be made available for downloading, reading offline, or printing. Usually, we will sell print copies of the book as well as a retail ebook edition for use on devices such as Kindle and Nook. Whether or not reflowable ebook formats (such as EPUB3) are available for free or for sale may depend upon on funder requirements and available support for the production of the work.

Is open access appropriate for my book?

Your editor will always be glad to discuss whether open access makes sense for your book. You can expect such a conversation to introduce questions like these:

  • Do you have a mandate from your funder, home institution, government, etc., to make the book OA and, if so, what are the specific requirements? (Example: Your research was funded by a federal grant that requires the results to be published under a CC BY license.)

  • Does the content of your book suggest open access distribution for ethical reasons? Is there a case to be made that the book must or should be freely available to populations that otherwise might not be able to obtain it? (Example: The subjects of your fieldwork in urban schools should be able to access your work for free.)

  • Does the primary intended audience for your book include those who are unlikely to be able to access the book through academic libraries? (Example: Your study of mental health in teenagers will be most useful for practicing social workers and guidance counselors, who are unlikely to have access to the book through a research library.)

  • Do you seek to include digital affordances in your published work that would function best if the work was made OA? (Example: You seek to solicit public comments on your work or expose supporting data for reuse by other researchers.)

  • In general, what are your expectations and goals for this book? What are you hoping to achieve with an open access version?

It is best to discuss whether or not the book will have an open access version with your editor as early as possible, as planning ahead for open access distribution makes the production process smoother for all involved. In some cases, a monograph may be selected after publication for inclusion in a program like Knowledge Unlatched, that will allow for open access distribution of the book. (For more information about what it means if your book is selected for inclusion in Knowledge Unlatched, see the KU FAQ for Authors.) But most OA books published by the University of Michigan Press are opened up at the point of publication, with participation of the author and acquiring editor.

Open Access can be achieved in a variety of ways, using different business models, distribution methods, and licensing schemes. The University of Michigan Press can accommodate a number of strategic approaches to open access, described in more detail below.

What are the OA options for UM Press authors?

  • Platinum open access (or, publisher open access at no cost to the author) is available by way of our participation in third-party programs and initiatives that provide financial support to presses to offset the cost of producing open access monographs. Knowledge Unlatched is an example of a major Platinum OA program.

  • Gold open access (or publisher open access) occurs when the press and the author decide together to make the book open access immediately upon publication, and can involve a subsidy, subvention, or funding from a grant agency, home institution, or other source.

  • Green open access (or author self-archiving) is an option for all authors publishing with the University of Michigan Press. In this approach, an author typically deposits a version of their work in an institutional or disciplinary repository.

Is there a book publishing charge (BPC) or other required subsidy to make my book open access?

The University of Michigan Press does not have a single, standard BPC. Unlike journal articles, books are very diverse in terms of format and level of editorial complexity. We aim to come up with a transparent and affordable cost for every book we publish OA.

It is worth noting that presses invest considerable resources in the production and publication of any monograph. In 2016, we participated in the production of a report from ITHAKA S&R on “first copy” costs for academic monographs and also conducted a check study in collaboration with Indiana University Press. We calculated the average cost of producing an academic monograph (including all associated staff activities) for our university press at around $27,000. Traditionally, the press would hope to recover that investment through sales alone. When a book is published using open access distribution models, the press must consider how those costs will be covered, usually through a combination of print sales revenue, subvention from the author’s institution or a third-party funder, and/or other sources of support such as our internal funds.

Since we consider the publication of an OA monograph a shared risk, the “price” we will charge for publishing any OA book will almost always be substantially lower than the actual “first copy cost.” We believe that the distinction between what a publisher charges for OA and what a book costs to produce is important to understand in an emerging environment where it is difficulty to “compare apples to apples.”

Which open licenses does the University of Michigan Press use?

Our standard author contract for open access books allows the author to indicate which CC license to use. While we recognize that more liberal licensing is desirable to achieve the full potential of open access, our default practise has been to assign the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) license because this is the license most usually requested by our authors in the humanities and qualitative social sciences. Other licenses may be considered, if appropriate and desired. We encourage you to have a conversation about an appropriate license with your editor as early as possible.

How does open access affect the peer review of my book?

Open access has absolutely no bearing on the peer review and editorial selection process. Regardless of how your book will be distributed, your manuscript will be reviewed by external readers, and feedback provided to you. Your manuscript and the review process itself must ultimately be approved by the University of Michigan Press Faculty Executive Committee.

If you are interested in experimental modes of peer review, such as open, web-based peer review, or post-publication peer review, discuss your wishes and goals with your editor as early as possible. In some cases we are willing to consider these options in addition to our own rigorous peer review process.

How does open access affect the production of my book?

Existence of an open access version will not significantly influence production decisions: all monographs will be professionally copyedited, typeset, and have a unique cover design. Unlike many other publishers, we don’t separate out OA books in how we present them on our website, in our catalogs, at conference displays, etc. A University of Michigan Press book is a University of Michigan Press book, with the same guarantee of quality that readers have come to expect since our foundation in 1930, whatever the business model used.

How does open access affect the risk of piracy of my book?

Open access does not permit abuse or misuse of a book, nor is an open access book at any greater risk of misuse online than any other digitally-available book. In fact, making the book easy to find, search, and view in full on a trustworthy web platform may undermine piracy, because it is easier to trace any excerpt from the work back to the original publication. And making a copy of the book freely available to read reduces the incentive of piracy.

How will open access affect sales of my book?

In most cases, an open access monograph will also be available for sale in print and some ebook formats. The University of Michigan Press has been publishing (and selling) open access monographs for more than a decade, and our experience is that offering freely available versions of monographs has variable effects on sales, depending on the discipline and subject. In most cases, making the book more readily accessible on the web increases awareness and visibility, which can have a positive effect on print sales.

To avoid concerns about "double-dipping" we will endeavor to make all ebook versions of an open access book free-of-charge to libraries. Not all aggregators (companies who sell ebook collections to libraries) have adjusted their systems to accommodate open access versions but we will continue to work with them to make this possible. Our open access ebooks are available free-of-charge on Project Muse, JSTOR, and the University of Michigan Press Ebook Collection. We may continue to sell some premium versions of open access ebooks (e.g., those designed for certain mobile readers like Kindle) direct to consumers, but will always make the versions we sell directly from our website free-of-charge.

What about my royalties?

You will still receive royalties on sales of print and for-sale ebook copies in accordance with the terms of your contract. We treat a payment from the Knowledge Unlatched program as equivalent of a sale to participating libraries, and will pay royalties at the level set out for ebooks in your contract.

How will I know if people are reading and using my OA book?

We track usage of online open access books in several ways, including Google Analytics, and reports from third-party platforms that host our OA books, such as OAPEN and JSTOR. We make this information available to authors when possible. We are actively developing more systematic, proactive ways to consistently deliver usage metrics to authors, and welcome your input about what information is most useful and important to you.

Authors of both open and closed access titles can use the Altmetric badge on the book’s product detail page to explore how, where, and when the book has been mentioned on social media, in the news, in a policy document, on a syllabus, or elsewhere on the web. For example, from the UM Press product detail page for the 2016 open access title Just Vibrations: the Purpose of Sounding Good, anyone can click on the Altmetric badge under the cover image to see the details of engagement with the book.

My research is funded by a grant that requires my book to be made freely available. What now?

Talk to your editor about your requirements as early in the publication process as possible so that everyone can understand, agree on, and commit to a plan for working together to meet the funder’s requirements.

What am I allowed to do with my OA book that I might not be able to do with a print book?

For all University of Michigan Press monographs (regardless of whether they are open access or not), authors may use, reproduce, distribute, perform, and display the work in connection with their own teaching, conference presentations, and lectures without permission or notice to the press. Open access monographs published under a Creative Commons license may have still more flexible terms, as determined by the license they carry.


For Funders:

Is the University of Michigan able to comply with our mandate that research we fund be published on an open access basis?

Yes! We are eager to work with authors to ensure compliance with any requirements from funders. Our contract can articulate our commitments to a funding institution, as well as to an author. Our policy is that all funds go directly to “first copy costs.”

What does it cost to fund the publication of an open access monograph with the University of Michigan Press?

The term “first copy cost” refers to what it costs a press to bring a manuscript all the way through the process from the initial proposal to the point of printing the first copy. It includes all overhead related to development, contracting, review, communications, copyediting, design, layout, proofreading, etc. It does not include the costs of printing, shipping, or warehousing copies of the book or royalties to authors.

The first copy cost for any given monograph can vary widely depending on the discipline, length, and complexity of the work, as well as the practices of individual presses. A 2016 study of monograph publishing costs put the first-copy costs for university press monographs anywhere from $15,000 to $129,000. At the University of Michigan, this cost typically falls somewhere in the range of $27,000, a number reinforced by a parallel study that we conducted in collaboration with Indiana University.

Since we consider the publication of an OA monograph a shared risk, the “price” we will charge for publishing any OA book will almost always be substantially lower than the actual “first copy cost.” Our standard monograph contract can address funding agency costs and commitments.

How can we ensure that the research we fund is having a measurable influence?

We are committed to providing as much information as we can about how open access monographs are being used. This usage information may take the form of:

  • Web usage stats (i.e., number of page views or downloads) via Google Analytics on our own platform
  • Usage reports from other platforms hosting our OA titles, such as OAPEN and JSTOR
  • COUNTER reports
  • Altmetrics (mentions of the work on social media or in the news)

    Such reports are generally available upon request.

    We are actively developing a standard method of delivering a synthesized representation of usage to authors and to funding institutions. We are glad to talk with you about your requirements and expectations, and to ensure that the agreed upon details are documented in the contract.

    May I deposit a copy of the open access book into my institution’s repository?

    Yes. Please encourage the repository manager to include a link to the press’s website catalog page, the DOI, and the ISBN of the book in the metadata record to ensure that mentions of your work get picked up in altmetric measurement. Since the book is hosted in a stable, open access form on the press’s platform some repositories choose to create a metadata-only record that links to the version of record held by the press. This ensures that the latest version of the book is always the one used by readers and that the press is able to gather a more comprehensive picture of usage to report to the funder and author.


    For Readers:

    Can I use this book/chapter in my course? Can I put a copy of this book/chapter on my course management website? Can I post a copy of this book/chapter on my personal website? Can I email an electronic version of this book to my colleagues?

    The best way to share open access books with your colleagues, students, and network is to share a link to the book. University of Michigan Press books are assigned a permanent URL called a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) that ensures anyone who follows the link will always be able to get back to the authoritative version of the book. This also enables us to communicate to authors and funding agencies how frequently the book is being used.

    Can I re-use this image/video/figure/other media published in this book?

    As with non-OA books, if there is third party material inside an OA title, it is likely that the author herself had to get permission to use that material from whoever holds the rights. This means that a reader seeking to re-use the same material would also have to seek permission from the rights holder. We do include credit line information for third-party material that is used in our OA titles, so a reader can tell easily if the material would require permission to be reused. When a Creative Commons license is shown it applies only to the work as a whole, not to the third party materials included in it.

    Can I include a chapter from this book in an edited volume that I am putting together?

    This will depend on what kind of CC license the OA title is published with. Our recommended Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND) license does require any use to be properly attributed to the author, and does not permit commercial or derivative use unless explicit permission is given for such uses. (To request permission to use University of Michigan Press content in a way not explicitly permitted by the license, contact um.press.perms@umich.edu.) Authors may choose other CC licenses if they wish.