General news Open research

Announcing the New University Press Toolkit

This is a blog post by Graham Stone, Subject matter expert (Open Access Monographs), Jisc

Jisc are proud to announce the launch of a New University Press Toolkit, which will support new and existing university and library open access publishing ventures as well as those with a hybrid model.

Funder policies surrounding open access have led to a revival in university presses in the UK and overseas. The toolkit has its roots in the 2017 Landscape study of New University Presses (NUP) and Academic-Leb publishing, Changing publishing ecologies. One of the recommendations of the report was to create a best practice toolkit to assist with the planning and establishment of new university and library-led presses publishing open access material.

These presses publish both open access books and journals. For example, many of the small journals mentioned in the recent diamond journals study commissioned by cOAlition S are supported by university presses or library publishing ventures. However, many operate with a limited number of staff (1-1.5 FTE) who must cover a wide range of responsibilities, often alongside the ‘day job’.

We put together an international Editorial Advisory Board consisting of University Presses (Liverpool, Stockholm, Westminster, White Rose, UCL) and other experts in the field to write the toolkit. We also worked alongside our sister toolkit, the OAPEN OA books toolkit, which was written at the same time.

The Jisc toolkit aims to support and give guidance to new university presses and library-led publishing ventures as well as those with a hybrid model (publishing open access and non-open access material).

This toolkit will help existing NUPs as well as those planning to launch or investigate whether to establish a press to better understand the following key questions – depending on the maturity and size of the press:

  • How to get institutional buy-in, and understand resource and budget requirements in order to justify the start-up of a press
  • How to achieve sustainability and define what it is – e.g., service to researchers and/or growing prestige
  • How to attract and support authors

Specific sections of the toolkit will be of use to:

  • University press staff
  • Subject liaison librarians
  • Library directors (wishing to set up a press and inform senior university staff)
  • Educational technologists
  • Scholarly communications managers and research officers
  • Academic staff (both as authors, editors and publishers)
  • Senior university staff (heads of department, PVCs for research)

Support for individual researchers who wish to understand more about open access for books is available at the OAPEN Open Access Books Toolkit.

The toolkit consists of several short, structured articles giving a brief introduction to a particular aspect of open access publishing for NUPs. It is designed to have several entry points, with links to relevant sub-sections throughout. It can also be read as a whole. The toolkit acts as a signposting tool linking out to existing information and resources for those that would like to gain a deeper understanding of a particular topic. Each section also contains an extensive list of references.

The toolkit is structured into eleven main sections, all content is provided with a CC BY licence so that you can share, re-use and re-purpose:

Why start a new university press?

There are lots of reasons to start a university press. This section looks at the most common drivers, such as support for the dissemination of research, engagement with the wider open access agenda, and helping academics meet funder requirements.


This section helps to outline the main objectives of the press with the creation of an overall mission statement, how this is achievable through specific aims, and, ultimately, how this supports the press’ business strategy.

Setting up the press

To establish the initial costs of the press and to establish a foundation to attract authors, the governance of the press and the platforms and publishing services that will be used to disseminate publications most be considered.

Attracting authors to publish

Why would an author decide to take the leap of faith and publish with a new press that is essentially an unknown entity? This section tackles key questions about some of the common misconceptions about open access, areas for legitimate concern, what authors are looking for in a press and how a new press can quickly establish those essential qualities that will reassure and appeal to authors.

Publishing journals

This section examines these different options and describes the governance structures required to ensure that journals maintain quality processes for publishing their outputs.

Publishing books

This section covers how to drive book submissions, the processes for evaluating them, the role of the editorial board, the peer review process and manuscript preparation.


Having strong production processes in place is essential to ensure that content is produced in a timely fashion, to high standards and within a reasonable budget. This includes use of third-party material under a Creative Commons licence subject to the content owner’s agreement.


This section discusses the basic metadata types required to make content discoverable and available in the traditional library supply chain as well as the key indexing services.


This section briefly covers the importance of preserving the output of a new university press, an emerging area where a number of projects are investigating more cost effective, open-source alternatives.


A marketing strategy will guide the press and be informed by its planned activities, desired outcomes, stage of development and agreed measures of success. This section looks at different marketing methods with an evaluation of their effectiveness and pros and cons.


This section examines the methods that can be used to measure the impact and return on investment of the press. It concludes with reflections from some of the authors on what they see as success from the point of view of their own presses.

Although the Jisc toolkit is initially aimed at UK institutions, it draws upon international best practice and case studies and we hope will appeal to a global audience.

We welcome feedback on what is missing and what could be improved, our Editorial Advisory Boards will meet regularly to review new content and/or commission new work based on this feedback and developments in the landscape.

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