EPress: Open Access publishing at Unitec

I interviewed Editor-in-Chief Evangelia Papoutsaki and Editorial Assistant Louise Saunders of ePress, an Open Access scholarly publishing house at Unitec.

How did your Open Access philosophy develop?

The global political economy is one of the key barriers to human social process. Information should be free like the air we breathe and not a market commodity with a profit attached to it.

At ePress we believe that knowledge should be accessible to all. Academics are paid by taxpayers to research and produce knowledge, and the idea that students and the general public must pay for that knowledge does not sit well with us. It should be available to anyone who has the desire to read and use it. Citizens have the right to learn; access to information and knowledge should not be through their wallets.

Book cover designed for ePress by Penny Thomson. Licensed CC BY-NC

Book cover designed for ePress by Penny Thomson. Licensed CC BY-NC

 

How did ePress come to be set up?

EPress is an online, quality-assured, in-house publisher for authors and researchers working at, or associated with, Unitec Institute of Technology. As well as there being research produced at Unitec that needed a publishing home, there were other outputs such as performances, mixed media, design and art installations that all had potential as non-traditional publications.

The idea of ePress emerged out of a desire to harness the publishing potential of all these outputs by providing a platform from which they could be shared. Launched in late 2011, ePress started off with the more traditional conference proceedings and reports, and quickly grew to embrace eMedia and books. In 2014 ePress really hit its stride with the publication of two books (Press, Politics and People in Papua New Guinea 1950-1975 by Philip Cass and Ngā Reanga Youth Development Māori Styles by Josie Keelan), an edited collection (Communication Issues in Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Giles Dodson and Evangelia Papoutsaki), two wonderful eMedia (Rosebank: Cabbages, Horses and Science by Paul Woodruffe and The Moveable Feast Collective Teach Design by Susan Jowsey) as well publishing conference proceedings for the 31st Annual Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand (Translation edited by Christoph Schnoor).

At the beginning of 2015 ePress unveiled new layouts and cover art for our regular series; launched a new series titled Perspectives in Biosecurity Research Series edited by Dan Blanchon and Mel Galbraith; and announced the production of a forthcoming collection titled Conceptual Works in Sports Studies and edited by Lesley Ferkins and Mieke Sieuw. It’s going to be a big year at ePress!

Book cover designed for ePress by Penny Thomson. Licensed CC BY-NC

Book cover designed for ePress by Penny Thomson. Licensed CC BY-NC

 

Have you noticed any changes over time in the academic perception of Open Access scholarly publishing?

Yes. The perception used to be very much one of scholarly snobbery. If you weren’t in the right journal, or published to certain standards, it was of no merit to academia. However, things are changing, and fast. The methods for producing knowledge are changing and so too should our method of dissemination. More and more scholars are accepting and embracing the idea that there are other ways to prepare, produce and disseminate information. EPress has a strong focus on eMedia publications and they are a great example of alternative ways to share that knowledge. With these methods have come new researchers, authors and producers who believe that Open Access is the way forward for them. This new way of thinking is producing some truly fun and unique publications that might not have found a home anywhere else. More traditional publishers would not have been able to control their distribution and make a profit.

Book cover designed for ePress by Penny Thomson. Licensed CC BY-NC

Book cover designed for ePress by Penny Thomson. Licensed CC BY-NC

 

What has been your experience of publishing with a Creative Commons licence?

When authors submit to ePress we explain our processes and the Creative Commons licensing system. We automatically assign new publications with the Attribution-NonCommercial licence and give the authors time to investigate the other licences, should they wish to change. The response to the licensing, and the one we auto-select for them, has been well received by all of our authors. For those who are new to Creative Commons, they have really embraced the goals of Open Access publishing – though they are publishing with ePress so to an extent they are probably Open Access supporters already!

Book cover designed for ePress by Penny Thomson. Licensed CC BY-NC

Book cover designed for ePress by Penny Thomson. Licensed CC BY-NC

Elizabeth Heritage is the Communications Lead at Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

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