About the Project

Project Scope and Timescales

In January 2014, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, in partnership with the British Library, issued a call for collaborative proposals for a team to explore the Academic Book of the Future in the context of open access publishing and the digital revolution, with total project costs up to a value of £450k FEC, with AHRC providing 80% of the costs.
The Department of Information Studies, University College London, fielded the successful proposal, with Dr Samantha Rayner as Principal Investigator. Co-Investigators were Nick Canty, also from UCL, and Professor Marilyn Deegan and Simon Tanner, Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. Dr Michael Jubb was a principal consultant to the project. Rebecca Lyons (Bristol/UCL) was the Project’s Research Associate.

The project started on 1 October 2014, and ran formally until 30 September 2016.

Project update poster (December 2015)

Project progress poster Dec 2015

Download the progress poster (Dec 2015) as a pdf

Research questions

Our response to the AHRC call included a proposal to investigate the following issues:
1. Changes in research processes leading to academic book production.
2. Changes in the economic and technology contexts of academic book production, dissemination and reception, including authors’ engagement with technology platforms and changes in the formats of academic outputs.
3. The impact on research publication of such issues as copyright, reproduction permissions, image rights and the relationship between print, e-version and ‘born digital’ publications.
4. Looking beyond the existing models of the monograph, critical edition and edited collection, what key issues might lead to further changes?
5. What new possibilities are being opened up for researchers in the arts and humanities as a result of technological developments, and how might these impact on the way research is conducted and shared in future.
6. What implications do collaborative practices, use of social networking tools pre- and post-publication, and quality assessment practices (e.g. peer review, citation, nature of editorial input) have for the global research community?
7. What are the implications for peer review, promotion, and career advancement in the changing landscape of academic book production?

Community Coalition

The Academic Book of the Future affects a broad range of stakeholders, and to include the views of as many as possible we established a Community Coalition. This Coalition represented an attempt to cover all the major discipline areas in the arts and humanities, as well as representatives from other main stakeholder communities of practice (libraries, publishers, funding bodies and professional societies and networks). A list of collaborators on projects and events – i.e. those individuals, institutions, and organisations that form our Community Coalition – can be found on the Community Coalition page.


In order to tackle the project’s key research questions as comprehensively as possible, the Project Team and the Community Coalition carried out a range of activities over the two years. These included a detailed literature review (see the Links and Resources page for this document), focus groups, interviews, seminars, workshops, symposia and embedded research projects. See the Events page for further detail on these activities and Event Reports for the resources created for, or as a result of, project activities.

In January 2015 we started to organise research activities in the key areas of the Project’s scope, in response to suggestions and offers from our Community Coalition and Advisory Board. This was a complex, multi-faceted project, which was able to succeed with input from a wide range of participants across the spectrum of academic book publication: authors, readers, publishers, editors, librarians, booksellers and others. With our Community Coalition we have explored issues such as the ethics of circulation, the academic book in the south, academic book discovery, the future space of bookselling, audio-visual resources and the academic book of the future, crossover books, and much more – as well as consulting with a range of academic disciplines. Of particular concern were areas of academic research where the objects of study are visual, material, or performative. We asked: how can new modes of publication better serve subjects like music, drama, films studies, art, archaeology, or anthropology – as well fields with newly digitised corpus’ of material, such as medieval and Milton studies? How do we deal with the technical and legal issues around non-textual materials? What effects will new modes of academic book production have on careers?

Academic Book Week

The Project coordinated a special week of activities spanning the 9-16 November 2015. See the #AcBookWeek website, and our Project blog for more information on how the week went, and how to get involved in the next Academic Book Week (23-28 January 2016).

Project deliverables

Our main deliverable under the terms of the AHRC grant is a major report, which is set to launch in January 2017. However, there have been a large number of subsidiary deliverables from project participants as they have engaged in the various activities outlined above. See our Links and Resources, Event Reports, and our project blog for all of these resources, including the results of our work published and disseminated by Palgrave Macmillan, UCL Press, and in various journals.

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