The Publishing of Electronic Scholarly Monographs and Text Books

Chris Armstrong, Ray Lonsdale

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report

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    This eLib Supporting Study was conceived to investigate the incidence and nature of
    the publishing of electronic scholarly monographs and textbooks in the United
    Kingdom. Given the international nature of academic publishing, and the fact that the
    professional literature suggested a higher incidence of activity within North America,
    the study was extended to encompass publishing beyond the UK. This afforded a
    comparative context by which to view UK initiatives.
    The project focused on publications used in tertiary education or for research, and
    ‘electronic publishing’ was taken to mean texts made available in any computer-
    mediated format: diskette, CD-ROM or via the Internet.

    A range of methodological approaches was employed in conducting the research.
    These included a comprehensive literature search and review; a survey of publishers
    of electronic monographs by means of an interrogation of their Web sites, and case
    studies were also conducted with selected UK publishers. A separate investigation of
    the publishers of national bibliographical sources and services was also undertaken
    using telephone interviews, and UK university libraries were surveyed by means of an
    email questionnaire.

    The project explored several interrelated areas. The nature of the general publishing
    context of scholarly monographs and textbooks was investigated to ascertain the
    current status of academic book publishing. The study offers a description of the
    structure of electronic monograph publishing, addressing such issues as incidence of
    provision, management structures, costing mechanisms, authoring and editorial
    responsibilities. An analysis of the issues associated with the characteristics of CD-
    ROM and Web monographs is provided, together with a delineation of the nature of
    narrative content, added value components, subject orientations, rights issues and
    quality control. File formats, document authority and identification, publication
    security and metadata are considered for both CD-ROM and Web monographs.
    The project explored the implications of electronic monograph publishing for those
    involved in collection management, and provides an analysis of the current nature of
    bibliographic access and delivery. A cursory investigation into the provision of
    monographs in university libraries complemented that analysis, and was conceived as
    the precursor for a further in-depth study.

    The findings of this report are extensive and complex. They suggest that UK
    electronic monograph publishing is embryonic, but alert to the salient issues. The
    structure of the industry reflects to some degree international initiatives yet displays
    unique characteristics. Extensive bibliographical problems remain, especially for Web
    monographs, and there is little evidence of collection management activity associated
    with electronic monographs in university libraries. A set of thirteen recommendations
    delineates areas that require further investigation, together with suggestions for
    enhancing awareness about the central issues identified in the research. A major
    conclusion concerns the need to establish a national forum to debate these issues and
    to foster electronic monograph publishing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationBath, U. K.
    PublisherUKOLN, University of Bath
    Number of pages49
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 1998


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