White Rose University Press Open Access opportunities

Academics are being encouraged to consider the White Rose University Press (WRUP) as a good option to consider when looking to publish their output.

Dr Simon Lightfoot, who is editing the Undergraduate Journal of Politics and International Studies

Dr Simon Lightfoot, Pro-Dean for Student Education and editor of the Undergraduate Journal of Politics and International Studies August 2018

WRUP is a new open access digital publisher of peer-reviewed academic journals and books, across a wide range of disciplines.

Founded in 2016, it is run jointly by the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York, but welcomes proposals from across the wider academic community.

It has been steadily growing its catalogue of journals and monographs during the past two years. 

But WRUP is keen for more Leeds academics to consider joining its ranks.

Kate Petherbridge, WRUP Press Manager, said: “The Press provides a new opportunity for researchers who wish to publish Open Access (OA) on a digital platform.

“We publish material of high academic quality, with a rigorous process of peer review and quality control.

“Alongside traditional journals and books, WRUP supports scholars working in specialist areas, and collaborates with authors and editors experimenting with new publishing forms.

“Our low processing charges and innovative publishing platform mean we are able to support small and experimental publications, as well as more traditional formats. The operation is nimble and streamlined, with successful proposals moving from inception to publication within one to two years. 

“We really would be happy to discuss this with anyone who might want to explore the opportunities this brings.”

One of the most recent publications to benefit from the WRUP’s services is the Undergraduate Journal of Politics and International Studies (UJPIR).

Edited by Dr Simon Lightfoot, Pro-Dean for Student Education at Leeds, the journal launched in March, offering a platform to undergraduate students to publish original research that underpins their studies.

UJPIR is open for submission all year round and invites articles addressing any aspect of politics and international relations. The aim of the journal is to show that undergraduate researchers can make novel and academically significant contributions to the field, and to support their journey as developing researchers.

Dr Lightfoot said: “As an external examiner, I had read some brilliant work by undergraduates students based on original research, but I was often one of only three people to read it! 

“I thought there was a need for a journal to offer an outlet for this excellent work and also support students in their first foray into academic publishing.”

He added: “The main reason for choosing WRUP was the staff. When I met them, they were able to offer a personalised service with bespoke advice and support tailored to the journal and its aims. 

“It really helps that WRUP is local, as meetings can be scheduled easily. UJPIR is my first foray into journal editing, and so having someone to take me through the process from pitch to editorial board – through dealing with the crucial behind-the-scenes contact to publication – was invaluable. They also understood that my work on the journal is in addition to the demands of my day job!”

And the venture has been a big success.

Dr Lightfoot said: “The reaction to the first issue has been pretty positive. 

“We were pleased with the spread of topics covered in the first issue and the fact articles came from six different UK universities. The team at WRUP was central to getting the first issue published, but its support goes beyond that, offering advice as to how to ensure the journal ethos is clear to prospective authors whilst maintaining a supply of high quality potential articles. 

“As with any venture, there are teething troubles, and I have really appreciated having the team at WRUP to advise me and to act as a sounding board.”

And he has some top tips for any other academics thinking of pursuing a similar course of action.

Dr Lightfoot said: “It is a cliché, but consider the time taken to create and launch a new journal. 

“I was given this advice but failed to appreciate the amount of work required! Some of the work is invisible until you start, such as the actual production process, but even the day-to-day tasks of processing submissions, identifying reviewers and communicating with authors takes longer than you anticipate, especially as this type of role is on top of the day job of being an academic. 

“That said, it was incredibly satisfying to see the finished product finally go live and quite an honour to read some of the excellent work produced by undergraduate students as part of their degrees. Universities highlight research-led teaching as a key element of their offer to students, and reading the work submitted to the journal shows how students grasp this opportunity and write some exceptional pieces of research.”

Kate added: “If anyone is interested in exploring similar opportunities with WRUP, or even if they just have questions about OA publishing, they are very welcome to get in touch

“We can be contacted via phone on 01904 323803 or via email. We are based in the library at York, and travel regularly to the Leeds campus, so can easily arrange an informal chat with anyone interested, if that would be of use. 

“We hope to be included in the Open Access Week talks at Leeds in October, and we’re very happy to come and give tailored presentations about the Press and OA publishing to faculty meetings or other interested groups.”

White Rose Libraries, which supports the operation of WRUP, won a Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award (THELMA) in June, due in no small part to the achievements of the Press.

Kate said: “It was fantastic to have this recognised, and we are keen to work with academic colleagues to further the OA agendas of our institutions and build on this new channel for scholarly communication.”

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