Opening the Future at CEU Press: an update on progress

Posted by Tom Grady on May 12, 2023 at 1428

A brief look at our progress so far, since launching our OA funding programme in 2021

Central European University (CEU) Press, in partnership with the COPIM project, are proud to share the first insights into the global reach of open access (OA) titles funded by their Opening the Future (OtF) initiative. This collective subscription model gives libraries access to a selection of the Press’ backlist and uses the membership fees to publish new OA titles to increase readership. A forthcoming report, based on Project MUSE usage data, looks in detail at the usage of these OA books - below we outline a few highlights from the report.

WHAT did we achieve so far?

The model, launched in 2021, has grown its membership continuously and we already have the funding for more than 35 OA titles over the next few years.

HOW did OA book usage grow?

Looking at usage data on the Project MUSE platform between December 2021 and December 2022, we compared the ten OtF-funded OA books to ten similar closed titles. Similar titles were chosen on the basis of close publication dates and subject scope.

Project MUSE host the gated backlist packages as well as the new frontlist OA titles and we can see that the readership of our books has risen substantially with the introduction of OA, which is no surprise. Since 2021 our OA books funded by Opening the Future have been downloaded 36 times more frequently than similar gated titles. 

In fact, for the same time period, the overall download numbers for all CEU Press books on Project MUSE also show not only significant increase in usage across all titles, but more specifically a strong growth in the usage of OA books.

WHERE are our titles being read?

Seeing our titles being read more across the world is the most exciting result. Researchers that previously had fewer access options are now visibly interacting with our new OA titles.

CEU Press OA books have been read in 104 countries: they reached 68 more countries than our gated books and 23% of all OA usage was seen in countries where previously no gated access was recorded.

We’re especially pleased with these metrics as they align with our DEI goals.   

In the last three years, countries with more than 1000 downloads of CEU Press gated titles included the USA, Canada, UK and Australia while in case of OA usage, the top countries also include China, Germany, Poland and France. Open access usage in Poland went from zero to over 1100 downloads, and readership in China, Hong Kong, Germany, France and Japan increased by a huge 1000%. 

WHICH titles had an impact?

To demonstrate the impact of Opening the Future, a prime example is Words in Space and Time: A Historical Atlas of Language Politics in Modern Central Europe by Tomasz Kamusella. The first OA title published through the funding programme, this book has been read in 79 countries and its usage reached 14,230 downloads across 125 institutions since its release in 2021. Even in its third year of publication, the title is still going strong, with 9501 downloads in 2022. And these statistics from Project MUSE only show part of the picture: Words in Space and Time is also available on OAPEN, JSTOR, the ORL, De Gruyter, EBSCO, ProQuest and other OA platforms. 

WHAT is next for Opening the Future?

In 2023, we are looking for new member libraries to enable us to publish even more open access books. Our goal is to have 25+ titles every year open access by 2025.

We would also like to continue communicating the reach of our open access titles transparently. To this end, we have partnered with Curtin University’s Book Analytics Dashboard to visualise the usage of the OtF-supported titles, and all our other OA books on our website. 

WHY should libraries support the programme?

Demand shows the way. Our programme is growing as an increasing number of readers look for and benefit from access to OA titles. Your support makes OA a reality. You not only get a great deal for backlist items and grow your collection, but subscribing members make a difference to open scholarship by funding new titles which become part of an online ‘global collection’. As a relatively small university press, broadcasting our authors’ ideas worldwide and increasing readership is at the core of our mission. Enrich your library’s collection and become part of the change that is revolutionising publishing.