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Monographs and open access

Although the focus for the Open Access movement has been the publication of papers in scholarly journals, any academic work can be made open access, including book chapters or whole monographs.

Open access book publishing has lagged behind journal publishing in part because of the lack of a clear publishing model for the sustainable publication of open access monographs. Consequently the landscape is far less developed than it is for scholarly journal publishing. This document from OAPEN-UK outliines the present situation.


Grant options for potential OA monograph authors

Some funding bodies may cover the costs of publishing a monograph as open access.

Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust open access policy includes monographs and book chapters and they have funds designated for the cost of making these open access. Wellcome Trust funded monograph authors should apply directly to the Wellcome Trust for reimbursement of the costs (see FAQ 6).

Arts and Humanities Funding Council (AHRC)
Open Access publishing fees for monographs are considered to be an allowable cost in AHRC grant applications. These may be included as a “Directly Incurred Other Cost” and will need to be fully justified in any new grant application.

Leverhulme Trust
The Leverhulme Trust also considers open access charges to be a permissible expense, although they must be incurred during the lifecycle of the grant.The EU/FP7 scheme has a post-publication open access fund, which can be used for monographs as well as journal articles. It can be used by projects for up to two years after the end of the grant.

Departments and colleges might be able to provide researchers with support for publishing an Open Access monograph.

Publishing without a grant

Some publishers, for example, UCL Press, offer a waiver scheme for open access monographs. Other options include freemium and crowdsourcing business models. 

Open Book Publishers encourage authors to apply for funding to cover publishing costs, as for open publishers, the fees represent a significant proportion of their operating budget. However, this is not a pre-requisite for having a manuscript considered for publication.  

Open Access monograph schemes 

Brunel is keen to engage with open access monograph publishing, as it gives us a means of promoting open access to those disciplines that tend to publish in journals with less frequency. As a result we have engaged with a handful of open access monograph schemes.

  • Brunel has joined the Open Library of Humanities’ Library Partnership Subsidy system. The Open Library of the Humanities is a charitable organisation dedicated to the publication of open access scholarship with publication costs covered by a consortium of academic libraries, not author-facing article processing charges (APCs). It is likely that they will support Monographs in the future.
  • Knowledge Unlatched is another initiative aimed at making monographs more widely available,  through deals struck with traditional publishers, who for a fee paid by subscribing bodies agree to make an agreed tranche of their monographs open access. We last committed funding to this initiative in 2015. 

Dissemination models

  • Hybrid model. The book is freely available online and print copies are sold only to cover the costs of print circulation only. 
  • Gold model. A processing fee is charged for open access publication, typically ranging from £2000-£10000 but costs may be higher.
  • Repositories. Dependant on your ownership rights, after official publication the entire book or individual chapters may be made freely available to read in a repository, possibly after an embargo. This could be an institutional repository like BURA, or global repositories like OAPEN.
  • Library crowdfunded models. There are initiatives like Knowledge Unlatched where like minded libraries together jointly fund the open access publication of monographs.
  • University Press - Some universities are considering setting up university presses, e.g. UCL Press, or contracting publishing services from established, experienced open access publishers.


OAPEN-UK, a five year study into open access monograph publishing in the humanities and social sciences released its final report in January 2016.

The OAPEN-UK project, funded by Jisc and the AHRC, provides a comprehensive and openly available dataset of research on open access monograph publishing in the UK. Led by Jisc Collections in collaboration with funders, researchers, publishers, learned societies, universities and libraries, the project has undertaken extensive qualitative and quantitative research in order to provide an evidence base to help stakeholders make informed decisions about transitioning to open access monograph publishing.

The final report synthesis all the findings from the study and provides a set of recommendations to facilitate an effective transition to open access monograph publishing.