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What is an Open Access Monograph?

Monographs, or books that present sustained arguments on single subjects, remain the foundation of humanistic scholarship. They are typically, though not always, written by a single author for a specialized audience, and they submit to a formal peer review as part of the publication process.

Like their conventional counterparts, digital monographs are peer-reviewed publications that present a long-form argument. But their presentation extends the bound book by integrating digital content, functionality, or distribution. Authors who adopt digital presentations for their monographs often do so as a way to reach wider audiences, both within and outside the academy. The creation of a digital monograph tends to be openly collaborative, particularly for works that require a high level of technical complexity.

The DPH program supports three types of open access, digital monographs:

Within academic publishing, open access (OA) scholarship includes peer-reviewed works (books, journals, reference works) that are distributed in digital form, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. OA scholarship is subject to the same peer review and editorial standards as its traditional print counterparts. A subvention typically covers the publisher’s editorial and production costs upfront so that the work can be distributed without charge to readers. 

The subvention model flips the traditional funding model that relies on income from sales to offset the costs of publication. In the case of OA monographs, a verbatim print version is normally made available for purchase alongside a free e-book. Open access monographs are typically distributed as PDFs and EPUBs, which may be downloaded and read on any device that supports e-books. Publishers make OA monographs available on a variety of platforms, including their own websites, content aggregators like JSTOR or Project MUSE, or digital libraries like HathiTrust. Inclusion of rich metadata should also make OA monographs discoverable on the open web through regular browser searches.

DPH is proud to offer open access subventions to Emory faculty. Subventions are paid directly to recognized academic publishers and all supported books must meet the same high standards of peer review as traditional publications.

Enhanced OA monographs are similar in many ways to OA monographs. They are typically structured like conventional books, and a print book is normally published alongside the enhanced digital edition.

But as the name implies, enhanced OA monographs take advantage of the online environment to extend the functionality of the digital edition. Enhanced OA monographs might integrate audio and video clips, dynamic maps, or interactive data visualizations that cannot be included in the print edition. Another common feature is the inclusion of additional and/or color illustrations that were excluded from the print book due to space and budget constraints.

In recent years, many university presses have experimented with two publishing platforms that support enhanced OA monographs, both funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: (1) Fulcrum, developed by Michigan Publishing, and (2) Manifold, developed by the University of Minnesota Press, in collaboration with the CUNY Graduate Center and Cast Iron Coding. Another leading option is Quire, a publishing platform developed by Getty which is optimized for the display of images.

Through our partnership with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), DPH supports the production of enhanced editions of OA monographs by Emory faculty in both Manifold and Quire. All enhanced editions are co-published with recognized academic publishers and must have already met the same standards of peer review as a traditional publication before production can begin.

Custom-built OA monographs are born-digital publications that cannot be replicated in print form. Moving beyond digital enhancements, these complex and experimental books rely on multimodal content and the web’s interactive nature to create a distinctive reading experience that often deviates from the linear structure of a printed book.

Custom OA monographs assume a wide variety of forms and use a plethora of digital tools and platforms. Generally they require extensive development work and a team which brings together researchers and technologists.

Through our partnership with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), DPH is able to support the development and production of a small number of complex OA monographs. Despite their innovative form, these books still require peer review and are released in collaboration with recognized academic publishers.

Comparison of different monograph formats
Traditional monograph
Traditional monograph published open access
Traditional monograph published open access with an enhanced digital edition
Custom-built digital-only monograph published open access
Published by an academic pressYesYesYesYes
Available in printYesYesYesNo
Available digitallyMaybeYesYesYes
Free to read onlineNoYesYesYes
Free to downloadNoYes (as PDF and/or eBook)Yes 

(enhanced edition may have download restrictions, but a PDF and/or eBook of the non-enhanced edition will be available to download)

No, though sections may be downloadable

Supports a variety of media (e.g. audio, video, extensive color images, interactive components)NoNoYesYes
Can accommodate a non-linear structureNoNo

No, though the enhanced edition can support/encourage non-linear navigation

Can have an entirely custom appearanceNoNoNoYes
ExamplesRei Terada, Metaracial: 

Hegel, Antiblackness, and Political Identity

Xochitl Marsilli-Vargas, Genres of Listening: An Ethnography of Psychoanalysis in Buenos AiresScott Kugle, Hajj to the Heart: Sufi Journeys across the Indian OceanShahzad Bashir, A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures
Supported by the DPH programNoYesYesYes
Is my project a good fit?N/A

Preference is given to books with a potential for broader interest (across disciplines or beyond academia).

Any third-party materials should be reproducible in an open access format without prohibitive cost.

University presses are strongly preferred.

Preference is given to books with a potential for broader interest (across disciplines or beyond academia).

Any third-party materials should be reproducible in an open access format without prohibitive cost. As this format can accommodate a large amount of multimedia content, the viability of reproducing this material is an especially important consideration.

The publisher must be a university press.

An interactive, possibly non-linear presentation of the research is essential to the book: the argument cannot be made any other way.

The author is not under pressure to release the project quickly.

The publisher must be a university press.

How to get startedN/A

Book a consultation or apply directly for an OA subvention

Book a consultation

Book a consultation

If you are interested in a companion website for a traditional, pay-to-read monograph, please reach out directly to ECDS. However, if you are hoping to pursue open access publication for your traditional monograph and would like a companion website, please book an initial consultation with DPH.