(Re-)Shaping University Presses and Institutional Publishing

Profiles – Challenges – Benefits

Brno, 13–14 June 2019


The landscape of academic publishing is rapidly changing. Conventional funding and revenue models are declining, making scholarly publishing challenging especially for those publishers that serve small language areas or highly specialised target groups.

At the same time, new university presses have been founded all over Europe and beyond in the last few years, and existing ones are continually transforming towards digital dissemination. These changes respond to general trends in technology, dynamics in research policy, as well as funding programs and other initiatives, like Plan S, pushing towards open access. The prerequisites of the authors (mainly scholars and researchers) and their institutions are constantly changing in the digital era.

What is more, institutional Open Access publishing is evolving, proposing new infrastructures for – and also within – the academia. Because of these developments there is a growing interest to join forces within advocacy organisations such as AEUP. More and more publishing institutions are appreciating the value of joining forces  within such organisations as a way of developing additional momentum.

In view of the aforementioned, the participants in the 2nd AEUP conference hereby state:

  1. The conference participants agree that university and institutional presses nowadays are facing challenges in times of disruption and fundamental changes in publishing. They notice the constant need to adapt to the new requirements of the academic environment, their respective institutions and society as a whole. University/institutional presses need to drive the changes.
  2. The participants acknowledge that university presses/institutional publishers serve academics and science as well as the public. They are embedded in their institution and scholarly communities as well as acting as non-commercial players. Hence, they are free of maximal profit considerations and liberated from any selection process based on this. Thus they will make their opinions heard and set the standards.
  3. The participants emphasize the importance of bibliodiversity (in content, authorship and in business models) and acknowledge that maintaining bibliodiversity is an integral part of quality in publishing.
  4. Many university/institutional presses are small, nonetheless, they are doing important and professional work. They have employees with a wide range of competencies, multitasking not only with many different professional skills, such as i.e. editing, proofreading, marketing, graphic design, IT skills, project management, public relations etc. Furthermore, they are close to their researchers and well embedded in the discourses of diverse communities.
  5. The participants agree that researchers need to share their research in the way that is most effective and strategic for them, to disseminate their research and reach their audience. To publish with a small and locally focused university press may be the best option for some researchers.
  6. Small university/institutional presses should network and build “horizontal alliances” and participate in bigger infrastructures to produce and disseminate the research more effectively. Being small can be considered an advantage in serving specific academic communities. It is essential to find the right allies, which could influence the publishing landscape for the benefit of the researchers of smaller institutions, languages and research fields.
  7. Professional editors are highly needed. Many of the publishers (including library publishers) acquire and update their editorial skills by learning on the job. There is a profound interest in developing further formal editing courses. At some European universities courses are available at an MA degree and courses have been developed by other educational institutions or organisations. The digital landscape of open access publishing also requires continuing additional skills for editorial workflows.

The participants have committed to further cooperate in enhancing the recognition of university/institutional publishing. In order to do so, they have raised to the AEUP board the following propositions:

  1. promote the bibliodiversity by representing the voice of all the different university/institutional member presses and other interested parties;
  2. continue the discussion in relevant channels where there is a need of an European book publishing study programme;
  3. prepare workshops on the topics that arose from the survey on editorial skills;
  4. continue the work on networking opportunities for member presses by encouraging “horizontal alliances”;
  5. publish the outcomes of the conference online to make them available to those who could not attend.

In Brno, Czech Republic, June 2019