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With the proliferation of information on the web, finding reliable scholarly sources swiftly and efficiently is a primary concern for academics. Through the renowned Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO) platform, OUP has made its monograph publishing programme available in a single online location since 2001, but for smaller university presses with more limited resources, building a similar platform has not necessarily been a feasible option—putting them at a disadvantage in the digital age.
In order to offer a possible solution, OUP this year launched University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO)—a new platform based on OSO, which allows other university presses to publish their own scholarly titles in one digital collection. Launched in September 2011, the service aggregates monograph content from other presses, making disparately published scholarship easily accessible via a cross-searchable online platform.
Timothy E. Wright, Chief Executive of Edinburgh University Press, one of the presses taking advantage of UPSO, speaks particularly highly of the service: 'The unprecedented speed of change in the electronic publishing environment presents both challenges and significant opportunities for publishers,' he said. 'This presence will enable Edinburgh to continue to innovate in how we sell our books and journals using a single online platform whilst maintaining our individual branding.'
For Lenny Allen, Institutional Accounts Director in OUP’s Global Academic Publishing division, UPSO not only provides opportunities for presses such as Edinburgh, it also helps to further the aims of the Press: ‘We share a mission with other university presses to disseminate scholarly content as broadly as possible,’ he explained. ‘University Press Scholarship Online is a unique opportunity to do so in a collaborative way.’
By the end of last year, nine university presses had joined UPSO, with a total of 9,000 monographs on offer. Further additions are expected in the coming years, providing OUP with an opportunity to further scholarly dissemination at Oxford and beyond.
‘We share a mission with other university presses to disseminate scholarly content as broadly as possible. University Press Scholarship Online is a unique opportunity to do so in a collaborative way.’
Lenny Allen, Institutional Accounts Director in OUP’s Global Academic Publishing division
Reaching the widest possible audiences with distinguished scholarly works is a key part of OUP's mission, and Jonathan Steinberg's Bismarck: A Life provides one example of how the Press achieved this last year.
Steinberg's biography, which hit the New York Times best seller list, was a finalist for the acclaimed Samuel Johnson Prize. The book illuminates the life of the man who unified Germany by mastering the art of diplomacy but who also embodied everything brutal and ruthless about Prussian culture. Drawing heavily on primary documents, Steinberg allows Bismarck's contemporaries to bring him to life, resulting in a portrait of titanic complexity and humanity.
Tim Bent, Executive Editor in OUP's Global Academic Publishing division, acquired the title when another press, which had originally commissioned the project, turned it down on delivery of the manuscript: 'The original manuscript was 300,000 words, but Jonathan was willing and indeed game to condense and contract, as long as it didn't mean losing the stature he wanted his portrait of Bismarck to convey. I think that we succeeded.'
The finished product is a comprehensive and expansive biography that sheds new light on Bismarck's character. It was published to critical acclaim, with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reviewing it on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. He called Bismarck: A Life, 'The best study of its subject in the English language.'
Aside from selling strongly in print form, Bismarck was one of the Press's most popular e-books last year, selling thousands of copies in electronic format, and introducing this seminal work to new audiences across the world.
'The book illuminates the life of the man who unified Germany by mastering the art of diplomacy but who also embodied everything brutal and ruthless about Prussian culture. Drawing heavily on primary documents, Steinberg allows Bismarck's contemporaries to bring him to life, resulting in a portrait of titanic complexity and humanity.'
OUP’s two South Asian offices in Pakistan and India have responded to rising demands for reference content with a series of acclaimed new works, providing an opportunity for OUP to disseminate a wealth of knowledge across this rapidly evolving part of the world.
Since 2004 OUP India has been building its list of companions and encyclopaedias, and this year’s Oxford Encyclopaedia of South Asian Christianity, New Oxford Companion to Economics in India, and Oxford Atlas of Ancient Indian History provide just three examples of important additions to its range. Its titles are now also being added to OUP’s online Digital Reference Shelf, helping it to reach new audiences globally.
OUP Pakistan also has a proud history of high-quality reference works, and this year’s Oxford Companion to Pakistani History tackled the difficult task of condensing all aspects of Pakistani history into 900 entries on a wide range of topics written by well-known contributors.
Ibrahim Saad, Managing Editor, Bilingual Dictionaries at OUP Pakistan explained the ethos behind the publishing: ‘Our mission is a priority for Oxford University Press Pakistan which has a well-established, solid reputation for maintaining high academic standards for all its publications. Our books offer a wealth of essential information due to the high quality of research and presentation.’
The works were well received by customers across the region. Sujata Patel, Professor and Head, Department of Sociology, Hyderabad Central University, India, was one of them: ‘OUP India’s academic and reference publishing has most distinctly defined research across South Asia,’ he explained. ‘The tradition of excellence continues, and OUP’s reference publishing remains indispensable to the scholarly and research communities, college teachers, students, and the general reading public in India.’
‘OUP India’s academic and reference publishing has most distinctly defined research across South Asia. The tradition of excellence continues, and OUP’s reference publishing remains indispensable to the scholarly and research communities, college teachers, students, and the general reading public in India.’
Sujata Patel, Professor and Head, Department of Sociology, Hyderabad Central University, India
The Oxford Textbook of Medicine (OTM) is a flagship title at OUP, forming a key part of a prestigious medical publishing range that helps to support the vital work of clinical and nursing staff.
The OTM contains more than a million words in more than 600 articles from nearly 1,000 contributors. Creating new versions of such large reference works can take several years, resulting in older editions fast becoming out of date.
In order to keep the content of OTM as relevant as possible in the fast moving medical field, the Press launched OTM on the Oxford Medicine Online platform in 2010, and updated it online for the first time last year.
Every six months, each article is reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the relevant field, and content is systematically refreshed in order to ensure the product is of the highest value to the people who use it.
Additionally, sponsorship by the Wellcome Trust has enabled OTM to blaze a trail in medicine by providing free access to users in low- and middle-income countries through the World Health Organization’s HINARI programme.
Feedback from users has been positive, and one review in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association described the platform as ‘superb’ and ‘easy to navigate’. For Catherine Barnes, Editorial Director for OUP’s medical publishing, it is an important contribution towards the Press’s digital future.
‘The Oxford Textbook of Medicine's online updates represent a significant milestone in our medical digital publishing,’ she said. ‘Regular online updates across our content mean that researchers, clinicians, and students are confident that they have the most authoritative and current information at their fingertips.’
The innovations pioneered in OTM can be applied to comparable digital publications at OUP, and other developments currently being planned are crafted with a similar eye to reusability across the platform.
‘The Oxford Textbook of Medicine’s online updates represent a significant milestone in our medical digital publishing. Regular online updates across our content mean that researchers, clinicians, and students are confident that they have the most authoritative and current information at their fingertips.’
Catherine Barnes, Editorial Director for OUP’s medical publishing