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Advancing knowledge and learning: academic and research

Advancing knowledge and learning: academic and research

10 September 2021

Following on from the launch of our new branding, our leaders tell us what this means for their business area, and why now is the right time to reimagine our role as a publisher, to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers and communities.

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This week, Oxford University Press announced new branding, supporting our ongoing transformation to become a digital-first organization and to further our aim of making knowledge and learning more accessible.

OUP advances knowledge and learning of all kinds. In the Academic Division, we work in partnership with authors, institutions, and learned societies to bring a world of knowledge to the fingertips of students and researchers worldwide. And because we are a part of the academic community and guided in everything we do by our mission of excellence in scholarship, research, and education, we re-invest what we make into our people, our publishing, and the world-leading research institution of which we are part. But we know that our world is changing rapidly and we need to change alongside it.

For the academic community, the acceleration of digital publishing and the transformation to digital-first has been clear for some years. Since 2017, we have seen over 15% growth from our digital publishing with usage of our online products increasing by 18% and journals by an impressive 79%. In that time, we’ve launched a new digital platform—Oxford Academic—as well as several important new digital products such as the Oxford World’s Classics and What Everyone Needs to Know™ series. By February 2021, we surpassed a milestone 25,000 books available digitally and are currently undertaking a project to accelerate the digitization of many thousands more.

However, while we were already expecting to move in this direction, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic mean that we, like many other industries, have had to take an unprecedented leap forward. Alongside supply chain disruption and a very swift transition to remote working for many of our people, we witnessed a huge increase in digital demand. As institutions closed for safety reasons, print books were shuttered in libraries, lessons and lectures moved online, and digital became the only means of access. We worked rapidly with our customers to ensure minimal disruption and created bespoke packages that worked for them as well as working with major platforms and technology providers to ensure a seamless and simple experience for researchers and students.

Given what we’ve seen within our organization and across the academic community over the last 18 months, we’re not expecting this to reverse. Even where budgets for academic institutions are becoming squeezed by the ripple effects of navigating the pandemic, we are hearing that librarians and faculty members anticipate continued investment in ebooks and digital resources. And, in areas like academic monograph publishing which have traditionally favoured print, it’s time to prepare for a much more digital future.

The evolution of the OUP brand supports these changing needs. As the academic community finds new and different ways to connect with one another and share knowledge and as teaching and learning at university level shifts to account for new requirements and changing lifestyles, we cannot stand still. We must listen to what our communities are telling us and keep step with them as their needs evolve because we are the world’s largest university press, and that means that we serve the academic community as no other publisher can.

David Clark, Managing Director of OUP's Academic publishing division