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OPINION

The global outlook and civic heart of publishing

Simon Ross

Simon Ross

Manchester University Press (MUP) publishes more than 200 peer-reviewed books each year across the humanities and social sciences.

As Simon Ross, MUP's Chief Executive, explains, this output must meet the need not only of the academic community and broader readership, but also of society at large.

Publishers have the honour of sharing some of the world’s most life-changing ideas. They also bear a responsibility to those whose ideas they share, and to those who receive them. For a university publisher, there’s also the consideration of how its mission aligns with that of the parent institution.

At the MUP our aims resonate strongly with The University of Manchester’s mission of advancing education, knowledge and wisdom for the good of society. We seek to increase access to research and are committed to the promotion of evidence-based ideas and local engagement. We develop and disseminate scholarly works of the highest quality that will be recognised globally for their social, economic and cultural impact.

This responsibility is hugely relevant today, in a world where the concept of truth has come increasingly under attack. The particular role of a university publisher is urgently relevant in helping to create works of integrity.

All of our publishing is peer-reviewed, a vital part of the value of a university press. As part of our mission we publish scholarly work that commercial publishers can’t financially justify, and through our trade list we offer books for a wider audience. We focus on offering potential solutions, as well as books that help to amplify voices from the margins.

We’re keenly aware of the issues around diversity in publishing and we seek to address them, both through our author and reader base, and by participating in initiatives to encourage people from a diverse range of backgrounds to consider publishing as a career option. Our author base is global, with 50% based outside of the UK, yet we’re also committed to the cultural life of our region.

We’re particularly proud to have been part of Manchester’s bid in becoming UNESCO City of Literature and we are proud to work with the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and the University’s Whitworth gallery and Manchester Museum.

In sharing ideas, access is critical. The growth of digital channels means that people have access to more ideas than ever before, and will often seek material online first. That’s why in 2018 MUP launched our major new digital content platform manchesterhive.com to host all of our book and journal content. As a major Open Access (OA) publisher, we created a dedicated site at manchesteropenhive.com to provide a discoverable and user-friendly home for our OA books, articles and chapters. We're now approaching one million downloads of our free-to-access content.

Of course, publishers based at universities have a commitment to their institutions too. Since publishing our first book in 1904, MUP has extended the University’s reach and influence with readers in more than 200 countries.

We work with many academics within the University who are authors, reviewers, series editors and members of our editorial committee and management board. In addition, we collaborate with University colleagues to coordinate readiness for activities around REF 2021 and preparedness for the changing environments such as Plan S, the recent European initiative for OA.

As our University continues to make a difference through its social responsibility initiatives, we’ll continue to innovate, engage and respond to the changing needs of the academic community, broader readership and society.

Simon Ross, Chief Executive, Manchester University Press

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