The mdw now has a publishing house of its very own: as of March 2021, the growing number of university presses in Austria and Europe is being joined by the open access academic publisher mdwPress.

Anyone who researches and publishes wants to reach an interested (specialist) audience that can directly access their findings without financial or technical hurdles. To this end, mdwPress is now offering researchers at the mdw a central service for their publication projects and a non-commercial alternative to traditional academic publishers.

It was all the way back in 1991 that the publication server arXiv, intended for open access preprints in the field of physics, was launched as one of the Internet’s very first applications. A further important impulse for the open access movement came from the “serials crisis”, in which mass takeovers of independent journals witnessed rapid consolidation of the commercial academic publishing industry into a small number of companies. These companies subsequently used their market power to impose price hikes that entailed heavy financial burdens for libraries. It was thus that at the dawn of the 2000s, the fundamental principles of the open access movement were publicly formulated in documents such as the “Berlin Declaration”. The underlying idea: to provide the public with open access to research findings that had been produced thanks to public funding.

© Bueronardin

The mdw, with its open access policy of 2018, joined this movement and encouraged “those who conduct academic research and publish to make their academic and artistic publications available to the public in open access form.” At the same time, it expanded the necessary infrastructure—after all, an open access publication is far more than just a PDF to be downloaded from a website. An open access publication’s discoverability and (re)usability plus its availability over the long term are determined by the functionalities of the website(s) on which it appears, the underlying data structures that describe the publication, and a license that should, for instance, explicitly permit its use for specific non-commercial purposes—in particular for archiving, in teaching and research, and for text- and data-mining.

In the digital humanities context, the publication formats currently under development are designed to do justice to the requirements of digital communication via the Internet as well as those of text-based exchange between researchers and interested audiences. And in this light, mdwPress offers monograph authors as well as editors of journals and anthologies up-to-date infrastructure. It’s abundantly clear that universities are ideally suited to mastering the complex missions of a publisher, with the necessary expertise all in one place: expertise on the academic material itself, with regard to IT, project management, and funding issues, and also on classic library-related topics such as indexing, archiving, and publication formats.

It was in this spirit that mdwPress arose from a collaborative effort between the mdw’s University Library and its Office of Research Support. The desire for an in-house publisher at the University, so frequently expressed by participants in the mdw’s annual ”Klausur der Wissenschaften”, has thus now been realised—thanks not least to funds from the project “AT20A – Austrian Transition to Open Access”, which is itself funded by Austria’s higher education structural funding programme. And since the summer of 2020, the mdw’s publishing services have been butressed by the setup and staffing of a dedicated position at the University Library.

mdwPress’s technical publishing infrastructure comes by way of cooperative agreements with experienced institutional partners: the publisher transcript has been brought on board to produce and distribute appealing and recognisable printed editions internationally, while the Saxon State and University Library Dresden is providing the journal management software OJS as part of its involvement in the specialised information service musiconn. And furthermore, an Academic Board that involves researchers internal and external to the mdw—will ensure the publications’ quality. mdwPress is intended to encompass the entire breadth and diversity of research conducted at the mdw as well as to encourage inter- and transdisciplinarity—which means that alongside pub.mdw, the mdw’s open access publication server, mdwPress now offers researchers at the University an additional platform for the dissemination of their research findings, thus contributing further to the mdw’s fulfilment of its societal mission.

To the overall concept of mdwPress:

Authors: Therese Kaufmann, Karoline Feyertag, Nora Schmidt, Michael Staudinger

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