About the Press
Digital Scholarship Initaitives (DSI) is a unit of the James E. Walker Library at Middle Tennessee State University. For more information on all DSI programs, visit https://dsi.mtsu.edu. All publications and web projects hosted or published by DSI are digital and open access--free to read or access online and free for authors to submit materials or apply for programs.
The MT Open Press is a publishing imprint of DSI, a unit that has been publishing peer-reviewed journals and web projects since 2014. Everything MT Open Press publishes is open access (free to read online), and has no author-facing charges. Currently, we publish scholarly, creative and educational works from the MTSU community and region. Additionally, textbooks and scholarly monographs may undergo peer-review, and some publications are also available in print, as ebooks, or both.
The development of the MT Open Press is in response to a variety of issues in scholarly communication. Responding to the growing interest in open access publishing from authors, editors, universities and grant funders, the MT Open Press began in 2022 after two years of planning and assessment strategies. Walker Library strives to enable eligible authors to publish open access journals and books (monographs, textbooks, or edited collections). These works are indexed in databases and search engines, making them discoverable by readers worldwide.
Working with authors or editors, DSI provides the technical infrastructure and long-term preservation services to support the access, discovery, and use of digital publications. Items receive baseline support, which includes server space, basic web design, limited technical support, and the indexing, discoverability, and preservation of content.
Publishing Principles and Philosophy
As an active partner in the scholarly communication process, Walker Library provides information resources and services to meet the needs of campus. The MT Open Press is an extension, that supports the academic mission of MTSU by publishing and providing free access to peer-reviewed, scholarly and creative works of distinction. The Press is guided by the principles of academic excellence, financial stewardship and transparency, including:
- Publishing peer-reviewed academic works of editorial and production quality that reflects the strengths and mission of the university and Walker Library.
- Operating with financial integrity, pursuing sustainability through a range of funding and partnership streams, productivity improvements, and cost-recovery, all while not charging readers nor authors for discovery, access, editorial or production services.
- Promoting an inclusive culture with meaningful and diverse perspectives, professional development opportunities and transparency through documentation of guidelines and procedures in order to operate with the ethical frameworks of library publishing.
- Advancing the reputation and standing of MTSU in the scholarly and publishing communities and helping to address the need for zero or low-cost textbooks and monographs.
The core principles of MT Open Press are:
- We believe that the Walker Library and the Press are critical resources for publishing expertise on campus and in the community.
- We believe in supporting scholars by contributing quality, scholarly works to the public and university through open access publishing.
- We believe that the exchange of ideas, scholarship and knowledge is necessary to support learning, clinical practice, and research, including to stimulate creativity.
- We believe that the scholarly ecosystem works best when creators retain their copyrights and we support MTSU faculty, students, and staff by making their work available to audiences around the world via open access publishing.
- We work to decrease the cost of higher education and improve learning outcomes for students by publishing high quality open textbooks and other open education resources.
- We believe in the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, and promote these values through our publications and policies; we welcome projects that give voice to marginalized individuals and communities.
- We practice transparent production processes in order to promote critical understanding of the publishing landscape’s range of production and economic models.
- We believe community matters. Our publications reflect MTSU and the surrounding communities of middle Tennessee.
The benefits of an open press for authors and students include:
- User access to zero or low cost textbooks, monographs, or supplemental readings
- Author support for writing open textbooks or open access monographs
- Quality review and editorial services at no cost to authors (no APCs)
- Shorter publishing lifecycle that traditional publishers
- Persistent identifiers (DOI, ISBN) and Creative Commons (CC) licenses to increase access and recognition of the work
- Preservation and indexing practices that increase sustainability and discoverabilty
- Opportunities for fellowships and support for local non-profit publications (future benefit possibility in 2024-2025)
While traditional university presses and commercial publishers select what they publish based on the potential market, a library digital/open press can leverage campus expertise, server space and open source software to provide worldwide access to educational or scholarly content that might not otherwise be available. Not only can MTSU faculty and staff benefit from Walker Library’s publishing program, but also departments and local nonprofits and partners.
As of 2023, MT Open Press is in the production phase of its first two monographs. Later in fall 2023, we hope to launch a Call for Proposal (CFP) to solicit publications. Proposals will be evaluated based on eligibility (details coming soon) and the following factors:
Community Value—The Press will attempt to align the mission of MTSU and Walker Library by supporting publications that promote an inclusive culture.
- Does the proposal align with MTSU strategic goals?
- Does the content fill a unique value for the field or discipline?
- Does the content demonstrate value for Open Access publishing?
- Does the proposal give voice to unique or underrepresented voices?
Quality—The Press will attempt to establish a high-quality and well-rounded portfolio of publications by selecting excellent proposals that represent the MTSU community and our values.
- Does the proposal demonstrate a commitment to high quality scholarly content?
- Does the proposal represent a valuable example of the format?
- Does the proposal represent a valuable example of the discipline?
Capacity—The Press will balance the number of new publications we can accept with how complex any given project will be to develop.
- What types of publications are being proposed?
- What disciplines and roles are the authors coming from?
- How complex will the support requirements be for a proposed publication?
- Will it leverage existing resources?
Selected projects will use publishing agreements. All publications undergo checks for copyright, plagarism, and references. Some manuscripts may undergo peer-review, and some authors may receive stipends for their work. Print-on-demand (POD) is an option for a publication that requests this service, knowing that any recovery costs will go towards the Press publishing fund to help produce more open access books.
The Press uses an operating plan, marketing strargeties, data analytics, SWOT analysis, and measures of success for benchmarks and development goals.
Publishing Services and Expectations
(for proposals that meet the minimum criteria requirements)
- Author/editor support
- Planning and guidance for intellectual property rights
- Creation and management of standard identifiers (URI, or DOIs, etc)
- Creative Commons license use and selection advice
- Layout (digital)
- Plagiarism detection
- Backfile upload including metadata processing
- Web hosting
- Search engine optimization
- Indexing services (limited to Worldcat, MTSU Catalog)
- Digital preservation
With Basic Services, DSI does not typically assist in the management of the publication (i.e., recruiting content, finding editorial staff, enlisting reviewers, citation style checks, seeking third-party permissions, etc.) as these are the responsibility of the author/editor. DSI may assist with final PDF layout, but the author/editor is responsible for the final copy-edited version prior to publication.
(for select proposals)
- All items under basic services
- Advanced identifiers (ISBNs, LCCN, DOIs, etc)
- Graphic design option (cover)
- External review
- Layout and Typesetting (digital and print)
- Redraw Figures/Charts/Graphs (if applicable)
- Copyright checks
- Index creation (back of book)
- Advanced indexing services (additional venues possible)
- Electronic proofs
- Marketing (limited to Calls for Chapters, one-page marketing brief)
During the proposal review process, an estimated budget will be shared with the Steward of the publication. For edited volumes, DSI may assist in the management of the publication (e.g., recruiting content, finding editorial staff, enlisting external reviewers for the entire book, marketing the publication, etc.), but it is the editor’s responsibility to review and select chapter content and facilitate any internal peer review (if applicable). External reviewers use a single-blind review process and are encouraged to follow COPE’s Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers.