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Academic publishing

The Academic group publishes some of the finest scholarly writing and research available anywhere in the world. Our output includes research monographs, academic reference, textbooks, and books for professionals and graduate students. We publish 391 peer-reviewed journals, many of them leaders in their academic field. Both books and journals are available in electronic format through Cambridge Core, our online platform.

The highlight of the Academic group’s year was the smooth and successful launch of Cambridge Core, our new digital publishing platform, which brings together over 30,000 e-books and 1 million journal articles for the first time in one online home.
This is the most exciting project Academic has undertaken in recent years. It replaces our separate Cambridge Journals Online and Cambridge Books Online sites with a single platform designed to help readers and researchers make fast and easy journeys to a vast range of content, and to cross-refer easily between books and relevant articles.
Built with the needs of our users at its heart, Cambridge Core is fast, sophisticated, agile and intuitive and has generated very positive feedback from customers. Our traffic has increased significantly since its September launch, with a book or article downloaded every second – a rate of 30 million items a year. We believe that Core, nominated for a number of industry awards, sets a standard that other publishers will seek to emulate.

Our focus on our users was demonstrated most forcefully in the planning of Cambridge Core.”

The launch came amid tough trading for the academic publishing industry, with library budgets constrained and increasing price sensitivity in the higher education textbook market. As the digital revolution buffets the sector, growth in e-book sales is not fully offsetting a decline in print. Against this background, the Press’s academic publishing enjoyed a year of modest growth, underlined by some important additions to our journal publishing portfolio.

We believe that the transition to a digital economy, despite its turmoil, presents significant opportunities for ambitious university publishers like Cambridge University Press, with a strong brand, the global reach offered by the internet, close attention to the needs of customers, and the dedication to academic excellence that comes with being part of a great research university.

Our focus on our users was demonstrated most forcefully in the planning of Cambridge Core. The key to the project’s success was the involvement from the very start of all types of customer – researchers, librarians, authors and the learned societies for which we publish journals.

We consulted extensively with almost 10,000 people through the development process. In the run up to the launch we gave librarians trial access to the system and used their feedback to refine it further. We are excited that the flexibility built into Cambridge Core means we can continue to develop features and functions to support the changing needs of customers in the years ahead.

Neuroscience

Our cooperation with fellow University departments intensified during the year to mutual benefit. One example is the launch of the Nine Dots Prize, a new Cambridge-backed competition, funded by the Kadas Prize Foundation. The Academic publishing group has joined forces with the University of Cambridge and the Kadas Prize Foundation to offer a new prize encouraging creative thinking about contemporary issues in society. The Press is a member of the organising committee and the winner receives $100,000 and an Open Access book contract with us. Press Syndic, Professor David Runciman, presented the first Nine Dots award to winner, and Press author, James Williams.

Our commitment to outstanding academic achievement was highlighted afresh by the many publishing awards won by our authors during the year across all subjects. Our titles won six awards and 11 honorable mentions at the Professional and Scholarly Excellence Awards (PROSE), the most prestigious for our industry, which are presented by the Association Of American Publishers (AAP).

The list included two awards – Excellence in Reference Works and Multi-Volume Reference in Humanities and Social Sciences – for the Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, edited by Bruce Smith.

The Mathematics award went to Mathematical Foundations of Infinite-Dimensional Statistical Models by Evarist Gine and Richard Nickl. The prize for Best New Journal in Humanities and Social Sciences went to the Journal of the American Philosophical Association, edited by John Heil.

In book publishing, we continued to enjoy considerable success in the UK with our early adoption of the Evidence Based Acquisition (EBA) model for library purchases. This involves a library paying an up-front sum that gives it access to a wide range of electronic book content for 12 months. The library monitors usage closely so that, at the end of the period, it has clear evidence of users’ needs and combines this with the librarian’s own judgement when deciding what to buy for permanent access. The model requires close customer support from sales and marketing, and we are now introducing it to other markets.

In book publishing, we continued to enjoy considerable success in the UK with our early adoption of the Evidence Based Acquisition (EBA) model for library purchases.”

In journal publishing, we increased the number of our titles to 391, with the addition of some very prestigious names. For example, we cemented our position in Law with two new relationships. We are working closely with the American Society of International Law on their journal publications, including the flagship American Journal of International Law. From 2018 we will work with the Society of Legal Scholars to publish Legal Studies, one of the largest UK-based generalist law journals.

We partnered with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the professional medical body responsible for supporting UK psychiatrists, on the publication from 2018 of five journals and the development of new print and digital content. This extends the Press’s reach in an already high-profile area of our publishing programme.

We continued to invest in new journal publishing with three exciting launches planned for 2018: Modern American History will contribute to our burgeoning US history programme across journals and books; Personality Neuroscience will provide an exciting and important new forum for work in this expanding field within neuroscience; The Journal of Global Sustainability will create an ambitious inter-disciplinary forum in this rapidly expanding field for research in an area with global impact.

Open Access journal publishing remained a high priority for us in 2016–17 as we worked with industry groups on ways to support both the needs of the academic community for the widest access to research materials and the need for sustainability in publishing models.

Press Syndic, Professor David Runciman, presents the first Nine Dots Prize award to James Williams.
Press Syndic, Professor David Runciman, presents the first Nine Dots Prize award to James Williams.

The Higher Education market is going though rapid change and challenges, including the rise of open educational resources, disruptive technologies and shifts in purchasing habits, which have hit particularly hard at the entry level undergraduate market.

However, we continue to see opportunities for a leading university press to provide textbooks and digital materials, serving advanced undergraduates and graduates, building on areas where we are already successful, especially as we remain committed to fair pricing. A sign of our ambition was the appointment during the year of a new Director of Higher Education with broad publishing experience. We are working with University colleagues to define the future resources that will be needed in higher education.

Meanwhile, we have been expanding our higher education publishing beyond the traditional focus on Anglo-American academia. One example is our Engineering publishing in India, written and produced locally for the Indian entry-level undergraduate market.

We continued to streamline the Academic group during 2016–17 to make ourselves more responsive and agile to changing customer needs. We appointed a new Senior Vice-President for Academic Publishing in America to ensure we continue to have strong, dynamic leadership in this important market.

The year also saw numerous initiatives to support our authors, who are the source of all our academic publishing. We teamed up with an outside supplier for a service that helps authors who wish to be published in English but lack polished English language skills. We have also been integrating our journals with Publons, the site which makes it possible for journal reviewers to gain credit for their reviews and build a formal record of their review history.

But the most important additional support for our authors was the launch of Cambridge Core. The platform was designed with authors in mind, with features such as a dedicated author section, and metrics showing the number of full text and abstract views of their works.

In this, as in so many other respects, Cambridge Core has made 2016–17 a transformational year for Academic.

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