Aim: Steps necessary to transform a small traditional university press to an open access publishing endeavour with international reach will be identified and described. The press used as an example could be considered “niche” in several ways, which could impose additional challenges: it covers humanities and social sciences, it is largely book based, and it belongs to the so-called scientific periphery, both geographically and linguistically.
Methods: The current state of a University of Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences publishing activities are described, with special attention to its openness, output type(monographs and proceedings vs. journals, digital/hybrid vs. print only, English vs. Croatian language), adherence to international standards (in digital formats, metadata, identifiers,content licencing, usage data etc.), visibility and discoverability. These findings are put in the broader international context of HSS open access publishing, to gain knowledge about best practices, identify challenges and prioritise future developments. Recent developments within projects related to open access publishing in humanities and social sciences like OAPEN (1),Operas (2), Hirmeos (3), Knowledge Unlatched (4) and Open Edition (5) are being analysed,compared and taken as guidelines.
Results and Discussion: Within the University of Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences publishing, there are three diverse sets of publications: scholarly journals, student journals and books. Twelve scholarly journals (co)published by the Faculty are currently (more or less) active, while thirteen more are published by professional societies closely related with the Faculty and edited by Faculty professors. All of those journals are open access journals and are present on Hrčak – Portal of Scientific Journals of Croatia. Still, within this group of 25 journals there are considerable differences in editorial and publishing practices as well as in international visibility and impact (for instance, 12 are indexed in Scopus, only 5 in WoS databases, and the coverage in many specialised databases and indexes is significant, but there is still considerable effort needed to expand this venue of visibility). Even though all journals are OA, only nine of them fulfilled the criteria for inclusion in DOAJ, while others were not able to fulfil the basic requirements for inclusion (6). Areas for which it was recognised that journals need assistance for improvement are: online support for editing and reviewing process (preferably via local support for Open Journal System), inclusion in CrossRef services (DOI assignment,Similarity Check, depositing open references), use of identifiers, format diversity and decisions on open access policies, copyright, plagiarism and licencing issues. As for 10 active student journals, issues of continuity in good editorial and publishing practices are of highest importance: without organised institutional support it will not be possible to achieve basic requirements for scholarly journals and maintain timeliness.While modes of publishing for open access journals are broadly accepted, books and their visibility and discoverability pose a greater challenge (7,8). Unlike journals, book publishing at the Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences have until now been exclusively print-based. Without readily available national distribution platform for online open distribution like Hrčak for journals, the first decision should be related to technical infrastructure: whether to build own digital platform (using existing open source software like OMP – Open MonographPress or newly developed Janeway), or taking part in existing platforms like Ubiquity, Knowledge Unlatched Open Sevices, OpenEdition or Open Book Publishers. Several issues are similar to journal publishing, especially the need to define open access policies, and open licences. The need for diversity in available formats besides pdf, provision of high-quality metadata and collecting usage data in standardised way are even more important than for journals, since books in HSS could have potentially larger and not exclusively academic audience. Also, providing structured and open reference data could have a great importance in tracking usage and impact, since it could enable visibility of citation data for documents thatwere previously under-represented in citation indexes.Conclusion: Small-scale university presses within the current digital publishing landscape are faced with many challenges. In most cases, they will not have enough capacity for own expertise. Therefore there is a clear benefit from national coordination and participation in international projects.