National Book Awards to Return to In Person Event
By Natalia Alvarez
Earlier this week, the National Book Foundation (NBF) announced their plans to return this years’ National Book Awards to a primarily in-person format. For those who may be unaware, the National Book Awards are American literary prizes given yearly by the NBF to honour all the best American literature published that year in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young Adult Literature. In early July of 2020, the NBF announced their 71st ceremony would be held completely online due to the ongoing pandemic. This was met with both sadness at the prospect of being unable to gather as had always been done before and happiness for those unable to travel previously to attend the event.
Now that a vaccine has been made available and society moves to reach some sense of normalcy, the NBF hopes the 2021 National Book Awards will be able to celebrate in person once again. This, paired with the news of plans to broadcast the entire ceremony virtually to reach as many viewers as possible, has meant that those within the book community have been very excited, to say the least. Still, there are some that worry about the recent surge of COVID-19 infections, believing the event should simply remain fully online for this year and look to 2022 for an in-person switch. This is something the NBF says they will be monitoring closely. In their announcement, they state that they plan to follow the protocols recommended by the state of New York and are prepared to adjust their plans accordingly if anything changes.
Those wishing to attend the 72nd National Book Awards in-person on 17 November will only be able to do so after providing proof of full vaccination status as well as adhering to all safety protocols the NBF, their venue Cipriani Wall Street and vendor CrowdPass have put in place. For the virtual aspect, the NBF will be partnering with the production team, Really Useful Media, who were responsible for the 2020 virtual ceremony. The event can be viewed on the NBF website, as well as on Youtube and Facebook.
New Open Access Policy Sparks Concerns
By Molly Anna Chell
For years Open Access has been one of the biggest debates in academic publishing. Many people are in favour of the free dissemination of scholarly research, allowing new ideas to have a greater impact and encourage further research and collaboration, whilst removing paywalls for people who may not be able to afford expensive subscriptions to journals. On the other hand, there has been concern about the rise in predatory journals and the idea of a researcher paying to have their article published when budgets are already tight.
On 6 August 2021, UK Research and Innovation announced that by 1 April 2022, any research produced with their funding must be Open Access immediately upon publication. The new policy also dictates that monographs, book chapters and edited collections published from January 2024 will have twelve months following publication to become Open Access. £46.7m in funding has been promised to support the initiative. UKRI was launched in April 2018 and sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Their vision is a research and innovation system that provides everyone with the opportunity to contribute. Clearly, the UKRI considers Open Access to be the best way of accomplishing this goal. Many organisations will be affected by this new policy, as they fund universities, charities, businesses, research organisations and NGO’s.
Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, overseer of the policy’s development, said: “The UKRI Open Access policy will ensure increased opportunities to access, share and reuse the outputs of research across all of the disciplines UKRI funds, benefitting the research community and generating greater social and economic impact.”
This news was greeted with dismay by The Publishers Association and Springer Nature. As one of the biggest journal publishers in the world, this new policy will have a far-reaching impact. The publisher warned that the new plans could actually reverse progress towards a fully Open Access model in the UK. While the Publishers Association warned that the policy could put some presses out of business as it will be harder for them to comply with it.
The UK has made great strides towards Open Access, but this new policy may make the move much more daunting for presses who may still rely on subscription models. The transition has been going on for several years now, and the benefit of this policy is that it finally puts an end date on when the process will be complete, but this raises the question of whether we need such a final date. Many presses will need to move at their own pace, especially considering how complicated Open Access can be. On the flip side, a funding body is entitled to stipulate how it expects its money to be used, but this new policy risks forcing Open Access on publishers who do not yet have the required processes in place out of fear of losing access to essential funding.