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SUP has been engaged with open access (OA) since the press was re-established in 2003. Over the years, we have published some books in OA on release, while others were embargoed for a year or two depending on the author’s preferences, the nature of the material and the funding model. Many remain behind a ‘paywall’, but we continue to make sure that our books are inexpensive to buy, especially when compared to other scholarly monographs. We also make part of each book available OA, usually the introduction. SUP’s OA books and book chapters are housed at the Sydney eScholarship Repository.

While SUP needs to remain financially sustainable, the availability of funding has never been at the core of the decision to publish in OA. Some of our authors are very keen supporters of OA, while for others OA is not a priority, which reflects the trends for uneven OA adoption in the humanities and social sciences worldwide. Researchers involved in public health, public and social policy, copyright law and Indigenous studies, for example, are passionate about making their work broadly accessible to the general public, policymakers and Indigenous communities, where they can make an impact. In contrast, for researchers in the humanities, the relatively slower pace of research and writing, the lower cost of journals in comparison to STM, and the limited access to grant money means that the OA publishing model is not a high priority. Things are slowly changing, however, as more granting agencies and universities release their OA policies, and academic authors recognise the benefits of increased visibility, impact and usage of their work.

SUP’s most popular OA titles

Let sleeping dogs lie? What men should know before getting tested for prostate cancer

Let sleeping dogs lie? What men should know before getting tested for prostate cancer by Simon Chapman, Alexandra Barratt and Martin Stockler has been downloaded over 30,000 times. Since its release in 2010, the book has consistently remained at the top of the most frequently downloaded titles in the repository. The book provides a detailed examination of the main questions that a man should ask before deciding to get tested for prostate cancer.

Removing the emperor’s clothes: Australia and tobacco plain packaging

Removing the emperor’s clothes: Australia and tobacco plain packaging by Simon Chapman and Becky Freeman has been downloaded over 16,400 times since its release in 2014. In December 2012, Australia became the first nation in the world to require all tobacco products to be sold in standard ‘plain’ packs. This book details the background, evidence, opposition and the preliminary research into the impact of this law in order to give policymakers in other countries the tools to make the best case for plain packaging and to defend it from the inevitable attacks that will follow.

Over our dead bodies: Port Arthur and Australia’s fight for gun control

Over our dead bodies: Port Arthur and Australia’s fight for gun control by Simon Chapman, a book originally published in 1998, has been downloaded over 13,400 times since the reprint was released in 2013. It gives an insider’s view of the struggle for gun control, highlighting the public discourse between shooters determined to preserve the right for civilians to bear military-style weapons, and activists dedicated to getting Australia ‘off the American path’ of gun violence.

Re-awakening languages: theory and practice in the revitalisation of Australia’s Indigenous languages
Re-awakening languages: theory and practice in the revitalisation of Australia’s Indigenous languages was published in 2010 and released OA a year later. Since then, it has been downloaded over 6,500 times in its entirety, while we also have individual chapters available to download for those with specific interests. The book provides the first comprehensive snapshot of the actions and aspirations of Indigenous people and their supporters for the revitalisation of Australian languages in the 21st century.

Access to public sector information: law, technology and policy
The majority of SUP books on copyright issues, intellectual property law and managing public sector information are available in OA. The most popular titles in this series include The true history of copyright: the Australian experience 1905–2005, Copyright law, digital content and the internet in the Asia-Pacific, Copyright future, copyright freedom and Access to public sector information: law, technology and policy.

Transforming a university: the scholarship of teaching and learning in practice
Among SUP’s books on education, two titles stand out. Transforming a university: the scholarship of teaching and learning in practice published in 2007 captured the intricacies of teaching and learning in different academic domains. Kids count: better early childhood education and care in Australia was also published in 2007 and offers a comprehensive set of policy principles that would deliver a better early childhood education and care regime for Australian children and their families. Even though both books are eight years old, the chapters continue to be downloaded, demonstrating the long-term value of these collections and their importance in the broad debate on education.

General practice activity in Australia 2013-14. General practice series no.36
SUP has been co-publishing the “General Practice Series” reports with the Family Medicine Research Centre since 2011. Each year two titles are released. The General practice activity in Australia report provides a summary of results from the previous year of the BEACH program, a continuous national study of general practice activity in Australia since 1988, while the accompanying volume, A decade of Australian general practice activity, highlights changes in general practice activity in Australia over the most recent decade of the BEACH program.

Thirty years in the South Seas: land and people, customs and traditions in the Bismarck Archipelago and on the German Solomon Islands
The OA publishing model gave a second life to several of the out-of-print titles originally published by Oceania Publications. The first book re-published in 2010, Thirty years in the South Seas: land and people, customs and traditions in the Bismarck Archipelago and on the German Solomon Islands by Richard Parkinson, is a translation of a German classic first published in 1907. Parkinson was among the first traders established in the Bismarck Archipelago (a group of islands off the north-eastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean) and observed many societies before they were extensively incorporated into the Western economy, or missionised. Richly illustrated, the book remains an invaluable resource for researchers interested in the people of this area. Since then, we have also released three more Oceania classics of enduring value: Customary marine tenure in Australia, Night skies of Aboriginal Australia: a noctuary, and On Aboriginal religion.

With the average print run of academic monographs around 350 copies worldwide, seeing the downloads reaching into the tens of thousands is a resounding argument in support of the OA model in the context of scholarly publishing. We will continue experimenting with various OA models, balancing our mission to disseminate scholarly research as broadly as possible with the necessity of remaining financially sustainable. We invite you to download and read these and the many other SUP books that are available in OA.

This post is part of Sydney University Press’ celebration of International Open Access Week.

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