Cooperation between Language Science Press and Knowledge Unlatched

One of the founding ideas of Language Science Press was that the press should operate  without charging readers or authors (Platinum access). Of course, there are still costs associated with the operation of a press, which have to be financed in a sustainable way.  We are happy to announce our cooperation with Knowledge Unlatched. Together with Knowledge Unlatched, we will implement a library partnership model. A library partnership model is similar to crowdfunding: a number of interested parties (in our case libraries) join forces to finance the production of goods they would like to see available (in our case high quality open access linguistic books). When there are enough contributors, production starts. In case there were not enough supporters, nothing is produced, and no one pays. This model is used for instance by the Open Library of Humanities. OLH runs Open Access journals, among which we find Glossa and Laboratory Phonology. There are currently 207 institutions contributing towards the financing of this platform.

Knowledge UnlatchedKnowledge Unlatched operates on a similar to the model for books, focusing on the Humanities. In the rounds 1 (2014), 2 (2015), and 3 (2016), there were 28, 78, and 343 books funded, respectively, by a total of 380 institutions from 26 countries. This makes Knowledge Unlatched a natural partner for us: they have the expertise to set up the model, the network to make it work, and a track record which shows they know what they are doing.

In order for this model to work, it is necessary that we acquire 100 libraries or institutions which are willing to become members of the library partnership model. Please talk to your library about this project. We will prepare some information material over the course of the next months and make it available to our supporters. In spring 2017, libraries will be proposed membership. We count on our community to prove that linguistics is ready for real open access, without any direct charges for readers or authors. Please help us make this happen and make sure your home institution joins us.


Presentation given at the LangSci series editors meeting on 2016-10-07 (pdf, in German)

Print-on-demand service providers

Our main format of distribution is pdf, but we also offer printed copies via print-on-demand service providers. In this post, I want to shed a bit of light on the factors which influence our choices in this domain.


The following four criteria are essential:

  1. can accommodate our format of 170mm x 240 mm
  2. listed in the German registry Verzeichnis lieferbarer Bücher
  3. world wide distribution
  4. good quality books with regard to layout and printing

The following other criteria are nice to have

  1. choice between softcover and hardcover
  2. use of own ISBNs
  3. no setup fee.

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Calculating the costs of a community-driven publisher

Publishing does not come for free. There are a number of obvious costs, such as ink, paper or computer storage, and a couple of not-so-obvious costs, such as the time needed to set up a book for print-on-demand or the creation of user manuals and screencasts.

These costs have to be counterbalanced by revenue. Traditionally, publishers recoup their costs via the margin of their book sales. In an open access paradigm with a smaller print run, this is less straightforward.

Spreadsheet for calculating press's costWe have created an interactive spreadsheet where you can assume the role of press editor and see how you can make the ends meet. You can download the spreadsheet or use the online version (you will have to copy the online version to be able to edit). In what follows, I will detail the different sources of revenues, roles, and expenditures. You can use the spreadsheet right away, but it might be worthwhile to read what the individual categories stand for.

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Fatḥah in the margin

This post discusses an advanced typesetting problem dealing with the interplay of margin notes with German and Arabic LaTeX packages.

We have published a critical edition of Georg von der Gabelentz’s Die Sprachwissenschaft. This book comprises the text of the first edition from 1891 and the second edition from 1901. Differences between the editions are marked with different colours in the running text. Substitutions are marked in the margin. So far so good. The following image gives an example.

Margin notes and coloured text in the critical edition of Gabelentz's "Die Sprachwissenschaft"

Margin notes and coloured text in the critical edition of Gabelentz’s “Die Sprachwissenschaft”. Red text marks updates between first and second edition, blue text marks corrections by the editors of the present edition, here a wrong accent mark.

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Statistics 2015

2015 has been the first complete year for Language Science Press since the beginning of operations in early 2014. There is now enough data to run some analyses.

Works and series

Up and until 2015-12-31, 139 works have been proposed to
Language Science Press. the following figure gives a breakdown of the
distribution of these works and their states of completion.


Works with Language Science Press. The colour code is as follows: Black=expression of interest, light red=desk rejection; orange=waiting for submission; grey=under review red=rejected after review; light green=forthcoming; dark green=published.

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5 books in 5 weeks

In the last weeks, Language Science Press has had a sustained output of roughly one book a week. The books come from very different areas of linguistics, ranging from languages of New Guinea and Nepal to agent-based models and sociolinguistics in New Zealand. This shows that LangSci is indeed well rooted in linguistics at large. The books are, in order of appearance:

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Conversion of legacy documents and community publishing

Language Science Press uses a Latex-based workflow. Authors can use our Word/OpenOffice templates as a start, but there are many manuscripts out there which predate the publication of our templates. In this blogpost, I will detail our principles of community-based publishing for one of these manuscripts.

Case study: A grammar of Mauwake

The Mauwake language is spoken in Papua New Guinea, along the North coast of  Madang province. Liisa Berghäll has worked there for over 25 years, and the  manuscript of her grammar was finalised around 2010. It was available from the University of Helsinki e-thesis service.

Re-publication of this work with Language Science Press as Open Access allows for a much broader readership, but of course the manuscript has to follow our guidelines. In order to arrive there, the following steps had to be undertaken

  1. convert the manuscript to *tex
  2. make sure the linguistic content is correct
  3. incorporate suggested changes
  4. proofreading
  5. incorporate proofreaders’ comments
  6. final typesetting

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Brussels workshop on Alternative Open Access Publishing Models

We attended the workshop on Alternative Open Access Publishing Models organised by the European Commision (Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology and Directorate General for Research and Innovation). This blogpost summarises our impressions.

The workshop

When we signed up, we were expected a small workshop with a lot of discussion. We were surprised to see about 100 people in the audience and a packed program with lots of information transfer from the speakers to the audience, but little room for interaction or discussion. The speakers were very well selected and gave a good overview of various approaches to OA publishing in Europe. It was at this meeting that I realised how diverse and vibrant the OA scene is in Europe.

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What’s the cost of an open access book?

Proportional costs of a book

In order to establish a viable funding model for Open Access publications, one has to know the costs attached to creating an article or a book.

The sums quoted vary wildly, between 10 USD and 40,000 GBP for an article, and 1000 EUR and 25,000 EUR for a monograph.

In order to shed some light on the issue, we will share our data relating to the publication of monographs.

Calculating the costs: top-down

We are currently funded by the DFG with about 580k€ for a two year period. As a first approach, one could take the sum for one year, i.e. 290k€ and divide it by the number of publications, 9 to day. This leaves us with around 30k€ for a book. Continue reading