Future of Language Science Press

Next to publishing 35 books over the last 3 years, we have also explored ways to finance open access. We identified 5 revenue streams, but our evaluation showed that the most promising one is a “library partnership model”, similar to crowdfunding. Instead of charging readers or authors, we think that small contributions from a wide network of linguistics libraries worldwide are a better solution for long-term sustainability and this is also more in line with the spirit of the linguistics community.

Our target in terms of book publications is 30/year.

For this, we have to collect 115,000 EUR.

Ways to support

Together with Knowledge Unlatched, we have set up the following ways to contribute towards meeting this sum:

We will approach libraries over the next months and propose our financing model to them. Libraries are much more likely to contribute if researchers have talked to their library about the advantages of Language Science Press before, so you can help us immensely by sending just a very brief email to your librarian. (See sample below).

Some numbers

Some numbers might come in handy: with LangSci, a library contributing 1000 EUR can finance 30 high quality linguistics books a year for 33.33 EUR each. Compare this price tag to a random book from a traditional publisher all at about 100 EUR.

Plot 23Our costs for producing a fully open access book (CC-BY) are just below 4,000 EUR (115k€/30). [Update: since there have been some misunderstandings: this is the global sum we need per book. That cost is met by all participating institutions and individuals together] Compare this to the quotes of 10,000 EUR (de Gruyter) or 18,500 EUR (Brill). This is of course due to all the free support we receive from the community, but we are proud of this support we receive from you!

Plot 24While 1,000 EUR yearly contribution is a huge sum for one person, it is not that large in a  library context where subscription fees for one journal can be easily in the 5-digit range.

Make Open Access work!

We think 100 libraries worldwide and 150 individuals should be doable. If this is not the case, then linguistics is probably not ready for open access. So go talk to your library and make the case that researchers can reclaim publishing, make it free and open, and less expensive as well! And if you feel that you have the financial means for making a personal contribution towards making open access work, make an individual pledge.

While personal meetings or phone calls are the best way to get in touch with your  librarians, a simple email would also help. The more personal, the better. Below, we provide a sample email. Use this as a starter if you have a writer’s block. Click here to load this text into your email program.

Dear ___,
as you might know, linguistics is a very progressive discipline when it
comes to open access. The rebellion of the Lingua editorial board
against Elsevier, the resignation of the whole board and the subsequent
founding of Glossa have received wide coverage not only in specialist
media outlets.
Today I would like you to ask you to support open access not only for 
journals, but also for books.

You might have heard of Language Science Press. Language Science Press
publishes fully open access books under CC-BY. They are a community-based
worldwide enterprise with supporters from MIT, Harvard, Yale, Zurich, 
Berlin, Sydney, Hong Kong,etc. To name but a few, Noam Chomsky, Adele 
Goldberg and Steven Pinker support Language Science Press and their 
library partnership model set up by Knowledge Unlatched. I would be very
happy if ______ could contribute towards the success of open access by 
becoming a supporter of Language Science Press at the rate of 1000 EUR/year 
for ~30 books/year. I am happy to provide you with more information or
put you in touch with sebastian.nordhoff@langsci-press.org and 
tom.mosterd@knowledgeunlatched.org (CC).
Best wishes

Achievements 2016

We started our annual retrospectives last year. This is the retrospective for 2016

Books and series

Up and until 2015-12-31, 225 works have been proposed to Language Science Press (+86). The curve is very regular and nearly linear.

Book proposals over time

Book proposals over time

The following figure gives a breakdown of the distribution of these works and their states of completion.

Series submissions.

Series submissions.

The most active series are Studies in Diversity Linguistics (52), Textbooks in Language Sciences (25) and Translation and Multilingual Natural Language Processing (11).

There are currently 19 series (+2). Last year, we accepted EuroSLA Studies and Phraseology and Multiword Expressions.

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Community proofreading queue

As of now, there have been 212 expressions of interest to publish with Language Science Press. In the beginning, the time between one book publication and the next was rather long, but now we have a number of parallel projects which requires some scheduling.

An important part of our workflow is community proofreading. We send out chapters of to-be-published books to community members interested in the topic. These community members then proof the chapter and return the corrections. Their contributions are listed in our Hall of Fame.

The proofreading phase is currently 4 weeks. But our output will be more than 1 book/month in the very near future. This means that we will have several books in proofreading at the same time. The following is a list of upcoming projects and the projected order in which they will reach proofreading. The order is basically first-come first-serve, i.e. when a books is ready, we send it out for proofreading. We might deviate from that in order to ensure a mix of books. For instance, we currently have 4 Africanist books. We add some other books in between to balance the topics.

The current queue is given below. Time between one book and the next should be two weeks:

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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)

LangSci T-shirts available

We added a new item to our catalog: T-shirts with the LangSci logo. You can buy shirts in blue or black.

Our prices are solely based on production costs. We do not make any profit from selling these shirts.

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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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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Vancouver, August 2015: PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference


PKP – the Public Knowledge Project – is a non-profit research initiative that focuses on how publicly funded research can be made freely available through open access policies. One of PKP’s projects is Open Monograph Press (OMP), an open source software that let us set up our web site and back-office management swiftly and with only minimal costs. The 5th PKP conference took place from August 11-14 in Vancouver, Canada. Here are my impressions.

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2700+ book downloads in two weeks: Interview with Roland Schäfer

Roland Schäfer

Roland, congratulations to your text book Einführung in die grammatische Beschreibung des Deutschen which got more than 2,700 downloads within the two weeks following publication and now leads the list of our most downloaded books.

Thanks a lot for publishing the book.

What is your textbook about? Are there not enough introductory textbooks around?

The book is about the basic facts of German grammar: surely not everything, but a large portion of what students of German linguistics should know about German grammar. At the same time, it introduces students to the standard methods used by linguists (at least traditionally) to dissect a language, i.e., mostly distributional analyses in phonology, morphology, syntax, and graphemics. No matter which theories or methods you’re going to use later, it’s hard to get by without knowing your basic categories…

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