The participating institutions, all members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, have collaborated to create open access ebook collections of scholarly monographs.
The first collection on the topic of gender and sexuality studies has been curated from the backlist collections of these university presses:
- Indiana University Press
- Michigan State University Press
- Northwestern University Press
- Purdue University Press
- University of Michigan Press
- University of Wisconsin Press
Why you can trust Big Ten Open Books
The works in this collection have all been previously published by these presses and have undergone a rigorous selection and quality certification process that allows readers and users of this collection to trust the veracity of the content made available. The exact details of the process depend on the type of book, but usually involve the following steps:
- An acquisitions editor identifies a high quality, interesting project and works with the author to prepare their manuscript for consideration. They work with other experts such as fellow acquisition editors and series editors - scholars with expertise in the field.
- Once the manuscript is ready for outside eyes, it is sent to external experts in the subject matter who conduct a peer review process. They receive honoraria in return for detailed reviews - often several pages in length. The reviewers either do or do not know the identity of the author, but the author never knows the identity of the reviewers unless they opt to waive their anonymity. The presses follow the Association of University Presses "Best Practices for Peer Review."
- The manuscript and associated peer reviews are examined by an expert editorial board of faculty members at the parent institution of the university press. These experts are selected because of their commitment to academic integrity and are usually the final decision-makers who determine whether the project is accepted for publication. They may require additional rounds of revision and review. Very rarely is a project accepted for publication without additional requests for revision from the editorial board.
- Once all the revisions are done and the manuscript is considered satisfactory for production by the acquisitions editor, it is "transmitted" to the production department of the press. At this point, expert copyeditors and designers take over. Copyediting is an extension of the acquisitions editorial process and involves experts staff checking the work for quality and consistency - making many changes to ensure the book can be the best it can be.
- Print and ebooks are formatted to be accessible to all sorts of readers. A poorly designed print book will not satisfy a reader if images cannot be interpreted or text is not properly rendered. Similarly, a screen reader will not be able to understand an ebook that includes coding errors or does not contain image descriptions.
Each book in the Big Ten Open Books collections has been through the hands of multiple experts before it reaches the reader. On average, it costs around $20,000 to produce the first copy of a university press book - a number that is not surprising considering the multiple steps taken to ensure that the work a reader receives can be trusted. There are many good publishers who are not university presses, but only university presses take all five steps of quality assurance described above.