Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

A New Publishing Continuum: University Press to Library Publishing, Offering New Opportunities

September 26th, 2013

While a journal article or a book may be the final record of research, there are many other “informal” types of publishing that faculty at Purdue engage in. These range from technical reports to white papers, from conference proceedings to student publications. Place so many innovative people together, and there will always also be experimental new forms of digital scholarly communication that don’t quite look like any publication that has ever existed. While societies, university presses, and commercial publishers are available to publish formal materials, informal publications have traditionally fallen through the cracks. They have been distributed on CD, placed as PDFs on servers that keep being moved, or printed out and distributed from a closet. Librarians refer to this type of material as “gray literature” because it exists in an awkward limbo area of the information supply system and is hard to discover and even harder to obtain if requested. This situation is a problem for everybody, potentially leading to duplication of research and wasted federal funding.

It was to address this problem that the Scholarly Publishing Services unit of Purdue Libraries was formally established in spring 2012. Using existed staff and infrastructure, SPS provides a complement to Purdue University Press (PUP), the scholarly publishing arm of the University which was established in 1960 and is part of the Libraries: The University Press publishes only formal and peer-reviewed materials, both books and journals, focused on certain disciplines aligned with the strengths of the University and over 50% of the authors published come from outside Purdue. SPS meanwhile publishes informal materials, subject to varying levels of peer review and appearing in a multitude of formats. The publications are all originated from Purdue and come from a wide range of subject areas. The financial model is also different since the Press relies on sales and licensing income to cover its publishing costs and SPS operates on a mixture of internal funding and charge backs. While basic SPS services, such as the design and online hosting of a new digital publication, are offered free of charge to the Purdue community, fees are charged for value-added elements such as copy editing and typesetting. All services, whether fee or for free, emphasize best publishing practices, such as the use of stable URLs and DOIs to allow citation, preservation planning, and discoverability through popular services such as Google Scholar.

The relationship between Purdue University Press and Scholarly Publishing Services is conceptualized as a continuum or “spectrum” of services, from formal to informal. As more and more Purdue centers and departments take advantage of the expertise and infrastructure provided, partnerships are starting to emerge where a mix of products are made available under both PUP and SPS imprints. For example, the Libraries works with the Global Policy Research Institute (GPRI) to publish student scholarship, policy briefs, and conference proceedings (including video) through SPS, and the book series Purdue Studies in Public Policy through PUP. This type of relationship permits links to be made between different publications and for cross-marketing. The end result is increased impact for Purdue scholarship. SPS is always interested in new challenges and further case studies and contact details are available at