How OA books are supporting the SDGs: An interview with Maurice B. Mittelmark

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Thu Dec 9 2021

Author: Guest contributor

Open access (OA) advances research on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - as OA easily connects researchers and their work to policy makers, business leaders, and professionals who can put discoveries into practice. Open access books are easy to find and share, allowing for authors to increase the real-world impact of their work. We invite you to take a closer look and read interviews with OA book authors that illustrate how publishing their books OA has extended their impact and reach. In this interview Maurice B. Mittelmark, Professor Emeritus at the University of Bergen discusses his experience of publishing an OA book and the impact this has made.

Could you share a short introduction about your OA book? What were you hoping to achieve with your book?
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The 2nd edition of The Handbook of Salutogenesis seemed urgently needed even as the 1st edition began to reach our field in 2018. The literature was increasing by leaps and bounds. Teachers and students used the 2017 edition in a wide range of teaching and research activities at theoretical and practice levels. In addition, fields other than health promotion had ‘discovered’ salutogenesis, and we needed a book that would reach out to a widening professional audience.

Why did you choose to make your book available on an open access basis?

Despite the expense of the open access fee, we understood that publishing the book open access was imperative. Many professionals worldwide have minimal resources to buy books. When they search for material online, they have to pass over articles and books that require payment. As the Handbook is the go-to desk reference for people working with salutogenesis, we had to ensure it was available at no cost as a download offer.

How was the open access fee (book processing charge) funded?

The 1st edition of the Handbook was funded by donations from the editors and their workplaces. The 2nd edition was funded by a Swiss foundation that provides long-term support to advance salutogenesis scholarship.

Tell us about the relationship with your funder – do they have a strong open access policy? How did you start working with them?

Our open-access funder has for several years provided core funding for a salutogenesis research centre in Zürich. When we approached them about additional funding for the book, their response was positive; they understood that there is no better way than open access to rapidly and equitably disseminate information about scientific developments.

Why did you choose to publish this book with Springer?

We chose Springer for the 2nd edition of our book based on our very positive experience with Springer on the 1st edition. The Springer editorial and production team is a delight to work with. The marketing aspect was also very positive. To characterise our relationship with Springer in one word, it is a collaboration even more so than a business arrangement. The book’s editors and the Springer editors have become professional friends. This is so important!

How were you hoping that open access would help with achieving your goals?

We knew from the outset that by publishing the book open access, word would spread like wildfire in the relevant academic arenas the moment the book was available for download at no cost at the Springer website. That was the clear experience with the 1st edition. 

What benefits or impact have you seen from publishing this book open access? Do you think publishing OA helped?

The 1st edition’s penetration of the academic environments for which salutogenesis is relevant has been truly amazing. Therefore, for the 2nd edition, the first editorial decision was to go for open access; no other option was even considered.

How did you and your co-authors/editors promote the book?

The editors and chapter authors promote the book via our professional Societies and Associations, both online at their websites and at conferences. Also, Springer staff attend relevant conferences and events and promote our book along with other Springer publications. In addition, we have our own salutogenesis society and the book is heavily promoted on our website. However, the most critical dissemination factors are the rapidly growing citations to the 1st edition in the literature and word of mouth. This is evident in a Google Search inquiry: the Handbook is among the top three hits when the search term is salutogenesis.

Do you have any advice to others considering publishing their next book or chapter open access? 

If you plan to publish your book open access, make that decision first, then go after the money. Your conviction that open access is the best way to go will help convince a potential funder that your commitment is rock solid. You should also contact Springer very early to discuss your book project and thereby contact a Springer editor that can help provide information about open access’s track record in the rapid dissemination of open access books. 

Would you publish open access again?

For me, it is a no-brainer; open access is the only publishing model that ensures an academic book will achieve deep and timely penetration of my academic arena. 

Also, there is a significant equity dimension that makes open access my only choice. I want my books to be freely available to all scholars in my field, worldwide, regardless of their ability to pay for books. 

Learn more about open access books and how they are supporting the SDGs

Maurice Mittelmark	 © Maurice Mittelmark
About Maurice B. Mittelmark

Maurice B. Mittelmark is Professor Emeritus at the University of Bergen, Norway. He has a PhD in social and community psychology from the University of Houston (1978). Since 1974, he has been continuously involved in teaching and research in community health promotion. He has previously held academic positions at the University of Bergen (1995-2016), at Wake Forest University, USA (1987-1995), and the University of Minnesota, USA (1978-1987). He has published over 300 academic papers and books and book chapters. He is editor of Springer Nature’s The Handbook of Salutogenesis (2017) and editor of the 2nd Edition of the Handbook (2022).



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