Case Study: Global, Area, and International Archive (GAIA) Publications, University of California

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The Global, Area, and International Archive (GAIA) provides a peer-reviewed publishing channel for small-market books in international and area studies, including first monographs and multiple-author editions. The initiative illustrates a publishing approach that supports both open-access digital versions and priced print editions, while distributing labor and financial risk equitably across the partners.

Launched in 2001 as an experimental collaboration under the name “UCIAS Digital Collection,” and relaunched in 2005 under the current name, GAIA is an initiative of the division of International and Area Studies, University of California, Berkeley (UCIAS), in partnership with the University of California Press, the eScholarship program of the California Digital Library (CDL), and dozens of internationally oriented research programs across the University of California system. By publishing free digital versions of rigorously peer-reviewed publications in area and regional studies, GAIA aims “to encourage international intellectual exchange and to provide a viable model of distributed, peer-reviewed publication that responds to the increasing market pressures faced by traditional scholarly publishers.”

GAIA publishes monographs, edited volumes, and peer-reviewed articles in global and international studies and all area studies. There is also a non-peer-reviewed component, the UCIAS Working Papers program, sponsored by international and area studies centers throughout the University of California system. The initiative’s original concept was that UCIAS research units would post working papers to the eScholarship online repository, with promising material subjected to peer review for possible print publication, either as individual articles or gathered into edited volumes. In practice, however, UCIAS found it difficult to move from working papers to peer-reviewed articles.

At the same time, UCIAS faculty indicated a need for a publishing channel for both specialized monographs and edited volumes. GAIA promotes interdisciplinary research of a type which lends itself to multiple-author volumes. Given the cost of publishing such edited volumes, university presses typically must limit the number they publish. As a result of this author demand, GAIA shifted to a book acquisition mode, focusing on monographs and edited volumes. Working papers continue to be sponsored by individual research units, who are free to post such materials to the eScholarship Repository.

While the working papers and peer-reviewed articles in the program all come from authors within the UC system, GAIA’s book acquisitions program seeks projects from both inside and outside the University of California. GAIA keeps submissions open to those outside the UC system in order to maintain the quality, legitimacy, and reputation of the imprint. Approximately 60% of the submissions have come from outside the system, while 65% of the volumes published have come from within the University of California. The program publishes approximately 20% of the manuscripts submitted, a level of selectivity that reflects the acquisitions process and that is comparable to the selectivity of the University of California Press.

The GAIA monographs undergo peer review according to standards set by an interdisciplinary GAIA editorial board, which has been approved by the Editorial Board of the University of California Press, thus conferring the imprimatur of the University of California Press. GAIA books are published by the University of California Press in both open-access digital and fee-based paperback editions.

Technical support and Web hosting for the digital versions of the monographs and articles are provided as an in-kind contribution by eScholarship. In addition to the GAIA peer-reviewed publications, the eScholarship Repository also hosts the UCIAS Working Papers program.

Each of the partners in the GAIA collaboration contributes resources proportionate to its mission:
eScholarship pays for hosting the titles on the repository, but does not play a role in the production or processing of the titles. The program thus provides a submission channel to the eScholarship repository, without incurring significant marketing or production support expenses.

GAIA’s publications director, working under the Dean of International and Area Studies at Berkeley and in consultation with an advisory and editorial board, manages the acquisition and peer-review processes. GAIA is responsible for all pre-press work, including copyediting and page composition to a press-provided template. In addition to funding the publications director and his office expenses, UCIAS provides a small discretionary budget for typesetting, cover art permissions, and conference attendance. GAIA supplements this funding, where possible, with title subsidies from authors and partner units to cover copyediting and indexing. In the case of edited conference volumes, GAIA encourages research units to build publication funding into applications for conference grants.

The Press has complete control over book manufacturing and marketing, and assumes all of those costs. The Press markets the GAIA titles through catalogs, conferences, and review copies, and uploads the books to Amazon’s BookSurge and “Search Inside” programs. Under the current model, the Press does not return any revenue to GAIA. However, the partners are considering a new model that would involve revenue sharing, with GAIA incurring some of the risk in the form of a chargeback for manufacturing costs, and with the chargeback offset by any accrued royalties. This latter approach further balances the financial risk across the partners, and encourages GAIA to develop books that serve broader audiences. In either event, UCIAS’s motivation for the program is the service mission of the division, not revenue generation.

GAIA provides a needed publishing channel for specialized monographs and multiple-author volumes in international area studies, and the program enhances the prestige of UCIAS and its constituent units, increasing their visibility both within and beyond the UC system. At the same time, the program provides a submission channel that builds participation in the eScholarship open access repository and expands the Press’s capacity to support small-market monograph series. Each partner incurs risk and expense commensurate with the benefit realized by their participation in the program, and this balance increases the partnership’s stability and encourages its potential expansion.