In 2018, we collaborated with Manchester University Press (MUP) on a hosting platform that would bring all of their books and journals online.
Manchester is the largest research university in the UK, and the Press is one of the largest University Presses in the UK, publishing around 200 books and 6 journals a year.
Our emphasis at PubFactory over the last 20 years has been one of combining and hosting different kinds of content on a single web platform. The MUP project was of particular importance to us in 2018 in that it not only dealt with both books and journals, but it also involved hosting both subscription and Open Access (OA) content. As publishers well know, OA is more than just providing content for free. It is a licensing decision of increasing importance in the scholarly world, with more and more funders requiring that research made possible by their grants be published OA.
Collaboration is Key
Projects like MUP’s are by definition intensely collaborative because the publisher knows their content deeply; and our role, as the hosting vendor, is to make sure that valuable characteristics of the content and essential features are optimally delivered in the final site that’s accessed by students and researchers.
An Unexpected Wrinkle
A few months into MUP’s transition to our PubFactory platform and post-finalization of design specifications, MUP was dealt an unexpected curve ball. Requirements changed within Manchester University and MUP faced a new requirement – specifically they needed to comply with a new university mandate to provide their OA and subscription content on separate platforms. Compliance with Manchester University’s content presentation mandate completely altered the trajectory of the project, as there was a need to rapidly build two sites instead of the one that had originally been planned! This significant revision to the platform project required agility and even more intense collaboration by both the MUP publishing teams and our Sheridan PubFactory platform team.
A Challenge Tailor-Made for SiteGen
Fortunately, MUP’s OA policy compliance curveball was something the PubFactory platform could easily accommodate through use of its SiteGen module. SiteGen provides publishers with the ability to clone an existing site(s) and then customize the cloned site(s) as necessary. SiteGen is one of the foundational modules of the PubFactory platform.
Beyond cloning Manchester’s primary subscription site to create a separate OA site, we also needed to work through the details of how closely the two sites should align as well as define the user journey across the sites in order to create sensible, seamless access. Both MUP and our PubFactory platform team were focused on distinguishing the branding between the two sites while also protecting the user experience by creating a level of integration through thoughtful configuration of site features and capabilities, e.g. integrated search across OA and subscription content.
Today, MUP’s PubFactory platform enables users to search all content on MUP’s main subscription site, Manchester Hive, but if/when a user clicks on OA content search results, they are then taken to MUP’s OA site, Manchester OpenHive. Within the Manchester OpenHive site, search and browse functions restrict users to OA content only, unless they explicitly request to see all possible content.
So in the end, MUP received a single, powerful platform that is home to two distinctly different sites. Both sites are host to MUP’s books and journals publications and deliver a clean and clear separation between OA and subscription content without losing the ability to search both at the same time.