Letter from the Publisher

From the Publisher

In September the Oxford Research Encyclopedia program crossed a significant milestone. After an initial three-year preview phase, the first five of the born-digital Research Encyclopedias have made the transition from their initial free development period to availability by subscription. More Research Encyclopedias will be making this transition in April 2018 and then another wave next September 2018.

The five transitioning in this first set are American History, Communication, Latin American History, Politics, and Religion. They join two long-standing, classic reference works—the Encyclopedia of Social Work and the Oxford Classical Dictionary—which were able to take advantage of the ORE digital platform and which are already available through subscription within the program.

The Oxford Research Encyclopedias have been developed to address the need for contextual information at the start of a research project on an unfamiliar topic. As a recent study published by OUP has highlighted, the staggering proliferation of information and misinformation online has created a major challenge for student and faculty research, and there is an unmet demand for scholarly reference sources that offer contextual guidance. Developed in close collaboration with tens of thousands of academics from around the Globe, the continuously updated, discipline-centered Research Encyclopedias provide in-depth overview articles written and peer-reviewed by experts. The aim is to give sophisticated researchers a basic understanding of unfamiliar areas of scholarship.

Over the past five years, the program has gained significant momentum. There are now 25 OREs underway, most with live websites. OUP is partnering with three scholarly societies to co-publish Research Encyclopedias in their fields. Hundreds of thousands of researchers access ORE articles every month. In all, over 7,600 authors have been signed, and we are adding approximately 60 new authors each week. Over 700 experts have joined editorial boards as advisors. Over 3,000 scholars from 53 countries have provided external peer reviews.

Oxford University Press launched the program because it sees an enduring, long-term benefit to research and learning in the availability of highly discoverable, anchoring, scholarly Research Encyclopedias in all the major disciplines. OUP is providing a publishing framework and administrative support, but the true driving force is faculty participation. As the figures quoted above make clear, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia program represents an enormous collaborative effort by a large number of scholars across many fields who have devoted considerable time and effort to this project.

The transition from free to pay is important because the Press is looking to library subscriptions to sustain the ongoing editorial development of these dynamic, living resources. After the transition takes place, many full-text articles remain free, as do all of the article summaries, but access to the full collection of articles on the site will be available only to subscribers.

From positive comments we’ve received from librarians and faculty, and in view of the site traffic flowing into the Oxford Research Encyclopedias, I am very excited about the direction of this project. I encourage you to have a look around the Research Encyclopedias currently in the program, and I hope you too will share my enthusiasm.

Damon Zucca
Reference Publisher
Oxford University Press