Letter from the Publisher

"Over the past decade the Oxford Handbook series has emerged as one of the most celebrated publishing programs at the Press. The series now spans seventeen disciplines, and the titles published through it feature the world’s leading scholars contributing cutting-edge research. An Oxford Handbook advances an original conception of the field through a definitive collection of essays, each of which provides a survey of the current state of scholarly debate and an original argument about the future direction of research.

In 2009 the series went digital with the release of Oxford Handbooks Online (OHO), which included four disciplines: business and management, philosophy, religion, and political science. A sophisticated platform for its time, OHO has been highly praised and it continues to be actively used by scholars, faculty, and students across the globe.

We have monitored site use since the initial launch and conducted several intensive research initiatives to assess the ways changing research habits were influencing how scholars, students, and our authors used OHO. Our findings were compelling. First, we saw that online users are searching and browsing at the chapter level and not the book level. Not surprisingly, we found unanimous demand for a reduction in the time between peer-review and publication. Last, we found users expect our digital program to be faster to respond to developments in the field.

The updated version of Oxford Handbooks Online builds on these insights to better respond to the needs of our academic users. The new OHO has a re-engineered site design that better fits how we have seen researchers want to access the content, making it easier to search, browse, link between, and discover the large number of individual articles that are found in the site. We have also reconceived the publishing process itself to ensure that we are able to release new scholarship at the faster pace of digital.

How will we do that? To begin with, on the new OHO we have the ability to publish individual Handbook chapters online prior to their release in print, thus significantly reducing the lag between when a chapter is written and peer-reviewed and when it is made available to researchers. Second, we will be publishing online-only essays on emerging areas of research too new and too narrow to be included in a Handbook volume. Last, we now have the ability to update individual articles, whether they originally appeared in a Handbook or are published online, at any point, and a full version history will be available so scholars can track those updates.

To provide editorial guidance and ensure the quality of our digital publishing, we have appointed Editors in Chief and Editorial Boards to oversee each of the seventeen disciplines in the program. We are very proud of this founding group of Editors, all of whom are distinguished scholars in their fields. The Editor in Chief and Board have a high-level view of all of our publishing plans, in print and online, within their discipline. They recommend topics and authors for online articles, oversee the peer-review process for these articles, and advise OUP on articles that need to be updated. With guidance from our Editors, we will have a responsive publishing program that can react in real-time to developments in the field.

In addition to these changes in the site functionality and publishing process, we are also greatly expanding the number of disciplines included in Oxford Handbooks Online so that every Oxford Handbook in print is represented on the new site, which takes us from the current four disciplines to a total of seventeen. When the site relaunches it will include over 10,000 individual articles, and we will be adding new articles every month.

The new OHO is bigger and better than ever before with much more content, a more dynamic and faster publishing program, and an improved digital platform with state-of-the-art search, share, and discoverability tools, and for the first time active Editors in Chief and Boards in each discipline. Users familiar with the old site will notice other smaller functionality improvements, such as sub-discipline filters for search and browse results and cleaner abstracts and keywords. Taken as a whole, I think these changes will have a transformative effect on Oxford Handbooks Online, making the digital side of the Oxford Handbooks series a much better fit for the digital medium.

Damon Zucca

Reference Publisher

Oxford University Press