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Published on: Dec 12, 2018

Penn State is among the first universities to commit funds to an initiative designed to support the peer-reviewed, open access monographs known as Toward Open Monograph Ecosystem (TOME).

Launched in 2017, TOME is a higher education initiative that provides publishing grants of up to $15,000 for open access editions of peer-reviewed and professionally-edited monographs. This five-year project will fund approximately three awards each year.

The initiative will allow open access to digital monographs and will make new research freely available online. This is to increase the presence of humanities and social science scholarship on the web and provide content to more readers.

Penn State’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost has committed to funding $45,000 to be split among up to three subvention grants to support publishing open access monographs each year for five years (2018-2023). Each grant will be contributed directly to a press participating in the program for an open access publication of an eligible Penn State faculty-authored work. 

Project proposals must have written acceptance for publication from a press participating in TOME and be a monograph authored or co-authored by a full-time Penn State faculty member. Presses who are interested in applying for TOME funding should submit an application through the TOME website at

Project proposals must have a written acceptance for open access publication from a press participating in TOME, excluding textbooks, works of fiction, creative works, edited anthologies, translations of previously published works, or critical editions. Applications will be internally reviewed as they are received. If any clarifications or edits need to be made to the application in order to receive a subvention grant, the author(s) and press will be notified. 

Penn State is unique in its management of the TOME initiative. Currently, it is the only institution that does not require a separate content review to receive the open access funding.

“Open access monographs are an important component of the scholarly publishing ecosystem, and our leadership in the TOME program underscores our commitment to the broadest access to scholarship created by the Penn State community,” said Cynthia Vitale, head of Digital Scholarship and Data Services at University Libraries and project lead.

Currently, 14 universities have pledged support for this initiative, which was created as a collaborative effort between the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of University Presses (AUP). These organizations are jointly seeking options to replace traditional models of publishing.

Penn State University Libraries, represented by Dean Barbara Dewey and Patrick Alexander, director of the Penn State University Press, were involved early on the TOME initiative, actively participating in the invited task force that initially guided the project. Karen Estlund, associate dean for technology and digital strategies, spearheaded the initiative on behalf of the Libraries, providing a framework for local implementation.

"Our participation in TOME allows us the ability to experiment with OA models that create the greatest access to scholarly works,” Estlund said.

The Department of Digital Scholarship & Data Services provides management and oversight of the TOME initiative. For more information about the TOME initiative, visit or contact Cynthia Vitale at or 814-865-2095.

News Topics: FundingResearch