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National Taiwan University press flexes academic muscle

(Taiwan Today photo)

(Taiwan Today photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan Today) -- The publishing arm of National Taiwan University in Taipei City enjoys an enviable reputation among its peers for outperformance. After upgrading to publishing house status in 1996, NTU Press started playing a bigger role in promoting academic development.

NTU Press Director Wang Tay-sheng, a professor in the school’s law college, said the move reflected the greater liberalization in society of the 1980s. It was also in line with a perceived need to protect academic works published in traditional Chinese characters for future generations, he added.

Hsiang Jieh, a professor of computer science at NTU who headed NTU Press from 2008 to 2016 concurs. “Simplified Chinese is proving all too pervasive in this important field,” he said. "Its influence must be checked by academic institutions and their publishing units as opposed to the private sector."

National Taiwan University press flexes academic muscle
Students browse a wide selection of NTU Press publications (Taiwan Today photo)

Wang and Hsiang, consecutive directors of NTU Press, said books published by universities play an important role in enabling liberal arts and social sciences scholars to strengthen academic credibility.

“In the past, this need was difficult to meet due to the absence of a reliable examination mechanism for such specialized materials,” Wang said. “So, we built a signature system similar to that for articles submitted to an academic periodical.”

A book draft submitted to NTU Press undergoes an average four-month review period by two to three examiners ranked associate professor or associate researcher and above. Once completed and accepted, the draft enters a six-month process of editing.

“Usually, eight out of 10 offers would be rejected,” Wang said. “Most occur during the preliminary review overseen by the editor-in-chief responsible for academic series.”

NTU Press also teams up with Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s foremost research institution, especially its Institutes of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Sociology and Taiwan History. “The works of quite a large number of Taiwan’s best authors in the field of cultural, historical and social studies see the light of day via this avenue,” Wang said.

National Taiwan University press flexes academic muscle
A quiet corner of the NTU Press campus bookstore is the perfect place to read( Taiwan Today photo)

International cooperation is another priority for NTU Press. Since January 2017, six Mandarin-language books have been published for the NTU Harvard-Yenching Institute Academic Series, with another two pending this year courtesy of funding provided by the U.S. organization encouraging East and Southeast Asia studies.

These titles comprise one of six academic series by NTU Press in humanities studies, which include the Hsiang-edited series on digital humanities research. In addition, the project to publish an English series together with the University of South Carolina in the U.S. is under negotiation.

Another benefit extended by a university publisher to the academic circle and public is releasing works on popular science topics. “NTU Press works for the university while shouldering the weighty responsibility of its obligations to Taiwan society,” Wang said.

With dozens of brick-and-mortar and online sales channels at home and abroad, Wang believes NTU Press is perfectly positioned to take the influence and presence of academic works published using traditional Chinese characters to new heights. (E) (By Pat Gao)

National Taiwan University press flexes academic muscle
Popular souvenir items released by NTU Press are hot sellers (Taiwan Today photo)