University Press Week: How does your press #SpeakUP? — Accessibility, Podcasts, and More

It’s the 2023 University Press Week and this year’s theme is #SpeakUP, focused on amplifying university press work that gives voice to influential scholarship, advocates for social change, and provides new points of view. University presses and their authors publish a diverse and exciting array of research through a variety of publications and platforms.  

This week, we’re highlighting exciting content, projects, and initiatives from our journals and books departments that allow our authors to #SpeakUP. Make sure to check out our other posts for the week, as well as the other posts in the UP Week blog tour and browse the #SpeakUP gallery here.

“How does your press #SpeakUP?” In other words, what new approaches and formats boost authors’ voices? 

At the University of Illinois Press, the answer to how we #SpeakUP is: a lot of different ways. So, we’ve decided to explain just a small sampling of those in today’s blog post. Read on to learn about our podcast, special journal issues, open access journals and articles, and our accessibility and alt text initiatives.  


Recently, we have relaunched our podcast, The UPside, for Season Two! With content focused on UIP book launches and important issues and forums from our journals, the podcast allows for the work that our authors and editors are doing to be highlighted in a new format.  

Some recent episodes include a two-part forum on transgender athletes from Journal of Olympic Studies with contributors Dr. Veronica Ivy and Dr. Ask Vest Christiansen; an interview with Robert Sampson, author of Ballists, Dead Beats, and Muffins and editor of Journal of Illinois State Historical Society; an interview with Dr. Benjamin E. Park and Dr. Quincy D. Newell, editors of Mormon Studies Review, for their 80th anniversary volume year; an interview with Dr. Matias Slavov, guest editor of a special issue of History of Philosophy Quarterly on Time; and more.  

Plus, we also have a new redesigned logo this year! 


Several of the journals published with the University of Illinois Press include frequent special issues that allow editors and guest editors to focus on publishing scholarship that addresses specific topics and relevant discussions in their fields. Across UIP journals this year, more than a dozen special issues have been published. Some of these issues that #SpeakUP about topical subjects in their field, include: 


Open access (OA) content allows readers to discover scholarship without facing any unnecessary economic or institutional barriers. In recent years, many university presses have been increasing the amount of OA content they provide, and the discussion has been ongoing at the University of Illinois Press as well. Currently, our program includes two journals that are completely open access online. 

Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought is an independent quarterly established to express Mormon culture and to examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is published by the Dialogue Foundation and edited by Latter-day Saints who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with the larger stream of world religious thought and with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to ensure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of the editors.

The Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (JALA) is the only journal devoted exclusively to Lincoln scholarship. In addition to selected scholarly articles—on Lincoln in the popular media, for example, or British reactions to the War—the Journal also features photographs and newly discovered Lincoln letters and other unpublished primary source documents. JALA is the official journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association.  

Along with these journals, the Press also frequently makes individual articles temporarily free to access on one of our content hosting platforms, the Scholarly Publishing Collective. These articles are temporarily free for promotional purposes, to help our journals #SpeakUP and reach wider audiences surrounding relevant conferences, for example. The following articles were made free to access at the beginning of this month, and will be until January 31, 2024: 

For more information on our open access book titles, visit


The Press is committed to making content that is accessible to all readers. One way that we do that is The UPside podcast. When we interview our authors or editors, not only is that audio available to listen to, but we also have transcripts available on our blog, to maximize the ways that our readers can access the content. 

To further support that goal, our team has been working to add alt text to all digital images and graphics. Alt text allows visually impaired readers to engage with visual content online by providing descriptive text for screen readers or text-to-speech software to read aloud. This initiative was put into action this year, as the Press has implemented a policy requiring authors of books and journal articles to submit alt text for all photos, illustrations, maps, and figures in their book or article. A team of employees across the Press collaborated to write guidelines to assist authors in this process. Our design and marketing teams have also begun to consistently utilize alt text for all our book jackets and social media images.

About Kristina Stonehill