Open-access theology: introducing the St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology’s digital publishing model

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The St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology (SAET) is an online multi-author reference work designed as a resource for those engaged with, or wishing to learn more about, the academic study of theology. The SAET seeks to provide a suite of comprehensive, fully open-access peer-reviewed articles with no fees or sign-up requirements. In doing so, the editors aim to improve the availability of high-quality information for readers worldwide, especially those for whom access to resources through traditional academic publishing is restricted by cost, lack of institutional affiliation, or limited library resources. This article introduces the SAET’s digital publishing model, discussing the scholarly and editorial principles that have informed the development of the project. In particular, the article examines the ways in which the SAET’s commitment to providing quality open-access scholarship has significantly shaped the project’s information management and publishing processes.

Technical strategies for widening access to theological knowledge are discussed, focusing on information discovery through the Encyclopaedia’s faceted search and in-article hyperlinks, as well as available article formats (HTML and PDF). This is accompanied by an explanation of strategies for long-term curation and preservation of theological knowledge within the SAET, namely capturing and preserving conceptual information through enriched XML mark-up and embedded metadata. The SAET’s article lifecycle is then conceptualized in reference to digital curation and preservation actions described by the Digital Curation Centre’s ‘DCC Curation Lifecycle Model’, leading to conclusions about the distinctive character of the SAET article workflow, in which curation and preservation of theological knowledge is integrated into its creation and production.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalThe Journal of Electronic Publishing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2023


  • Open access
  • Theology
  • Digital publishing model
  • Curation lifecycle
  • Digital preservation
  • Academic publishing
  • Metadata
  • XML mark-up
  • Online scholarship
  • Editorial and publication workflows


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