OASPA comes to North America – OASPA

OASPA is delighted to announce that it will host a seminar preceding the SSP annual conference next month in San Diego.

The pre-meeting seminar entitled Fact or Fiction? OASPA Lifts the Lid on Open Access Publishing will take place on the morning of Wednesday, May 29th at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. The session can be booked independently of the full SSP conference. Full booking details at the bottom of this post.

The interactive seminar, chaired by Pete Binfield (PeerJ) and co-facilitated by OASPA members Stephanie Orphan (Portico), Bekah Darksmith (PLOS) and Caroline Sutton (Taylor & Francis) aims to deepen understanding of how open access publishing is approached by many different parties and tackle some enduring areas of open access concern and confusion….”

OASPA Webinar: Implementing a consortial funding model for open access publishing – OASPA

OASPA is pleased to announce the fourth webinar in our new Open Scholarship Webinar Series*, in which we are inviting a number of speakers to consider contemporary debates in open research and open access publishing….

The OASPA Open Scholarship Webinar Series is delighted to welcome three pioneers of the Consortial Funding Model of Publishing: Oya Y. Rieger (arXiv Program Director), John Willinsky (Director of the Public Knowledge Project) and Martin Paul Eve (Co-founder of the Open Library of Humanities). Come and find out how to set one up with your publishing (or scholarly communication) initiative….”

The OA Switchboard – OASPA

On December 6th 2018, a group of stakeholders representing research funding organizations, academic libraries, scholarly publishers, and open infrastructure providers met in London to discuss a proposal for addressing the growing set of challenges in the implementation of institutional and funder policies supporting open access publication. The result of this initial stakeholder meeting was broad support for this initiative, tentatively titled the OA Switchboard, and in the weeks since this initial meeting the support for this initiative has continued to grow. What follows is an overview from Paul Peters of the key challenges that the OA Switchboard aims to address, a description of the proposed solution, and a roadmap for the development and initial roll-out of this new system….

The problems that have begun to arise in the central funding of open access publications are likely to grow in scale and complexity in the coming years. If successful, initiatives like OA2020 and Plan S will likely result in a rise in the number of open access publications being centrally funded, either by universities or research funders. Not only will this result in higher administrative costs for institutions, funders, and publishers, but it may also lead to a more pronounced imbalance in the ability of small and large publishers to compete on equal footing. Already there are signs that a handful of large commercial publishers will be best positioned to negotiate open access agreements with individual institutions and consortia, often as part of existing “Big Deal” subscription agreements.


Many smaller publishers, including scholarly societies and fully open access publishers, have been unable to negotiate these kinds of central open access funding agreements. Not only do these smaller publishers lack the internal resources to make and implement agreements with a large number of institutions, but they often struggle to get a seat at the table in these sorts of discussions. The total open access output from any single institution may only amount to a few articles each year for many smaller publishers, making it difficult for these institutions to devote their scarce time and resources to setting up open access agreements with small and mid-sized open access publishers. Unless a solution to these problems can be found, negotiated deals with a handful of large publishers may be the only viable option for funders and universities to support the transition towards open access, which is likely to result in a publishing landscape that is even less competitive, transparent, and inclusive than the traditional subscription-based publishing market….

The OA Switchboard aims to leverage the benefits that a central payment intermediary can provide while avoiding the aforementioned challenges and risks that could be associated. The inspiration for this proposed solution has come from other examples of community-governed scholarly infrastructure, namely the Crossref DOI registry and ORCID, which have successfully brought together a large and diverse community of stakeholders to address complex challenges. An important distinction between the OA Switchboard and the sort of central payment intermediary described above is that the OA Switchboard is designed to enable publishers, academic institutions, and research funders to seamlessly communicate information about open access publications, without trying to serve as an intermediary for any payments that may be associated with these publications. In that sense, the OA Switchboard is simply another tool for passing metadata about scholarly publications between publishers and other stakeholders….”

OASPA Feedback on Plan S Implementation Guidance – OASPA

“One such issue that OASPA sees currently as a significant barrier to the uptake of open access, and to other innovations in scholarly communication, is that the present system for evaluating researchers is most often based on which journals they publish in. Many research institutions have pledged their support for change by signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and, more importantly, some are now leading the way by putting this pledge into practice. It is therefore both welcome and essential that Plan S also is encouraging reform in research evaluation practices, as applied to recruitment, tenure and promotion, and grant awards. It is imperative that other funders join this effort and that funders work closely with institutions if such reform is to be implemented on a global scale.


OASPA’s main concern relating to Plan S, however, is that discussions and solutions continue to be focussed on the largest, mixed-model publishers. While it is this segment of the market on which funders’ attention – and spend – is concentrated, the vast majority of publishers within the so-called ‘Long Tail’ (the majority of OASPA’s members) appear to be absent from the focus of Plan S. Many of these publishers are too small to negotiate the kind of ‘transformative’ national Big Deals we are seeing for the largest publishers, while exclusively open access publishers without legacy subscription businesses are also unable to participate. Many are not even of sufficient size to make agreements directly with institutions….”

OASPA Webinar in support of Academic-Led Publishing Day – OASPA

“OASPA is pleased to announce the third webinar in our new series, in which we are inviting a number of speakers to consider contemporary debates in open research and open access publishing….

OASPA is delighted to support Academic Led Publishing Day as part of our webinar series focussing on issues of Open Research, with three world experts at the forefront of publishing initiatives that promote Open Access and Open Scholarship at institutions: Dr Paul Ayris Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services), Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) and Dr Charles Watkinson, Director of University of Michigan Press and Associate University Librarian for Publishing at University of Michigan Library. The webinar is co-chaired by Catriona MacCallum, Director of Open Science at Hindawi and Claire Redhead, the Executive Director of OASPA….”

Panelists Discuss Open Science in OASPA Webinar – OASPA

“Danny [Kingsley] opened the webinar by contending that irrespective of teaching or research quality within academia, the only thing that seems to count in research is the publication of novel results in high-impact journals. This, she explained, has contributed to cultural problems in academia of ‘star researchers’ and imbalances of power within the academy, but when it comes to science in particular, further challenges arise in the publication of these of research outputs in the way of reproducibility, integrity, replicability, and irreproducibility. Open science, she argued, offers researchers the chance to be rewarded for their research outputs at any stage of the research cycle, including the data on which publications are based. In order for open science to be embraced, institutions must play along; Danny’s own university, the University of Cambridge, has launched a pilot in which researchers and librarians work together ‘completely openly’ on open science initiatives, and after consulting the research community found that the benefits of open research are not always obvious, and rarely rewarded. Moving to a culture of open research, contended Danny, requires a robust infrastructure in place within the institution to support moves towards openness.

Chris [Jackson], a geologist working at Imperial College London and a passionate advocate of open science, began by pointing out the reasons why scientists might want to make their research open access: to improve their ‘H-indexes’ (one of the metrics scientists are measured by); to signal to their community that they’re engaged with their research enough to promote it; and to be innovative into the future. But the fear for many scientific researchers, he explained, is that not enough of one’s peers are engaged in open access; that one will experience a ‘time sink’ in learning all the relevant infrastructure and language necessary to actually publish research open access; that publishing open access will be too expensive not just in the Global South, but in some parts of the Global North too; and that being measured for one’s ‘openness’ isn’t yet appropriate for a CV entry. Not all funders of the academy, he continued, have a moral obligation when it comes to funding research; large corporations, he argued, are unlikely to pay extra open access costs. Practical solutions to make research more open, Chris argued, may lie in opportunities to publish preprints – including his own collaborative efforts on EarthArXiv – to demonstrate how research is conducted, and the life it has prior to final publication.

Finally, Eva [Méndez] spoke from a range of her different ‘hats’ as a librarian, researcher, and policy-maker to illustrate her analogy of open science behaving as a ‘mushroom’ rather than an ‘umbrella’: research integrity, research infrastructures, the academic reward system, and altmetrics comprise the roots of open science, all which lay the foundation for the movements of open access, open data, open peer review, and so on. The Open Science Policy Platform, which Eva works on, is working to systematically change science by asking researchers, librarians, and anyone else working within the research process, to ask themselves what they can do for open science. Eva also called for ‘cool metadata’, in which metadata does not exists simply for information retrieval, but is open and accessible in order that it can work to establish relationships between users and outcomes of research.

OASPA Member Spotlight: African Minds

In 2000, I set up a company that offered publishing services to research NGOs in South Africa. These NGOs wanted to publish their research, and we offered them design, editing, typesetting and print management services. We encouraged our clients to use print-on-demand and we set up distribution channels for their publications. By 2008, we realised that some of the NGOs wanted a publisher rather than a service provider. So we began by setting up African Minds, first as an imprint and, by 2012, as separate legal entity in the form of non-profit, public benefit trust, with a board of trustees and an editorial board.

All our books are open access with no embargo periods, and we also sell printed books; the two aren’t mutually exclusive. We explore all available dissemination channels to increase access to knowledge.  

We did some research on university presses in Africa and found that at one university over 60% of the books authored by academics at that institution over a 3-year period were published by a predatory publisher. We believe that our emphasis on working closely with authors and on being transparent contributes positively to growing the African knowledge base. We are a small team, but we try our best to deepen authors’ understanding of the publishing process by being responsive and accessible. And by placing the emphasis on access rather than on sales….

We aren’t reliant on income from book sales, so we don’t face the same challenges that commercial publishers do. Our overheads are low, and we have no permanent staff. We donate a much of our free time to running African Minds although this is beginning to change as the number of publications increases. All publishing costs are covered by the publication fees which, in turn, are paid from authors’ research funds. Although I should note that not all our titles incur publication fees. We are mindful of the fact that academics from some universities in Africa, and in some disciplines, struggle to secure research funding. In such cases, African Minds waives all publication fees. The forthcoming title, African Markets in Nairobi by Mary Njeri Kinyanjui is an example of such a title. …”

OASPA Member Spotlight: The University of Huddersfield Press – OASPA

Why is it important for the Press to be open access, and how do you ensure your business model is sustainable?

Open access has always been important to us because researchers want their work to be read, shared and used, and open access is the best way to maximise this.

From the beginning we ensured all our journals were open access, but our books were originally print only. We soon realised, though, that it made sense for us to move to an entirely open access model, particularly when considering the increasing importance of open access in REF assessments. Making our platform open access gave researchers a really important space to publish their open access monographs and articles, without the prohibitively high costs of many gold open access options from commercial publishers.

As for sustainability, we operate a two-prong business model: we support researchers to access available funding by providing information and finance breakdowns for research bids, and if researchers can’t access funding, we have a centrally-funded production budget to support several books a year.


What is your experience working on open access initiatives in a university environment?

My background before working at the Press was in commercial publishing, and then marketing and communication within Research and Enterprise at the University of Huddersfield. It’s just me working at the Press, currently, and I do that three days a week. In January 2019 we are appointing a student assistant to get involved with journal submissions and marketing activities.

We dedicate a lot of time to individual projects here, which is really important. We offer writing sessions and publishing support sessions for postgraduates, and career support. So the work is intensive; big publishers don’t do it because it’s not scalable within their model, but it works amazingly well for us and our scholarly community.

When I started in this position a few years ago, university staff were still finding out about open access publishing, but with the open access team within the library, and the increased activities of the Press, there’s now lots of knowledge about it in all parts of the university, which is great….”

Spotlight on the OASPA Board: Xenia van Edig – OASPA

Copernicus Publications has endorsed a number of statements recently, including the Enabling FAIR Data Commitment Statement and an open letter on the publication of peer review reports initiated by ASAPbio. Why are publishers like yourselves increasingly advocating for open data and open peer review?

Copernicus Publications was one of the pioneers of open peer review; we’ve been using our interactive public peer review since 2001, and we want others to get onboard too. Half of our journals operate with open peer review now. Transparency in publishing is incredibly important, especially for readers; they can be far more informed of editors’ impressions when assessing the quality of manuscripts with open peer review.

Our data policy at Copernicus has been in place for several years and was updated in 2015 in order to include the FORCE11 data citation principles. Recently,  we did a rewrite of it when we signed the Enabling FAIR Data Commitment Statement in the Earth, Space, and Environmental Sciences. We are committed to enabling reproducibility in science; science isn’t just about great articles, but also about sharing data, code, and other underlying material and research outputs. The whole process needs to be transparent to enable opportunities for new findings and knowledge to be shared and created.


What have been some particular highlights for you in your time working in open access?

In general, it’s great to work for a research-friendly publisher which also often positively resonates in the library community. Within my work for Copernicus Publications I would like to highlight two aspects:

People in the industry often say that it’s difficult or even impossible to convince learned societies to transform their journals from subscription into open access. Besides being involved in the launch of numerous new society-owned open-access journals, I’ve been taking part in the conversion of multiple society-owned subscription journals: Fossil RecordGeographica Helvetica, the Journal of Micropaleontology. I think it is great to have such successful examples….”

Panelists Discuss the Economics and Sustainability of Open Access in OASPA Webinar – OASPA

Opening the webinar with the perspective of a mixed-model publisher, Liz Ferguson argued that sustainability in open access publishing requires a mix of models depending on need, and that, at least in the short-term, open access means greater economic unpredictability and diversity in scholarly publishing. Liz doesn’t believe a wholesale flip to open access is on the cards in the near future, but that the migration of content from subscription to open access means subscription publishing is under more pressure on a global scale, and so publishers are required to continually adapt to this changing environment. Market forces, rather than regulations, she argued, are a better way to shape the contemporary publishing market. Capping of APCs might, she warned, unintentionally cause innovation to be constrained. Complexity will continue to prevail in finding solutions to open access, not least due to the differing attitudes of funders and publisher customers. While successful experimental models such as those of the Open Library of Humanities and Annual Reviews are exciting to watch unfold, in Liz’s opinion it’s challenging to see how such models would be scalable for larger publishers. It’s likely, she continued, that we will move from a flat, predictable market to one in which the rate and impact of change is very difficult to predict.

Describing the publishing industry as based on individual contributions in which ‘not every article is equal’, Claudio Aspesi considered the consequences of many published articles going unread under a subscription model. The is little economic justification for a subscription model, he argued, when an open access model logically enables a wide readership of published articles. The real question, he continued, is which economic model of open access should prevail. Gold open access is a difficult economic model for subscription publishers to transition to, he argued, since transitioning to open access under this model may involve declining costs. As a result, subscription publishers can be seen to favour hybrid solutions and oppose APC caps. Green open access, in contrast, can be effective if embargo periods are scrapped; the NIH and Royal Society have found the impact of green open access solutions on subscription publishing has been negligible. Moreover, funding bodies have a huge role to play in deciding how knowledge is disseminated; they could encourage experimentation in alternative business models. While the publishing industry may not profit as much in the future with more open access models as it currently does under subscription models, the scholarly communication landscape should count itself lucky it has a viable future-oriented model in open access.

Finally, Rupert Gatti reflected that much of the discussion around economics and sustainability in publishing centres around how current models can be sustained rather than newer models innovated. As can be seen from new groups like the Radical Open Access Collective, he argued, we have a diverse and increasingly radical publishing environment. New, experimental models such as those of Open Humanities Press are oriented to the missions of universities rather than larger publishers. We have also recently seen the emergence of large-scale digital publishing platforms for both journals and books, he continued, which has fundamentally changed the business model of publishers. We’re seeing publishers wanting to ‘lock in’ the use of their platforms through ’cradle to grave’ models that cater for initial research collaborations through to publishing final articles, and controlling the types of interactions users have with these platforms. We need to prioritise the need for openness and transparency while creating new platforms; open source software and modular code is not enough, since creating a truly open open research platform will depend heavily on who controls interoperability of platforms and code, and how. A progressive open access infrastructure will need funding, be run by bottom-up communities, and have diversity within management….”