Brill Publishes High-Impact Titles in Open Access through Knowledge Unlatched

“Brill, the international scholarly publisher, is pleased to announce the release of 11 books in Open Access in its most recent collaboration with library crowdsourcing platform Knowledge Unlatched. 

With topics including interdisciplinary research on trust, a comparative study of women and gender, and a comprehensive overview of the historical relationship between money, society, and the economy, Brill is proud to make available relevant contributions from the Humanities and Social Sciences to urgent social discussions. 

To guarantee the widest possible dissemination, all e-books are available via OAPEN, JSTOR, DOAB, and Brill’s dedicated Knowledge Unlatched e-book collection. 

With over 400 titles, Brill has grown to one of the largest Open Access book publishers in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Knowledge Unlatched is one of the OA options offered to authors and editors as part of Brill’s funding support program. Other author services include publication in high quality book series, full peer review, typesetting and production, marketing and promotion, as well as print publication….”

In support of open infrastructures: A statement from OPERAS in response to the ‘Open Research Library’, a new initiative from Knowledge Unlatched

On May 16, Knowledge Unlatched (KU) launched a new hosting platform for Open Access monographs, the Open Research Library (ORL). Notwithstanding its name, we do not consider the Open Research Library to qualify as an open infrastructure.

In support of open infrastructures: A statement from OPERAS in response to the ‘Open Research Library’, a new initiative from Knowledge Unlatched – OPERAS

On May 16, Knowledge Unlatched (KU) launched a new hosting platform for Open Access monographs, the Open Research Library (ORL). Notwithstanding its name, we do not consider the Open Research Library to qualify as an open infrastructure.

The statement from KU opens as follows:

“Free access to scientific content is often limited due to the fragile technical infrastructure around it: content is stored in a variety of versions at various locations and without any uniform search functionalities. The Open Access initiative Knowledge Unlatched has addressed this growing problem and is now launching the Open Research Library together with several international partners. Its goal is to unite all Open Access (OA) book content over the coming months. To this end the Open Research Library is working with publishers and libraries worldwide and is open to all providers and users of quality-assured research content.”

While we can agree with the observation that ‘free access to scientific content is often limited due to the fragile infrastructure around it’, we do not think this initiative is helpful in strengthening the Open Access infrastructure for monographs.

OPERAS, the European Research Infrastructure dedicated to open scholarly communication in the Social Sciences and Humanities, supports the Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures: infrastructures should be open, transparent, sustainable, and community-governed. OPERAS is dedicated to develop a distributed research infrastructure in close collaboration with the scholarly community, in accordance with these principles. OPERAS has demonstrated its support of these principles in various projects:

  • the HIRMEOS project, a collaborative project of five European book publishing platforms to develop a shared set of added value services, in order to make these available to the scholarly community and enable integration with the open science ecosystem;
  • the development of the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) as a central platform to improve transparency and quality assurance around Open Access monographs;
  • the upcoming, recently funded project TRIPLE, an innovative discovery service aimed at increasing the discovery, access, reuse and societal impact of Social Sciences and Humanities artefacts (data, publications and projects).

In our opinion, the ORL does not meet the criteria for open infrastructures. On the contrary, based on the statement from KU and the early release of the ORL, the approach of this platform closely resembles well-known internet strategies to quickly achieve a dominant position by aggregating all available content and offering a free service to the community, while aiming for a lock-in of users and stakeholders. The ORL is neither open nor transparent, in particular regarding its governance.

While we are not against commercial ventures or market competition, we strongly believe that vital infrastructures supporting Open Science should not fall in the hands of commercial operators. These infrastructures should be a collective responsibility of stakeholders in scholarly communication. We see SCOSS and the recent launch of the IOI initiative as positive signs that this collective responsibility can become a reality. With this in mind, we think that the ORL is not helpful, and could well be harmful, on the road to establishing a distributed, open and sustainable infrastructure for Open Access monographs.


This statement is the outcome of an open consultation with the OPERAS Core Group. 20 May 2019.

Sven Fund’s ‘Bridge’ to Open Access: Knowledge Unlatched

“In the humanities, however, two challenges have hampered open access adoption.

  • Most versions of ‘gold’ open access require researchers or their funding institutions to pay the costs of publication as an ‘article processing charge,’ or APC.
  • And much of the research published in the humanities and social sciences takes the form of books, which naturally have higher processing charges than articles do.

Crowd-Unlatching

Knowledge Unlatched attempts to solve this problem by importing into academic publishing a crowdfunding model not unlike that of Kickstarter.

Working with publishers to create a list of books to be “unlatched”–made freely available–it then assembles a consortium of libraries to pay the costs of publication. If enough libraries commit to funding a title, then the book is published. Each library that pledged receives a print copy, and ebook versions are made available for anyone to read as open access.

The model is finding support.

Since Frances Pinter launched Knowledge Unlatched in September 2012, the organization says it has facilitated the publication of more than 400 books in its first three collections. In February, it announced the success of its latest unlatching, its largest to date: 343 titles from more than 50 publishers.

A fourth collection now is being assembled, with the pledging process expected to start next month. This will be the first collection to include journals.”

Current situation

“A chronological overview of important Dutch open access and open science successes….”