Sustaining the Commons

“Humanities Commons — now three years old and serving nearly 25,000 users around the world — has become a key piece of online scholarly infrastructure. In order to ensure that the Commons becomes and remains sustainable, we have established some strategic plans for the network’s technical, financial, and governance future. Read our brief overview and visit the areas below for a deeper dive….”

AfricArXiv – the African preprint repository – Open Collective

“In April 2018, the seed for AfricArXiv was planted during the 2nd AfricaOSH summit in Kumasi, Ghana with this historic tweet

In June that same year, we joined forces with The Center for Open Science and launched a branded preprint service. Early in 2020 we extended our Open Access platform to a community

collection on Zenodo and initiated a partnership with ScienceOpen, with whom we are running AfricArXiv preprints and curating a collection of COVID-19 research from and about Africa.

Shortly after that and as an innovative and immediate response to the pandemic, we partnered with Knowledge Futures Group to provide a platform for audio/visual preprints on PubPub. Next, we plan to add Figshare and PKP/OPS to the list of our partner repositories. 

Since we work to foster community among African researchers, we were excited to launch a petition in 2019 to sign the African Principles for Open Access in Scholarly Communication The petition is ongoing, so you can still add your name to it. Published under CC-BY licence, anyone can Share and Adapt the principles while giving appropriate credit ‘African Principles for Open Access in Scholarly Communication as agreed upon by the signatories‘, provide a link to the principles, and indicate if changes were made.

We announced our strategic partnerships with the Institute for Globally Distributed Open Research and Education (IGDORE), Open Knowledge Map and ScienceOpen. ORCID and AfricArXiv initiated joint efforts to assist African scientists in advancing their careers through unique identifiers. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, we collect, create and disseminate a wealth of resources, ideas and guidelines around COVID-19 in Africa. 

We have received and accepted around 200 submissions in total across our partner repositories….”

TSPOA: What have we been up to? – Transitioning Society Publications to OA

“In February of 2018, we founded Transitioning Society Publications to Open Access (TSPOA) to provide support, advocacy, and referral services for societies and publishers of society journals. Our overarching aim has been to assist learned societies in transitioning their publications to open access (OA). In our first year-and-a-half the world has grappled with public health, socio-political, and environmental crises that have only underscored the critical need for public access to research and scholarship. This has been an extraordinarily challenging period for everyone, both within and outside of scholarly publishing. We’d like to take the opportunity to highlight a few of our efforts that we believe are bringing some positive change and impact in such uncertain times….” » Who’s responsible for the lack of action?

“There are regular discussions among academics as to who should be the prime mover in infrastructure reform. Some point to the publishers to finally change their business model. Others claim that researchers need to vote with their feet and change how they publish. Again others find that libraries should just stop subscribing to journals and use the saved money for a modern publishing system. Finally and most recently, people have been urging funding agencies to use their power to attach strings to their grant funds and force change where none has occurred….

We, the scientific community and all institutions supporting them, are all responsible for change.

The more relevant question is: who is in the strategically best position to break the lock-in-effect and initiate change?

Researchers decide if they evaluate colleagues on glamour proxies that deteriorate the reliability of science by valuing “novelty” above all else, or if they stand up and demand an infrastructure from their institutions that supports reliability, saves time and provides for an optimized workflow in which they can focus on science again, instead of being constantly side-tracked by the technical minutiae of reviews, meetings, submissions, etc.
Libraries decide how to spend their ~10b€ annually: on subscriptions/APCs in opaque and unaccountable negotiations, exempt from spending rules or on a modern infrastructure without antiquated journals and with a thriving, innovative market that allows them to choose among the lowest responsible bidders?
Funders decide whether to support scientists at institutions that fund monopolists and reward unreliable science, or those that work at institutions which spend their infrastructure and research funds in a fiscally responsible way to provide an infrastructure that preserves not only text, but data and code as well, ensuring the reliability and veracity of the results….”

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back – The Pandemic’s Impact on Open Access Progress – The Scholarly Kitchen

“2019 was a watershed year for progress in the transition of research publishing to open access (OA). The shakeup caused by Plan S had some time to sink in, cancellations of big subscription deals ramped up, and as I noted last October, the conversation had shifted from “eventually things will move to OA,” to instead a sense of urgency, “we’re on the clock for a move to OA.” The value of open science (increased transparency, open data, open access to research results) has become increasingly obvious during the current global health crisis. Both the positives (rapid reporting and sharing of information) and the negatives (the glut of bad science being issued as preprints and promoted via mainstream media without proper curation) are now evident, with the good generally outweighing the bad. Despite the daily evidence of the importance of shifting to an open science environment for research, the economic fallout from the pandemic is going to make necessary progress difficult and slow….

Business models beyond the APC may have an even bigger struggle ahead. Because of the many shortcomings of the APC model, a variety of OA business models that can be applied in different contexts and that are appropriate for each community and research field are needed for long-term sustainability. Right now, most of the non-APC models in-play rely upon voluntary spend from someone. Will the cost paid for publication of a Diamond-OA journal out of a library make the cut when budgets are being slashed? Collective action strategies that rely upon libraries voluntarily paying for memberships or subscribe-to-open models are going to be similarly hard to justify, given that you receive all the same benefits of the model whether or not you choose to pay….

Open access relies on the concept that knowledge is a public good, but acknowledges that there are costs and efforts necessary to produce and maintain that public good. The global health crisis has the potential to bring stakeholders together in support of improving the way we communicate research results, but the accompanying economic downturn may create significant roadblocks to those efforts.”

OA Switchboard initiative: progress report July 2020 – OASPA

“Delivering the Minimum Viable Product (MVP)  for the OA Switchboard initiative is almost a reality. With August around the corner, there will be a solution available to streamline the neutral exchange of OA related publication-level information between funders, institutions and publishers. This offers the potential to provide a breakthrough in the transformation of the market to enable Open Access as the predominant model of publication.

The MVP has been shaped throughout the 2020 project, overseen by OASPA and the Steering Committee, in close collaboration with representatives of all stakeholder groups. To this end, numerous individual and group meetings have taken place, open to anybody who wants to contribute to this industry-wide intermediary solution, that aims to provide standards, infrastructure, and back office services. Every month we’ve provided an update or report to ensure full transparency and allow everybody to participate. It has been amazing to experience how so many people, with such a variety of interests and representing a wide range of stakeholders, selflessly have shared their time and expertise to collaborate towards essential open source OA infrastructure – for the greater good of progress in scholarly communication….”

Four reports on the OA monograph: Review – Hill – – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

“Key points


Increasing interest in open access (OA) monographs is reflected by the publication of four reports in 2019.
The cost of transitioning monographs to OA is a constant source of concern among all stakeholders.
Print remains an important medium for monographs – but for how long?
The fully OA licences used for journals are considerably less popular within the monograph ecosystem.
The technical interoperability taken for granted among journals is not yet evident in digital monograph publishing….”

OA Switchboard initiative: progress report May 2020 – OASPA

“Open Access (OA) output is growing year-on-year and increasingly, funders and institutions are paying for OA centrally. OA business models are becoming ever more diverse, some with or without individual publication fees, some through agreements with publishers. Meanwhile, funders and institutions are expanding their requirements about how various research outputs should be published.

With all of these developments, it has become complicated to find out how to get the service charges for certain OA publications settled, to enable such financial settlement, and to monitor funds and track spending in real time.

It has also become complicated to find out if and how specific OA publications meet publishing requirements given multi-lateral arrangements (with possibly multiple authors involved, each with multiple institutional affiliations and funder arrangements), while dealing with many stakeholders and relationships, and a myriad of systems and processes. 

This complexity necessitated the initiation of the OA Switchboard project that is now in the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and Pilot stage….”