“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….”