Initial Research, workshop and report
This work offers clear evidence to policy makers on the importance of a number of non-commercial services to the successful implementation of OA policies. It also shows that many of these services are at risk and warrant further support in financial and/or governance terms.
The summary report; 'Putting down roots: Securing the future of open access policies' includes an analysis of a wide range of OA services and policies currently in use and presents:
- an analysis of the common elements found in the current OA policies adopted by research funders and institutions
- a set of case studies that illustrate the direct or indirect dependency of OA policies on key services
- the views of stakeholders on the key services that enable compliance with OA policies
- use cases, presented in accessible formats and language for a non-technical audience
- a set of priorities for action if OA policies are to be successfully implemented
The study relies on extensive consultation with research funders, institutions and service providers. Interim findings were tested at a workshop with 30 representatives from institutional libraries, research funders and policy makers which took place in London on the 10th November 2015. Participants discussed the degree of commonality between the current OA policies in place across the KE countries and at European Commission level, and considered a wide range of services on which these policies depend.
There was broad agreement on the risks that exist to these services, and their importance to the delivery of OA policy goals. The group then discussed a number of strategies for securing the future for OA services, ranging from a purely market-based approach to the establishment of an overarching body or mechanism to monitor, support and improve OA services.
The outcomes of these discussions have been reflected in the report Putting down roots: Securing the future of open access policies, which was used to help develop the case for coordinated international action to support crucial OA services.
Proposal for a coordinating body
In response to the findings from the 'Putting Down Roots' report, KE was asked by a number of stakeholders to develop a proposal for a co-ordinating body to promote the sustainability of open-access services. A proposal was developed to fulfill the following mission:
"To promote and facilitate the development of an open scholarly infrastructure, in order to enable the widest possible legal dissemination and usage of the outputs of scholarly research."
In working to fulfil this mission, the body would have regard to the ‘Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures' and would undertake four key activities:
- To maintain a register of the most important international services, operated for the public good, that are either explicitly dedicated to supporting open access, or that are central to the successful implementation of open-access policies.
- To develop, and periodically review, appropriate criteria to assess the sustainability, governance and level of usage of existing OA services, together with their degree of interoperability with other relevant services.
- To publish on a regular basis:
- prioritised recommendations for the funding of existing services,
- risks to the sustainability of these services; and
- gaps in existing infrastructure where there is a need for new services to be developed, or for improved interoperability between existing services
- In time, to develop and manage a mechanism to collect and distribute funding from research funders, research-performing organisations and other interested parties to open-access service providers, on a transparent and equitable basis.
The proposal was circulated to number of key bodies and stakeholders for feedback in March 2016 and discussed further by participants in a break-out session at the Open Science conference held as part of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, on 4/5 April 2016. The outcome of these discussions was reflected in a ‘concrete action' in the Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science, as follows:
National authorities, research funders, Research Performing Organisations, e-infra organisations and publishers: support work in progress and further develop Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures to set up concerted mechanisms and fund initiatives to maintain a register of key open access services that address sustainability, governance, usage and interoperability. Publish the recommendations on funding and risks in a workshop in order to derive a generic approach for such services in general. (p.19)
A copy of the full proposal for a co-ordinating body is available from the KE office on request.
Conclusions and further development opportunities
This work has included over 150 individuals from stakeholderorganisations across Europe and beyond and outcomes from the activity have beencaptured in the OA Sustainability Index and the report Putting down roots: Securing the future ofopen access policies,which provide key reference points for further developments in thisarea.
With the publication of the Amsterdam Call for Action onOpen Science, the need for better mechanisms to track and support OA servicesand infrastructure has been recognised at the highest level within Europe. Thisis now an international activity that goes beyond the five Knowledge Exchangecountries, and is best taken forward by the service providers themselves andthe beneficiaries of these services.
For further progress to be made, a better understanding ofthe likely costs of operating these services and improving their co-ordinationis needed. Building on our work, a small-scale pilot is underway to place the SHERPA and DOAJ services on a more sustainable footing. The aim of this work isto develop an international funding model for the two services that can serveas a model suitable for adoption by other OA services.
Full information on KE's role and outputs from this project are detailed in the 'OA Policy Dependencies - Final Project Report'.