As described in the previous section, we organised several internal workshops with COPIM project members (and where appropriate we included our Community Governance Working Group) to co-design and co-develop the project’s governance elements. During our first internal workshop we tried to develop COPIM’s mission and vision statement, as well as the values and principles that guide the project, also based on the The Next Generation Library Publishing project’s Values and Principles Framework, which we consulted to try and translate our values into actionable principles. In groups we devised a vision statement (Where are we going? What will the future look like?) and a mission statement (How are we getting there? What do we do? Who do we serve?) and we tried to list what COPIM’s values should be, values that guide COPIM’s work. We then tried to turn each of these values into an actionable principle to which we could adhere.
As described in the previous chapter, during each workshop three groups were formed that each tried to formulate the various governance elements we identified during our initial research followed by a discussion between the three groups. We subsequently colour-coded the notes made by each group and when we wrote-up these governance elements we took an active effort to keep the voices of the different groups alive by ensuring not one voice or colour became dominant, something that easily happens when we write up qualitative research. We then shared these co-designed governance elements with the COPIM members to further incorporate feedback via a co-development method, which involved various rounds of feedback on these draft elements, also from the members of the Humanities Commons Governance Working Group. Several rounds of feedback and development of these processual or ‘living’ governance elements have led to the elements we will discuss here in this report.
This method or approach is something we tested out in the first instance when we co-designed our Code of Conduct to ensure governance is an activity of community co-development, not just decided by one group at one time but continually evolving as the project itself evolves. In designing this CoC, we took inspiration from the experience of like-minded open source community-led groups and organisations, from the Ada Initiative and The Carpentries to the Contributors Covenant, all of which have previously developed Code of Conducts and have in some cases also published their process of developing guidelines online, sharing best practices and how-to documents. COPIM’s CoC has been based on different elements and remixes of these existing CoCs which have subsequently been developed further by the project members in a process of co-design. Similar to many of our project documents and outputs, this CoC remains a processual document, open for community feedback, which we might update as the project changes or our community grows, or now that we start to work with and apply the CoC in practice, to fine-tune how it works best for us as a project and to make sure it continues to work for us and our community in the future. We then copied this co-design approach for our further governance elements, for example when formulating our values.
COPIM envisions and supports an open, inclusive, diverse, and community-led ecosystem for the creation and dissemination of open access books in which all knowledge producers are maximally empowered to communicate their research to the benefit of society without economic or technical barriers. We imagine a world in which open access books in all their forms are produced and disseminated anti-competitively and collaboratively, while also being responsive to, as well as driven by, the community of communities dedicated to public knowledge and the love of the book.
COPIM is a community-led research project and incubator. It creates and maintains open publishing infrastructures that are inalienably owned by the community and that support and bring together knowledge communities through the processes of open access book publishing in all its shapes and forms.
COPIM brings together many different publishing initiatives and encourages and supports those collectively by ‘scaling small.’ Instead of standard approaches to organisational growth that tend to flatten community diversity through economies of scale, scale is nurtured here through intentional collaborations between community-driven projects that promote a bibliodiverse ecosystem while also providing resilience through resource sharing and other kinds of collaboration.
To realise our vision, COPIM therefore strives to:
build and bring together open socio-technical infrastructures enabling smaller publishers to thrive independently, while at the same time stimulating connections and interactions between knowledge producers;
develop organisational frameworks, governance structures, and economic and funding models that will hopefully more durable foundations for community-driven publishing standards;
encourage resilient longstanding collaborations and enable partnerships with the community of communities dedicated to public knowledge and the love of the book.
All of our principles are based on our values. However, as all values are always contextual and situated, we will always remain critical of friction-free utopias. Hence, we see our values and principles as a process of working towards, of working with and across difference. They should be read as a reflection of intention. We don’t see friction or conflict in defining our values and principles as a hindrance but as part of our working mode. Therefore, we will continue to update them as we progress forward and as our surrounding environment changes, following our living/versioned document or processual publishing approach, reflected in our co-design and co-development methodologies.
We care for books and profess a dedication to quality content, good design, good open principles, user-friendliness, and a dedication to (different forms of) quality peer review. We care for the preservation and archiving of open access books and argue for care-full and broad open dissemination. We work to enable open books of many kinds being shared as widely as possible.
We pledge to create inalienable systems that cannot be co-opted or overtaken by the interests of a few players or commercial entities;
We will remain community-driven and non-competitive, and encourage horizontal structures empowering the community to make strategic, operational, and financial decisions;
We want to support a broader network or ecosystem of community-led scholarly communications organisations dedicated to the production and long-term maintenance of an open commons.
We support open infrastructures and interoperability between infrastructures, and pledge to work towards openness in all of the ways in which we run our projects and organisations;
We will be dedicated to public knowledge that is open and shareable across multiple borders;
We support open-source, portability, open standards and metadata, reuse, and reproducibility (copyright).
We will be governed by representatives from a broad cross-section of stakeholders;
We work towards supporting a plurality of research subjects, technologies, approaches, languages, nations, agents (scholars, the academic and research community, the general public) with the aim to traverse multiple discipline, geographic, national, and institutional boundaries;
We strive for inclusivity in all our community structures, spaces, and interactions;
We will empower community members to take collective action, provide space for the community to grow, and encourage different voices, perspectives, and approaches;
We will strive to recognise potential barriers to participation and work to avoid and overcome them in the structures we create.
We aim to bring people together who are interested in developing a shared vision for open access;
By working together, we will scale small in order to enable equitable participation in the development of open access books;
To enable open access book publishing we will design and build infrastructures of different types and scales that can be engaged with and adopted in a range of different levels by actors of different sizes and backgrounds, who share our vision.
By bringing like-minded entities together, we will nurture an anti-competitive ecosystem for open access book publishing.
Within COPIM we strive towards non-hierarchical or horizontal ways of working. We also want to promote these ways of working through our partnerships with stakeholders who are working within the same terrain to create open ecosystems.
Developing sustainable infrastructures for OA books that can be adopted by others. We are trying to influence an ecosystem that allows for the publication of OA books as equitably and ethically as possible. Two potential routes to do so: influence the ecosystem of those actors that are not publishing openly yet and/or encourage new actors to take up open, community-focused, non-profit publishing. Showcasing that these alternatives we are developing can be supported and can work. Building a platform and sharing it to allow other people to use it: that in itself helps to reshape/re-envisage what ‘sustainability’ means for academic publishing. It is based on sharing our resources and allowing other people to use them. These kinds of sustainable funding models allow for a better/more ethical use of public money.
Enabling a thriving alternative to the commercial, big-publisher-driven way of doing OA. Supporting the transition to OA publishing by regaining control over the scholarly communication ecosystem. Sustaining and maintaining a not-for-profit publishing ecosystem, promoting experimentation, sustaining diversity of OA publishing, sustaining scholarly independence. Influencing others (including funders) to support this alternative way of doing things, to trust these networks with their work, with their funding, and with their support.
Promoting an understanding that publishing is part of research and the means of production of scholarly works is a commons (publishing is a commons), which is integral to research and not an afterthought or something that can be outsourced. Responsibility for the publishing process becomes part of research and the scholarly community should take more responsibility, taking responsibility for the publishing process back into the scholarly community
Influencing policy. Helping shape e.g., the next REF/UKRI policy and the SPARC National OA Policy. UK funders want to go forward with OA for books and they need to evidence that solutions are available to assist in this transition, which is one of the reasons why they are funding us. We are therefore engaged in the policy and compliance landscape (cited as a supporting action). There has been a lot of pushback from existing publishers and we have provided a very useful counter point to their narrative that policy makers have: a) found useful to have, and b) helped spread increased recognition amongst them that the APC/BPC model is not necessarily the only way to fund OA books and that they can fund alternative non-BPC routes.
Building a community supporting our goals and objectives. There is a need for advocacy for not-for-profit presses, providing new venues for OA publishing. Similarly, there is a need to build an open infrastructure and provide services to stakeholders in the scholarly community, including creating a community supporting the same values. Encouraging researchers to understand the advantages of OA and that it is powerful, and worth pursuing in its own right. Open Access is not just legitimate but a good thing to do.