The consortium members of COPIM gathered at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University on Friday 10th January 2020: it was the first time most of us had all been in a room together, and it was therefore an inaugural occasion for this international and eclectic partnership.
After initial greetings we moved quickly into the recent developments within the project as a whole, including the successful creation of a knowledgeable Advisory Board drawn from different areas of the global scholarly communication landscape. We then launched into presentations by the key participants of the different Work Packages (WPs), focusing on their overall objectives and with a close eye on the next six months.
It soon became clear that most WPs will be organising workshops over the summer, as part of the initial scoping and information-gathering phase of their operations -- so keep an eye out here and @COPIMproject on Twitter for more information on those as we attempt to navigate (and perhaps take advantage of) the crowded conference calendar.
Research, Development and Outreach
Research, development and outreach are core to all WPs. Each WP presentation emphasised the variety of people with whom the project must engage, including researchers, publishers, developers, librarians and funders. We focused on the fact that successful infrastructure-development projects tend to progress iteratively, rather than by adopting a simple ‘scope-build-disseminate’ approach. That the infrastructure we create must be modular and customisable, not prescriptive, was at the forefront of our conversations too.
We spent time thinking about how to ensure that what we create is durable beyond the initial three-year lifetime of COPIM. This includes nomenclature: COPIM might only last for the three years of the project, but the things we create should exist for much longer. What should they be called and how should we describe them to prevent avoidable public confusion, or the reduced adoption of the final outputs due to branding changes?
It was also reported that there has been good progress on hiring the Research Fellows for each WP, as well as a European Coordinator who will be working with the project on behalf of OPERAS-P. These roles will be crucial in plugging the project into the ‘on-the-ground’ realities in different countries, sectors and institutions.
‘Scaling Small’ and the Importance of Horizontal Organisation
‘Scaling small’ is a foundational concept for the project as a whole: the idea that smaller OA presses can multiply their effectiveness if they work collaboratively. This involves the creation of open infrastructure to build an ecosystem within which OA book publishers (and presses that want to transition to OA) can be resilient, and which will enable the widespread dissemination of the work they publish.
Collaboration and community are at the heart of this work, and part of the kickoff meeting was devoted to an honest and necessary conversation about how to ensure that we organise our activities in ways that honour these values. This means ensuring that we operate horizontally rather than vertically wherever possible, and that we strive to share our activities across WPs and maintain an ongoing conversation with one another.
We therefore decided to make all of our project meetings and channels of communication open for every consortium member to participate if desired, to share all documentation (unless there are ethical or security implications for doing so) and to enable remote participation in all in-person meetings.
A COPIM Website: Coming Soon!
The afternoon continued with discussions about building and archiving the COPIM website. We resolved that we will use this PubPub as a blog and open documentation site to communicate developments as the project progresses, and a website will be ready soon with information about the project, the individual COPIM members, the Advisory Board, forthcoming events and so on. Watch this space (and/or @COPIMproject on Twitter) for news of its arrival.
The final sessions of the day focused on the requirements for budgeting and reporting as the project progresses, after which we relocated to a nearby restaurant for much-deserved refreshments!
There was a palpable sense of enthusiasm throughout the day as we finally had the opportunity to meet in person and share our commitment to COPIM and our plans for the work. We are hugely excited for the developments to come over the next few months and years, and we hope you will follow our progress as the project’s activities take shape.