On May 13, 2020, COPIM’s Work Project 2 held its first workshop in collaboration with Lyrasis and The University of Michigan to enhance the development of resources, infrastructure, and support for open access books.
Participation included individuals from organizations including University of Michigan, Lyrasis, UCL Press, University of North Carolina Press, Arc Humanities Press, Jisc NBK, African Minds, Westminster University Press, MIT Press, Florence University Press, Lexis Compagnia Editoriale, Stockholm University Press, Stockholm University Library, University of Wales Press, Knowledge Futures Group.
Our discussion on designing a platform to support the publication of open aspect books surfaced the following concepts:
Discovery: Discovery of open access content in library catalogues is one of the biggest challenges in integrating OA publications. There is a need to find mechanisms to increase discoverability for libraries to know what is included in their collections, particularly in relation to print vs digital OA material. Increased discoverability will allow stakeholders to connect easily with the OA initiatives they want to support.
Sustainability: Open publishing must posses an agenda that considers the present and future of OA. Workshop participants stressed the importance of long term sustainability in OA initiatives and publishing. People expressed broad sentiment on the need to shape a sustainable open market that produces community learning as a springboard to help develop collective actions. This model should add value for readers, as well and should actively avoid obsolescent of past work.
Values and strategy: Throughout the workshop, participants discussed the need for clear institutional strategies and principles that support open access. Institutional strategies are needed to facilitate and recognize institutional workers involvement with OA initiatives.
Values highlighted in our workshop included support for bibliodiversity, equality, and inclusion. Workshop participants also mentioned the need for transparency around the costs of publishing and community led-governance. Participants expressed a desire to support OA initiatives that are not for profit and will not become commercial. Ethical values should be embedded in the OA agenda and OA initiatives should be leveraged outside the institutions in support of social justice principles, which participants felt cannot be done by commercial publishers. OA communities are uniquely positioned for this work as they serve a broader public as part of their mission, as opposed to narrow academic communities.
Communities & stakeholders: Workshop participants expressed a desire for OA initiatives to involve a constellation of stakeholders — including libraries, publishers, authors, readers, and students — and to ensure that such stakeholders are represented in the communities rather than relying upon a small number of entities, such as strictly libraries, to be responsible for open publishing and the dissemination of knowledge. Stakeholders need to be actively engaged in conversations around open access publishing.
OA advocates at libraries, who are often at the forefront of advocacy with clear knowledge of pertinent issues at stake in open research, play a critical role in building community around open access publishing. People who work at libraries are not, unfortunately, given enough leeway and recognition in their professional capacity to focus on OA and often carry out this work on the side as “passion projects” — the OA community must advocate for change here. We should also be keeping using different language to broaden the community. Open access communities must be engaged both locally and globally to underscore our interconnection.
Communication: Open access advocacy has room for improvement in terms of communicating its importance in terms of the democratisation of knowledge and ethical principles in scholarship. Efforts to extend communication outreach and our networks are crucial in developing critical mass and consensus about the trajectory of scientific publishing. Being open should also include transparency in regard to values and mission in order to fully understand open initiatives. We have already too many examples of unethical or unprincipled work under the banner of “open” and more should be done to allow the public to distinguish among those different initiatives. We also need to focus efforts on communicating OA values and benefits with university faculty and senor administration. Communication should be embedded into the culture of publishing.
To develop trust in open publishing, we must seek out representatives whose values align with OA and speak for the collective to build community. Trust and transparency are needed for all stakeholders as we are not simply opening content but rather transforming the way in which scholarly monographs are published. To bring about real change, open access work should not replicate the “prestige” practices that have stifled academic publishing. Openness should include methods for monitoring the progress of publishing initiatives so stakeholders know whether or not to sustain their support.
Acquisitions: In order to support OA initiatives, libraries can evaluate the way in which these projects meet the unique needs of their universities, as well as research and teaching workers and students. Workshop participants hoped to be able to present ways in which particular titles support curriculum to make data driven informed decisions on support. Metrics can help them libraries engage with institution leaders while presenting return on investment and the value of OA. With library budgets decreasing, there is a real need to illustrate fiscal benefits in OA in addition to ideological commitment. Notwithstanding, acquisitions and collections development should be centered around values and principles of open content.
The discussion also surfaced a need to include a broad array of stakeholders in the acquisitions process, for example involving learned societies for increased collaboration. Through their in depth understanding of their discipline, learned societies are positioned to help evaluate projects and recommend modes of support — their involvement could open new possibilities in a collaborative community.
Participants also asked to find ways to demonstrate OA values beyond the quantitative metrics and reimagine the system of scholarly communication to be more diverse and inclusive. New and evolving value criteria is needed to meet our current and future needs in scholarly publishing.
Financial timing: Participants stressed the importance of timing when initiatives ask for their support. Libraries have a narrow window to spend their budget each fiscal year and do not have enough resources to support all good projects. In addition, they need to have approval plans from senior administration and faculties as the ultimate decision on resource spending is not made at the libraries themselves.
Thank you to everyone who took part in this workshop!