OA Publishing Cooperative Study: Q2 Report

February 1st, 2016 by  | Comments Off on OA Publishing Cooperative Study: Q2 Report

The MacArthur-funded Open Access Publishing Cooperative Study is examining cooperation between publishing stakeholder groups by exploring potential cooperative associations involving disciplines, with anthropology (Libraria), national initiatives (Canadian Journals Project), and regional models (African Journals Project).


Libraria is a collective of learned societies, journals (11), and public interest organisations within the field of anthropology that have come together to research viable and sustainable open access alternatives to the existing ecology of scholarly publishing. Libraria is keen to explore cooperative scenarios that may bring together societies, libraries, universities, editors and publishers in a project that proves sustainable and rewarding to all. Libraria is currently exploring grant opportunities to fund an executive director to help establish the new organization and move it towards a sustainable publishing model.

Canadian Journals Project

Érudit is an interuniversity consortium and a non-profit organization that for more than 15 years has provided the research and cultural communities with a wide range of services in digital publishing and dissemination primarily for French language scholarly journals in Quebec. Érudit has an existing agreement with CRKN (Canadian Research Knowledge Network) and CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries), and is looking to move their relationship from a more traditional vendor-customer model towards a more cooperative form of collaboration along with expanded pan-Canadian content. CALJ (Canadian Association of Learned Journals) and SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) are also interested stakeholders.

Érudit and PKP are currently gathering data on the Canadian journal publishing community, as well as developing a plan of action to move the cooperative concept forward.

African Journals Project

We are working in partnership with the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to acquire data from African institutions, libraries, and library consortia on their expenditures on academic journals. We are seeking to gain insight into their total expenditures on scholarly information, including payments for journal subscriptions (donor subsidized or otherwise), as well as any expenditures on local, regional, or pan-African scholarly journals. Through this process we aim to glean insight into whether viable cooperatives can be formulated to support the Open Access publishing of African research.

Data Gathering Update

We have now received data from a number of sources, including from our pilot projects, and will begin the process of analysis shortly. We have also received offers of data from interested organizations and will be following up with them soon. Areas of focus include the cost of library-based publishing, current library expenditure on national content (e.g., Canada, Uganda), current library expenditure on discipline-based content (e.g., anthropology), and more. We have secured an agreement from the American Anthropology Association to share financial and publishing data with Raym Crow, SPARC. We have, as well, had a look at the preliminary data from the Canadian study of journal publishing conducted by Erudit, which will be shared publicly before too long. In addition, the white paper (referenced below), we are working with data from excellent studies on subscription fees and APCs by Björk, Solomon, West, Bergstrom and Bergstrom, Schimmer, Geschuhn, and Vogler.

Community Consultations

We are currently in the exploratory stage, identifying stakeholders to communicate with more closely as the study progresses. We will be contacting individuals and groups soon and are interested in any suggestions for participants or volunteers to engage in a consultation with us.

Technical Update

As part of the study, we will be using Open Journal Systems 3.0 as a proof-of-concept platform for publishing cooperatives. Some of the features we are currently building into the system include:

  • Enhanced usability, accessibility, and customization options.
  • XML transformation, including the ability to automatically convert Word documents into JATS-compliant XML.
  • ALM services,  building a plugin for OJS based on the Lagotto system developed by PLOS.
  • Submission redirects, which would allow editors to reject a submission, but recommend it for another title on the platform.
  • Reviewer communities, allowing cooperating journals to share a relevant community of reviewers. This concept could expand to include copyeditors, proofreaders, and other roles typical in scholarly publishing.

Flip-the-Script Coordination

Since starting the study, we have had the good fortune to meet with and learn about a variety of important projects all focused on “flipping” subscription payments into financial support for sustainable open access models. These include the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, Knowledge Unlatched, the Max Planck Digital Library, the Open Access Network, Open Library of the Humanities, and the UC Davis and California Digital Library Pay it Forward project.

In our discussions, it is becoming apparent that some coordination would help all of these projects and better demonstrate their common purpose. To this end, we are investigating the establishment of a coordinating mechanism to ensure regular communication and updates between the groups, as well as aligned messaging out to our various (and often overlapping) stakeholders.

White Paper on Publishing Cooperatives

We are currently writing a white paper to explore many of the issues around APC offsets and publishing cooperatives as two approaches to flipping subscription fees into open access support. A draft of the paper will be made publicly available shortly, and we will invite your comments.

Upcoming Presentations and Meetings

Members of the OA Publishing Cooperative Study team will be presenting at or attending several upcoming meetings. If you’ll be there and would like to get together to discuss the study, just let us know.

Recent Presentations and Meetings


The Berlin 12 Open Access conference, organized by the Max Planck Digital Library, was held in Berlin from December 8-9th, 2015. The central theme of the workshop was advancing the transformation of subscription journals to Open Access, as outlined in a white paper by the Max Planck Digital Library. John Willinsky was invited to present in the Plenary session of the conference, at which he expressed concerns around Open Access models that were solely based around Author Publishing Charges (APCs), and instead introduced the idea of Cooperatives for more sustainable and effective Open Access.

John Willinsky and Kamran Naim worked alongside other conference participants to help to shape the major conference statement, in the form of an Expression of Interest, which will be publicly released by the MPDL in early 2016. They will also be working with fellow colleagues attending from the United States, including representatives from SPARC and the California Digital Library to strategize around a national-level approach towards advancing the conference objectives. We will continue to work closely with the MPDL in subsequent phases of the programs, particularly around business models for Open Access.

Coalition for Networked Information (CNI)

Kamran Naim and Raym Crow co-presented at the Coalition for Networked Information Fall Membership Meeting in Washington DC from December 14th-15th. This presentation outlined the approach of our study to examine whether cooperatives can offer economically responsible and sustainable Open Access, and how PKP  working in collaboration with SPARC is assessing the feasibility, as well as the structure, organization, and governance of such co-ops. Kamran’s presentation is available here. Raym’s presentation is available here

More Information

To find out more about the study, please visit our web site at: http://oa-cooperative.org

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