OA Publishing Cooperative Study: Year One Report

July 21st, 2016 by  | Comments Off on OA Publishing Cooperative Study: Year One Report

PKP’s MacArthur-funded Open Access Publishing Cooperative Study has reached the halfway point in its two year timeline examining cooperation between publishing stakeholder groups. It continues to explore potential cooperative associations involving disciplines (Libraria), national initiatives (Canadian Journals Project), and regional models (African Journals Project).

In this report, we share our first year outputs and outcomes, reflections and views for next year, as well as some updates from the case studies we are investigating. As always, we welcome your questions, feedback, and suggestions.

Year One Summary of Project Outputs

The outputs of our activities to date include:

  • Established the project’s web presence (http://oa-cooperative.org)
  • Formed an Advisory Committee of high-profile stakeholder representatives (http://oa-cooperative.org/participants.html)
  • Developed a set of shared cooperative principles in consultation with Advisory Committee (http://oa-cooperative.org/coop.html)
  • Determined a comprehensive list of case studies to analyze as part of our research (http://oa-cooperative.org/sites.html)
  • Created a community mailing list to facilitate ongoing communication and project progress reports through a regular community newsletter
  • Gathered data through individual requests for information and web searching for published data, included detailed lists of libraries hosting journals, society journals, national journals, etc.
  • Created, distributed, and began initial analysis of librarian-focused and editor/publisher-focused surveys on impressions of publishing cooperatives as an option for sustaining and expanding open access
  • Conducted several community consultations through meetings, workshops, and conference presentations in Canada, the United States, Ghana, and South Africa
  • Began technical development work focused on creating or enhancing features required by a publishing cooperative using Open Journal Systems, including digital preservation, user experience enhancements, metadata sharing, and enhanced statistical analysis

Project Outcomes

The outcomes of our activities to date include:

  • Having a high profile in the scholarly publishing community through ongoing communication and outreach
  • Receiving critical advice and support from our advisory committee
  • Helped to establish emerging publishing cooperative stakeholder working groups in Canada and Ghana
  • Achieved a better understand of the strong level of librarian support for the concept of open access publishing cooperatives, as well as the extent to which libraries are supporting open access publishing, through journal hosting, APC funds, etc., in Canada
  • Achieved a better understand of the level of cautious interest from many publishers, as well as perceived risks and challenges
  • Achieved a better understanding of the extent of journals in Canada that have already made the transition to open access independently
  • Established strong working relationships amongst multiple stakeholder groups to build upon for further data and support
  • Contributed to the production release of the PKP LOCKSS Network, a tangible technical development that will meet the critical need for digital preservation for publishing cooperatives

Project Evaluation

We are evaluating the results of our activities through:

  • Visits to our web site (11,751 visits by 5,996 unique users)
  • Participation levels in our surveys (260 librarian responses to date)
  • Invitations to participate at conferences, workshops, or meetings (over 65 to date)

Project Reflections

One of the most important things we’ve learned has been the level of interest in the concept of an open access publishing cooperative from all of the stakeholders, who see it, most pointedly,  as an alternative to APCs. Although some publishers are more cautious than others, most are intrigued by the idea and interested in learning more.

One challenge has been accessing detailed publishing financial data, but we continue to work on this kind of data gathering.

Another unexpected challenge has been the difficulty in recruiting and retaining adequately skilled software developers, which has slowed our progress and spending on technical infrastructure in year one. We anticipate a higher level of technical productivity in year two.

Libraria Update

The Libraria project, which is working towards a publishing cooperative for Anthropology and related disciplines, continues to move forward. Participants include:

  • Anthropological Forum
  • Anthropology of Work Review
  • Critique of Anthropology
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Current Anthropology
  • European Journal of Archeology
  • Limn
  • Social Anthropology
  • Valuation Studies

More titles are being invited to join to create a larger “bundle” of content. Libraria is also developing an Expression of Interest to recruit libraries to the project and will begin circulating it shortly.

Canadian Journals Update

The Canadian project also continues to make progress, with a new working group coming together to explore the next steps in establishing greater cooperation between libraries, publishers, and funders in Canada.  A detailed draft of The Financial Viability of an Open Access Publishing Cooperative: A Canadian Case Study is now available for viewing and commenting.

SET Co-Op Strategy Survey

The “subscription-equivalent transition” (SET) strategy has been devised as a mechanism through which cooperatives can be initiated by ensuring revenue neutral conditions for publishers, and stable expenditures for libraries. This strategy involves the libraries subscribing to a set of journals agree to pay a subscription-equivalent fee for three years to the participating journals that have agreed to become open access. During that time, journals and libraries would assemble the data and work out the principles and finances needed to raise the quality of scholarly publishing through the collaboration of the key stakeholders.

Two parallel surveys were developed to test the viability of this strategy: with one version asking librarians and another version for publishers and editors to whether they are willing to consider and engage with the concept through a scenario-based assessment.

The librarian survey has to date been completed by over 270 librarians, representing over 220 institutions in 29 countries (with the majority of responses from U.S. and Canadian librarians). Through an online 10-question survey, librarians were asked to weigh in on the various risks and advantages of the SET strategy, with the overwhelming majority expressing their support for this approach. For example, when asked to consider the extent to which they agreed with reasons that the SET strategy showed promise for converting subscription journals to Open Access, librarians were overwhelmingly in agreement, as demonstrated below:


When asked to consider whether the would recommend that their institution further explore the SET strategy and Cooperative Publishing, librarians were similarly in agreement:


Having assessed the feedback of Librarians to this strategy, data collection has moved to publishers, with a survey to explore publisher attitudes towards the principles of the cooperative model, as well as the SET strategy.

African Update

The project team is partnering with the Academy of Science of South Africa to conduct a case study into the viability of the Cooperative model as a mechanism for supporting the Open Access publication of South African research journals.


If you have any questions for us, please add them to the comments section below.

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