18 September 2012 Business planning required to achieve sustainable Open Access services
The Knowledge Exchange partners issue a report that identifies the actions needed in order to help achieve a robust Open Access service foundation.
Open Access is a key feature of scholarly communication. The sustainability of the services that are used around the world to underpin Open Access is critical. The Knowledge Exchange (KE) partners today release a report
that identifies the actions needed in order to help achieve a robust Open Access service foundation. The report examines relevant services, many that operate on short-term funding or even goodwill, and finds that business development expertise should be embedded into service development. The report recommends that universities, policy makers and funders should consider how financial resources can be distributed to achieve system-wide sustainability. It also highlights that governance and coordination of the infrastructure underlying Open Access is also critical to long-term viability.
”Achieving sustainbility of new services has always been a challenge but now with the maturity of Open Access fully recognised it is incumbent on us to address this challenge and have the difficult discussions to ensure this can be achieved. Successful research is dependent on it. ” said Dr David Prosser, member of the KE Open Access Working Group and Executive Director of Research Libraries UK (RLUK).
The Knowledge Exchange partners commissioned the report as part of a work programme to find solutions to the sustainability problem. In this first report from the work programme use cases have been developed in terms of the Open Access services used by the research-related community. The key free-to-use services are described as a series of value curves depicting the current and future value of each service type. Use cases described include establishing and running a repository, managing an academic profile and publishing an Open Access journal. The services are analysed in the context of Open Access scenarios for the future. The three scenarios used are Gold Open Access, fully Green Open Access and Green Open Access supplementing subscription access as Gold OA grows.
Different stakeholder groups – libraries, research and infrastructure funders, and service providers – can play various roles in the future scenarios. Libraries are already contributing directly to sustaining some services such as arXiv
and the Directory of Open Access Journals
by financial donations, or in-kind by supporting the development and offering of services, as in the case of BASE
(Bielefeld Academic Search Engine). Funders use many services, including commercial ones, and in general acknowledge they have a role to play in helping to sustain key components of the system. And of course some universities have taken steps towards support for Open Access by committing funds to pay for Open Access publication charges.
Seven recommendations are made, which fall into three strategic areas – as outlined earlier - embedding business development expertise into service development; consideration of how to move money around the system to enable the achievement of Open Access; and governance and coordination of the infrastructural foundation of Open Access. These recommendations will be further addressed through the Knowledge Exchange work programme
We recognise that various issues arise here, notably: coordination between funders and projects; the development of services from projects that were not originally expected to produce an infrastructure component; and the business development aspects of service building, which are not necessarily best done by those who develop the service itself. We wish to work with others to address these and related issues
The report, authored by Alma Swan from Key Perspectives for the Knowledge Exchange is the first in a series of related work packages. These work packages will review potential organisational and business models of individual projects and services and review the conditions under which individual services and platforms can be sustained. Finally this will be translated into practical outputs which can be used by institutions and funders.