Initial Research, workshop and report
This work offers clear evidence to policy makers on the importance of a number of non-commercial services to the successful implementation of OA policies. It also shows that many of these services are at risk and warrant further support in financial and/or governance terms.
The summary report; 'Putting down roots: Securing the future of open access policies' includes an analysis of a wide range of OA services and policies currently in use and presents:
- an analysis of the common elements found in the current OA policies adopted by research funders and institutions
- a set of case studies that illustrate the direct or indirect dependency of OA policies on key services, presented in accessible formats and language for a non-technical audience
- the views of stakeholders on the key services that enable compliance with OA policies
- a set of priorities for action if OA policies are to be successfully implemented
The study relies on extensive consultation with research funders, institutions and service providers as well as policy makers and representatives from institutional libraries. Special attention was given to the commonality between the current OA policies in place across the KE countries and at European Commission level, and the wide range of services on which these policies depend.
There was broad agreement on the risks that exist to these services, and their importance to the delivery of OA policy goals. Strategies were discussed for securing the future for OA services, ranging from a purely market-based approach to the establishment of an overarching body or mechanism to monitor, support and improve OA services.
These thoughts have helped shape the report Putting down roots: Securing the future of open access policies, which was used successfully to develop the case for coordinated international action to support crucial OA services.
Proposal for a coordinating body
In response to the findings from the 'Putting Down Roots' report, KE was asked by a number of stakeholders to develop a proposal for a co-ordinating body to promote the sustainability of open-access services. A proposal was developed to fulfill the following mission:
"To promote and facilitate the development of an open scholarly infrastructure, in order to enable the widest possible legal dissemination and usage of the outputs of scholarly research."
In working to fulfil this mission, the body would have regard to the ‘Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures' and would undertake four key activities:
- To maintain a register of the most important international services, operated for the public good, that are either explicitly dedicated to supporting open access, or that are central to the successful implementation of open-access policies.
- To develop, and periodically review, appropriate criteria to assess the sustainability, governance and level of usage of existing OA services, together with their degree of interoperability with other relevant services.
- To publish on a regular basis:
- prioritised recommendations for the funding of existing services,
- risks to the sustainability of these services; and
- gaps in existing infrastructure where there is a need for new services to be developed, or for improved interoperability between existing services
- In time, to develop and manage a mechanism to collect and distribute funding from research funders, research-performing organisations and other interested parties to open-access service providers, on a transparent and equitable basis.
The proposal was circulated to number of key bodies and stakeholders for feedback in March 2016 and discussed further by participants in a break-out session at the Open Science conference held as part of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, on 4/5 April 2016. The outcome of these discussions was reflected in a ‘concrete action' in the Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science, as follows:
National authorities, research funders, Research Performing Organisations, e-infra organisations and publishers: support work in progress and further develop Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures to set up concerted mechanisms and fund initiatives to maintain a register of key open access services that address sustainability, governance, usage and interoperability. Publish the recommendations on funding and risks in a workshop in order to derive a generic approach for such services in general. (p.19)
A copy of the full proposal for a co-ordinating body is available from the KE office on request.
Conclusions and further development opportunities
This work has included over 150 individuals from stakeholder organisations across Europe and beyond and outcomes from the activity have been captured in the OA Sustainability Index and the report Putting down roots: Securing the future of open access policies, which provide key reference points for further developments in this area.
With the publication of the Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science, the need for better mechanisms to track and support OA services and infrastructure has been recognised at the highest level within Europe. This is now an international activity that goes beyond the six Knowledge Exchange countries, and is taken forward by the service providers themselves and the beneficiaries of these services: KE's explorative work on OA Policy dependencies is now taken-up by SCSOSS.
The Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS)
SPARC Europe took the initiative to bring together key stakeholders to establish the Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS). Its mission is to provide a co-ordinated, cost-sharing framework to secure the future of non-commercial OS services that underpin the development of wider global open science. Read more about this initiative on the SPARC Europe website. The coalition is a direct response to the work and recommendations on OA policy dependencies that KE has published in its reports.
Full information on KE's role and outputs from this project are detailed in the 'OA Policy Dependencies - Final Project Report'.