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The OA Switchboard Initiative

The OA Switchboard initiative is a collaboration between funders, institutions and publishers to facilitate the fulfilment of open access strategies across business models, policies and agreements. When operational, the OA Switchboard will be a central hub connecting systems and improving open access-related article-level information exchange between authors, publishers, funders and institutions.

The OA Switchboard aims to reduce complexity for all stakeholders, so the ecosystem can work better for everyone, and can learn, adjust and progress.



Open Access (OA) output is growing year-on-year. Increasingly, funders and institutions are paying for OA centrally. OA business models are becoming ever more diverse and complicated. Funders and institutions are expanding the requirements about how various research outputs should be published.

The increasingly complex network of agreements between publishers and institutions, along with the rise in number of policies associated with open access publications by academic institutions and funders poses serious implementation challenges:

  • Many-to-many relationships to be maintained between the multitude of stakeholder groups (and their members), and a myriad of systems

  • Manual and human interaction, using non-standardised language and terminology

  • Lack of oversight and real-time monitoring, thus difficulty in detailed billing and in tracking spend and committed funds

As a consequence, policies are not always effectively implemented and agreements not realised to the full. There is a considerable administrative burden on publishers, institutions and funders, and the experience for the researcher/author can be confusing.


A central information exchange hub

The aim of the OA Switchboard initiative is to facilitate the fulfilment of OA strategies across business models, policies and agreements, by connecting systems and improving the information exchange between authors, publishers, funders and institutions. This will be achieved via agreeing standards for article-level information exchange ('messages'), and providing a central hub to enable parties to send/receive these standardised messages. 

As a priority, the following types of information exchange will be addressed:

  1. Eligibility Enquiry: Help authors (and their publishers) understand - in the specific article-metadata situation at hand - whether a particular journal that they want to submit to has the potential to fulfil the requirements of their institution and/or research funder and whether central funding is available to pay for any open access publication charges that may be required.

  2. Publication/Payment Settlement Notification (previously referred to as Payment Request): Help, at the point of acceptance or publication, to ensure the financial settlement between publisher on the one hand, and institution and/or research funder on the other, can be done. Either via an open access publication charge, or via an applicable open access membership arrangement or offsetting/hybrid/transformative agreement.

Note: the OA Switchboard will not serve as central payment intermediary and will not therefore process any OA financial transactions.

This set-up will ultimately allow for oversight and real-time monitoring, detailed billing, and for tracking spend and committed funds. The OA Switchboard aims to reduce complexity for all stakeholders so the ecosystem can work better for everyone, and can learn, adjust and progress.

Throughout 2020, a project will be run to prepare for the OA Switchboard to go live as an operational solution. The roadmap for the OA Switchboard project is:

  • Phase 1: Project set-up

  • Phase 2: Detailed needs analysis and definition of product specs, including assessment of existing products and services that could be leveraged

  • Phase 3: Selection of a third party software development provider to build an MVP

  • Phase 4: Pilot and final deliverables: the MVP and a sustainable governance and funding set-up

In summer 2020, we aim to build and deliver a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), i.e. the smallest feasible product. That means, that in itself it is viable and will add value for stakeholders when delivered and operational. It is not a prototype.

In the MVP (and one or two continuous improvement cycles) the following epics will be covered:

For the scenario where there is no prior agreement/arrangement in place:

  • Eligibility Enquiry Publisher-Institution (epic 1) and Publisher-Funder (epic 2), including reporting

  • Publication/Payment Settlement Notification Publisher-Institution (epic 3) and Publisher-Funder (epic 4), including reporting

For the scenario where there is a prior publishing agreement/arrangement in place:

  • Publication/Payment Settlement Notification Publisher-Institution, including reporting (epic 5)

Throughout the whole project we’ll regularly report to and collaborate with representatives of all stakeholder groups.


Founders and sponsors

After an initial meeting of key stakeholders and subsequent feedback following presentations on the OA Switchboard concept, work has been done to further explore the feasibility of this idea and gauge the level of interest in the community to participate. OASPA has since prepared practicalities for a project to run through 2020 which will prepare for the OA Switchboard to go live as an operational solution. The 2020 project is being funded via generous donations of sponsors who generally support the initiative.

If you are interested to contribute to the initiative, please contact us.

When the OA Switchboard moves to an operational stage, following a successful 2020 project, a sustainable governance structure and funding model will be in place.


Organisation and governance of the 2020 Project

  • A Steering Committee consisting of an equal balance of publisher representatives, library/institutional representatives, funder representatives, and a representative from OASPA. The Steering Committee is intended to be a core unit that can provide oversight by representation of the main stakeholder groups who are facing these shared challenges. The members of the Steering Committee are listed here.

  • An Advisory Group consisting of individuals and representatives of stakeholder groups who will contribute by expertise to supplement the work of the Steering Committee. Members will be invited and appointed at the discretion of the Steering Committee. We’ll aim to work with existing structures and organisations as much as possible. The members of the Advisory Group are listed here.

  • It is the intention to create and utilise Working Groups, after initial set-up of the project.

  • It is the intention to have a limited number of Pilot Users actively involved in shaping the initiative and MVP.

  • A Project Manager appointed by OASPA to lead the OA Switchboard project. Contact details can be found here.

When the OA Switchboard moves to the operational stage, with a sustainable governance structure and funding model in place, participation and involvement is open to all who meet the OA Switchboard’s purpose and criteria. The structural governance and funding model will supersede the organisation and governance of the 2020 project, and the sponsorship model.


Steering Committee of the 2020 Project

Ivy Anderson

California Digital Library

Rachel Bruce


Liam Earney


Liz Ferguson


Hannah Hope

Wellcome Trust

Paul Peters


Claire Redhead


Ralf Schimmer

Max Planck Digital Library

Stuart Taylor

The Royal Society


Advisory Group of the 2020 Project

The Advisory Group consists of individuals and representatives of stakeholder groups who will contribute by expertise to supplement the work of the Steering Committee.

Geoffrey Bilder - Technical Advisor


Adam Hyde - Technical Advisor

Coko Foundation

Kamran Naim - Technical Advisor


Roheena Anand

Royal Society of Chemistry

Stacey Burke

American Physiological Society

Brian Cody


Fiona Counsell

Taylor & Francis

Matthew Day

Cambridge University Press

Gunther Eysenbach


Jennifer Fleet

Aries/Editorial Manager

Rupert Gatti

Open Book Publishers

Max Haring

University of Amsterdam

Ruth Harrison

Imperial College London

Alison Hope


Martin Jagerhorn


Roy Kaufman

Copyright Clearance Center

Alex Kohls


Leah Kristensen

Manuscript Manager

Nick Lindsay

MIT Press

Michael Markie


Tasha Mellins-Cohen

Microbiology Society

Ann Michael


Max Mosterd

Knowledge Unlatched

Bill O'Brien


Stephanie Paalvast


Louise Page

Gates Foundation

Damian Pattinson


Emily Poznanski

De Gruyter

Lucy Robinson


Johan Rooryck

cOAlition S

Elisabeth Shook

Boise State University

Anne Simoneau

EDP Sciences

Jeroen Sondervan

University Utrecht

Nick Taylor


Bryan Vickery


John Willinsky



Project Management


Yvonne Campfens

Project Manager

Sponsors of the 2020 project

The 2020 project is being funded via generous donations of our sponsors who generally support the initiative:

  • Aries Systems

  • CERN

  • Copyright Clearance Center

  • eLife

  • Hindawi

  • Imperial College London

  • JMIR Publications


  • Wiley

Ongoing financial support is critical to maintaining pace and delivering on the OA Switchboard ambitions. We welcome you to get in touch on this topic if your organisation would like to be added as a sponsor.



Project Manager, the OA Switchboard
Yvonne Campfens

OASPA contact
Claire Redhead

The OA Switchboard Initiative is initially being overseen by Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), a company registered under company number 52791092 whose registered office is at Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 5, 2595 BE, The Hague, The Netherlands.