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An update on OA Switchboard: 2018 - 2023

UKSG eNews 539 (19 May 2023) published an interview, that provides an overview and update on the OA Switchboard 2018 - 2023, covering the following questions:

  1. What was the problem that needed to be solved?

  2. Once the funding was in place, what were the key tasks to be done?

  3. What were the first actions that the initiative took to tackle this and what are the ongoing actions still required?

  4. Can you tell us about the communication and outreach programme? (e.g. the animations and the translations)
    Also, how you work with diverse stakeholders across the globe and how this has fed back to the technical development?

  5. What are the results so far? What are the next key steps to increase scale and sustainability and resolve the original problem?


After an initial meeting of key stakeholders in 2018 and subsequent feedback following presentations on the OA Switchboard concept, work was done to further explore the feasibility of this idea and gauge the level of interest in the community to participate. OASPA prepared practicalities for a project to run through 2020 which would prepare for the OA Switchboard to go live as an operational solution. The 2020 project was funded via generous donations of sponsors who generally supported the initiative.

For 2021 and beyond we are building everything in accordance with our core principles, and operating with a governance structure and funding model that will ensure sustainability and preserve the goals of the OA Switchboard into the future. On 16 October 2020, OASPA founded the independent Stichting OA Switchboard.


Open Access (OA) output is growing year-on-year and there is widespread belief that research will function better if results are made openly available to the community.

  • Increasingly, funders and institutions are paying for OA centrally

  • OA business models are becoming more and more diverse, some with or without individual publication fees, some through agreements with publishers, some through sponsorship models

  • Funders and institutions are expanding the requirements about how various research outputs should be published

  • For a specific (pre)publication there may be multiple authors involved, each with multiple institutional affiliations and funder arrangements (multi-lateral publication level arrangements)


Managing 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:

  • A myriad of systems and process

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

  • Manual and human interaction

  • Inconsistent terminology, lack of (use of) persistent identifiers

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

As consequence, policies are not always effectively implemented and agreements not realised to the full. The complexity, and the current administrative burden on institutions, funders and publishers, has also hindered progress in developing new business models to support a broader move to OA. From a researchers perspective, this landscape is at best confusing, and at worst impenetrable.


For a breakthrough in the transformation of the market such that OA is supported as the predominant model of publication, a joint challenge has to be addressed: the complexity around the implementation of multi-lateral OA publication-level arrangements.


The OA Switchboard contributes to the solution as a neutral, independent intermediary, providing shared infrastructure, standards and back office services for funders, institutions and publishers. It is a tool that can be called when needed, or integrated in stakeholders’ own systems and workflows to achieve automation and scalability.

2021/2022 launch phase

The following organisations have confirmed their support as launch customers or founding partners:

  • Publishers: AboutScience, American Physiological Society, Beilstein-Institut, Berghahn Books, Cambridge University Press, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Copernicus Publications, EDP Sciences, eLife, GigaScience Press, Hindawi, IGI Global, John Benjamins Publishing Company, JMIR Publications, Life Science Alliance, Microbiology Society,, Oxford University Press, Pensoft Publishers, PLOS, PNAS, Portland Press (owned by the Biochemical Society), Rockefeller University Press, Royal Society of Chemistry, The Company of Biologists, The Royal Society, The White Horse Press and Thieme Group

  • Institutions/consortia: Bibsam Consortium (member institutions here), California Digital Library, CERN, Columbia University Libraries, Consortium Luxembourg / BNL National Library of Luxembourg (member institutions here), EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries), Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Iowa State University Library, Jisc (member institutions here), Max Planck Digital Library, Rowan University, The Rockefeller University, The Weizmann Institute of Science, University of Kassel, University of Stockholm and VSNU/UKB (member institutions here)

  • Funders: Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dutch Research Council (NWO), FNR Luxembourg National Research Fund, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UKRI and Wellcome Trust

  • Launching sponsors: Aries Systems and Copyright Clearance Center

OASPA is supportive and actively involved through a strategic partnership with the OA Switchboard.

20210119_oaspa logo en webinar for websi


Read about the 2020 Project here.

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