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.