1. What problem does the OA Switchboard solve?

The problem for funders, institutions and publishers is that it is complex to implement multi-lateral Open Access publication-level arrangements.

The reasons are:

  • Open Access (OA) output is growing year-on-year

  • 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

  • A myriad of systems and processes

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


2. What are the challenges for publishers that the OA Switchboard aims to address?

  1. It takes a lot of manual work to determine if a funder or institution is willing to centrally pay the OA publishing cost of a given publication

  2. As a smaller publisher, there is no way for us to develop OA publishing agreements with funders and institutions

  3. All our workflow systems will need to be updated to accommodate and report on the transformative OA deals we’re signing


3. What are the challenges for institutions/funders* that the OA Switchboard aims to address?

  1. Administrating our central OA fund is harder than we imagined, since every publisher has their own systems and invoicing processes

  2. There is no way we can possibly sign OA publishing deals with every single publisher

  3. For the ‘transformative’ deals we’ve signed we’re unable to generate reports or monitor compliance across different publishers

* when involved in directly settling publication charges


4. What value does the OA Switchboard bring for publishers?

  • Clearer data

  • Savings:

    • efficiency (time & manual work)

    • cost effectiveness

  • Opportunity for better customer service:

    • for authors/researchers

    • for institutions and funders

In more detail:

  • Locate central OA funds, and get publication charges paid from these funds in an efficient and cost-effective manner

  • Standardised way of verifying eligible authors under a prior agreement

  • No need for contracts with participating funders / institutions to benefit from central OA funds

  • No need to revert/correct licenses after publication

  • First time right invoices and financial settlement statements

  • No need for manual work, nor customisation on funder and institutional reports

  • No need to maintain operational relationships, across multiple institutions and funders


5. What value does the OA Switchboard bring for institutions/funders*?

  • Clearer data

  • Savings:

    • efficiency (time & manual work)

    • cost effectiveness

  • Opportunity for better researcher service

In more detail:

  • One communication standard, process and system across multiple publishers

  • No need to negotiate special arrangements and contracts with participating publishers

  • Upfront assessment if and how a certain OA publication meets the requirements

  • Automatic alerts for researchers’ publications and all their details

  • Automatic feed of these data into local systems

  • Linking invoices to publication data

  • Standardised reporting

  • Monitoring funds and tracking committed spending

  • No need to maintain operational relationships, across multiple publishers

* when involved in directly settling publication charges


6. What value does the OA Switchboard bring for funders?

The value of the OA Switchboard for a funder can be one, or a combination of two or more of the below:

  • Direct benefits (when involved in directly settling publication charges)

  • Indirect benefits (when not directly involved in settling publication charges)

  • Community benefits


7. Where can I find technical details?

The repository and documentation can be found here: https://bitbucket.org/oaswitchboard/api/.
In the root there is a readme with the documentation.

Here is a direct link: https://bitbucket.org/oaswitchboard/api/src/master/README.md.


8. Why open source?

The reasons we choose open source:

  • By design: open source software licenses promote collaboration and sharing.

  • By mechanism: open source is an essential mechanism for building transparency and (therefore) trust. Open source ensures that all parties can validate that there are neutral and ‘accurate’ assessment algorithms, providing a guarantee that the OA Switchboard can be validated as the neutral host and facilitator it aspires to be.

  • No vendor lock-in, guaranteed exit scenario.

  • Cost: free license model.


9. What parts in the OA Switchboard are open source?

The parts that are developed for us by our tech partner are open source. This is:

  • Core (message hub & data store): Open source code, fully transparent.

  • Connectors (to API): Open source code and (where possible) part of an open source project like Pubsweet, OJS, etc. The possibility to contribute via community owned/shared/joint development; contributions made available to the community for use and further development.

  • Web application (with User Interface): Developed and released as part of the open source Pubsweet framework. Possibility to contribute via community owned/shared/joint development; contributions made available to the community for use and further development.


  • All tools offered by AWS as Platform-as-a-Service, are obviously not open source (e.g. API gateway, VPC, server environments, serverless runtime, Database-as-a-Service). All source code produced by our tech partner for us, that runs on top of AWS PaaS, is delivered to OA Switchboard organisation as open source.

  • SQS/SNS/SES (specific messaging micro-services) in the Core are not open source, which creates a dependency with AWS.

  • PostgreSQL is an open source database.


10. How is scalability ensured?

The core message hub is highly scalable, especially due to the use of AWS (Amazon Web Services) micro services. AWS is by far the largest cloud provider (hosting almost all large sites in the world), and is scalable and secure. That is exactly the reason why we decided (in coordination with our Tech Advisors and Steering Committee) to not develop this piece ourselves. The above visual shows the message lifecycle for sending a message through the OA Switchboard. The AWS API gateway is linked to a serverless – Lambda validation function that invokes an SQS queue. This is what AWS says about this:

  • By default, SQS support up to 300 messages per second.

  • Lambda functions with an Amazon SQS trigger can scale up 60 additional instances per minute to a maximum of 1,000 concurrent invocations.

That is over 1 million messages per hour. And that is the default. If more volume and guarantees are required then an SLA is available, however we don’t expect to need it.


11. How is security and privacy ensured? Part 1: Via technology

Right from the start in the MVP we’ve ensured security and privacy in the OA Switchboard:

  • One user (one account) per participant. Authorisation is required, always.

  • The Sandbox is for testing purposes. The PRODuction will be made available later.

  • We store message header (all) and message body (optional).

  • If a participant integrates directly onto the API AND stores their own messages, there is no need to store them at OA Switchboard. *)

  • If a participant uses the User Interface OR does not store their own messages, the OA Switchboard will store them. *)

  • Only participants sending & receiving a message can retrieve the message body. OA Switchboard staff cannot access a participant’s message body. Unauthorized access is logged.

*) Note that if stakeholder 1 sends a message to stakeholder 2, and for stakeholder 1 point 4 is applicable, and for stakeholder 2 point 5 is applicable, the messages sent by stakeholder 1 are stored in the OA Switchboard.


12. How is security and privacy ensured? Part 1: Via contracts


13. What is a ‘certified integrator’?

A ‘certified integrator’ is a party that, on behalf of a primary stakeholder (a funder, an institution, or a publisher) integrates with the OA Switchboard API in the standard message structure. A party can request to be awarded the ‘certificate’, after which a formal assessment and check will be done, and a decision taken. Certified partners when approved will be listed on the website.

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