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Blog postHow the OA Switchboard fits into the ecosystem (PART 3/THE PUBLISHER)

16 October 2022 by Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director OA Switchboard

Following on from our initial post on the ‘intermediary’ and the second post on the ‘institution’ in the series, in this post we focus specifically on the relevance of the OA Switchboard to the stakeholder group ‘publishers’.


Academic publishers vary greatly in origin and purpose: learned societies, university presses, not-for-profit institutions, scholar-led initiatives, family-owned businesses, large (public) companies and more. A historical overview worth a read is here.


Publishers’ open access strategies and business models become more prevalent, increasingly complex and diverse (subscriptions, APC-based, diamond, through collective, community or institutional funding, for example). What do publishers do to navigate the open access research and publishing maze and how does OA Switchboard practically support them in this?

A myriad of systems and processes in the ecosystem

Open access (OA) is opening research up to the world. Research funders and institutions are expanding requirements and more and more publishers are committed to ensuring that research is available and accessible to all. To this end, publishers often need and want:

  • management information about their portfolio and publications data to inform OA strategies

  • to develop new business models and negotiate different types of deals (transformative agreements, pure publish deals, subscribe-to-open, etc)

  • to offer a smooth and compliant author journey

  • to query funders and institutions during an article publication process

  • to produce reports for various stakeholders (libraries, funders, and management)

  • to increase the visibility of their publications

To address these needs and wants, OA-related publication level metadata and its exchange between stakeholders throughout the entire publication journey is essential.


However, for this, funders, institutions and publishers are faced with a myriad of systems and processes.

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What publishers gain by partnering with the OA Switchboard

The OA Switchboard simplifies publishers’ communication with research funders and institutions by streamlining the exchange of metadata that support a question and answer, or a one-way notification, about OA publications.

More specifically, what’s in it for publishers? Why join the OA Switchboard initiative?

  1. Two use cases:

    • Reporting Made Easy

    • Matching Publication Costs with Publication Funds

  2. Enhancements in your metadata and visibility

  3. Reduce (manual) efforts & increase efficiency

  4. Because it's the right thing to do...

Reporting made easy in practice

The first Use Case we went live with is for publishers to automatically, instantaneously inform research funders and institutions about a relevant journal article publication. This is done via a so-called P1-message, standardised across multiple publishers, which serves as ‘publication notification’ (and alert) and contains Version of Record (VoR) metadata. It is the metadata from the publisher’s system(s) and we often refer to it as ‘from source’.

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The basic idea is that a P1-message is sent by the publisher upon VoR publication to the institution (or research funder) who picks up the publication charges. This ‘picking up the charges’ can be via a prior agreement (with or without information on article-level charges being relevant) or via an individual article-level charge (i.c. an APC).

A P1-PIO (Public Information Only) message is a stripped down version of a P1-message, with all information on charges and financials removed, as well as personal information on the authors (i.c. email addresses). This P1-PIO can be sent to one or more institutions affiliated to authors and research funders acknowledged in the VoR publication, when prior agreement and article-level charges information isn’t readily available or applicable (e.g. in case of diamond).

Publishers engage with reporting via OA Switchboard to comply with reporting requirements and to increase the visibility of their publications.


Authoritative source data and data quality

In a recent blog post on ‘Quality of Metadata and Identifiers - What does OA Switchboard do to make a difference?’ we share our lessons learned as to why metadata and persistent identifiers (PIDs) should be determined and captured at the source and by the source, why and how metadata values can change over time, and why it is important to capture the event-based and time-specific values of metadata as publisher.

OA Switchboard is a ‘message hub’ (‘mailman’) only. It is the responsibility of the publishers to ensure accurate and full metadata is entered. What OA Switchboard takes care of, is that the metadata, leveraged with PIDs,  are delivered and exportable in a structured data format (JSON).


Better management information for publishers

Another important reason for publishers to participate in OA Switchboard for the reporting made easy use case is to improve their own data. To benefit from using the OA Switchboard message hub, a publisher’s metadata needs to meet a certain level. By participating and connecting to OA Switchboard, there is a motivation and incentive to improve data quality to be able to deliver structured data output (JSON).

By collecting and processing multiple data feeds that provide the required data fields that go into the OA Switchboard messages, publishers are able to collect and structure their own data (across different systems). This provides valuable management information and insight into the status of their metadata quality and potential improvement actions. The structured outputs of OA Switchboard (the ‘messages’ composed and sent), can also be exported by the publishers themselves, and used to further shape pricing models or business and OA strategies.

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Reduce (manual) efforts & increase efficiency

Publishers are joining OA Switchboard for simplification and cost savings. A publisher need only create one API connection to OA Switchboard, to reach multiple research institutions and funders, and deliver reporting in the standardised output (JSON and Excel). It substantially reduces manual work and increases efficiency.

The OA Switchboard can thus be used by publishers to enhance their workflows and support efficient integration with the increasingly complex open access research and publishing ecosystem. As the ‘message hub’ the OA Switchboard simplifies the sharing of information between publishers, institutions and funders, and it provides a safe space for publication metadata.


To learn more about how the OA Switchboard can help a journal publisher to support their open access goals, we recently talked to Wayne Manos, Director of Product Development and Marketing at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, and Rob O’Donnell, Senior Director of Publishing at Rockefeller University Press. In this interview Wayne Manos says about OA Switchboard:

"A game changer for all parties, accelerating an equitable transition to OA."

Rob O’Donnell comments in the same interview:

“Having data safely exchanged through a single location and in a standard format, by an organization that is non-profit and organized by a community of publishers, libraries, and funders, not only keeps our data private and protects it from reaching the wrong parties (and is GDPR compliant!), but it creates efficiencies for all involved.”

By using principles of trust, collaboration and efficiency the OA Switchboard is working to fulfil its goals: simplify the sharing of essential information about OA publications - throughout the publication journey. Explore the further power of the OA Switchboard as intermediary via our first blog post in this series.​

"The standardization between systems, portals and processes that the OA Switchboard provides will allow PLOS to share increasingly valuable reporting and data analysis with our institutional partners."

Randy Townsend, PLOS

"The OA Switchboard standardised protocol allows for the transparent exchange of data about OA publications, design to operate and integrate with all stakeholder systems."

Fred Atherden, eLife

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Why it is the right thing to do

OA Switchboard is a community led, not-for-profit, mission driven initiative (not a commercial player). It provides a ‘message hub’, it is not building a database, and there is no risk of lock-in. There is no involvement in financial transactions, nor in the allocation of money in institutional OA funds. Contracts and roles are clear, throughout the whole chain and are GDPR compliant. Perhaps most importantly, it is built by and for the people who use it.

"Participating in the early development cycles of this important resource helped us to improve the service level we offer institutional customers."

Gaynor Redvers-Mutton, Microbiology Society

"A solid and user-friendly connection between funders, institutions and publishers is key to the adoption of OA."

Giulio Zuanetti, AboutScience

Join us, we're live!

We’re live and operational with 20 publishers (and growing…) sending publication notification messages and reporting via OA Switchboard, and over 200,000 messages were sent by them to date to hundreds of institutions and funders. By participating in OA Switchboard, you join a pioneering community of like-minded spirits who work together to share best practices and lessons learned.

Discover other participants’ use cases and stories on our ‘for publishers’ landing page.


Contact us today to understand how joining the OA Switchboard can both serve your organisation and drive open access.

Rob O’Donnell and Gaynor Redvers-Mutton encourage other publishers to get involved with the Switchboard:

“The OA Switchboard community is unique in that publishers, librarians, and funders come together regularly in a truly collaborative spirit, all on equal footing, to learn what each sector needs from one another and how we can work together on community solutions to complications surrounding OA data exchange.”

Rob O'Donnell, Rockefeller University Press

"The more who use it, the better a resource it becomes."

Gaynor Redvers-Mutton, Microbiology Society

Coming soon: The research funder point of view on their participation in OA Switchboard, and how we work together with other community led foundational (infrastructure and standards) solutions.

​​​About us:
The OA Switchboard is a mission-driven, community led initiative designed to simplify the sharing of information between stakeholders about open access publications throughout the whole publication journey. It provides a standardised messaging protocol and shared infrastructure that is designed to operate and integrate with all stakeholder systems, and can help with these challenges above. It is built by and for the people who use it, and is leveraged with existing PID’s.

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