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Blog post 

OA Switchboard kicks-off project to explore an OA Books solution

In line with guiding principles, OA Switchboard aims to support all types of scholarly output and plans for a dedicated OA Books prototype to be tested with pilot users.

21 August 2023 by Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director OA Switchboard

Since the idea was born almost five years ago, OA Switchboard has made great strides in bringing the whole community together to agree and adopt standardised exchange of metadata about open access publications throughout the publication journey, and to build and operate the supporting shared open infrastructure. From the start, OA Switchboard was developed and run on six principles, that underpin everything we do. From day 1, participants have asked about support for OA Books, in line with principle 4: ‘Supporting all… types of scholarly output’. We’ve had it as a priority to address when demand is there and funds are available.


OA Books solution is on its way

There is increased awareness for OA Books, and more and more research funders and institutions develop OA Books policies. This is leading to a complex landscape with a multitude of overlapping business models, agreements, policies, and systems, which has already started to pose serious implementation challenges.


As an academic publisher, you want to support authors in being compliant with policies and mandates, you want to be able to tap into funds that may be available to fund OA Book initiatives and cover book (chapter) publication costs, and you want to report on OA publication output. As a research institution, you want to implement your OA policies, connect with your research and simplify your workflows.


This is where the OA Switchboard Books solution comes in.


A prototype and pilot is planned

To simplify the sharing of information between stakeholders about OA book publications throughout the whole publication journey, we’ll create a working model (‘prototype’) for a ‘message hub’ to support OA Books use cases. This prototype will enable publishers to send pre-publication eligibility enquiry messages (BE1-message) to research funders and institutions, who in turn can respond with a reply (BE2-message). It will also allow for publication notification messages (BP1-message) to be sent by publishers to research funders and institutions.

The intended OA Books solution is to ultimately enhance workflows, increase the visibility of  OA Book publications and facilitate integration with the increasingly complex open access research and publishing ecosystem.


Generally, as an intermediary, the OA Switchboard simplifies the sharing of information between publishers, institutions and funders, thereby reducing the transactional cost for stakeholders, and it provides a safe space for publication metadata.


Working Group as catalyst

Early 2023, there was serious interest to revive the OA Books Working Group (founded in 2020) and explore OA Switchboard support for OA Books use cases in line with the two operational journals’ use cases (and message types). We met a couple of times with an enthusiastic and experienced group of people and defined the use cases that the OA Books solution would support and an initial overview of data fields. Next, we looked for sponsors to financially support the initiative and quite quickly found parties who committed funds and encouraged us to get going.

We are grateful for the financial support from: Cambridge University Press, Iowa State University Library, University of Michigan Library, University of Michigan Press, and UCLA.


What will the project deliver?

Building on a successful approach with the journals solution and lessons learned, we will take a phased approach. Appreciating the milestones and decision-moments, the ultimate goals of this OA Books project are:

  • Further explore the feasibility of this idea and gauge the level of interest in the community to participate.

  • Define what the solution could look like and test this in a pilot with real users (research funders, institutions and publishers).

  • Assess potential: would stakeholders value the solution and be prepared to financially support it via a sustainable funding model?


What are the next steps?

In the next couple of weeks, the members of our Working Group will continue to work on defining the use cases in more detail, the message types and the data fields. In parallel, we’ll start with creating the working model (‘prototype’). The solution will be tested via a pilot, for which clear goals will be defined and funders, institutions and publishers can sign-up to participate. The pilot will run at least 6 months and the outcomes and experiences will be evaluated and shared.

We will provide regular progress reports during the project.


Get involved!

If you are interested to learn more or be involved as pilot users, please do not hesitate and get in touch!


For more information, please contact:

Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director OA Switchboard

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. It is built by and for the people who use it, and is leveraged with existing PID’s.

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