Blog post - OA Switchboard

Working Group probes support for OA Books

Research funders and institutions' point of view 

30 March 2021 by Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director OA Switchboard

Last week members of the OA Switchboard Books Working Group got together for the third time since its inception last year, to continue dialogues on how OA Switchboard can deliver on its ambition and commitment to support all types of scholarly output. Next to standing members from various stakeholder groups (Brill, Cambridge University Press, De Gruyter, Now Publishers, OAPEN, Open Book Publishers), this meeting welcomed special guests from founding partners UKRI and Wellcome Trust to pay special attention to the point of view of research funders.

In the collaborative, open approach native to OA Switchboard we took a neutral and independent view on a range of topics.

A book can take many forms
Two extremes we touched on were the ‘edited collection’ (comparable to the journal ‘special issue’ approach), where authors are invited by the publisher to contribute a chapter, on the one hand, and the single-author book (monograph) on the other hand. Other relevant dimensions are the type of content (original research or not) and whether the funder of the underlying research mandates OA or not.

Different types of funding models to cover the cost of publishing
We examined a wide range of ways in which the cost of book (chapter) publishing can be covered. Some routes have been widely used for years, where lessons can be learned, and others are more experimental or visionary. To mention just a few of the many models we covered: collective publishing models (where cost are spread, and payment is not title-by-title); partnership model with institutional and/or society support (‘diamond’); research funders putting BPC funds in as part of a grant; institutional (de)centralised OA funds or philanthropic organisations covering BPC’s; globally sharing the load via shared book publishing infrastructure.

How does it work today?
Our meeting participants shared a wealth of experiences and examples, so far mostly about covering the publication cost of individual OA Books. For instance, how some authors feel strongly that they want to be involved in finding and deciding on financial resources to cover the publication charges, and how some are adamant to publish OA, but have no idea where to find the funds. Both publishers and funders recognise an administrative and tax challenge in having a third party cover charges on an individual book.

OA Switchboard – central information exchange hub for OA Books?
Although still high-level and conceptual, we further refined the potential role of the OA Switchboard in providing shared infrastructure and a standard messaging protocol in order to support OA as the predominant model of book publishing.


We concluded there was much more to discuss, especially when starting to think about book publishing and funding models differently. The next meeting of the OA Switchboard Books Working Group will be in 3-4 weeks’ time and we then want to consider research institutions’ positions. We invite you to get involved if you are from an academic publisher or funder with an interest in OA Books, and especially if you are from a research library or institution.

Participate in the next meeting!

Contact: yvonne.campfens@oaswitchboard.org


OA Switchboard - central information exchange hub - the independent intermediary, connecting parties and systems, streamlining communication and the neutral exchange of OA related publication-level information, and ensuring a financial settlement can be done.

OA Switchboard is run from the new Stichting OA Switchboard, founded by OASPA in October 2020 and OASPA is supportive and actively involved through a strategic partnership. https://oaspa.org