New report: Open access publishing and the promise of collaboration: collective funding models and the integration of open access books into libraries | Community-led Open Publishing Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM)
flavoursofopenscience's bookmarks 2021-05-04
As a researcher in the contemporary academy, I have become used to being expected to collaborate. In many ways this is to be welcomed, given that a focus on collaboration helps decentre a model of academia dominated by the figure of the individual genius, doggedly ploughing his [sic] lonely but serious scholarly furrow. Indeed, I am involved in a number of projects and initiatives that to my mind showcase some of the very best possibilities of academic collaboration, by challenging departmental silos, or by working across disciplines to develop new methods or to solve complex research questions. One of these is the COPIM project, on whose ongoing work this blog post reports, which aims to build ‘a significantly enriched, not-for-profit and open source ecosystem for open access book publishing’.
However, it also needs to be recognised that in some contexts, collaboration is increasingly being seen as a means towards marketized academic ends in ways that many of us would see as in tension with the pursuit of open, creative, critically attuned research. In the UK, the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), the latest powerful actor in the ever-deepening metricisation of scholarly work, is emblematic of this. The first results have just been published and the new pie chart forward KEF dashboard reveals that Lancaster University, where I am based, is apparently ‘good’ at collaboration: it is in the **TOP 20%!!** for both ‘Working with business’ and ‘Working with the public and third sector’ (what I probably shouldn’t draw attention to, is that it is in the (bottom 30%) for ‘Skills, enterprise and entrepreneurship’). At present, such results are not directly tied to the allocation of government funding, as is the case with its much-maligned cousin the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Instead, the results are intended ‘to provide institutions with information about their own performance in knowledge exchange in order to facilitate improvement’. I can only presume that the questionable privilege of being allowed to self-discipline rather than being made a subject of direct discipline by the state will prove temporary.
In the discussions about the merits and demerits of collaboration, what tends to be missed though are the untapped potentials that exist in collaborations not just between academics, or between disciplines, or between academics and external organisations, or between academics and the public, but between academics, scholarly libraries, and publishers of scholarly work. This the subject of a new report co-authored by Elli Gerakopoulou, Izabella Penier and me. It focuses on the possibilities that might exist for collaboration between scholarly libraries and open access book publishers, including the kinds of open access publishers led by academics represented by ScholarLed, one of the partners in the COPIM project and with which I am also involved. The report draws on a combination of interviews, workshop discussions (including one workshop with librarians in the US, one in the UK, and one with publishers), and pre-workshop surveys with librarians and individuals involved in library consortia, as well as desk research.
In the report we examine various forms of collaboration that characterise the existing landscape of open access book publishing. This includes examining library membership programmes, of the kind run by both publishers — examples include programmes run by Lever Press, Luminos, punctum books, and Open Book Publishers — and infrastructure providers — notably the OAPEN library membership programme. We also look at intermediaries that aim to increase the likelihood of open access book publishers being able to receive financial support from scholarly libraries, such as Knowledge Unlatched and TOME. This forms part of a scoping exercise to enable