OASPA – 2023 in Review

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It is important, every now and then, for an organisation to take a step back and look at progress. 2023 was a good opportunity for OASPA to pause and take stock. We made time to check in with our members, we reviewed how and why they connect with us, and we invited them to give us open feedback. We now have over 230 members and supporters, covering a diverse range of publishing organisations, infrastructures, service providers and others connected with open access. As new members join us, it’s wonderful to see the many different approaches to open access and to hear their perspectives. Each member is unique and enriches the OASPA network.

2023 was as busy a year as ever in terms of activities. We ran our annual conference, again online. Following the success of previous years, it was an inclusive and successful event with 557 delegates and 72 speakers spanning 55 countries – joining us from over 300 organisations. Our conference committee put together a broad and compelling programme and feedback from attendees was very positive with 93% of survey respondents very likely to recommend the conference to a colleague.

We’ve continued to run a series of free webinars on a broad range of topics related to open scholarship. The series goes from strength to strength, with registrations doubling from the previous year and an increasingly international profile. Almost 6,000 registrants from over 2000 organisations and 102 countries benefited from OASPA’s webinars over the past 12 months. We hear great things from webinar attendees who find the events essential for knowledge building and valuable to their careers. Many choose to explore membership or support of OASPA in response to our events. We are thankful to our webinar Committee and all of our speakers who give so much time and energy to the programme. 

Our extensive work on developing equity in open access publishing last year began with gathering global perspectives on OASPA’s ‘OA Market’ report and progressed through a series of cross-stakeholder workshops examining the level of equity in open access from all perspectives and how OASPA might help make things more equitable. There’s a handy recap in this post which also covers where we are headed next. 

Another highlight of 2023 was our launch of the OA Journals Toolkit which we created with DOAJ and the expertise of a fabulous editorial board, not forgetting the valuable support of Research Consulting. The toolkit provides an online resource to support new and established open access journals in navigating the rapidly changing landscape of open access publishing. 

As in previous years, we also collected and published OA publication data from our members, this time focussed specifically on journals data collection which never fails to provide a useful dataset, giving interesting insights into the trajectory of open access journal publishing.

It’s a priority for us to collaborate with other organisations on projects and activities that support open access publishing: we participate on the DIAMAS and PALOMERA projects, funded by the European Commission; we continue to work actively on the committees for Think. Check. Submit., C4DISC, and the OA books author toolkit led by OAPEN; we’re on the Research Identifier National Coordinating Committee in the UK; we are supporting UKRI with the implementation of their open access policy and are represented on their Open Access Stakeholder Forum; and we contributed to major events in the open access calendar, such as the United Nations 3rd Open Science Conference, the Global Summit on Diamond Open Access and SciELO’s 25 years conference. We are committed to contributing to efforts to improve the landscape of equitable open access publishing. 

We’re still working closely as a partner to OA Switchboard and it’s fantastic to see it entering its fourth year of operation and continuing to demonstrate momentum, growth and broad global engagement across publishers, institutions and funders. When OASPA set up the project phase to run in 2020, we had a vision of what we wanted to achieve in practical terms. We wanted the process to be a true collaboration between all stakeholders, to develop it as a self-sustaining non-profit organisation, and to always have transparency and community at the heart. To see the numbers of participants steadily growing and to have stayed true to our guiding principles is really an achievement to be proud of. A group of new publishers have gone live on OA Switchboard to kick off the year and there are innovative projects underway in the areas of data quality and OA books. There is a lot going on to be excited about – if you haven’t looked at what OA Switchboard can do for your own organisation then get in touch: The OA Switchboard

Overseeing our work is the OASPA board of 11 members who are voted in via an annual election process. Towards the end of the year we saw a change in the Chair of the board, with Jennifer Gibson (Executive Director, Dryad) ending her term. Jennifer reflected “It was an honour and a pleasure to serve as OASPA Chair for these last few years, and to have had the chance to participate at such a formative time. I have full confidence that OASPA will continue to succeed and grow as a resource to the global community committed to equitable, open access to knowledge under our new leadership.”

Picking up the baton from Jennifer is Dominic Mitchell (Operations Manager, DOAJ) who was previously serving as OASPA Secretary. Dom commented “OASPA is a unique network where publishers of all shapes and sizes can come together to discuss open access and all its opportunities and challenges. I am honoured to be the OASPA Chair and am looking forward to collaborating closely with the talented OASPA team and the other board members. Every member of the OASPA Board has been elected by the OASPA members and I am humbled to be working with such an experienced group of individuals who bring so much wisdom to the organisation. Together, we will bring in a new strategy and continue to futureproof the organisation for the years to come.” 

OASPA achieves all of this with a small staff. There are 6 of us now all together in the team although only 2 of us are full time. We’re a passionate and dedicated team that works hard to make OASPA’s mission a reality. We have used our resources with care to continue to ensure that OASPA is on track for a sustainable future, that we can support our growing membership, and to carry out valuable mission-supporting work.

The largest proportion of OASPA’s income is from membership fees, but we also receive funds from other activities detailed above, such as our annual conference, sponsorship of our webinars, from our participation in external projects and from our strategic partnership with OA Switchboard. This is the breakdown of where our funding came from in 2023 and where it was allocated:

– ‘Community support’ covers funds that directly support work we are involved in: Think. Check. Submit. and C4DISC, as well as covering the cost of Scholar Publisher DOI deposits with Crossref via our sponsored agreement
– ‘Administration’ includes our legal and accounting expenses, website upkeep and any direct costs for marketing and communications
– ‘Events expenses’ include our support for OASPA Conference contributors

Part of our administration costs for the year were attributed to bringing in external expertise to support us with a financial and strategic review. Targeted allocation of funds allowed us to address specific areas of organisational and administrative need, in addition to running the broad program of activities summarised in this post. 

We are eagerly looking forward to what 2024 will bring and have started the year intentionally with purpose and vigour. We look forward to sharing our plans and ambitions with you in an upcoming post, so watch this space!

As always, we welcome ideas, questions and comments either underneath this post or by email to claire.redhead@oaspa.org

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