OASPA founds new organisation with future-proof governance and funding structure for the OA Switchboard

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A neutral, independent intermediary enabling shared infrastructure, bringing transparency, efficiency and cost effectiveness to the open access ecosystem

The OA Switchboard initiative is a not-for-profit collaboration between funders, institutions and  to provide essential infrastructure, standards and back office services to achieve a breakthrough in the transformation of the market such that Open Access is supported as the predominant model of publication. OASPA has been involved since the initial discussions in 2018, and led the way by exploring the feasibility for making the OA Switchboard a reality and by initiating and overseeing the 2020 project. 

For 2021 and beyond we are building everything in accordance with our core principles, and operating with a governance structure and funding model that will ensure sustainability and preserve the goals of the OA Switchboard into the future. On 16 October 2020, OASPA founded the independent Stichting* OA Switchboard. 

Today’s problem in accelerating the move to open access/science for funders, institutions and is that it is complex to implement multi-lateral Open Access publication-level arrangements. The reasons: 

  • OA business models are becoming more and more diverse, some with or without individual publication fees, some through agreements with , some through sponsorship models; 
  • Funders and institutions are expanding the requirements about how various research outputs should be published and increasingly they pay for OA centrally; 
  • A myriad of systems and processes, and relationships are to be maintained with many parties. For a specific publication there may be multiple authors involved, each with multiple institutional affiliations and funder arrangements: hence complex multi-lateral publication level arrangements exist.

Part of the solution is this intermediary – The OA Switchboard – which is a central information exchange hub, connecting parties and systems, streamlining communication and the neutral exchange of OA related publication-level information, and ensuring a financial settlement can be done.

Throughout 2020 a  project was run to prepare for the OA Switchboard to go live as an operational solution. This project was funded via generous donations of contributors and sponsors who support the initiative. Throughout the whole project we’ve regularly reported to and collaborated with representatives of all stakeholder groups. Status updates and demo videos can be found here and opportunities to participate here.

In August 2020, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) was delivered, developed as an open source solution by our third party tech provider ELITEX and in close collaboration with our Advisory Group and a small number of stakeholders. We’re now in the pilot phase (until the end of the year) and have already obtained sufficient proof that the MVP is viable in itself and adds value for the stakeholders.

2021/2022 is regarded as the ‘launch phase’ in which we’ll closely work with customers and stakeholders to further build a solid basis, both in terms of functionality and service level, but also in operational adoption of funders, institutions and publishers. Following close involvement with many organisations during the project phase to explore a range of use cases, we are delighted that the following organisations have already confirmed their support by signing up as early adopters, launching customers or founding partners starting 1 January 2021:

Publishers: AboutScience, American Physiological Society, Berghahn Books, EDP Sciences, eLife, Hindawi, John Benjamins Publishing Company, JMIR Publications, MDPI, Microbiology Society, PLOS, The Royal Society.

Institutions/consortia: California Digital Library, CERN, Iowa State, Jisc, Max Planck Digital Library, VSNU/UKB.

Launching sponsor: Aries systems.

Continued funder support has been committed by Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dutch Research Council (NWO), UKRI and Wellcome Trust.

When the OA Switchboard moves to the operational stage as of 1 January 2021, it will be run from the newly founded Stichting OA Switchboard. This structural governance and funding model will supersede the organisation and governance of the 2020 project, and the sponsorship model. The new set-up ensures a not-for-profit, collectively controlled collaboration between funders, institutions and , whereby neutrality and independence are preserved by legal structure, governance and articles of incorporation. 

The OA Switchboard will be financed via a self-sustaining business model and participation and involvement is open to all who meet the OA Switchboard’s purpose and criteria. The OA Switchboard aims to support all OA business models, policies and types of scholarly output and industry-wide representation and collaboration in developing open source solutions and services is ensured and formalised (amongst others via an Advisory Group and regular reporting).

OASPA remains fully supportive and actively involved through a strategic partnership with the Stichting OA Switchboard.

The Steering Committee has been crucial in providing guidance throughout the project phase and we are delighted that some of the committee members are also willing to serve as the first directors for the Stichting OA Switchboard:

  • Ivy Anderson (California Digital Library)
  • Rachel Bruce (UKRI)
  • Liam Earney (Jisc)
  • Hannah Hope (Wellcome Trust)
  • Paul Peters (Hindawi)
  • Claire Redhead (OASPA)
  • Ralf Schimmer (Max Planck Digital Library)

The Board delegates the day-to-day management of the OA Switchboard to an Executive Director. The project manager of the 2020 project, Yvonne Campfens, is appointed to this role.

Webinars are being organised to present the OA Switchboard to the wider community, supported by demonstrations/presentations of real-life use cases by launching customers. More details, including 2021 pricing, is available from the website: www.oaswitchboard.org or from Yvonne Campfens

*A Stichting is an organisational structure comparable with a foundation, based in the Netherlands like OASPA itself.

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