Delivering the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for the OA Switchboard initiative is almost a reality. With August around the corner, there will be a solution available to streamline the neutral exchange of OA related publication-level information between funders, institutions and publishers. This offers the potential to provide a breakthrough in the transformation of the market to enable Open Access as the predominant model of publication.
The MVP has been shaped throughout the 2020 project, overseen by OASPA and the Steering Committee, in close collaboration with representatives of all stakeholder groups. To this end, numerous individual and group meetings have taken place, open to anybody who wants to contribute to this industry-wide intermediary solution, that aims to provide standards, infrastructure, and back office services. Every month we’ve provided an update or report to ensure full transparency and allow everybody to participate. It has been amazing to experience how so many people, with such a variety of interests and representing a wide range of stakeholders, selflessly have shared their time and expertise to collaborate towards essential open source OA infrastructure – for the greater good of progress in scholarly communication.
Once the technical partner was selected in May, we moved very fast, for two reasons. First, we deliberately wanted to keep the MVP small and made sure to stick within our budget. Second, the belief that a functioning OA Switchboard (not a prototype) would be crucial in helping to bring the story to life, rather than being an ‘idea’. The functioning MVP also enables more concrete fundamental discussions with key stakeholders on the concept and ambition moving forward, it enables crucial discussions on topics that will have an impact on further tech choices, and it enables more accurate (financial) planning and forecasting.
We are really proud of our progress. Between May and August, through six iterations, we’re now completing the MVP. As of iteration #3 (23 June), we’ve started to provide demos through in-person (online) meetings and videos available from our website. Continuously, we’ve communicated intermediate deliveries and updated on developments, have asked for feedback and input, which we have processed, often in the next iteration.
We’re now in the middle of the Pilot, with a good number of Pilot Users, some joined by their partners (e.g. peer review and payment solution providers), which will run through the rest of the year. In the Pilot we’re testing the MVP and aim to assess if the MVP is viable in itself and adds value for the stakeholders (has the potential to make things better manageable and more efficient), and if the OA Switchboard has the potential to be an industry-wide, automated/scalable solution.
As the MVP scope is very much focused on journal articles and ‘messages’ initiating from publishers, and as the OA Switchboard has the ambition to support all OA business models, policies, and types of scholarly output, in parallel we’ve initiated various Working Groups. These Working Groups cover a wide range of topics (e.g. regional specificities, OA Books and proceedings and non-APC business models), and explore similar questions as in the Pilot but should also ensure we tie-in with other industry initiatives. Separately, we’re planning sessions to explore other use cases specifically for institutions and funders, to ensure that for the future, we’ll plan for a true intermediary solution, observing funder and institution and publisher needs equally.
As we’re progressing the OA Switchboard initiative, and preparing for a sustainable future, we hold on to the fundamental principles of collaboration and openness. We invite anybody who wants to participate in shaping the OA Switchboard further to contact Yvonne Campfens, OA Switchboard Project Manager, especially as founding partners or launching customers.
The OA Switchboard initiative (www.oaswitchboard.org) is a not-for-profit collaboration between funders, institutions and publishers to provide essential infrastructure to facilitate the fulfilment of open access strategies across business models, policies and agreements. Throughout 2020, a project (overseen by OASPA, funded through a sponsorship model) is being run to prepare for the OA Switchboard to go live as an operational solution. When the OA Switchboard moves to an operational stage, following a successful 2020 project, a sustainable governance structure and funding model will be in place.
The OA Switchboard consists of a core message hub and message data store, operated via API, but also available via a User Interface, with notifications as configured (email, webhook, etc). All open source code, documentation, message structure (including validation scheme and examples), and the API are available via the open Bitbucket repository. The key features of the MVP include:
- Compose Eligibility Enquiry (prior-agreement and no-prior-agreement scenario)
- Compose Publication/Payment Settlement Notification (prior-agreement and no-prior-agreement scenario)
- Resend messages and compose messages from existing messages (pre-populated)
- Read and respond
- Monitoring and reporting (real-time, export, API) on predicted/committed OA spend, publication numbers and details
- Routing messages and auto-suggest recipients
- Custom validation and auto-reject, based on master data central OA fund terms (e.g. if author lacks required affiliation, if journal is not in DOAJ, if APC is above threshold, if not certain article type, if no central OA fund available)
Further information is available from Yvonne Campfens, OA Switchboard Project Manager.