Open Access (OA) output is growing year-on-year and increasingly, funders and institutions are paying for OA centrally. OA business models are becoming ever more diverse, some with or without individual publication fees, some through agreements with publishers. Meanwhile, funders and institutions are expanding their requirements about how various research outputs should be published.
With all of these developments, it has become complicated to find out how to get the service charges for certain OA publications settled, to enable such financial settlement, and to monitor funds and track spending in real time.
It has also become complicated to find out if and how specific OA publications meet publishing requirements given multi-lateral arrangements (with possibly multiple authors involved, each with multiple institutional affiliations and funder arrangements), while dealing with many stakeholders and relationships, and a myriad of systems and processes.
This complexity necessitated the initiation of the OA Switchboard project that is now in the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and Pilot stage.
The development work on the OA Switchboard MVP commenced at the beginning of May, following the announcement of ELITEX as the third party software development provider. The MVP development process kicked off on 18 May 2020 with the pilot users (a selection of funders, institutions and publishers), some of whom were joined by their partners (manuscript systems and payment solution providers). The Pilot phase is scheduled to start at the end of June.
The MVP development is broken down into six iterations spanning 13 weeks. The first two are well underway and concern the technical design, data model, the core message hub and the message datastore. We plan for the first demos to be scheduled following the third iteration. The role of the pilot participants in the development phase is to help shape and test the MVP (e.g. test screens, provide test data), help establish standardisation for communication (metadata in ‘messages’) and reporting, and ultimately to help conclude if the MVP technically delivers.
With our MVP approach, the OA Switchboard will be developed with immediate business value:
- Enabling all publishers to locate central OA funds, and to get publication charges paid from these funds in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
- Enabling institutions and funders with central OA funds to have them used as intended, and have real-time monitoring and reporting (tracking predicted/committed OA spend and article numbers), without having to negotiate contracts.
- Enabling publishers with (transformative) agreements to deliver standardised real-time insight and reporting on articles published and covered under an agreement, in line with the needs of institutions.
- Helping authors and their publishers understand – in a specific (pre)publication situation at hand – whether their choice of journal has the potential to fulfil the requirements of their institution and/or funder, and whether central funding is available to pay for any open access publication charges that may be required.
The OA Switchboard is an intermediary, aimed at solving this ‘many-to-many-to-many’ challenge, and the MVP is the first step. There are more use cases for institutions, funders and publishers (and their partners) which will be explored later in the process.
Throughout the 2020 project, we are regularly reporting to and collaborating with representatives of all stakeholder groups. Invitations for the first demos of the OA Switchboard will be announced via our mailing list and Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Sign-up/follow to ensure you don’t miss any announcements.
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.
Further information is available from Yvonne Campfens, OA Switchboard Project Manager.