Open Access needs better business planning

Knowledge Exchange report says improved business planning by all stakeholders is needed - and makes ambitious recommendations.

Business planning needs to improve

Knowledge Exchange (KE) is a partnership organisation that seeks to improve digital infrastructure in research and university libraries in Europe.  KE has published a report on the sustainability of Open Access services, highlighting priorities and challenges.

The report, which forms part of a larger programme of work being undertaken by KE, describes how many OA initiatives, which had begun as one-off projects, have continued to run on the same basis, relying on intermittent funding.  Others are now simply running on 'goodwill' after project funding has finished.  The report recommends that if OA programmes are to remain sustainable, business planning needs to improve.

The researchers undertook in-depth interviews with representatives from a range of stakeholder organisations as well as individual researchers:

  • European and American research funders e.g. the European Commission
  • Universities and university organisations e.g. the European University Association
  • Libraries and library organisations e.g. IFLA
  • Service providers e.g. EDINA and MIMAS
  • OA publishers including Amsterdam University Press
  • Researchers in computer science, life sciences and psychology

The report includes the aggregated opinions of stakeholder groups describing their current role in facilitating OA and how they might contribute to sustainable OA in the future.

The role of research libraries - 'willing and able'

  • Research libraries usually provide the funding for institutional repositories
  • Money used on OA services are almost always taken from other budget lines
  • Not all libraries agree what should fall in their remit
  • Possibility of libraries becoming service providers. Bielefield University Library has developed the BASE search engine; the Max Planck Digital Library develops digital library infrastructure for other organisations

Research funders 'ready and willing' - but uneven knowledge may be a barrier

  • Research funders acknowledge they should have a greater role in supporting the communication of research
  • Many funders have made public their long term commitment to the open access agenda, including The Wellcome Trust and The Max Planck Society
  • The legal structure of some funders means they are restricted in paying for freely available services - such limitations are an obstacle for encouraging OA
  • Funders are willing to contribute to the development of an efficient scholarly communication process - but uneven knowledge and understanding may be a barrier


1.  Embedding business processes

  • The development of best practice guidelines which can be agreed by all stakeholders
  • Improve project appraisal through the scoping of formal appraisal processes
  • Develop guidelines so that service providers can monitor business aspects of projects
  • Systems should be developed which evaluate projects after completion

2.  Funding

  • Research funders should be kept better informed about sustainability through a programme of meetings, briefings and an information hub
  • Gaps and duplication in service provision need to be addressed

3.  Governance

  • Stakeholders should embark on an ambitious programme to develop a governance infrastructure

The full report, which can be downloaded for free, includes use cases which set out the processes and partnerships required in such activities as setting up and running a repository, publishing research findings, publishing OA journals and promoting OA.

About Knowledge Exchange

The four founding partners are

  • Denmark's Electronic Research Library (DEFF) in Denmark 
  • German Research Foundation (DFG) in Germany 
  • Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the United Kingdom
  • SURF in the Netherlands

Image courtesy of loop_oh via Flickr.