TAKE 5 With PALOMERA partners: OAPEN

The “Take 5 with PALOMERA partners” is a blog series featuring the members of the PALOMERA project, you can get to know them in 5 questions and a quick read! 

The PALOMERA project is dedicated to understand why so few open access funder policies include books, and to provide actionable recommendations to change this situation. PALOMERA is funded for two years under the Horizon Europe: Reforming and enhancing the European R&I System .

For the debut of the series, we talked to Niels Stern, from the OAPEN Foundation.

Banner for the series "Take 5 with PALOMERA partners". A green background with the logo for the series, the name of the partner and a visual graphic from the project. In the footer, the PALOMERA project logo and the EU funding logo.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as an organisation and your role in it? 

I represent the OAPEN Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organisation providing open infrastructure services for scholarly books. Together with OpenEdition we also operate the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), which is an index of over 70,000 peer-reviewed open access books. Whereas DOAB is an index, OAPEN hosts the books (full-text) on our open source DSpace platform.

It all began as a project among a handful of university presses 15 years ago. Today there are more than 30,000 books from several hundred publishers in the OAPEN Library.

Recently we had this article published about the evolution of OAPEN. I think it’s a fascinating story that I’m fortunate to be part of, firstly as a project partner back in 2007 and for the past couple of years as its director. As the momentum for open access (OA) books is growing, I see OAPEN as a longstanding, very much used and fully open infrastructure centrally positioned in a fast-evolving landscape. This spring we published our POSI self-audit (Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure) to share how we work and how we strive to comply with these important principles. Being transparent about our operations, finances, and governance is important to us and to our main stakeholders, the libraries. We are very pleased that thousands of libraries integrate the OAPEN Library and DOAB in their discovery systems and that over two hundred of those also support us financially through our library support programme. We are greatly thankful for that. Without this support, we could not operate. Four years ago, we were selected by SCOSS which helped our library support campaigning efforts immensely. 

Niels Stern, OAPEN Director.

2. Why do you think the PALOMERA project is relevant and timely?

With a few exceptions, books have been left on the side of OA policymaking for many years. This is unfortunate because policies are important drivers of change. As mentioned, we now see a momentum for OA books and a lot of interest. However, we don’t have a proper overview of the landscape. PALOMERA will help us to develop that, at least in part, by investigating the European Research Area. Furthermore, the project will analyse all the data that we are busy gathering which can give us a better understanding of challenges and bottlenecks preventing policies from emerging.

Such understanding will enable us to better help funders and institutions who want to implement new or improve existing OA policies for books.

The project has also given us the opportunity to convene research funders and policymakers in what we have called a Funder Forum focussed on OA books. Our first meeting in that forum saw representation from over 20 countries, which I think shows the increasing level of interest. We look forward to our next meeting on 20 November – maybe more will join.

Two years ago I was co-organising an OA Books Network event called ‘Voices from the OA books community’ which saw a lot of engagement from actors across the board of scholarly communication. Around 450 people participated in the five events that were held. In PALOMERA we want to build on that engagement. We have therefore just issued a survey (https://bit.ly/3QODjA0), we are performing interviews, and importantly we have planned what we call validation exercise events. Those are inclusive events with the purpose of getting feedback on our work from anyone who’s interested in open access books. It is essential that our scope remains broad because funder policies and institutional strategies for open access books affect all who are engaged in scholarly book publishing.

3. What is your role within the project?

I am the scientific coordinator of the project. So, I drafted the first pages of the application, coordinated the application process and chair our Executive Committee/WPL meetings. However, this is of course a collective effort of highly skilled and very friendly people from 16 different organisations across Europe plus an excellent international advisory board. I guess the central role was given to OAPEN because we have years of experience working closely with research funders, including DFG, FWF, SNSF, NWO, ERC and Wellcome. Using the OAPEN infrastructure we can provide these funders with a number of services that they ask for. I also hope PALOMERA will give us a better understanding of how we should develop these services and see more funders making use of them.

4. In your opinion, what is the biggest impact PALOMERA will have within the scholarly communication sphere?

I hope our study of policies and related documents in 39 countries that we are investigating, and the community validation thereof will give us an increased and generally accepted understanding of the landscape. The analysis of our vast data collection will help us structure all this data and get a fuller picture of the challenges in OA book policy making. Currently the picture is a bit scattered; we need this overview. The data and the analyses will be stored in our knowledge base and made publicly available for everyone to make use of. Once we get towards the end of the project, we will issue recommendations that should be helpful to funders and institutions – whether they have policies in place or not.

All in all, I think the impact of the project will be an increased focus on open access to books in scholarly communication, raising the general level of knowledge in the area, and providing insights that can be used as points of reference in future conversations and studies.

The knowledge base will be maintained by OAPEN after the project ends as part of the OAPEN OA Books Toolkit. We also plan to continue the Funders Forum in some form after the end of the project. So, it is my hope and our ambition that the impact will be enduring.

5. How do you see things evolving after the project finishes? 

As mentioned above, we plan to sustain the main project results like the knowledge base (containing the data, analysis, and recommendations) and the Funder Forum. These will all be essential components of something like a future capacity centre or an information hub for OA books. We draw inspiration from the ongoing EC-funded project DIAMAS which aims to create a federated capacity centre for Diamond OA journals. What a future capacity centre for OA books should look like, I am not really sure about at this moment. I think that would require another project to figure out. But I am excited about the idea, and I think PALOMERA is the perfect stepping-stone to get us there.

To get to know more about the PALOMERA project: visit the project’s page. 

This series is produced by the Work Package 5 team from the PALOMERA project. Stay tuned for the next posts coming soon! 

A guarantee of OAPEN’s independence: we cannot be sold or acquired  | OAPEN – supporting the transition to open access for academic books

by Niels Stern & Laura J. Wilkinson

We’ve just published the 2022 stakeholder report for OAPEN (which is a Dutch stichting, or foundation). The financial section of this report is based on the annual accounts for 2022 which have been audited by a registered accountant specialised in Dutch law.

There are two key elements to extract from the annual accounts. Firstly, OAPEN made a surplus of €103,000 and secondly, the OAPEN Board decided to allocate €100,000 of the surplus to a contingency fund. Both elements are in line with the Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI). One principle says: “It is not enough to merely survive, it [the infrastructure] has to be able to adapt and change.” For 2022 the OAPEN Board then decided to follow the principle stating that: “a high priority should be generating a contingency fund that can support a complete, orderly wind down” by adding to its contingency fund most of the surplus, namely €100,000.  Learn more about our POSI self-audit for OAPEN and DOAB.



Guest Post – Towards Global Equity for Open Access Books  – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Today’s guest post is by Niels Stern, managing director, OAPEN Foundation and co-director, DOAB, and Ronald Snijder, CTO, OAPEN Foundation. OAPEN was founded as a not-for-profit foundation in 2010 to promote and support the transition to open access for academic books by providing open infrastructure services to stakeholders in scholarly communication. In 2013 DOAB was launched to help publishers increase the discoverability of their open access books and to enable libraries to freely integrate a large collection of peer-reviewed books into their catalogues.

Books in a bubble. | JLIS.it

Abstract:  Open access infrastructure for books is becoming more mature, and it is being used by an increasing number of people. The growing importance of open access infrastructure leads to more interest in sustainability, governance and impact assessment. The assessment of the OAPEN Library – containing over 20,000 titles – fits within this trend. How well does the collections meets the needs of its stakeholders: readers, libraries, funders and publishers?

The composition of the collection is measured using subject and language. Both dissemination and the content-related aspects are paired to the number of publications. The average number of downloads per title is relatively similar for all subjects. However, the mean downloads of titles in English is roughly twice as much compared to German and the other languages. Combining subjects and languages shows that the dissemination of books in languages other than English is less predictable. This assessment has illustrated the composition of the collection and how its readers make use of it. The visualisation helped to tell a complicated story in a simple way; a powerful instrument to guide the further development of this open access infrastructure.

Ferwerda et. al. (2023) Open Access to Books – the Perspective of a Non-profit Infrastructure Provider | The Journal of Electronic Publishing

Ferwerda, E. & Snijder, R. & Stern, N., (2023) “Open Access to Books – the Perspective of a Non-profit Infrastructure Provider”, The Journal of Electronic Publishing 26(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.3303


This article describes the open access (OA) book platforms OAPEN Library and Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), based on 1.the development and activities of OAPEN in the first ten years; 2. the underlying technical approach behind the platforms; 3. the current role of OAPEN and DOAB and future outlook.

OAPEN started out as a project funded by the European Commission, and become a legal non-profit Dutch entity in 2011. It hosts, disseminates and preserves open access books. OA book publishing has been explored in several pilot projects. Its current collection contains over 24,000 documents. DOAB launched in 2012, inspired and supported by DOAJ. It became a legal non-profit Dutch entity in 2019, owned by the OAPEN Foundationand OpenEdition. It’s current collection contains close to 60,000 titles.

The data model of both platforms  is optimised for a multilingual collection and supports funding information. Ingesting books has been optimised to support a wide array of publishers and the dissemination of books takes into account search engines; libraries and aggregators and other organisations. The usage has grown in the last years, to 1 million downloads per month.

The future developments entail increased support of research funders with the establishment of a FunderForum and multi-year research into policy development. DOAB will invest more in bibliodiversity, by adding more emphasis on African and Asian countries. Also,DOAB will roll out its Peer Review Information Service for Monographs (PRISM).

OAPEN and DOAB will continue to work on developing reliable infrastructures, policy development and quality assurance around open access books.


OAPEN & DOAB POSI self-audit | OAPEN – supporting the transition to open access for academic books

by Laura J. Wilkinson

It is with great pleasure and sense of achievement that we share with you today our POSI self-audit for OAPEN & DOAB (download OAPEN & DOAB POSI self-audit PDF).

As you may know, OAPEN and DOAB are separate but interconnected infrastructures for open access books, governed by the OAPEN Foundation and DOAB Foundation respectively. In practice, our small team of nine people works with both systems on a daily basis. But since the two organisations have different governance, we’ve carried out a self-audit for each. We hope you agree that seeing the two self-audits side-by-side helps to compare and contrast the ways they operate.



Job opening: Community Manager at OAPEN & DOAB | OAPEN

“OAPEN and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) are looking for a Community manager, responsible for the development of and engagement with our library community. This is a full-time position (40 hrs/week). OAPEN and DOAB have their offices in The Hague in the Netherlands, but the position is open to working remotely.

The deadline for applications is 31 March 2023….”

Engage with PALOMERA via the OABN! Launch event March 28, 2023, 4pm (CEST) | Open Access Books Network

The Open Access Books Network (OABN) is working with the PALOMERA project, a two-year initiative funded by HORIZON Europe that seeks to investigate why so few Open Access (OA) funder policies include OA books, and to provide actionable recommendations to change this.

We will be hosting a PALOMERA Series of events that will provide a forum for anyone interested in open access book publishing to:

engage with PALOMERA via the OABN, 
contribute your knowledge and expertise as the project progresses, 
offer feedback to help shape PALOMERA’s outputs and recommendations. 

We want to gather a broad group of representatives from different stakeholders in open access book publishing, as we did for our Voices from the OA Book Community workshop series in 2021, and enable you to contribute to the PALOMERA project via the PALOMERA Series.

Launch event

We will host a launch event on Tuesday 28 March at 3pm BST / 4pm CEST where you will hear from some of the project’s leaders, including Niels Stern (OAPEN/DOAB) and Ursula Rabar (OPERAS/OAeBU). You will have the opportunity to ask questions about the project and to let us know the best ways for you to engage with PALOMERA. The event will also be recorded.

Sign up for the launch event: it’s free and everyone is welcome! 

Please also share the link with anyone who might be interested.


SCOAP3 launches open books program – SCOAP3

“The world’s largest disciplinary open access initiative, the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics (SCOAP³), has officially launched a new initiative to make books in particle physics and related domains fully open access, under the SCOAP³ for Books program.

Since the launch of SCOAP³ in 2014, the transition to open access for scientific articles in particle physics has progressed rapidly. Over 90% of the annually published scientific articles in High-Energy physics have been made free for both readers and authors worldwide. The SCOAP³ for Books program is the latest effort of the global collaboration to expand the content made openly available to include academic books in particle physics and neighboring disciplines (including accelerator physics, instrumentation, etc). 

Funded through the generous support of hundreds of institutions from within the collaboration, SCOAP³ has secured partnerships with leading academic publishers (including Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Springer Nature, Taylor & Francis, and World Scientific) to make over 100 textbooks and monographs fully open access as part of the SCOAP³ for Books pilot. This new collaboration includes a partnership with OAPEN, a leading open access books library and publication platform that supports SCOAP³ for Books by providing services in the areas of hosting, dissemination, digital preservation, and analytics….”

Providing transparency and building trust: the Peer Review Information Service for Monographs (PRISM) | OAPEN – supporting the transition to open access for academic books

In the summer of 2021, DOAB started a new service in beta phase: PRISM (Peer Review Information Service for Monographs). PRISM’s goal is to provide transparency about the peer review process that applies to the books in DOAB. Services such as PRISM can support research integrity and help build trust in open access academic book publishing.