Making new connections: year two of the OABN | Open Access Books Network

 by Lucy Barnes

The OABN was officially launched in September last year, so 2021 marked both our first full calendar year and the beginning of our second twelve months of activities. It’s been a year of spreading our wings, holding increasingly ambitious events and welcoming many more members to the OABN: here we offer a quick rundown of the year’s highlights.


COPIM statement on the corporate acquisition of OA infrastructure | Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM)

A statement by the COPIM project addressing our stance towards the corporate acquisition of OA infrastructure, and the structures and safeguards we are putting in place to ensure that our infrastructure will remain community-owned and governed.

At COPIM, we have noted the recent acquisition of Knowledge Unlatched by Wiley, which itself follows Knowledge Unlatched’s opaque transition in 2016 from a UK Community Interest Company (a non-profit organisation) into a German GmbH (roughly equivalent to a UK PLC, i.e. a for-profit company). This move by Wiley is one of several recent acquisitions of open access (OA) infrastructure by large commercial organisations, such as bepress by Elsevier in 2017, and F1000 Research by Taylor & Francis in 2020. It reflects an ongoing consolidation of research infrastructure by major publishing corporations, and in particular the increasing attempts to monetise and, potentially, monopolise the infrastructures of open knowledge dissemination.

From its beginning, COPIM has been driven by the belief, held by all its partners (a consortium of universities, libraries, scholar-led OA publishers and research infrastructure providers) that the infrastructure we rely on to publish and disseminate OA books should itself be open, and owned and governed by the research communities that use it. We have repeatedly cited the widely-quoted argument by Bilder, Lin and Neylon that ‘Everything we have gained by opening content and data will be under threat if we allow the enclosure of scholarly infrastructures’ and this motivates and shapes our work. The recent acquisitions of OA infrastructures by large for-profit corporations pose precisely this threat.

By contrast, the central philosophy of COPIM, which we have discussed publicly and written about extensively, is that of ‘scaling small’:

an alternative organisational principle for governing community-led publishing projects based on mutual reliance, care, and other forms of commoning […] this principle eschews standard approaches to organisational growth that tend to flatten community diversity through economies of scale. Instead, it puts forward the idea that scale can be nurtured through intentional collaborations between community-driven projects that promote a bibliodiverse ecosystem while providing resilience through resource sharing and other kinds of collaboration.

Crossref’s Board votes to adopt the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure | Crossref Blog


On November 11th 2020, the Crossref Board voted to adopt the “Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure” (POSI). POSI is a list of sixteen commitments that will now guide the board, staff, and Crossref’s development as an organisation into the future. It is an important public statement to make in Crossref’s twentieth anniversary year. Crossref has followed principles since its founding, and meets most of the POSI, but publicly committing to a codified and measurable set of principles is a big step. If 2019 was a reflective turning point, and mid-2020 was about Crossref committing to open scholarly infrastructure and collaboration, this is now announcing a very deliberate path. And we’re just a little bit giddy about it.

ScienceOpen is a resource for the community – ScienceOpen Blog

“We harvest content from across platforms like PubMed Central, arXiv, SciELO and bring it all together in one place

One of the main features of ScienceOpen is that we are a research aggregator. We don’t select what we index based on discipline, publisher, or geography, as that just creates another silo. Enough of those exist already. What we need, and what we do, is to bring together research articles from across publishers and other platforms and into one space, where it is all treated in exactly the same way….”