In support of open infrastructures: A statement from OPERAS in response to the ‘Open Research Library’, a new initiative from Knowledge Unlatched

On May 16, Knowledge Unlatched (KU) launched a new hosting platform for Open Access monographs, the Open Research Library (ORL). Notwithstanding its name, we do not consider the Open Research Library to qualify as an open infrastructure.

In support of open infrastructures: A statement from OPERAS in response to the ‘Open Research Library’, a new initiative from Knowledge Unlatched – OPERAS

On May 16, Knowledge Unlatched (KU) launched a new hosting platform for Open Access monographs, the Open Research Library (ORL). Notwithstanding its name, we do not consider the Open Research Library to qualify as an open infrastructure.

The statement from KU opens as follows:

“Free access to scientific content is often limited due to the fragile technical infrastructure around it: content is stored in a variety of versions at various locations and without any uniform search functionalities. The Open Access initiative Knowledge Unlatched has addressed this growing problem and is now launching the Open Research Library together with several international partners. Its goal is to unite all Open Access (OA) book content over the coming months. To this end the Open Research Library is working with publishers and libraries worldwide and is open to all providers and users of quality-assured research content.”

While we can agree with the observation that ‘free access to scientific content is often limited due to the fragile infrastructure around it’, we do not think this initiative is helpful in strengthening the Open Access infrastructure for monographs.

OPERAS, the European Research Infrastructure dedicated to open scholarly communication in the Social Sciences and Humanities, supports the Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures: infrastructures should be open, transparent, sustainable, and community-governed. OPERAS is dedicated to develop a distributed research infrastructure in close collaboration with the scholarly community, in accordance with these principles. OPERAS has demonstrated its support of these principles in various projects:

  • the HIRMEOS project, a collaborative project of five European book publishing platforms to develop a shared set of added value services, in order to make these available to the scholarly community and enable integration with the open science ecosystem;
  • the development of the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) as a central platform to improve transparency and quality assurance around Open Access monographs;
  • the upcoming, recently funded project TRIPLE, an innovative discovery service aimed at increasing the discovery, access, reuse and societal impact of Social Sciences and Humanities artefacts (data, publications and projects).

In our opinion, the ORL does not meet the criteria for open infrastructures. On the contrary, based on the statement from KU and the early release of the ORL, the approach of this platform closely resembles well-known internet strategies to quickly achieve a dominant position by aggregating all available content and offering a free service to the community, while aiming for a lock-in of users and stakeholders. The ORL is neither open nor transparent, in particular regarding its governance.

While we are not against commercial ventures or market competition, we strongly believe that vital infrastructures supporting Open Science should not fall in the hands of commercial operators. These infrastructures should be a collective responsibility of stakeholders in scholarly communication. We see SCOSS and the recent launch of the IOI initiative as positive signs that this collective responsibility can become a reality. With this in mind, we think that the ORL is not helpful, and could well be harmful, on the road to establishing a distributed, open and sustainable infrastructure for Open Access monographs.


This statement is the outcome of an open consultation with the OPERAS Core Group. 20 May 2019.

Redalyc celebra el surgimiento de Invest in Open Infrastructure

Throughout 16 years of experience, Redalyc has promoted, from permanent technological development and accompaniment to editors, a collaborative, sustainable and non-commercial scientific communication for the benefit of the Latin American scientific communities, mainly of the Social Sciences and the Humanities.

In the pursuit of this goal, Redalyc celebrates the emergence of Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI), an initiative that has brought together various institutions (including OPERAS, SPARC, Center for Open Science and recently Redalyc), meeting with the goal of building a Open, scalable and durable scientific infrastructure that seeks to extend its benefits on a global scale.

Redalyc is pleased to be part of this initiative and thus consolidates its objective of building a collaborative, sustainable and non-commercial Open Access ecosystem for Latin America….”

Invest in Open Infrastructure Launches | Invest in Open Infrastructure

“Today we are announcing the formation of Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI) a global initiative to increase the availability and sustainability of open knowledge infrastructure.

The needs of today’s diverse scholarly communities are not being met by the existing largely uncoordinated scholarly infrastructure, which is dominated by vendor products that take ownership of the scholarly process and data without appropriate governance and oversight from the communities they serve. We imagine a world in which communities of researchers, scholars, and knowledge workers across the globe are fully enabled to share, discover, and collaborate using tools and platforms that are designed to interoperate and complement one another rather than compete and exclude.

IOI will consist of two functions, one is an assessment and recommendation framework that will regularly survey the landscape of open scholarly infrastructure with respect to its functionality, usage, health and financial needs and make funding recommendations for that infrastructure.

IOI’s second function will coordinate funds to follow the recommendations of the framework. Coordinating financial resources from institutions, agencies and foundations, we will work to increase the overall funding available to emerging and critical infrastructure….”

OPERAS Declaration on the Plan S Implementation Guidance – OPERAS

“The level of technical compliance is not the same for journals and platforms on the one hand, and for repositories on the other hand. While, according to the guidance on the implementation of Plan S, journals and publishing platforms should provide “machine readable” formats (no requirement in terms of standards), repositories should store the full text in “XML in JATS standard (or equivalent)”. As any XML, HTML or even plain text can be considered a machine readable format, the requirement for repositories appears to be much higher. In particular so, considering that most of them do not meet the criteria currently. The same holds also true for many publishing platforms and journals. Therefore, the criteria for technical compliance for journals, platforms and repositories should be aligned….

More work should be done, nonetheless, on non-APC Open Access journals (known as “Diamond”), of which, according to DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals), more exist compared to Gold journals (9173 against 3299), particularly in the Social Sciences and Humanities. cOAlition S should allow for funding mechanisms to support Diamond journals which otherwise could be tempted to move towards Gold APC models to be eligible to receive cOAlition S grants….”

‘Publication favela’ or bibliodiversity? Open access publishing viewed from a European perspective – Mounier – 2018 – Learned Publishing – Wiley Online Library

Abstract:  A number of initiatives exist in European countries to support open scholarly communication in humanities and social sciences. This article looks at the work of Open Access in the European Research Area through Scholarly Communication (OPERAS), a consortium of 36 partners from all over Europe, including many university presses, that is working to build a future European infrastructure to address the challenges in open access publishing. Their initial study, OPERAS?D, revealed a variety of models among the partners influenced by national cultures. Although the partners’ activities were found to be fragmented, they also reflect the ‘bibliodiversity’ that exists in European societies. To address the challenge of fragmentation, it is argued that, by following a cooperative model, European actors can benefit by sharing expertise, resources, and costs of development for the good of all. As a future infrastructure to support open scholarly communication across Europe, OPERAS aims to coordinate a range of publishers and service providers to offer researchers and societies a fully functional web of services to cover the entire research lifecycle.

The European consortium OPERAS launches a survey on the uses of Open Access data – Open Electronic Publishing

“The OPERAS consortium is launching today a survey on the usage of Open Access, in particular in the field of humanities and social sciences. The purpose  is to identify current practices and services that should be developed or invented. It will serve as a basis for defining the future infrastructure.

The survey addresses five different audiences, all actors, in various capacities, of Open Access: publishers, researchers, librarians, funders and the general public. It will collect information and suggestions mainly about common standards, good practices, new features and new integrated services.

The survey will end on 31st May 2017. Since all the OPERAS European partners are involved in the dissemination, the survey is entirely written in English in order to facilitate the processing of the answers.

The link for the general public’s survey is: https://survey.openedition.org/index.php/214336