Say Hello to Anno : Hypothesis | 18 Aug 2022

“It’s been 11 years since we launched Hypothesis. It’s gone by so fast. During this time, we’ve accomplished many things: We defined a vision for open web annotation, we built an open source framework to implement it, we helped form and lead the working group that shipped the W3C standard, and we launched a service that’s now used by over a million people around the world who have made nearly 40 million annotations. In higher education, more than 1,200 colleges and universities use Hypothesis. And we’ve grown from a handful of people into a team of more than 35 passionate web builders. We’re not stopping here.

We’ve always had our sights set on the bigger idea: that this still-nascent effort can blossom into a true network of interoperable services — a rich ecosystem of collaboration, conversation and community over all knowledge. We believe that when incentives are aligned toward quality and away from monetizing attention, we can produce something of profound social importance. A utility layer for humanity. Since launch, the Hypothesis Project has been incorporated as a nonprofit. And while our nonprofit was an excellent home for our mission, it also limited us to grants and donations. Though we were beginning to provide services that we could charge for, we still needed capital to expand. Frustratingly, while our needs were growing, several of the key funding sources we’d relied on were no longer available to us as they shuttered programs or changed strategies. In 2019, we and others formed Invest In Open Infrastructure (IOI), an “initiative to dramatically increase the amount of funding available to open scholarly infrastructure.” We recruited Kaitlin Thaney to that effort, and she has been doing a terrific job laying the foundation for this. But all this would take time we didn’t have.

In response, and to better position us to achieve our long-held mission, we’ve formed Anno, a public benefit corporation (aka “Annotation Unlimited, PBC”) that shares the Hypothesis mission as well as its team. We’ve done this so that we can take investment in a mission aligned way and scale the Hypothesis service to meet the opportunity in front of us. Anno is funded by a $14M seed round that includes a $2.5M investment from ITHAKA, the nonprofit provider of JSTOR, a digital library that serves more than 13,000 education institutions around the world, providing access to more than 12 million journal articles, books, images and primary sources in 75 disciplines. Also participating in the round are, Triage Ventures, Esther Dyson, Mark Pincus and others. ITHAKA’s president, Kevin Guthrie, has joined Anno’s board as an observer….”

The Case for PubPub · Elephant in the Lab

“I want to make the case for PubPub, a flexible web-based platform hosted by a nonprofit, Knowledge Futures Group (KFG). The software is the brainchild of Travis Rich, who wrote his 2017 MIT dissertation on PubPub and then co-founded KFG, first within MIT and then as an independent nonprofit. The program he helped build is, in its way, a complete rethink of scholarly publishing—digital first, yes, but unconventional across the board. The design ingenuity is matched by a robust commitment to an academy-led publishing ecosystem. “In our vision of the future,” reads the group’s mission statement, “knowledge communities play a lead role in building and maintaining our knowledge systems, reclaiming territory that was ceded to proprietary solutions.” In a thousand small but important ways, PubPub is the nonprofit David to, say, the profit-hoarding, data-hoovering Goliath that is Elsevier’s ScienceDirect.Still, PubPub’s not for everyone, particularly if you’re wedded to the PDF, or prefer to roll your own server. But many of us want to dethrone the PDF, and for us the prospect of handing off server maintenance is more relief than limitation. It’s telling that the Simon Fraser team, when they set out to publish their report, selected PubPub….”

COKO: 2021 – 2022 Annual Report

Coko’s motto is “We Build, You Publish” – we exist to benefit the publishing community by building modern, open source tools that enable the publishing of critical knowledge better, faster, cheaper.

Our economic model is simple. Organisations pay us to build and extend open source software for them, and we use the surplus to build open source software for the community. It is a kind of Robin Hood production model if you will.

But we are not just about tools. We also care about the people that build and use these tools— the Coko Community—which is why we also lead initiatives like the Open Publishing Awards and the Open Publishing Fest. These two events have been successful and joyful for those that participated. At the Fest, we’ve had performances (a special thank you to our friends from the Philippines – the Divine Divas!) from all over the world and more than 300 presentations. Many of these presentations were extremely well attended and we welcomed everyone including folks that build competitive technologies to join in and promote what they are doing. The Awards were also fantastic with more than 400 nominations and 20 amazing award-winning projects selected by our esteemed panel of judges (a special thanks to chairman Cameron Neylon).

With community in mind, it is also important to note our work with the Women in Tech India collective (WiTc). We launched the DEWI Academy with WiTc last year with the aim of training women in rural India to learn how to build software. In addition, we co-founded the Coalition for Open Access Publishing Infrastructures in Africa in 2020 with WACREN, and EIFL.

But of course, Coko’s primary focus is building opensource technology for the publishing community. Since 2019, we have grown the number of community technologies we build and support from 4 (Editoria, PubSweet, xSweet and Wax) to 11 – with Pagedjs, Kotahi, ScienceBeam, Libero Editor, Flax, Wax 2, and CokoDocs all joining the Coko portfolio.

We have also grown the number of bespoke platforms (open source platforms that organisations pay Coko to build) including major projects for NCBI, the Open Education Network, and HHMI.

In total, this means we have grown our common community code base from around 800,000 lines of code a few years ago to approximately 2 million lines of reusable open source code today.

To reach such productivity levels we had to grow our team. In 2019, we had less than a dozen people on our team, we now have over 40.

 And to grow our team we needed to grow our revenue. Coko has seen accelerated revenue growth rising from $650,000 USD three years ago to a projected $2 million USD in 2022.

What might not be as apparent, but something we are very proud of, is that we have also changed the balance of our revenue model. In 2019, our revenue comprised approximately 90% funding, 10% earned income. Today we have completely flipped the balance of revenue to 90% earned income, and 10% funding, a significant achievement for a not-for-profit like Coko.

This model is very powerful because it allows us to spend the unrestricted surplus on building products for the Coko Community. So if you are an organisation needing development services, drop us a line! You will be helping your organisation and, at the same time, the publishing community as a whole.

Last, but certainly not least, Coko has recently welcomed a lot of organisations to our community including NLnet, Crossref, OASPA, Amnet, Livriz, and others while also continuing to work with, and be supported by, long-term friends and partners such as eLife and Hindawi….”

Social cost · Gabe Stein

“At first glance, the staid academic publishing industry seems like a perfect fit for disruption in the form of an enterprising startup. Its total addressable market, or TAM, (~$19b revenue/year) is more than big enough to support a unicorn or two. It relies on centuries-old processes based in the limitations of print that have been proven to be ineffective and inequitable. It is dominated by a few large mega-corporation incumbents who, like the newspaper industry before them, have become used to extracting enormous profit-margins for activities that produce questionable value….

So, an enterprising startup should be able to succeed by raising enough money to build a slick new publishing platform and pay to subsidize researcher usage of it until their institutions are forced to recognize their contributions and pay to support the platform. Thanks to the rise of a new generation of private labs like Arcadia Science, a KFGundefined member and partner, and Focused Research Organizations (FROs), the job actually appears to be less complex than ever, because a lot of the initial bootstrapping of the platform can be cross-subsidized by a new type of institution without the constraints of universities, rather than paid for directly by the startup.

In theory, I think this should work. And to be clear, I think private labs and FROs are a key part of the solution, because they can help reduce the risk of adopting new forms of publishing by proving the models outside the status quo. But in practice, what we’ve learned building KFG over the last 7 years is that the startup approach to building disruptive academic publishing technology is often doomed by a failure to understand the complexity of the market….

With the caveat that I’m incredibly biased by my employer, I believe the solution, as I wrote above, lies in creating a new type of knowledge institution that combines the best of startups, non-profits, and expert consultants. These institutions must be capable of producing innovative, trusted technology that allows anyone to experiment with new approaches to publishing. But that’s not enough. They must also be able to reduce switching costs by combining those tools with services that help users maintain the right ties to the status quo that give them the credit and credibility in the current system without reinforcing the worst parts of it. And they must find a way to become sustainable on their own merits so that they’re not reliant on grants, of which there simply aren’t enough to support technology organizations over the long term. KFG won’t be the only one of these institutions, and our approach won’t be the only one that works (if it does). But until we acknowledge the complexities of this market, and the challenges new entrants face, we’re going to see a lot of startups come up empty in their attempts to disrupt anything except their own bank accounts.”

De Gruyter launches not-for-profit foundation: De Gruyter eBound | STM Publishing News

“De Gruyter, independent scholarly publisher and founder of the University Press Library distribution model, is launching De Gruyter eBound, a not-for-profit foundation, in the United States. The initiative’s goal is to support the publishing, sustainability, and accessibility of mission-driven scholarly monographs for not-for-profit and Open Access publishers.

Among other planned activities, De Gruyter eBound will offer grants for new publications as well as fund original studies that help key actors in the industry to develop new solutions for and insights on the future of the mission-driven scholarly monograph….”

Financial transparency at EMBO Press – Features – EMBO

“The bottom line remains the same as two years ago: covering our basic publication costs would require raising APCs to just short of 9,000 euros per research article. Thus, a financially sustainable transition to a Gold OA model at all four EMBO Press journals would represent a challenge for many authors not supported by dedicated publication funds, effectively excluding them based on financial, and not scientific, criteria.   

The scientific community and its funders must decide if – or literally how much – they value high-quality selective journals, open-access, open science, and journalistic content. Through transparency, EMBO and EMBO Press want to contribute to grounding this debate in the financial realities of scientific publishing.”

Responding to Open Access Needs: The OBC Position | Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM)

We created the Open Book Collective (OBC) (described in more detailed here) as part of the COPIM project, which is all about researching, establishing, and meeting the needs of a more sustainable, equitable OA book landscape. COPIM is an international partnership of OA publishers, academic librarians and researchers committed to a sustainable, equitable and diverse future for OA books. All of our research outputs related to the development of the OBC, including details of the methods we used to reach our findings, can be found via the tags on this Pubpub site and at our Zenodo page.

In what follows, we provide a short distillation on our work, presenting some of the reasons why we believe that the OBC is needed, as well as looking at some of the ways it will address those needs.


Solving medicine’s data bottleneck: Nightingale Open Science | Nature Medicine

“Open datasets, curated around unsolved medical problems, are vital to the development of computational research in medicine, but remain in short supply. Nightingale Open Science, a non-profit computing platform, was founded to catalyse research in this nascent field….”

Is Infrastructure Consolidation the Next Step? CCC Acquires Ringgold – The Scholarly Kitchen

“It seems that barely a month goes by these days without another acquisition in the scholarly communications and publishing space. Most of the attention has focused on major acquisitions by Elsevier and Clarivate, particularly Elsevier’s recent acquisition of interfolio, the company behind the reporting tool researchFish, and Clarivate’s purchase of ProQuest at the end of last year. And to be sure, their movement towards scholarly workflow tools and platforms is an extremely important development. The recent news that the Copyright Clearance Center will acquire Ringgold is an important reminder that many other firms, including not-for-profits, are actively pursuing growth strategies that contain elements other than organic growth. It is also another confirmation of the extreme strategic value of infrastructure, including in particular the persistent identifiers, lovingly known as PIDs, that is needed to advance scholarly communication in an increasingly open access environment. And it raises the question of whether infrastructure will be managed openly through community governed organizations or the extent to which the sector can live with its privatization….”

Sustainable eBook Acquisition and Access: The not-for-profit Perspective – Charleston Hub

“…We launched an OA eBook program in 2016 that has grown to include more than 7,700 titles. Libraries can use free MARC records or activate the OA titles in their discovery service, and users can cross-search all OA and licensed eBooks with all other content types on our platform. The ease of discovery on JSTOR has led to strong usage of the OA titles. In 2021 alone, there were more than 11 million uses of the OA eBooks worldwide.

A Learning Journey

While some publishers have eagerly experimented with OA models, others fear being left behind. These publishers share the mission to make scholarship more accessible but worry that the lack of grant support and viable business models are not well understood by the government agencies and funders that are creating OA mandates. The potential for libraries converting to models such as “subscribe to open” could alleviate these concerns, but few of our smaller and medium-sized publishers have the ability to undertake such a change themselves. They lack the resources and bandwidth to design new business models and advocate for funding. We have been working on various Open Access models in support of our publishers and to meet the demand from libraries and researchers for more OA content. First, in our “Convert to Open” model, publishers have identified eBooks already available for sale on JSTOR to convert to OA without incurring any additional costs to do so. The usage data for these titles shows the strong impact of opening up backlist scholarly content and making it discoverable to researchers around the world. We reviewed 336 titles from 30 publishers that were converted from licensed eBooks to OA in 2019 and 2020 and documented the usage for each title one to two years prior to being converted to OA and an equivalent one to two years after. The usage for these titles increased by 3,279% after being converted to OA. We have also developed a “Publish as Open” model in collaboration with libraries and publishers to support the publication of new titles directly as OA. In 2019, the Latin Americanist Research Resources Project (LARRP, a CRL initiative) approached JSTOR to support a low-cost OA pilot for new titles from Argentinian publisher CLACSO, the Latin American Council of Social Sciences. To date, this collaboration has made 340 CLACSO titles freely accessible on JSTOR. The titles have been used more than 940,000 times by users across 195 countries. Sócrates Silva, Latin American & Iberian Studies Librarian for Columbia and Cornell and President of SALALM, described the project’s importance for bridging a critical gap in the scholarly communications system. “Despite established OA publishing models for scholarly works in Latin America, monograph discovery and preservation infrastructure for this important content in U.S. libraries is virtually nonexistent. This multi-partner, horizontal, and librarian-led pilot is testing out sustainable partnerships that take into account the monograph lifecycle from publisher to library” (JSTOR, 2021). Based on the success of this pilot and ongoing support to fund future OA titles for CLACSO, we are working with LARRP to expand our collaboration and support other selected Latin American publishers. In the coming years, we plan to expand this model to other publishers in partnership with the academic community….”

Serving our community in difficult times: a letter from Kevin Guthrie – ITHAKA

“At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, we promised that fees would not increase for JSTOR participants through 2023. We also introduced a year-long program that provided participating academic institutions with access to all Archive Collections at no additional cost. Since then, we extended that program for another year, and to date nearly 5,000 institutions have taken advantage of it….

Consistent with our mission-driven aspirations, and considering the current public health, economic, and political environment, we have decided to extend the expanded access program to participating higher education institutions for a third year, through June 2023….”


‘The arXiv of the future will not look like the arXiv’ | Jeff Pooley

Alberto Pepe, Matteo Cantiello, and Josh Nicholson, in their arXiv paper calling on arXiv to overhaul itself:

Disclaimer: This article has originally been written and posted on Authorea, a collaborative online platform for technical and data-driven documents. Authorea is being developed to respond to some of the concerns with current methodology raised in this very piece, and as such is suggested as a possible future alternative to existing preprint servers.

The paper doesn’t mention that Authorea is owned by Atypon, which itself is a subsidiary of publishing oligopolist Wiley. All three authors are affiliated with the Wiley-owned platform.

Which begs the question: will the arXiv of the future be nonprofit?


Glossa Psycholinguistics: Open access by scholars, for scholars

“We are very pleased to publish our first articles for Glossa Psycholinguistics, a Fair Open Access journal for psycholinguistic research. These articles represent the culmination of nearly two years of behind-the-scenes work that rests upon a substantial outpouring of support for our project from the psycholinguistic community at large. We’re proud of the papers that the community has contributed to Glossa Psycholinguistics, and we’re happy to use this inaugural editorial to formally mark the publication of these first articles….

GG is a Fair Open Access journal, which means that all articles are open access. Moreover, authors pay a much lower APC than is typical in the world of scientific publishing (at the time of this writing, 500USD). In fact, at GG the default is that authors pay nothing to publish: Authors ‘opt-in’ to pay the APC when they have available institutional or research funds. The GG model has other key features: Authors retain copyright in their publications and are able to use the CC-BY-4.0 license to designate broad sharing and reuse provisions. Additionally, the management model is democratic, with the Editorial Team and Board forming a decision-making collective that also has full ownership of the journal title….

Fortunately, our expenses are lower than for most journals because we are not a for-profit operation. Moreover, no member of the editorial team receives any sort of financial compensation, and eScholarship provides its services free of charge. But we still have costs, including those associated with typesetting, protection of web domain names, brand name protection, and so on. To cover those costs, like GG, the funding model for Glossa Psycholinguistics relies on a combination of institutional funding and APCs. However, although open access publishing is now viewed by many in the scholarly community as an essential feature of fair and equitable scientific publishing, some have voiced the concern that APCs may introduce a financial incentive to publish lower quality work. To guard against this, both Glossa journals only request a modest APC from those who have earmarked funds to pay such charges….”