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.


DOAB Highlights & PRISM Webinar

“The number of books added to DOAB in 2022 totaled an impressive 18,323. We were also very happy to have welcomed 87 new publishers last year. Currently, there are more than 65,000 peer-reviewed open access books in DOAB from over 600 publishers worldwide. Of those publishers, over 400 added at least one publication to DOAB in 2022. 

We are pleased to see so many new publishers joining from Latin America. Our collaboration with SciELO Books (a Trusted Platform of DOAB), resulted in an increased coverage in that area. We are very grateful to have SciELO Books as a partner, enabling us to onboard new publishers, keeping in mind the specific aspects of academic publishing in that area. With SciELO’s help we onboarded the following publishers in 2022: …”

DOAB officially launches its new service to further build trust in peer review and open access academic book publishing | Directory of Open Access Books

The Hague, 16 November 2022. The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), a community-driven discovery service for open access books, is launching its Peer Review Information Service for Monographs (PRISM). PRISM is a service provided by DOAB as part of the OPERAS service portfolio.

PRISM is a standardised way for academic publishers to display information about their peer review processes across their entire catalogue. On the DOAB site, you can see a PRISM logo next to a publisher and next to the individual book. PRISM peer review information is also included at the metadata level, making it available through the DOAB API which is freely distributed and incorporated into library search tools worldwide. Learn more about PRISM, including how to participate as a publisher here.

“DOAB and its community have been discussing and developing PRISM for a few years, and following a successful beta-testing phase, we are pleased to now launch the service, inviting publishers and stakeholders to engage with it” said Niels Stern, co-director of DOAB.

DOAB (including PRISM) is overseen by a Scientific Committee, which validates and reviews requirements, and acts as a Board of Appeal for complaints from publishers.


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.


”Scholarly monographs should also be Open Access, shouldn’t they?” – Guidelines and tools to making books Open Access. Oct 28, 3pm (CEST) | Danish Network for Open Access

When we talk about Open Access (OA), we mostly do so in the context of scholarly articles in journals. The Danish National Strategy for Open Access also has a special focus on OA for journal articles. Right now, however, a number of initiatives are pushing not only to publish scholarly monographs as OA but also to make it easier for researchers to ensure that publishers are transparent and thorough in their peer-review of OA publications.

In this session, Niels Stern will present relevant initiatives including DOAB (Directory of Open Access Books) and PRISM (Peer Review Information Service for Monographs) – both services that help researchers navigate the jungle of publishers of OA monographs. He will also provide some insights into what to keep in mind when looking for and selecting a publisher for a manuscript.

Niels Stern is director of OAPEN. He began his career in scholarly book publishing in 2003 with an emphasis on marketing and digital publishing. In this capacity he became a co-founder of the OAPEN project in 2008. Moving on to the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2011 as head of publishing he created a Nordic open access policy and publication repository. Since 2014 Niels Stern has acted as independent expert for the European Commission on open science and e-infrastructures. He has evaluated and reviewed numerous European projects, e.g. HIRMEOS and OPERAS-D.


Is the SNSI the new PRISM?

“This past week, these public relations efforts were dialed up a notch or ten to a whole new level. At an SNSI webinar entitled „Cybersecurity Landscape – Protecting the Scholarly Infrastructure“, hosted by two Elsevier employees, one of the presenters suggested „develop or subsidize a low cost proxy or a plug-in to existing proxies“ in order to collect user data. That user data, it was explained, could be analyzed with an “Analysis Engine” to track biometric data (e.g., typing speed) or suspicious behavior (e.g., a pharmacology student being suspiciously interested in astrophysics). The angle towards Sci-Hub was confirmed by the next speaker, an Ex-FBI agent and security analyst.

Considering the track record of academic publishers, this reeks strongly of PR attempts to ‘soften the target’, i.e., to make installing publisher spyware on university servers sound less outrageous than it actually is. After the PRISM debacle, the publishers now seem to have learned from their PR mistakes. This time, there is no ‘pitbull’ around. This time, there is only a strange article in a major newspaper, a shady institute where it appears hard to find out who founded it, who is running it and who funds it.

SNSI is an apparent PR project aimed at compromising, not strengthening, network security at research institutions. However, unlike with PRISM, this time the PR effort may pay off.”