Many have come to depend heavily upon the large ecosystem of non-commercial services that support open access and open science. However, many of these services are not financially secure; a concern the Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS) was formed to address, calling on the academic and library communities to help with funding. Vanessa Proudman describes how SCOSS aims to help secure an infrastructure of freely available open access and science services subsidised by a community of policymakers and stakeholders. The first two services to be presented for funding consideration are the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and SHERPA RoMEO, with plans to accept future applications from qualified services twice a year.

In recent years, a whole ecosystem of non-commercial services that support open access and open science has evolved. A great many of us within the library and academic communities have come to depend heavily upon them. Unfortunately, many of these services are not financially secure. And this is a problem which should concern the community as a whole. What would happen if these services were to disappear? Or be acquired and folded into a portfolio of services to which one would have to subscribe or pay for access?

This is one of the concerns our Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS) was formed to address. In an effort to strengthen and secure the network of non-commercial services that underpin the burgeoning field of open science, we are spearheading what some might consider an unconventional appeal: calling on the international library, funding, and academic communities to help fund at-risk services on which we all depend.

Image credit: Rosée – 3 by diastème (Sarah Giboni). This work is licensed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Maybe you’re with one of the research institutions, libraries, or funders to have received a letter from SCOSS over the past couple of weeks. After having spent several months vetting applicants for SCOSS’s first outreach, having carefully reviewed data related to technical competence, costs, details of governance, and future plans, we are now presenting two services for funding consideration: the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and SHERPA RoMEO, both widely-used services.

DOAJ is an online index of peer-reviewed open-access journals covering all disciplines and more than 50 languages, and currently lists nearly 9,400 journals along with the metadata for 2.5 million articles. The data DOAJ collects is harvested and downloaded with an API and integrated in all major discovery services and indexing databases.

SHERPA RoMEO is an online resource providing analyses of publisher open access policies, along with summaries of self-archiving permissions and conditions of authors’ rights on a journal-by-journal basis. Many consider the service an essential part of the open access environment, in giving information and guidance to depositors who wish to make material available on an open-access basis, whether in subject repositories, central archives, institutional repositories, or otherwise.

The aim of this appeal is to secure three years of funding for both DOAJ and SHERPA RoMEO from the core user-base of the services. Research-affiliated organisations and institutions of all sizes and funders from throughout the world are invited to contribute. This temporary funding is intended to offer support for a period of time, allowing these service providers to find surer financial footing. In terms of a funding scheme, SCOSS has devised a flat-fee model that obliges funders to identify their category – large or small institution from a high-income country, or institution from a low-income country.

While DOAJ and SHERPA RoMEO are the first services to be presented for community funding, SCOSS plans to accept applications from qualified services twice a year. The next call for applications will be held in early 2018. To be eligible, services must be non-commercial, reasonably mature, in need of financial support, and have as their primary objective supporting open access and/or open science infrastructure. Our ultimate goal with SCOSS is to help secure an infrastructure of freely available open access and science services subsidised by a community of policymakers and stakeholders.

About a year ago, SPARC Europe joined with a group of leading international library and scholarly organisations to establish the terms of reference, case, and evaluation model to enable us to move forward with SCOSS, the groundwork for which had been laid by Knowledge Exchange in its 2016 report “Putting down roots: securing the future of open access policies”. Among the many organisations that helped to shape the coalition were the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG), the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL), the European Research Council (ERC), the European University Association (EUA), EIFL, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), LIBER, Science Europe and  SPARC Europe. Initial input was also provided by SPARC (US).

SCOSS’s success depends on the support of the library and academic community. We believe it’s in academia’s – and society’s – interest that the key services that comprise the vital open science-sustaining infrastructure remain free to use and independent.

For more information about SCOSS, or to learn more about how your organisation can help sustain essential open access and open science infrastructure, please visit www.scoss.org.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Impact Blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our comments policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

About the author

Vanessa Proudman is Director of SPARC Europe. Vanessa is working to make Open the default within the European academic and research communities. She has 20 years’ international experience working with many leading university libraries worldwide.

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