Open Access Week 2018 – reflections from #COASP10 – the open access movement lives

10th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing (University of Vienna, Austria)

By Christina Lenz, Managing Editor of books at Stockholm University Press

10th Anniversary Drinks Reception, Natural History Museum of Vienna, (Photo by Christina Lenz, License: CC BY)

I did not have any expectations going to my first COASP in Riga 2013. I was new at Stockholm University Library, and to the business of open access publishing.

I came to Stockholm University Library in spring 2013, to be part of starting up a new fully open access press, after having worked twenty years as a book editor at a commercial publisher.

The Riga conference turned out to be an eye opener about the open access movement and what the future might hold for open access publishing. The discussions had by then just started on “We shouldn’t need to discuss the whys but the hows.”

Open Access Monographs – why should it be so hard and take so much time?

Vienna 2018, third time to go to COASP (2014 in Amsterdam was the second time), now representing Stockholm University Press as a member of OASPA, with experiences of building up a fully open access University Press.

The most interesting talk and discussion, representing a relatively new and small University Press, was about Open Access Monographs. Why should it be so hard and take so much time? Funding is one problem, finding reviewers and doing the review in time, another. Also, each book is a specific project and has its own process, which is often more complex compared to publishing an article.

It is nice to realise that Stockholm University Press is quite far ahead regarding open monographs – soon about to publish our 20th book. With our expertise in book publishing and open access we always find solutions in the whole chain of the book project – from proposal to published book.

Things are extremely slow, so when are we going to get there?

A program highlight was Robert-Jan Smits (European commission), presenting PlanS. Smits said, as did most speakers, that things are going extremely slow. This is why we need a radical plan, although many questions are yet unanswered until the principles for PlanS are set.

An inspiring talk was made by Kristen Ratan (Coko Foundation) Kristen Ratan addressed the need for specialists in publishing systems to work together. She used the metaphor of the Airline industry, where the necessity to share data for security systems and logistics is obvious. Same think should apply for open science.

Thinking “our system is perfect” or “the best” is a pipe dream. Much more efforts should be put into shared collaborations. An example of trying to do so, are initiatives on (FAIR – Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable) open data on a European level, i.e. The European Cloud Initiative. We all know how complex this is and hard to find solutions that fit most stakeholders.

Kristen Ratan is probably right to predict that we are going to see more top down regulations. Plan S is one such top down regulation, there are also Horizon 2020, the next Horizon Europe (2021-2027), and several on national levels, and more will come.

The open access movement lives

So what do we need to do? According to Kristen Ratan there is a need for a real movement to succeed. Diversity and inclusion are keywords in this movement, themes that came up throughout the conference in many different ways. We need to get away from the dominance of Western world, and not sideline smaller publishers in their transition to open access.

We can also note that open data as part of open science is here to stay, and has become part of the open access movement.

To sum up my reflections of COAP 2018, I would like to say that the open access movement lives. We have however definitely realised that we need to revitalize and reflect on the whys in order to move forwards together on the hows.

I had high expectations going to COASP in Vienna this year, and I can just say – COASP delivers.


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