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cOAlition S statement sets clear direction for academic books to become OA

cOAlition S has just issued its statement on Open Access (OA) for academic books. With this statement, cOAlitition S sets a clear direction for academic books to become OA. It recommends that “All academic books based on original research that was directly supported with funding from cOAlition S organisations should be made available open access on publication”.

The OA Books Network (OABN), steered by OAPEN, SPARC Europe, OPERAS, and ScholarLed salutes this clear support from cOAlition S for OA to books. While OA policies for journal articles have been developing rapidly for years, progress on the OA book side has been rather slow. However, this cOAlition S statement combined with the recently launched UKRI open access policy indicates that there is great potential for things to accelerate for OA books, too.

The statement clearly acknowledges the diversity of book publishing practices, also referred to as bibliodiversity. Book publishing practices differ widely across geographical regions, language areas, and disciplines. Recent workshops held by the OA Books Network (OABN) highlight this most starkly, showing that policy and local publishing traditions and markets influence how OA books deal with quality assurance, metadata, transparency, open licensing and business models.

Respecting the diversity of the OA books community is essential for any OA book policy to become successful. cOAlition S responds to this by inviting the larger OA books community to get involved in the development of implementation guidelines.

During a series of events named “A Plan S for Books: Voices from the Community” organised by the OA Books Network (OABN) for the OA books community (including authors, researchers, publishers, librarians, infrastructure providers and others), several aspects of OA book publishing that need to be considered when developing OA book policies were explored. The summary of these events was delivered to cOAlition S to inform the funders about aspects that authors, researchers, publishers, librarians, infrastructure providers and others deem important and would like to explore further before settling detailed implementation guidelines for aligned OA book policies. These events involved more than 400 participants and proved that the OABN is a very suitable platform for international OA book community discussions. We therefore very much welcome that the cOAlition S statement recognizes the OABN’s ability to serve as an open forum for community input during the implementation process by naming it explicitly.

The statement also highlights the OAPEN OA Books Toolkit which was launched last year containing and collecting valuable information of all aspects of OA book publishing. It is community-governed and could serve the implementation process well by hosting, structuring, and distributing descriptions, examples, use cases, and references of the many aspects of OA book policy making that the community has identified as critical aspects.

Moreover, cOAlition S acknowledges the need for existing technical infrastructures, like the Directory of Open Access Books. This is the world’s most comprehensive directory of academic OA books providing access to more than 44,000 OA books and chapters.

The absence of a deadline for the implementation of the cOAlition S recommendations does signal an understanding that considerable time will be needed to properly realize them although defining one might help accelerate progress further. There is still a long way to go, and it is believed that this can only be done in partnership with the OA books community.

Click here to read the original press release.
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