August 17, 2018

Europe: OPERAS (Open Scholarly Communication Infrastructure Project) Working Groups Publish Seven White Papers

Below are links to each of the full text white papers along with brief descriptions.

2018-08-06_09-28-36From the OPERAS Web Site:

1. Advocacy

White Paper doi (PDF): 10.5281/zenodo.1324035 or HTML

The paper addresses the importance of Open Science for the SSH [Social Science, Humanities], highlighting the role of a distributed research infrastructure like OPERAS in advocating for Open Access publishing models. Furthermore, the paper discusses the importance of the SSH in Open Science, showing how Open Science itself benefits from considering and accommodating the needs of researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds. While OPERAS does not endorse a specific Open Access publishing model, the infrastructure partners advocate for publication processes that can meet the present demand for Open Access, transparency, and open source tools in scholarly communication. This document is intended for all stakeholders actively involved in Open Access in the SSH. This includes publishers and publication platforms as well as libraries and infrastructure providers. However, the White Paper ultimately focuses on advocacy targeting researchers at different career stages. In order to support stakeholders in advocating for Open Access, the White Paper presents the benefits of Open Access publishing for scholars, while also addressing common concerns in the SSH research community. These include, but are not limited to, reputation, research evaluation, financial issues, a general lack of information, intellectual property rights and other legal concerns, and the availability of Open Access publishing models. This White Paper draws on experiences from OPERAS partners to illustrate researchers’ concerns and to develop a guide with FAQs and solutions to address these issues. The White Paper concludes with advocacy suggestion sheets tailored to different stakeholders involved in Open Access in the SSH.

2. Best Practices

The Best Practices White Paper is coming soon!

Publishing is a composite activity that includes several components. Therefore, the adoption of best practices in academic publishing should address all aspects : service provision to authors, publishers agreements, peer-reviewing, editing, usage of open access licenses, dissemination, metrics and digital preservation. On each of these topics, best practices charts and lists have been elaborated by different academic and professional networks and already exist, gaining enough consensus in the community to be adopted by OPERAS consortium without the need for reinvention from the start. What has to be done is to identify the most accepted best practices for each case and plan for concrete and specific actions for their implementation by OPERAS partners. The is a crucial domain, however, where best practices are not clearly established : management of the transition to Open Access. Although several “flipping mechanisms” are proposed, none is widely considered as “best practice” over others. In that domain the debate in the academic community clearly lacks maturity.

3. Common Standards

White Paper doi (PDF): 10.5281/zenodo.1324065 or HTML

The White Paper on Common Standards comprises desk research and identifies key operational and technical aspects to be addressed by digital research infrastructures and service providers. It particularly sketches the landscape of Open Science in Europe, focusing on the policy framework and the institutional initiatives at EU level; it also describes current and emerging research practices and highlights the needs of the stakeholders and communities engaged in scholarly communication. Reference is specifically made to technical and operational standards for publishing infrastructures, and their importance in providing a digital scholarly communication framework that fosters content reuse and collaboration among researchers, while enabling the implementation of innovative research methods. To this end, the white paper identifies needs yet to be met, introduces 4 complementary areas (content quality and impact assessment, interoperability, availability and processability) for the introduction of common standards, and provides basic recommendations for their future implementation. The white paper also examines where OPERAS members stand and suggests a roadmap for the community-wide adoption of standards. As effective implementation of common standards is highly depended upon stakeholders’ increased awareness and commitment towards more effective ways of conducting, presenting and communicating research, the white paper underlines the instrumental role of the OPERAS network in specifying new standards and updating existing ones.

4. Multilingualism

White Paper doi (PDF): 10.5281/zenodo.1324025 or HTML

Scholarly publication is indisputably boosted by the use of the English language. However, the need to publish in English in order to get visibility and recognition represents an impoverishment of certain research fields, particularly in Social Sciences and Humanities. Taking this backdrop as reference, the challenges for OPERAS are to support researchers that want to continue publishing in their own language and to develop transnational scientific cooperation at the same time. Thereof, the proposed intervention areas are: translation, multilanguage discovery tool and the endowment of national languages. An overview of the situation respecting the OPERAS partners is provided, and suggestions are made in order to make their joint work more convergent with emerging trends.

5. Open Access Business Models

White Paper doi (PDF): 10.5281/zenodo.1323707 or HTML

The white paper on Business Models for Open Access proposes that there is no single ideal business model for Open Access that can be adopted as standard. It describes the current landscape in which there are multiple approaches to OA publishing, many of which are adopted by OPERAS members to suit their particular circumstances, although the APC and BPC models still predominate especially among commercial publishers. The paper describes the business models adopted by members both from the point of view of publishers, and of service providers such as Knowledge Unlatched, as well as looking at models emerging elsewhere such as in the USA and at national level in some European countries, where interesting collaborative approaches are being undertaken. The paper analyses the pros and cons of different models, and concludes with some suggestions for ways of bringing greater stability and sustainability to Open Access publishing models.

6. Platforms and Services

White Paper doi (PDF): 10.5281/zenodo.1324058 or HTML

OPERAS as an infrastructure supporting open scholarly communication will provide a catalogue of services to the academic community. Despite their diversity, the services should follow common rules and principles to establish a common framework where they can be included and managed. The principles concern governance, sustainability and insurance. It entails to set up contractual relationships between the infrastructure and the service providers that reflects the principles mentioned earlier. Finally, there is a need to achieve a fully functional web of services that prevents gaps and overlaps regarding the users’ needs. The list and structure of OPERAS’ future services has been elaborated as a part of the infrastructure design study.

7. Tools Research and Development

White Paper doi (PDF): 10.5281/zenodo.1324109 or HTML

The approach in OPERAS emphasizes the importance of building the open science scholarly communication infrastructure in Social Sciences and Humanities on community driven tools. In this perspective, the development of Open Source tools and the setup of a toolbox appear to be appropriate answers to the existing needs and evolutions in scholarly publishing. Following a first discussion in the Working Group, participants discussed the partners’ practices and needs to help focus the Working Group objectives on three functions:

  • Peer review: interest in emerging practices such as open peer review, peer review tracking
  • Authoring: interest in simple and all-in-one services, especially online and collaborative authoring
  • Publishing: in particular, simple tools needed by small academic journals

The main results of the Working Group are:

  • Notes on observed trends
  • A common approach and criteria for choosing tools
  • A list of relevant tools, detailing features and functionalities
  • An analysis of the current needs of the partners

For Peer Review, the reviewing workflow is implemented in most Open Source software like Open Journal System (OJS) but developments are still needed to match the commercial software services. Similarly, the review tracking data available via services such as Publons is currently not open. The emerging trend for Open Peer Review represents an innovative area, both in terms of usage and tools. For Authoring, we see a bloom of new online and collaborative tools. Promising Open Source software for editing structured scholarly content are being developed and are near to production, alongside commercial tools such as Authorea or Overleaf. One of the main challenges, in this case, is to obtain a continuous production environment through interoperability. For Publishing, several Open Source software solutions are already used in production, but, as the level of service expected from a publication service is rising and includes a growing number of third-party services, the community is considering ways of working together to combine their effort to be comparable with the state of the art of the commercial solutions. The Operas partners are willing to go beyond this working group and consider engaging in follow-up projects, notably to help create a resource centre dedicated to providing the community with current information and support on scholarly communication software and tools, and to contribute to the effort in developing Open Source tools.

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.