May 18, 2022

BISG (Book Industry Study Group) Releases Draft White Paper on Open Access Ebook Usage

From a BISG Announcement:

2018-11-06_11-09-00The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) today announced the release of a draft white paper, “Building a Trusted Framework for Coordinating OA Monograph Usage Data”. Prepared by KU Research, the paper will inform a 27-person summit that takes place in New York on December 3 and 4.

 The project team is also sending the draft white paper to a wide range of interested parties active in the open-access (OA) community. The paper is accompanied by a nine-question survey that will allow the team to gather cross-sector perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in OA publishing.

As its central recommendation, the white paper recommends establishing a “data trust” to help manage and better understand open access ebook usage. Both the survey and the planned summit in New York will explore how a data trust might work and the benefits it can provide in better understanding OA ebook usage.

Earlier this year, BISG announced plans to collaborate with KU Research and researchers from the universities of Michigan and North Texas to convene a structured community conversation focused on improving usage and engagement tracking for open access (OA) ebooks. With the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the one-year project runs from June 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019.

It is often said that an OA publication will be more often downloaded, used, and cited than a comparable restricted-access title. Publishers need to demonstrate such impact to receive support for their open access programs, funders look for usage data to demonstrate return on their investments, and authors are eager to show evidence of additional reach and influence for their work. Because of differences in the supply chain, however, information about the impact of academic ebooks, especially OA books, is much more difficult to gather, analyze, and communicate than comparable information about electronic journals.

This funded project is designed to identify the challenges in understanding the usage of OA ebooks, suggest some opportunities for resolving them, and create a framework for future action through community consultation. It focuses on the challenges of identifying and aggregating relevant information from different platforms, analyzing what has been gathered in ways that respect user privacy, and communicating relevant information about usage to stakeholders.

As well as looking at usage metrics, the research explores indicators of engagement such as altmetrics. The draft white paper connects strands of research currently being conducted separately in the United States and Europe, by both for-profit and non-profit entities. Following the conclusion of this research project, BISG will publish a final white paper of findings and propose a pathway for future action.

The principal investigators are Charles Watkinson (University of Michigan), Kevin Hawkins (University of North Texas), Lucy Montgomery (KU Research), and Brian O’Leary (BISG). Katherine Skinner (Educopia Institute) will act as a professional facilitator for the convening.


Direct to Full Text White Paper: Building a Trusted Framework for Coordinating OA Monograph Usage Data
26 pages; via Google Docs.

Direct to Nine-Question Survey

See Also: “Understanding OA Ebook Usage: Toward a Common Framework” (via UMich/Deep Blue)

Redacted version of narrative for a proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of international standards and practices for measuring and reporting usage of open-access ebooks

See Also: New Collaboration: Multiple Partners Announce Project to Study Improving Usage and Engagement Tracking for Open Access (OA) Ebooks (June 5, 2018)

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.