October 28, 2021

OurResearch, Providers of Unsub, Unpaywall, and Other Services Receives $4.5 Million Grant From Arcadia & Commits to Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI)

Ed. Note: Congrats to Heather, Jason, and the OurResearch team.

From an OurResearch Post:

OurResearch, a nonprofit seeking to speed the global adoption of Open Science, announced today that it had been awarded a new 3-year, $4.5M (USD) grant from the UK-based Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

The grant, which follows an 2018 award for $850,000, will help expand two existing open-source software projects, as well as support the launch of two new ones:

  • Unpaywall, launched in 2017, has become the world’s most-used index of Open Access (OA) scholarly papers. The free Unpaywall extension has 400,000 active users, and its underlying database powers OA-related features in dozens of other tools including Web of Science, Scopus, and the European Open Science Monitor. All Unpaywall data is free and open.
  • Unsub is an analytics dashboard that helps academic libraries cancel their large journal subscriptions, freeing up money for OA publishing. Launched in late 2019, Unsub is now used by over 500 major libraries in the US and worldwide, including the national library consortia of Canada, Australia, Greece, Hong Kong, and the UK. 
  • JournalsDB will be a free and open database of scholarly journals. This resource will gather a wide range of data on tens of thousands of journals, emphasizing coverage of emerging open venues. 
  • OpenAlex will be a free and open bibliographic database, cataloging papers, authors, affiliations, citations, and journals. Inspired by the ancient Library of Alexandria, OpenAlex will strive to create a comprehensive map of the global scholarly conversation.  In a recent blog post, the team announced that OpenAlex will be released in time to serve as a replacement for Microsoft Academic Graph, whose discontinuation was also recently announced.

OurResearch’s ongoing operations costs (about $1M annually) are currently covered by earned revenue from service-level agreements. The new funding will go toward accelerating development of new features and tools.

The new tools and features will be developed in keeping with OurResearch’s longstanding commitment to openness.

OurResearch recently became one of the first to commit to the Principles of Open Scholarly Infrastructure (POSI), a set of guidelines encouraging openness, sustainability, and responsive governance. OurResearch has always fully shared its source code and datasets, and maintains a transparency webpage publishing salaries, tax filings, and other information.

“We are very grateful to the Arcadia Foundation for this grant, which will help us innovate more quickly than ever before. There is an urgent need for open scholarly infrastructure,” said Heather Piwowar, one of OurResearch’s two cofounders. 

“Since our beginning at a hackathon ten years ago, we’ve been working to build sustainable, open, community-oriented software tools to power the Open Science revolution,” added her cofounder Jason Priem. “We’re totally thrilled at how this grant will help us further that vision.” 

Work on the grant is expected to begin at once, with early versions of both JournalsDB and the OpenAlex launching later this year.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) 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 Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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