Members of ScholarLed

The aim of the collective is to explore the potential of working together. This includes developing systems and practices that allow presses to provide each other with forms of mutual support, ranging from pooled expertise to shared on- and offline infrastructures. Members of the consortium each retain their distinct identity as publishers, with different audiences, processes, business models and stances towards Open Access. What they share, however, is a commitment to opening up scholarly research to diverse readerships, to resisting the marketization of academic knowledge production, and to working collaboratively rather than in competition.

# COPIM Structure Annotate

Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) will be delivered by a consortium of world-class universities (Coventry, Birkbeck, Lancaster, and Trinity College, Cambridge), established scholar-led open access (OA) presses (represented through the ScholarLed consortium, which consists of Open Book Publishers, punctum books, Open Humanities Press, Mattering Press, and meson press), libraries (UCSB Library, Loughborough University Library) and infrastructure providers (DOAB, Jisc Collections).

# Overview Annotate

The institutionalisation and consequent scaling up of open access (OA) book publishing stands at a crucial crossroads: one avenue leads to the monopolisation of OA book publishing by commercial publishers and for-profit intermediaries while the other opens up a more diverse, scholar-led, community-owned, and not-for-profit publishing ecosystem that we believe is crucial for the cultivation of more creative modes and forms of scholarship and their open dissemination and preservation as public knowledge. ScholarLed recognizes the entangled mesh of players and providers (for- and not-for-profit) that are essential for scholarly communications to flourish and be accessible to the widest possible readership, but we are also concerned to build infrastructure for smaller-scale OA book publishers that would prioritise the needs of the creative research community and the values of public research institutions against the for-profit entities who seek to privatise (and also homogenize) knowledge. We take the caution from Geoffrey Bilder, Jennifer Lin, and Cameron Neylon that “[e]verything we have gained by opening content and data will be under threat if we allow the enclosure of scholarly infrastructures” (“Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructure”), especially at a time when we are seeing a small number of large commercial entities take over important community-built platforms for open research (such as SSRN, ResearchGate, and be.press, to name only a few), and with Heather Joseph, we want a more “distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication” (“Securing Community-controlled Infrastructure”).

It is an important and opportune time to develop appropriate infrastructures for OA books, with many research funders (including UUK and the recently announced Plan S) signalling their intentions to require OA publication for books as well as articles in the near future. However the dominant infrastructures for the dissemination, discovery, production, distribution, and archiving of scholarly books have been designed primarily for large, commercial, non-OA publishers. These infrastructures are fundamentally inappropriate for use by not-for-profit OA book publishers (particularly smaller publishers), and are often inaccessible to them in any case. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly apparent that genuine innovation in scholarly publishing is driven not by large commercial ‘legacy’ publishers, but by comparatively smaller publishing initiatives, often led by scholars. While the focus of legacy publishers has often been on developing new ways to capture, close down, and monopolise academic book publishing markets, smaller OA publishers have made major advances in establishing new forms of cross-institutional collaboration, experimenting with digital content, and developing rigorous and efficient workflow practices and technical infrastructures to support OA content. These innovations include developing: (a) non-BPC business models aimed at long-term economic sustainability as well as a more equitable publishing landscape, (b) new infrastructures for the technical management of digital books and metadata, (c) new models of research community involvement, including community-based pre- and post-publication peer review protocols, (d) new models of editorial support for early career scholars, and (e) new forms of scholarly publication, including those that integrate multi-modal and digital-only content and those that are collectively written and openly editable.

The unique ability of scholar-led OA initiatives to innovate stems from their agility in experimenting with publishing practices at smaller scales, as well as in working collectively and collaboratively, as the COPIM project exemplifies. This is in contrast to commercial publishing models based on logics of closure, centralisation, and proprietary rights management that view other publishers as competitors, and research institutions, such as libraries, mainly as customers, and even as impediments to frictionless transactions between researchers and content providers.

The potential impact of innovations in OA publishing, incubated in and among scholar-led OA book presses, is, however, inhibited by a range of structural and organisational barriers. Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) will address the key technological, structural, and organisational hurdles—around funding, production, dissemination, discovery, reuse, and archiving—which are standing in the way of the wider adoption and impact of Open Access (OA) books. These include:

  • Integrated capacity-building amongst presses; many OA publishers lack the capacity and expertise to build meaningful alliances with each other in order to work together on problem-solving (addressed in WP2).
  • Mutually supportive governance models; as a recent report by the Educopia Foundation has indicated, ‘many potential tools and services wither, not due to shortfalls in demand or shortcomings in those products, but rather to a lack of attention to organization and community building’ (addressed in WP4).
  • Integration into library, repository, and digital learning environments; as Jisc’s landscape study of new university presses (NUPs) and academic-led presses (ALPs) (Adema & Stone 2017) identified, existing print and ebook distribution channels are difficult for new publishers to engage with and are not well suited to OA content (addressed in WP5).
  • The re-use of and experimentation with OA books; Jisc’s study also showed that publishers and authors want to publish multimodal and experimental work, but lack finances and/or technological skills. Similarly, although technological opportunities to enable reuse of and engagement with OA books are on the rise, the actual interaction (e.g. commenting, post-publication peer review) with OA books is still limited (addressed in WP6).
  • The effective and robust archiving of OA content; effective and practical technical methods for archiving complex digital research publications and for creating an integrated collection of content in different formats have not been developed (addressed in WP7).

# Project Aims and Objectives Annotate

COPIM will address these issues by delivering major improvements and innovations in the infrastructures, systems and workflows being used by OA book publishers and by those publishers making a transition to OA books. The project has the following key objectives:

  • Removing hurdles preventing new OA book initiatives to emerge and existing ones to adopt OA workflows by 1) building open-source, community-based infrastructures that support the publication of OA books, and 2) establishing and consolidating partnerships between HE institutions and OA book publishers.
  • Develop consortial, institutional, and other funding systems—building upon the partners’ existing network of 240+ libraries internationally—that will 1) serve as important hybrid community-led revenue models for OA book publishers, 2) support the establishment of more community-owned and governed infrastructures, and 3) promote publisher-librarian partnerships around OA book publishing.
  • Showcase alternative (non-BPC) business models that incorporate infrastructural innovations and/or cost- reductions through streamlined operating processes, production workflows and economic efficiencies—which would benefit all scales of publishing initiatives.
  • Support the creation of, interaction with and reuse of OA books in all their variation and complexity (including emergent and experimental genres), most importantly by ensuring that these complex digital research publications can be archived effectively.
  • Knowledge transfer to stakeholders through various pilots that will 1) enable COPIM’s technical, organisational, financial and relational innovations to scale both horizontally (to other presses) and vertically (to other partners, including universities, libraries, and funders) and 2) inform and support (future) funder requirements for OA books.

Work Packages (WPs)

# WP1: Project Management (M1 - M36) Annotate

WP Leads: Gary Hall (Coventry University), Janneke Adema (Coventry University)

Summary: WP1 will ensure that the project meets its objectives within budget and scheduled timescales. Tasks will include monitoring project progress, tracking deliverables and reporting back to the funder. It will coordinate project activities by setting up internal communication channels for the consortium (e.g. Skype, Slack channel). It will also organise the project’s main dissemination and outreach activities.

Key deliverables and impacts:

  • A project website and social media presence;
  • Organisation of stakeholder workshops and public conferences.

# WP2: Revenue Infrastructures and Management Platform (M1 - M36) Annotate

WP Leads: Eileen Joy (punctum books) and Joe Deville (Lancaster University).

Summary: WP2 will develop and launch a modular, scalable revenue generation and management platform for OA books, to be made available to publishers and libraries. It will be scoped and built by a team of publishers, knowledge managers, and librarians working in partnership to develop new funding channels for OA books. The platform will emphasise open source, community-owned and led OA, and will enable a broad range of economic supports for a variety of OA book outputs. WP2 will create the technical infrastructures, organisational processes (together with WP4), financial management procedures, and legal standards to enable these new funding channels to be sustainable long term. The platform will be tested via a specific pilot case centring upon ScholarLed, which looks at how revenue can be generated and managed for this select group of presses to model a community-owned OA that is economically sustainable, allows for diverse business models, and aligns with the values of both HSS and HEIs. The revenue platform will be designed with flexible modularity, portability, and customisability as its chief features, ensuring that both emerging, smaller-scale and established, larger- scale publishers seeking to transition to OA (a pilot to be tested in WP3) and in need of durable, flexible business models for doing so, can benefit from it.

Key deliverables and impacts:

  • A fully functional consortial library funding platform (in this model groups of libraries and/or other members contribute to fund the publication of OA books. The cost to each member of a book depends on the size of the consortium);
  • The ScholarLed pilot;
  • An outreach program to the international library community;
  • A model for a community-owned OA revenue programme for books;
  • A consortium of librarians and publishers that can serve as a model for collaboration around OA monographs.

# WP3: Knowledge Exchange and Piloting Alternative Business Models (M1 - M36) Annotate

WP Lead: Martin Eve (Birkbeck University)

Summary: WP3 is dedicated to knowledge exchange and transfer, as part of the project’s central commitment to dissemination. It builds pathways to impact with relevant stakeholders from across the sector, including publishers ((New) University Presses, library-presses, scholar-led presses), academics, learned societies, and open technology developers. As part of its activities, WP3 will convene a range of publisher stakeholders at a workshop to demonstrate the new infrastructural provisions and to locate at least two non-OA publishers willing to partially transition their business models to a new OA version. Working with the selected publishers over a two-year period, WP3 will assist them in migrating their economic models to OA versions, while documenting the process. In addition, WP3 will collect case studies and associated cost data of different sales and production processes. It will review the business models of project partners and other publishers in order to identify cost reductions for OA book publishers (e.g. LongLeaf model, infrastructural cost-reductions) of all scales, and will develop an online, open-source toolkit for booting-up and running an OA book press. This toolkit is for use by emerging and existing OA book publishers to help them organise and streamline their editorial processes, production workflows, data infrastructures, and business management protocols.

Key deliverables and impacts:

  • A pilot case to transition the business models of at least two extant publishers to new OA-amenable models;
  • An online, open-source toolkit for booting up and running an OA book press;
  • Knowledge dissemination about the new infrastructural provisions of the project;
  • Cost reductions and alternative business models for OA monograph publishing.

# WP4: Community Governance (M1 - M36) Annotate

WP Leads: Sherri Barnes (UCSB Library/punctum books) and Janneke Adema (Coventry University)

Summary: WP4 will develop the governance procedures of COPIM’s open publication ecosystem for monographs. It will create durable organisational structures for the coordination, governance an administrative support of the project’s community-owned infrastructure. This includes developing new avenues of outreach, communication and partnership with diverse stakeholders in open research with a shared interest in this infrastructure, creating genuine community involvement and collective control (ensuring the infrastructures won’t be governed by a particular commercial interest). WP4 will conduct research on collectively managed infrastructures as well as the technical governance between stakeholders (including libraries). In collaboration with WP2/3, it will assemble a publisher-librarian working group for: (a) the long-term management of consortial library funding programs, and (b) the identification and fostering of library-publisher experiments and projects that emphasise horizontal and cooperative knowledge-sharing between stakeholders (librarians, publishers, and researchers). WP4 will also conduct research on best practices for governing collaborative community-based book publishing projects of various scales, in line with professed needs of new and upstart publishers.

Key deliverables and impacts:

  • A model for the long-term management of consortial library funding programs;
  • Assembly of a governance community of representative stakeholders;
  • Official policies and procedures for self-governance and administrative management of the infrastructure;
  • 2 white papers based on community approved best practices for the governance of 1) open source community- owned infrastructures, and 2) OA book presses and consortia.

# WP5: Building an Open Dissemination System (M1 - M36) Annotate

WP Lead: Rupert Gatti (Trinity College, Cambridge)

Summary: WP5 will develop technical protocols and infrastructure to better integrate OA books into institutional library, digital learning and repository systems. This will support wider discovery and dissemination of OA books. Existing print and ebook distribution channels are difficult for new or OA publishers to engage with, requiring submission of metadata in multiple different formats (e.g. MARC, ONIX, KBART), and many platforms requiring multiple different metadata submissions; In addition, existing distribution channels are not well suited to OA content, while entirely new discovery and dissemination platforms are emerging (e.g. Google Books/Scholar). Guided by the perspective of new and emerging not-for-profit OA presses that have not yet been sufficiently integrated into existing discovery systems, knowledge bases, and supply routes, the aim of WP5 is to develop methods and systems to better integrate the catalogues of OA publishers into curated research records. The implementation of “best practices” workflows for OA book publishers will allow their catalogues to be better integrated into the scholarly record (discoverability, reach, persistence), increasing the impact of OA books. WP5 will build an Open Dissemination System (ODS) for OA books and a shared “best practices” digital catalogue. The ODS will be built as a decentralised system, using open source code, open protocols and standards and distributed databases—all under collective control. Doing so will ensure the system cannot be operated for the benefit of a single entity (either commercial or not).

Key deliverables and impacts:

  • An Open Dissemination System enhancing the discovery and dissemination of OA monographs;
  • A pilot case implementing the ODS infrastructure amongst the OA publishing partners;
  • A shared “best practices” digital catalogue to enable adoption of the ODS.

# WP6: Experimental Publishing, Re-use and Impact (M1 - M36) Annotate

WP Leads: Janneke Adema (Coventry University)

Summary: WP6 examines ways to more closely align existing software, technologies, workflows and infrastructures for experimental publishing with the workflow of OA book publishers and with the infrastructures that COPIM will create. It will produce a set of pilot cases of experimental books (including by ScholarLed presses Open Humanities Press and Mattering Press) which will be developed with the aid of these new tools and integrated into COPIM’s infrastructure. Relationships will be established with open source publishing platforms and projects focused on experimental long-form publications and outreach activities will be conducted with OA book publishers and authors to further promote experimental publishing opportunities. WP6 will also explore how non-experimental OA books are (re)used by the scholarly community. As such, it will examine those technologies and cultural strategies that are most effective in promoting OA book content interaction and reuse. This includes building communities around content and collections via annotations, comments and post- publication review (e.g. hypothes.is) to enable more collaborative forms of knowledge production. To achieve this, WP6 will map both existing technological solutions as well as cultural barriers and best practices with respect to reuse.

Key deliverables and impacts:

  • A pilot of representative experimental books built on top and integrated within the COPIM infrastructure;
  • An online resource detailing opportunities for experimental book publishing;
  • Technologies and cultural strategies to promote OA book content discovery, interaction and reuse and the creation, development and interaction with emergent genres of scholarship;
  • Reuse and engagement strategy for OA book publishers and scholars.

# WP7: Archiving and Digital Preservation (M6 - 36) Annotate

WP Leads: Gareth Cole (Loughborough University Library) and Rupert Gatti (Trinity College)

Summary: WP7 will identify the key challenges associated with archiving research monographs in all their variation and complexity and develop new solutions. The concept of a monograph as “just” text with the odd image or table is increasingly outdated. “Books” now come in multiple digital formats (e.g. pdf, xml, epub) as well as hardcopy, and can also include embedded material such as videos and interactive 3D models. In some publications, users can interact directly with content hosted externally, such as databases and urls. As individual objects, each of these formats—such as a pdf file or a video—appear in established guidance and standards for preservation and can be reliably archived with time, effort and resource. Yet how does one archive a “book” which consists of all of these? Technical methods for effectively archiving complex digital research publications and for creating an integrated collection of content in different formats have not yet been developed. In addition, legal issues further complicate effective archiving, even when the technical aspects have been resolved—these complications are potentially compounded when content collections are to be archived. Archiving solutions should also be relatively inexpensive, to ensure it can be adopted broadly by less well-financed presses.

Key deliverables and impacts:

  • Technical methods for effectively archiving complex digital research publications and for creating an integrated collection of content in different formats;
  • Pilot case archiving a subset of ScholarLed publications in at least two different locations (Loughborough, UCSB, BL);
  • A model which enables the expansion and uptake of the methods by other presses and libraries;
  • Recommendations for best practice around legal and copyright issues that complicate effective archiving of complex digital research publications.


Read more about our plans

Members of ScholarLed have written on our blog and elsewhere about the ethos that underlies the consortium and other groups that share our aims and with whom we work.


ScholarLed members have been developing various resources, tools, and software to support scholar-led publishing. In the spirit of community building we are sharing these here and on Github. Please get in touch if you have any questions about these resources.