Knowledge Exchange Releases SPARC-sponsored Report on Strategies for Sustaining Open Access Resources

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Knowledge Exchange* has released “The Collective Provision of Open Access Resources,” the third report in its multiphase “Sustainability of Open Access Resources” initiative. The report, which was funded by SPARC, examines the practical planning issues relevant to the economic sustainability of infrastructure services that support the growth of the open-access dissemination of scholarly and scientific research.

Specifically, the report aims to guide funders and project planners in constructing and coordinating collective funding models capable of supporting open-access infrastructure resources. The report:

  • Reviews the fundamentals of robust sustainability modeling;
  • Explores the economic and institutional issues that confront those seeking to sustain free infrastructure services;
  • Identifies strategies for overcoming institutional free ridership in the design of funding models; and
  • Describes practical mechanisms for coordinating the collective provision of infrastructure services.

The report examines the role of a sustainability model in maximizing an initiative’s mission impact, the centrality of sustainability planning to a service’s design and purpose, and the implications of non-subsidy models for an organization’s staffing and mindset.

Providing free infrastructure services poses challenges that differ from market-based approaches. The report explores two critical elements to designing an effective sustainability model for a free-to-the user infrastructure service: 1) inducing potential participants to reveal their demand for the service, and 2) getting organizations to contribute voluntarily to its provision.

Sustainability design elements covered by the study include establishing an explicit financial hurdle for an initiative, how group size and dynamics affect the potential success of a collective funding model, using assurance contracts to coordinate collective support and generate a high level of participation.

By reviewing the key elements that comprise a sustainability model, the economic realities that affect free-to-user distribution, and practical approaches for coordinating collective funding, the report provides a framework to guide individual initiatives in developing successful sustainability plans.

The full report can be found here.

*Knowledge Exchange is a cooperative effort that includes the Finland’s CSC ( IT Center for Science), Denmark’s Electronic Research Library (DEFF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the United Kingdom, and SURF in the Netherlands.