Download the OPERAS Flyer here: OPERAS Flyer

Enabling Open Science through Scholarly Communication

OPERAS is the project of a distributed Research Infrastructure (RI) for open scholarly communication. The main goal is to introduce the principle of Open Science and ensure effective dissemination and global access to research results in the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). These disciplines need their own models for sustainable Open Access and the OPERAS Infrastructure will coordinate players to establish them. Robust services will directly enhance research outputs while new approaches to impact and measurement of academic merit will develop the way research is carried out, communicated and evaluated. Significant improvement in these aspects of scholarly communication – fostered by the OPERAS Infrastructure – will serve as a catalyst for the transition to Open Science and unfolding the European research area in the fields of SSH.

SSH: a Changing Environment for Research

Recent discussions stress research communication as an integral part of the research process. This holds particular strength in the SSH with writing and publishing of articles and monographs forming a significant part of the research as a dialectic process. Important issues in the current research discourse in the SSH are:

  • new research methods in the digital age, especially computer-aided research, in the rather traditional print-based Humanities – part of what is known as Digital Humanities;
  • an increasing call for open access to research outputs, both publications and research data, with an emphasis on opening up monographs and investigating new and sustainable business models;
  • assessing the impact of research through multimodal and qualitative means of evaluating research output that is appropriate for the SSH disciplines.
  • interdisciplinary and transnational research.

The European publishing landscape in the SSH is very fragmented and disjoint. While large publishers protect their stronghold of conventional publishing by forming barriers to advanced forms of scholarly communication, the small publishers (most of them institutionally and/or publicly supported) support these innovations towards the concepts of Open Science and digital enhanced research, but suffer from a lack of scale, efficiency and visibility on a pan-European level and across disciplines.

OPERAS: a Coordinated Initiative Addressing the Needs of the Community

OPERAS proposes to unite and improve existing and hitherto uncoordinated publishing services and infrastructures across EU Member States (MS) under a RI that will address the aforementioned challenges and will improve the way research is carried out, communicated and evaluated in the SSH. This is expected to lead to a significantly more advanced and efficient publishing system. More specifically, OPERAS will work to systematize and improve practices in the following key areas:

  • technology for publishing and research;
  • access to and discovery of content;
  • publishing practices of editors/researchers and publishers;
  • metrics, evaluation and communication on research outputs.

OPERAS will improve the interoperability of the fragmented publishing infrastructure in Europe by providing researchers and publishing entities with cutting edge publishing technology and
services. The development and provision of technology, infrastructure and services include: digital workflows for publication production, multiple document formats, standard online peer-review tools, support of machine-aided research tools (e.g. Text and Data Mining), measuring alternative metrics, research enhancement by lifecycle support to writing, publishing and reviewing, connecting the community and locating potential collaborations. A single point of access to vast primary content through enhanced discoverability in digital libraries and aligned indexes unfolds an invaluable resource to the research community. OPERAS will thus enable Europeans to research and digitally publish with aligned state of the art technologies in a way that has not been proposed before.

Towards a pan-European Library Dedicated to SSH Publications in Open Access

OPERAS will have an important impact on publishing practices of researchers and publishers across the SSH in Europe at many levels. The pan-European alignment into a RI of existing robust
publishing services with significant content already published means that European researchers will have access to a large, well-structured, searchable and steadily growing corpus of high-quality publications in the SSH from a single access point in the web. This is expected to facilitate and intensify the research process and to intensify collaborations across Europe and the need for transnational research. Importantly, large numbers of this content are openly accessible and partners will work with the principle of Open Access for future publications to further lower access barriers with the ultimate goal to establish Open Access publishing as the norm in the entire cycle including new practices in open peer-review and collaboration. Cutting edge services with new forms of publishing and shared standards of high quality editorial policies provide a wide choice of publication venues for researchers. The university-led and/or publicly/institutionally funded publishing entities operate with heavy involvement of the research community outside of the closed and unprogressive corporate publishing sphere.

OPERAS 6 Main Objectives

  • Adopt common standards
  • Share R&D
  • Identify and adopt best practices
  • Assess sustainable economic models
  • Advocate for open access and the SSH
  • Provide seamless service at European level

Changing the Academic System

The proposed RI will systematically address the important topic of metrics and research evaluation in the SSH. By providing the technological tools for alternative metrics and new indicators for the existing and future publications content, OPERAS aims to introduce new concepts for measuring the impact of research outputs at the European scale, including research data, blogs and other types of research outputs. Beyond the services described above, OPERAS will systematically provide:

  • skills and training on numerous cutting edge developments relevant to scholarly communication for researchers;
  • information and studies on impact of evaluative methods, metric systems, new business models and sustainability strategies for publishing entities;
  • data and evidence for informed decisions and strategy development of institutional and funding bodies.

With the large numbers of authors, publishers and research institutions already represented in the proposed RI, OPERAS will have an almost immediate impact in the research practices in the SSH across Europe. In contributing towards an inclusive and efficient scholarly communications system in the SSH in Europe, OPERAS envisions to position itself centrally in engaging the wider ecosystem of stakeholders of scholarly communications, e.g. researchers, research institutions, libraries, platforms, publishers, funders.

By coordinating and improving existing SSH publishing services under the umbrella of a European RI, OPERAS is expected to have far-reaching implications in the way research in the SSH is carried out in Europe. It will introduce new ways of communicating research, new ways of evaluating research and contribute to an ethos of collaboration, open science and transparency in the entire research process.

ESFRI 2018
Operas will apply to the ESFRI roadmap in 2017 to be able to build a distributed
Research Infrastructure from 2018. The initiative will be coordinated from France by OpenEdition and OPERAS Core Group.


OPERAS Projects


The OPERAS-D (Design for Open Access in the European Research Area through Scholarly communication) project will support the 5 main partners (“core group”) of the OPERAS network in the development of a European e-infrastructure for open access publications in the SSH. The project will address long-term requirements for the development of the e-infrastructure and community building, as well as seek to expand other interested parties within and beyond Europe, and in diverse fields of the SSH. To achieve this goal, the key objectives of the OPERAS-D project are to prepare a design study that defines governance models, structures and scientific and technical concepts for future services that the infrastructure will provide, and establishes a roadmap to achieve these goals according to the requirements for long term sustainability. OPERAS-D will engage the current and future partners in the OPERAS network to strengthen the community and develop the network of partners participating in OPERAS across Europe, specifically in central European countries.

Partners: OpenEdition, OAPEN, Max Weber Foundation, EKT, Knowledge Unlatched

Duration: 18 months from January 2017

More information: operas-eu.org/operas-d


HIRMEOS (High Integration of Research Monographs in the European Open Science infrastructure) focuses  on  the  monograph as  a significant mode  of  scholarly communication  in  the  SSH and  tackles  the  main obstacles  of  the  full  integration of  publishing  platforms  supporting  open  access monographs. The project will improve 5 Open Access books publishing platforms (OpenEdition Books, OAPEN Library,  EKT  Open Book Press,  Ubiquity  Press  and  Göttingen University Press)  enhancing their technical capacities and services,  rendering  technologies  and  content  interoperable  and embedding  them  fully  into  the  European  Open  Science  Cloud.  HIRMEOS will prototype innovative services by  providing  additional  data,  links  and interactions to the documents, paving the way to new potential tools for  research  assessment,  which  is  still  a  major  challenge  in  the  SSH.  The  platforms  participating will be enriched with tools that enable identification, authentication and  interoperability,  and  tools  that  enrich  information  and entity extraction ,  the  ability  to  annotate  monographs, and  gather  usage  and  alternative  metric  data. HIRMEOS  will  also  enrich  the technical  capacities  of  the  Directory  of Open  Access  Books, a  most significant  indexing  service  for  open  access  monographs  globally, to  receive automated information for ingestion, while it will also develop a structured certification system to  document  monograph peer-review.

Partners: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Ethniko Idryma Erevnon, Stitching OAPEN, Max Weber Stiftung, Georg-August-Universitat Goettingen Stiftung Offentlichen Rechts, Ubiquity Press Limited, Open Book Publishers, Dariah ERIC, Università degli Studi di Torino

Duration: 30 months from January 2017

More information: operas-eu.org/hirmeos or hirmeos.eu