TAKE 5 With PALOMERA partners: OPERAS
The “Take 5 with PALOMERA partners” is a blog series featuring the members of the PALOMERA project; you can get to know them with 5 questions and a quick read!
The PALOMERA project is dedicated to understanding why so few open access funder policies include books, and to provide actionable recommendations to change this situation. PALOMERA is funded for two years under the Horizon Europe: Reforming and Enhancing the European R&I System.
In November, we talked with Pierre Mounier, OPERAS Co-coordinator (Community), OpenEdition Associate Director and Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) Co-Director.
1. In the very first post of the ‘Take 5 with PALOMERA partners’ blog series, Niels Stern told us about DOAB and its collaboration with OpenEdition. Can you tell us a little bit about your roles within OPERAS and OpenEdition?
As OpenEdition’s Associate Director, my main role is to lead and coordinate the international development strategy, with a strong focus on advancing the OPERAS research infrastructure led by OpenEdition. Internally, I ensure alignment between OPERAS’ goals and OpenEdition’s interests. This involves fostering engagement through projects like PALOMERA and facilitating OpenEdition team participation in the OPERAS coordination team. I also establish effective communication channels between OpenEdition’s board of directors and OPERAS’ management.
In my role as OPERAS co-coordinator, I focus on supporting and expanding our member network, developing projects to meet their specific needs, and contributing to the infrastructure strategy. My daily interactions involve understanding individuals’ requirements and aspirations, working towards aligning their actions for collaboration within the OPERAS community.
My counterpart, Suzanne Dumouchel, also a co-coordinator, concentrates on forging external partnerships across Europe. This entails collaborations with other Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) ERICs, IT infrastructure providers, policymakers, the European Commission, and her role as a director of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).
2. How are those two organizations involved in the PALOMERA project?
OpenEdition, a French national infrastructure, contributes essential data and insights to the project from France. This is particularly crucial in the initial phase, dedicated to building a knowledge base for shaping recommendations on open access book policies in Europe. France stands out due to its robust network of 38 university presses deeply engaged in open science and open access book publishing. Yet, policy advancement in this domain is hindered by economic and political constraints. OpenEdition aims to represent this unique situation and ensure that project outcomes strengthen open access book policies in France.
OPERAS, as the project coordinator, provides critical organizational support to the scientific coordinator, Niels Stern, focusing on financial and administrative management. Additionally, OPERAS leads the work package on communication, dissemination, engagement, and exploitation, harmonizing partner efforts in these areas. This role is paramount because PALOMERA seeks to support the diverse European scholarly community. The variance across countries, revealed through the knowledge base, underscores the need for robust communication channels within the community to align project outcomes with evolving needs.
3. Why do you think the PALOMERA project is relevant and timely?
The transition to open access for books has historically lagged behind journals due to various challenges. Books often require preservation of their print format, and library budgets dedicated to books have dwindled while journal subscription costs have risen. Many small presses, which publish a significant portion of books, face challenges in transitioning to open access without affecting their economic viability. Furthermore, humanities research communities have been relatively slower to embrace open science practices.
This calls for tailored efforts to explore open access transition models that address the unique needs of academic book publishing. Encouragingly, funders and policymakers have shown a growing interest in this area, exemplified by cOAlition S’s September 2021 statement on open access books. This momentum suggests an opportune moment for policy-level initiatives to support the transition. However, these policies must be sensitive to the diversity of situations within the sector to avoid jeopardizing this fragile ecosystem.
The PALOMERA project is poised to play a crucial role in this context. It aims to provide a robust knowledge base that informs policymakers and guides the development of recommendations, thus facilitating the design of policies that support the transition to open access in academic book publishing.
4. In your opinion, what is the biggest impact PALOMERA will have within the scholarly communication sphere?
The PALOMERA project aims to expedite the shift toward open access in the book publishing sector, which has been progressing more slowly than the journal sector. Currently, the Directory of Open Access Books lists over 70,000 open access books worldwide, a noteworthy but marginal representation in comparison to the overall book production.
Given the rapid adoption of open science principles in the scholarly communication sector, it’s crucial for the book sector to keep pace; otherwise, there’s a risk that long-form publications could lose relevance. A successful PALOMERA project is anticipated to stimulate the development of policies, strategies and funding initiatives to support the transition of academic books to open access. This shift would enhance the sustainability, visibility, and utilisation of this scholarly publishing format.
This transition holds particular significance for fields like humanities and social sciences, where in-depth knowledge is often best conveyed through books. A greater number of open access books would create fresh opportunities, fostering increased utilisation, reutilization, and a more substantial impact for research in these disciplines.
5. How do you see things evolving after the project finishes?
The PALOMERA project will yield lasting outcomes, including a valuable dataset, a comprehensive knowledge base, informative reports, and policy recommendations encapsulated in policy briefs. Notably, it introduces the “Funders Forum”, an innovative tool facilitating research funding organisations’ coordination for consistent support of open access books. While this is an initial step, it lays the foundation for broader adoption of open access in book publishing.
The expectation is that the PALOMERA project’s results will inspire further initiatives aimed at implementing adopted policies and creating tangible tools, services, and models for facilitating the transition. Addressing these pressing needs is indeed feasible.
The ultimate goal is to foster a cultural shift toward open access and open science among various stakeholders in book publishing, including policymakers, funders, publishers, libraries, institutions, and scientific communities. If, in a few years, open access becomes the default choice for academic book publishing, PALOMERA will be considered a success and a catalyst for comprehensive change. Such a transformation would unlock a wealth of knowledge, benefiting researchers, students, and civil society actors.
To get to know more about the PALOMERA project: visit the project’s page.
This series is produced by the Work Package 5 team from the PALOMERA project. Stay tuned for the next posts coming soon!