TAKE 5 With PALOMERA partners – Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

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 July, we talked with Malte Dreyer, Scientific Officer at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. 

5 questions

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself as an organisation and your role in the PALOMERA project.

The Göttingen State and University Library (SUB) performs many national tasks in the organisation of publication infrastructures. It is worth noting that, due to our federal structure, we do not have a centralised administration for scholarly communication in Germany. But a number of libraries have established themselves in this field over the years. One of these is the SUB. Because the federal government only funds publication infrastructures in projects for legal reasons, we have a lot of them, around 50: digital editions, networking initiatives, policy research and much more.

PALOMERA plays a very special role here because, together with DIAMAS and CRAFT OA, it is the only European Open Access project that we have at the moment in Göttingen. At the same time, we are also involved in numerous national initiatives. This is a great opportunity: the projects can network and learn from each other. The SUB is also a kind of hub where all these initiatives come together, which is very exciting.

2. As part of the data collection phase for OA book policies related documents, you worked on the quantitative survey. Could you tell us why this survey was important and what has been achieved with it?

The survey is an important part of our project. In general, the data situation on the topic of open access books is not as good as in the area of journals. This applies not only to bibliometric data, but also to data from surveys. Do people know about the policies for open access books? What do they think about them? And which policy measures to improve open access books are useful in their eyes? We tried to find out all this with our survey. The results go directly into our policy recommendations.

The results of the survey were in many ways expected, which is very good because it confirms the integrity of the data. For example, it seems that the various stakeholder groups consider the general situation for open access books better in the areas in which they are mainly involved.

But this also shows that everyone would rate the situation better if they had more professional information. We therefore need to do a better job of communicating the services that already exist. At the same time it should be taken seriously that all respondents see room for improvement: the political, economic, technical and legal conditions for the publication of open access books can be improved in the eyes of all respondents. This was also expected. 

However, we also had some surprising results. For example, it can be seen that interest in shaping a policy at one’s own institution is very high when there has been a well-organised national policy process. And this is despite the fact that the national policy processes do not actually have much to do with those at the universities. But probably a policy process at a high level does have an overarching effect on the awareness for policy making. Isn’t that a good reason for strong OS and OA policies at EU and national level?

Malte Dreyer. Photo: Private

3. In your opinion, how does the PALOMERA project support universities such as yours?

Of course, the direct effect of a policy research project is not as great as in projects in which technical tools are designed for scientific work. We do have the PALOMERA database, in which many policy documents are stored. This would also help our staff in Göttingen if they wanted to create an open access policy for books. But the actual effect of the project is a bit hidden: one important outcome is the support of high-level policy makers to put the topic on the agenda. 

I am sure that PALOMERA is already helping to get more people talking about open access books. And I’m sure that more policies on this topic will be launched in the coming years. And that is the really interesting point for the work at the grassroots level – also in my university. 

As soon as the science funding organisations, the federal states, the federal government or the EC release more binding policies for OA books, scientists and libraries who want to have OA books but don’t have enough possibilities can say to their university management: look! Of course the book must be published OA! It’s our strategy, don’t you want to follow our policy? And with these arguments it is then much easier to release funds and to orientate the institutional strategy towards OA books. 

4. What is the number one thing that struck you while participating in the project so far?

At an operating level, I would say that it is wonderful to see how the different players work together so effectively and in a solution-orientated way. We have over 60 employees from over 16 countries, each with their own professional background and way of working.

I’ve never been involved in a project where so many different people had to get so much done in such a short space of time. You need highly professional project management to bring all this under one roof. I’ve learnt a lot from our project management.

In terms of content, I am extremely fascinated by the great diversity of degrees of development and solution ideas for open access books in Europe. But the numerous similarities are also impressive – for example, the fact that the book market’s backlook is not a country-specific issue: all EU countries still have room for development in this area. This is also what makes it so important that we are working on this problem in a European project and not in national monads. 

5. How do you see things evolving after the project finishes?

Many projects face the major challenge that their results need to be maintained even after the end of the project. We also have a few outputs that need to be transferred to the care of other project organisers after the end of PALOMERA so that they can be used in the future. I’m thinking in particular of the PALOMERA Database or the Funder Forum, an exchange format for European science funders who meet regularly to talk about Open Access Books. At best, this will be continued after the end of the project period. So continuation concepts have to be developed. 

However, it is more complicated with the policy recommendations. Such results must be fed into the political discourse and have an impact there. Success in this area is not easy to quantify and the use of policy recommendations is difficult to monitor. PALOMERA cannot create tools to control this discourse after the project has ended. This is where PALOMERA differs from a project in which, for example, a computer programme is created that can be used in a predefined way also after the project is history. Our project creates awareness for OA Books policies and provides an impulse for a political discourse. We unleash something but once the bird has flown it is hard to catch. And that’s a good thing.

To learn 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! 

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Lore Caliman (July 8, 2024). TAKE 5 With PALOMERA partners – Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. OPERAS. Retrieved July 25, 2024 from https://doi.org/10.58079/11ylx

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