OPERAS Business and Governance Model and Long-term Strategy


Download the full OPERAS Design Study here: OPERAS Design Study

doi: 10.5281/zenodo.1009544


OPERAS aims to establish a distributed Research Infrastructure for open access (OA) publishing in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) across Europe. This plan presents the business and Governance model for OPERAS. It is part of the OPERAS Design Study, and presents the outcome of ongoing work to develop an overall business plan for OPERAS. It is developed within the framework of the OPERAS application for the ESFRI Roadmap 20181, and builds on other work which was carried out as part   of the Design Study, within the dedicated Horizon 2020 INFRASUPP-03-2016 project OPERAS-D: a Landscape Study, a Technical Mapping, a Services Survey, and a study of the ESFRI landscape.

The framework for OPERAS, its concept, vision, business case, and basic organisation, were already in place when this business and Governance model was developed. The core ideas for OPERAS as a distributed infrastructure within the ESFRI framework were developed ahead of the ESFRI Roadmap 2016. The application process for the ESFRI Roadmap 2016 was used as a test-run before the launch of the OPERAS project. OPERAS was presented at the OASPA conference in 2015 in Amsterdam. It was further developed in preparation of two Horizon 2020 projects: the aforementioned OPERAS-D project, and HIRMEOS, a Shared Services project for OPERAS partner platforms dedicated to monographs, which serves as proof of concept for part of OPERAS’ development in the Design and Preparation Phases.

The business and Governance model consists of three main elements: a plan for the sustained provision (developing, operating and sharing) of services; a Governance model to ensure the needs of the community are served, that it is supported by its members, that it is responsive to changing needs and demands; and the legal framework, to establish OPERAS as a legal entity.

This plan was presented to and approved by the Core Group and the OPERAS partners within the OPERAS-D project, during the OPERAS-D Validation workshop held in Amsterdam, on 26 and 27 June 2017.



OPERAS tackles the challenge of renewing scholarly communication practices in the  humanities  and social sciences (SSH) in the digital age and in the context of Open Science (OS). The landscape   in this domain reveals an important array of initiatives (presses, library projects, platforms, service providers, researchers networks), innovative and with disruptive potential for some of them, but mostly small-size, localized, addressing small communities’ needs, fragmented, not very collaborative and communicating poorly with their peers. The players populating the scholarly communication landscape, particularly in Europe and particularly in SSH are therefore very fragile, and lack resources (in terms of skills, know-how and funding) to efficiently manage the digital turn and their integration in the European Open Science Cloud.

The current publishing system in the social sciences and humanities is still late in exploiting the full potential of the open web. The landscape, as mentioned above, is dotted with myriads of small enterprises, some of them being adaptive to the new web environment, some of them still devoted to the paper format and suspicious about online diffusion, a feeling often shared with many researchers in these domains. It’s also to be considered that, in such a fragmented environment, the quality of the editorial workflow and the tools to provide quality assurance can range from innovative online features to no features at all, a situation that also negatively affects the research evaluation systems.

When looking for scientific information, researchers still have to perform multiple, time-consuming queries on each of the single, small platforms of their reference publishers or on each library catalogue or institutional repository. In some cases , we are talking about closed-access platforms, giving access to very narrow disciplinary works. When submitted to national or local research assessment exercises, researchers struggle to demonstrate the value of their research outputs, of the serious editorial workflow behind their work, and of the real impact of their books.

In such a picture, it’s difficult to think in terms of interdisciplinarity, internationalisation, or, even of the visibility of research which, in most of the cases, is funded by public money.

There is a number of initiatives dedicated to SSH scholarly communication in Europe that follows the guidelines of Open Science (such as OAPEN, OpenEdition, Ubiquity Press, Share Press, Perspectivia, UC Digitalis among others). They need to synergize at the level of the continent and improve their sustainability in terms of structural funding. They need to reach a critical mass together to be able to change the global landscape and drive other smaller and less advanced players onto the path to Open Science.


The challenges facing scholarly communication in the SSH have been well documented in various studies and academic conferences in recent years2. It has generally been accepted that SSH disciplines require specific approaches to address the needs of all stakeholders and make the transition to digital practices and Open Science. In SSH, research and authorship are deeply connected and research   and publication are linked through the editing process. Therefore, the lack of a specific model for humanities and social sciences based on open scholarly communication prevents a large part of the scientific community to integrate with the Open Science framework due to inadequate modelling.

There is currently no European infrastructure designed to support open scholarly communication in the humanities and social sciences. There are, however, a number of projects of various sizes whose organisational, technical, and financial sustainability is not guaranteed. This infrastructure project responds to this need for coordination at a European level. ERA needs to have all players of the field committed in a structural initiative to drive them onto a converging path. Other types of organization are too weak and give too little incentive to prevent the different players from diverging, experimenting in their own way without coordinating, and reinventing the wheel several times: this is the situation we are facing now. Professional associations (OASPA), networks (Going for Gold) and national infrastructures providing OA publishing services (OpenEdition, OAPEN, Hrcak, EKT, UC Digitalis) already exist but alone they are unable to restructure the landscape in the long term at European level.

The different partners already work together on bilateral basis on specific projects3. If OPERAS  was only a cooperation network it would be unable to move to a wider and more global level of integration. The objective is to set up an operational framework for cooperation that drives players to global cooperation. Given the very fragmented landscape of academic publishing in Europe, especially concerning SSH, the sector obviously needs a major initiative that engages the players more effectively than a loose network and more permanently than a project. It has to provide concrete benefits of cooperation with all the infrastructure services such as those described in the OPERAS project . Moreover, while cooperation networks and projects can provide benefits to participating partners, they are unable to change the landscape of a sector. What is needed is a common set of technologies, standards, services and models shared by a large number of players (several thousands of publishers, researchers, libraries, aggregators), across ERA countries in order to defragment the sector and build a common space allowing the development of open scholarly communication in SSH.

In most cases, players in the field tend to focus on their immediate environment. There is a lack of collaboration between north and south Europe and western and central Europe that can be reduced only through the building of a common infrastructure across ERA.

As a distributed Research Infrastructure, OPERAS aims at opening the many locks that prevent the sector from upgrading their practices and integrating into the Open Science paradigm. OPERAS will provide a pan-European platform dedicated to open scholarly communication including publications. OPERAS will enable important actors from across Europe to work closer together in a joint vision that will strengthen their investment and work in the future. At the same time, it is envisioned that this Research Infrastructure (RI) will attract a significant pool of European researchers who will benefit from its services and collaborate in future innovative research and communication initiatives.


Main goal: To coordinate and pool university-led scholarly communication activities in Europe, particularly in the social sciences and humanities (SSH), in view of enabling Open Science as the standard practice

Outcome:  A  more efficient, fair,  inclusive and  sustainable scholarly  communication  ecosystem formEuropean researchers

Mission: OPERAS aims to provide a pan-European infrastructure for open scholarly communication


The SSH scholarly communication is particularly fragile. Scattered among multiple small-scale actors and far from user friendly, its academic and editorial output varies in quality and is poorly funded, inaccessible and poorly referenced. This is exactly the contribution that this infrastructure project can offer, not by supplanting actors but by reinforcing their presence, initially by providing coordination and a distributed service infrastructure.

OPERAS will coordinate services, practices and technology across main actors in the SSH scholarly communications in Europe to provide joint services; to align activities of strategic actors and stakeholders (research institutions, libraries, platforms, publishers, funders) in their transition to Open Science, and in particular scholarly communication; to develop common good practice standards   for digital open access publishing, infrastructures, services, editorial qualities, business models and funding streams, explore alternative measurements of impact in the SSH; offer sustained training along common standards to researchers and other stakeholders on all of the above.

The OPERAS organization and operation follows the principle of subsidiarity adopted by European Union: it means that each partner provides publication and communication services to their own scientific community, but collaborate and share their technologies, know-how, practices and efforts to:

  • Align their activities to increase the quality of services
  • Integrate into  the  European  Open  Science  Cloud  (EOSC)  in   particular  to achieve interoperability
  • Provide integrated services at European level when there is a clear and defined added value
  1. Regarding the first level (Shared Services), OPERAS partners provide services all along the research life cycle and provide altogether a federated open scholarly communication platform: The added value of OPERAS is to provide support to the partners regarding their current activities: information, training, adoption of best practices, sharing of tools and research and development, and improve their specialization and complementarity in terms of services and business models. The outcome of the proposed pooling of resources and coordination will be a much more efficient, fair, inclusive and sustainable scholarly communication ecosystem for European researchers, as well as an innovative
  2. Regarding the second level (EOSC Integration), OPERAS drives the partners to adopt common standards (PIDs, metadata, content structuration and communication protocols) and to upgrade their technical infrastructure to be able to interconnect with other parts on the At European level, OPERAS increases connectivity and achieve collaboration with infrastructures at a lower level (GEANT) and with complementary infrastructures (DARIAH, CLARIN, CESSDA, OpenAIRE). The outcome will be a better integration of SSH disciplines in the common effort towards Open Science and will make the resources available for the development of innovative services.
  3. Regarding the third level (OPERAS platforms), OPERAS develops integrated services at European level for certification, discovery and citizen science that cannot be local The three services will build on existing infrastructures that have proved their value and soundness, but currently lack resources to scale up:
    • The Certification platform will be based on the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) developed by OAPEN Foundation in collaboration with DOAJ: it will provide particularly to funders and research libraries an international list of SSH open access publications that meet minimal quality criteria regarding peer-reviewing, licensing and
    • The Discovery platform will be based on Isidore developed by Huma-Num. It will allow all European researchers in SSH to discover open access resources (data, publications and other materials) relevant to their The service added value consists of its ability to describe resources alongside disciplinary ontologies and to align them across several languages. The discovery service will then develop across Europe and enable researchers to find relevant publications and data in multiple languages.
    • The Research for Society platform will be based on Hypotheses, currently the largest academic platform in the world with more than 2000 blogs. The service will develop social networking functionalities around Hypotheses to facilitate collaboration between researchers and socio- economic actors on research projects. The Research for society service offers a disruptive model for citizen science that complements impact with engagement. This service will be multidisciplinary and will convey STM disciplines as well as SSH to address societal challenges identified by the European Union.


The main objective of OPERAS is to build and maintain a sustainable infrastructure of partners and services, all tackling open access publishing in the humanities and social sciences. OPERAS as a consortium will put special effort in setting up standards for the involved e-infrastructures. As publishing is usually deeply rooted within disciplinary and national cultures, it will be important to have a de-centralized e-infrastructure that is nevertheless bound together by common standards, mutually trusted networks and a high level of common understanding. Standards to be implemented in the networked infrastructure will cover data modeling (metadata schemes, enabling for linked open data, protocols, etc.), interoperability (metadata, content, interfaces etc.), service level agreements, expected performance rates, concepts of long-term archiving, storage policies, security and access rights. OPERAS is implementing a working group consisting of partner’s delegates and external experts (members of advisory board or stakeholder board) to agree on common standards, monitor standards and consult partners and stakeholders who, especially at the beginning, are having difficulties in meeting those standards.

The central e-infrastructure services (Certification Platform, Discovery platform, Research for Society platform) will be provided by the partners, supported by their institutions. They will be developed through specific projects (HIRMEOS, INFRAEOSC, SWAFS and INFRADEV). The three integrated services provided by OPERAS will contribute to the EOSC ensuring effective integration of SSH publications and other documents.

  1. OPERAS Certification platform will provide information about the quality of data (peer-reviewing and FAIR principles).
  2. OPERAS Discovery platform, which is to be developed during the Preparation Phase, will connect publications, data, researchers and projects to increase their discoverability, impact and re-use in the research
  3. OPERAS Research for Society platform will contribute to the citizen science aim of the EOSC providing an effective framework for collaboration between researchers and socio-economic

Geographical: all ERA countries

Disciplinary: SSH and multidisciplinary

Types of stakeholders: academic institutions (scholarly communication services), publishers, publishing platforms, service providers, research libraries, library consortia, researchers, socio- economic actors.


The business model reflects the key operating characteristics4:

  • Audiences: the audiences or client segments that derive value from the
  • Value proposition: the value that the service delivers for which a specific client segment is willing to pay (financial or in-kind).
  • Core activities and resources to produce the service and support the funding
  • Resource streams: the mechanisms by which the service generates

The audiences for OPERAS can be divided into participating entities and target audiences:

Participating entities are OPERAS partners and supporting countries (through ESFRI). OPERAS partners consist of the Core Group members (including coordinating partner) and other partners.

Target audiences are OPERAS stakeholders (these can also be partners) and the research community:

  • Academic institutions (scholarly communication services), research libraries
  • Publishers
  • Infrastructure services (platforms, service providers, consortia)
  • Research community
  • Socio-economic actors
Value proposition

The value proposition for each of the audiences differs:

    • Partners: by collaborating within the OPERAS framework, partners are able to improve their performance in various ways. Benefits include: Extending reach and capacity; Developing new services for target groups; Building market position; Improving mission impact; Developing competitive These benefits are more pronounced for partners in relation to their level of involvement.
    • Coordinating country: the coordinating country has a specific advantage in the aim to achieve a transition to Open Science in SSH, by providing the hosting role. Leading the transition to OS in SSH; Building position in EOSC; Creating
    • Supporting countries: supporting countries support the transition to OS in SSH and strengthen the position of national partners through
    • Academic institutions: for academic institutions, OPERAS provides a pan-European platform for the transition to OS, providing central and distributed OS services for
    • Infrastructure services: for infrastructure services that are not an OPERAS partner, OPERAS provides a framework to support OS, through awareness, standards, training,
    • Publishers: for publishers that are not an OPERAS partner, OPERAS supports the transition to OS and provides new services through its partner
    • Research community: for SSH researchers, OPERAS provides a dedicated and comprehensive platform for open scholarly communication.
    • Socio-economic actors: this is a very diverse audience, but socio-economic actors benefit from OPERAS by gaining increased access to research outputs and in particular from the Research for Society service, which provides a platform for exchange and collaboration with the research
Resource streams

Each of the audiences contributes resources to OPERAS in certain ways:

      • Partners: the lead partner provides coordination of the development and eventual RI, and provides most of the in-kind support; Core Group partners support the coordination, support ESFRI process and provide in-kind support; the other partners also provide in-kind
      • Coordinating country: the coordinating country provides hosting and helps fund the development and operation of the
      • Supporting countries: provide funding for the operation of the
      • Academic institutions: provide access to  research  community,  contribute through premium services.
      • Infrastructure services: extend distributed infrastructure, contribute through premium
      • Publishers: provide publications, contribute through premium
      • Research community: for the research community, all services are open and free to use. But researchers do contribute value to OPERAS through their usage of the services provided. One could argue that the researchers are the primary target audience and create the central value to OPERAS.
      • Socio-economic actors: provide value through exchange and collaboration within the Research for Society service.

Table 1: OPERAS key operating characteristics

 Audiences  Value proposition  Contribution  Funding streams
Partners – lead OpenEdition –   Extending reach and capacity

–   Developing new services for target groups

–   Building market position

–   Improving mission impact

–   Developing competitive advantage

–   Coordination

–   2 FTE in-kind support

Partners – core Core Group/ representing countries/MoU –   Support

–   0,2 FTE in-kind support

Partners – other LoS 0,1 FTE in-kind support
Coordinating country France –   Leading transition to OS in SSH

–   Building position in EOSC

–   Creating scale

Host Funding
Supporting countries- Countries with EoS Supporting transition to OS in SSH Support Funding
Researchers All – SSH Dedicated OS platform for SSH –   Usage

–   Attention

Publishers All – SSH Providing new services Publications Contribution through premium services
Academic institutions Europe –   Platform for transition to OS

–   OS Services for researchers

Access to researchers Contribution through premium services
Infrastructure services Europe Framework supporting OS Extending distributed infrastructure Contribution through premium services
Socio-economic actors Europe Research for society service –   Usage

–   Attention

Funders Europe –       Vehicle for transition to OS

–       OS Services for researchers

Access to researchers Contribution through premium services
EU Europe Contributing to EOSC Support Project funding

OPERAS is an initiative gathering a large number of scholarly-led partners across Europe, most of them supported by public universities, particularly research libraries, with a few exceptions. As mentioned in the scientific case, most of them can sustain their own activity but lack resources to upgrade their technical infrastructure and/or develop new innovative services, or to scale them up to the European level. OPERAS will not directly fund partners activity, which should remain supported by the regional or national communities they serve based on their own cost-benefit analysis. The infrastructure will support them indirectly by helping them improve the quality of service they offer through R&D and coordination  projects.

On the other hand, OPERAS infrastructure has to fund its own construction up to its incorporation   as an ERIC and then support its own operational costs for coordination. It is planned that OPERAS operational costs after Preparation and Construction Phases will remain extremely low. The business case for each of the three integrated services is that they will be independent and self-sustaining.

Therefore OPERAS costs can be divided into four parts:

      1. Operational costs of the partners
      2. Projects development cost and Infrastructure construction costs
      3. Infrastructure operational costs
      4. Integrated services operational costs
1: OPERAS partners operational costs

Each partner will remain independent regarding the funding of its activities. A large majority of OPERAS partners provide public infrastructure services to their regional or national scientific community. Their activity is therefore funded structurally by the public institutions supporting them. A minority of them are SMEs or not-for-profit independent organisations. The following table summarizes the economic model of the Core Group members, largely reflecting the situation of the Consortium at large.

Table 2: Core Group partners and their business models

Name Type Institution/Organization Business model
OpenEdition Public –   CNRS

–   University of Aix-Marseille

–   University of Avignon

–   Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

Structural funding, freemium revenues, projects public funding
OAPEN Not-for-Profit foundation –   University of Amsterdam

–   University of Leiden

–   University of Utrecht

–   Netherlands Academy of Science

–   National Library of the Netherlands

–   Amsterdam University Press

–   Revenues from services

–   Projects funding

–   https://www.OAPEN.org/ content/about-annual- report-2015

Max Weber Stiftung Public foundation Federal Ministry of Education and Research –   Public funding

–   Projects public funding

EKT Public foundation National Hellenic Research Foundation –   Public funding

–   Projects public funding

UCL Press Public University College London (Library) – Public funding and commercial revenues
IBL PAN Public Polish Academy of Science –   Public funding

–   Projects public funding

UC Digitalis Public Coimbra University –   Public funding

–   Projects public funding

Unito Sirio Public University of Torino –   Public funding

–   Projects public funding

 2: Infrastructure development

The infrastructure development is planned to be funded through projects (INFRAEOSC and INFRADEV calls) and Coordinator funding coming from the French national investment plan (2019–2026)5, and structural funding. It is expected that FP8 (H2020) and FP9 EC funding will cover collaborative and R&D projects as well as the development of the integrated services. Coordinator funding will cover the Central Hub costs in terms of personnel costs and physical hosting. As stated in the MoU, Core Group partners will support the development of the infrastructure in kind through 20% FTE each.

3: OPERAS infrastructure operational costs

After Preparation and Construction Phases, the operational costs will be divided between coordination costs supported by the Member States contributing to the ERIC, Coordinator specific funding (for physical hosting) and the project funding supported by future EC calls within FP9.

4: OPERAS integrated services operational costs

The operation of the three Central Platforms for integrated services will be supported by mixed funding composed of public funding coming from operators, sponsoring and commercialization of premium services (freemium model):

The Certification platform (DOAB) will be supported by OpenEdition (CNRS and Aix-Marseille University) and OAPEN as a joint venture through an independent, non-profit foundation. The operational costs of DOAB will be supported by shareholders contributions, sponsoring and income from premium services.

The  Discovery  platform  (Isidore)  will  be  supported  by  public  funding  through Huma-Num infrastructure.

The Research for Society platform (Hypotheses) will be supported by public funding through OpenEdition infrastructure with additional revenues coming from premium services.

More details can be found in the investment plan below. The overall principle that governs the OPERAS business case is similar to its structuration: modularity. Its sustainability is ensured by the conjunction of different streams of funding and a diversity of models used (local funding, structural funding, project funding, commercial revenues)

Financial target

The financial target for OPERAS is ‘cash-flow self-sufficiency’6, by which we mean that external income covers all incremental operating expenses, but without covering fully loaded overhead costs and without recovering development investment.

‘Cash-flow self-sufficiency’ requires subsidy from the host institution:

      • Host institution provides in-kind overhead
      • Initial development capital either grant- funded or
      • Future capital investment subsidized by host institution or external
Overall funding

The overall figures are as follows:

DESIGN: €2.4 M (real)

PREPARATION: €8.6 M (estimated)

CONSTRUCTION: €9.2 M (estimated)


Cost details per phase

In this section, we present the cost details per phase. Personnel costs are estimated on average at 50K a year. All evaluations are in Euro.

Costs for the Design Phase (2015–2017): 2.4 M

      • Central Hub: 1 coordinator, 1 project manager: 300K
      • National nodes (Core Group) participation (since 2015): 20% FTE per partner (5 partners): 100K
      • Other partners participation (since 2015) (20 partners): 10% FTE par partner: 200K
      • Central Platforms (Certification service): OAPEN investment and HIRMEOS: 400K
      • EOSC Integration: HIRMEOS (Books integration): 220K
      • Shared Services development: HIRMEOS (PIDs and Entities recognition): 270K and FairOA: 530K
      • Design Study: OPERAS-D: 400K

Costs for the Preparation Phase (2018–2022): 8.6 M

      • Central Hub: 1 coordinator, 1 project manager, 1 technical officer, 3 project officers (from 2020), 1 communication officer (from 2020), 1 administrative officer (from 2020): 1 M
      • National nodes (Core Group) participation: 20% FTE per partner (7 partners): 280K
      • Other partners participation: 10% FTE per partner (25 partners average): 500K
      • Central Platforms: Certification: 270K; Discovery service: 1.1M; Research for Society  prototype: 700K
      • EOSC Integration: HIRMEOS (annotation and metrics): 1M; SSH Output integration: 5M
      • Shared Services: (Tools/R&D, best practices, business models): 2M
      • Preparing legal entity: 20K

Costs for the Construction Phase (2022–2026): 9.2 M

      • Central Hub: 8 staff members (see preparation): 6 M
      • National nodes (Core Group) participation: 20% FTE per partner (10 partners): 400K
      • Other partners participation: 10% FTE per partner (30 partners average): 600K
      • Central Platforms:  Certification  service: 360K; Discovery service: 1.6M; Research  for society service: 1M
      • Shared Services: (Tools/R&D, best practices, business models): 7M
      • ERIC incorporation: 120K

Annual operating costs: 1.6 M/year

      • Central Hub: 8 staff members (see above): 400k/year
      • Travel costs: 50K/year
      • National nodes participation: 100K/year
      • Other partners participation: (more than 30 partners) 200K/year
      • Central Platforms operation: 330K/year
      • Shared Services operation: Integration & innovation projects: 500K/year
OPERAS budget

In this section we present the rationale and structure of the OPERAS budget. The OPERAS development is divided into four main elements:

      • Core infrastructure: all the support functions dedicated to the management of the infrastructure;
      • Shared Services: the services that help the partners to improve and upgrade their own activities;
      • EOSC integration: the developments needed to integrate OPERAS partners’ content into the EOSC;
      • Central Platforms: the three pan-European platforms that OPERAS will
Core infrastructure

Design Study: achieved in Design Phase (D). Costs were covered by OPERAS-D project.

Consortium building: costs are partners’ time to participate in the Consortium groups: unstructured (D), in Working Groups and projects preparation in Preparation Phase (P), in Special Interest Groups in Construction Phase (C). Costs are calculated through in-kind contribution model (0.1FTE per partner).

Governance and Legal Framework: constitution of the Core Group (D) (calculated by in-kind contributions from members, 0.2FTE per partner), continuing in (P) and (C). Legal consulting costs will be added in (P) for the preparation of the AISBL and in (C) for the preparation of the ERIC.

Management and logistical work: Personnel costs in all phases (2FTE in (D), 8 in (P) and (C). Siting costs are not declared as they are part of OpenEdition offices.

Shared Services

Tools Research and Development: the establishment of the proof of concept was achieved through HIRMEOS project (D). The development of a toolbox (P) and the supporting documentation and training (C) will mainly generate salary costs, as well as marginal printing, distribution and travel costs.

Best Practice: consulting will be required in (P) to establish the guidelines and a fund will be constituted to be attributed through annual tender calls to partners in (P) and (C) who present projects to reconfigure their workflow in order to implement the guidelines.

Business models: the modules (journals flipping, library based BM, market place) have done design studies and experimentations during (D) but the costs are only partially available. Journal flipping development in (P) and (C) is phased by discipline. Costs are mainly to cover APCs during transition phases and support management and marketing activities (salaries). The development of the market place and the library-based business model in (P)  will generate  IT  development, management  and marketing costs in salaries and subcontracting. The development of the three modules will       be supported during a transition period during (P) and/or (C) depending on the case, but will be sustainable afterwards (no operating cost for OPERAS).

EOSC integration

Books integration: costs are supported by HIRMEOS project that started during (D) and will continue during (P) (IT developments).

SSH output integration: will be done first through the constitution of a standards list (P) (consulting costs) and implementation on partners’ platforms in (C) (IT development); then by the integration   of the Discovery platform into EOSC  (P)  (IT  development). A  specific action  on  multilingualism will develop in two parts: first through alignment of ontologies on the Discovery platform during (P), then through a fund distributed to partners to support metadata translation through annual tender calls (C).

Central platforms

Certification platform: development costs in (D) and (P) covered by HIRMEOS project. Operating costs (P) and (C) in subcontracting for hosting, salaries for management.

Discovery platform: mainly salaries (P) for the development of the platform in IT, management, Information  Science, communication.

Research for Society platform: rough estimations in (P) and (C).

Annual operating costs

Core Infrastructure: eight persons full time salaries and travel costs. Platforms: hosting costs and platform management in salaries.

Shared Services: ongoing integration and innovation projects.

The table below presents the overall budget for OPERAS.

Table 3: OPERAS budget


Total budget

Design Preparation Construction Operation
2015–2017 2018–2022 2022–2026 annual
Core infrastructure € 1,000,000 € 1,900,000 € 2,720,000 € 750,000
Central hub € 300,000 € 1,100,000 € 1,600,000 € 400,000
National nodes € 100,000 € 280,000 € 400,000 € 100,000
Partners € 200,000 € 500,000 € 600,000 € 200,000
Design study € 400,000
Legal development € 20,000 € 120,000
Travel € 50,000
Hosting in kind OE in kind OE in kind OE in kind OE
 Shared services  € 800,000  € 2,222,000  € 1,770,000  € 500,000
Tools/R&D € 270,000 € 505,000 € 600,000
Best practises € 200,000 € 200,000
Business models € 530,000 € 1,517,000 € 970,000
Integration & innovation € 500,000
 EOSC Integration  € 220,000  € 2,450,000  € 1,800,000
Books integration € 220,000 € 1,000,000
SSH output integration € 1,450,000 € 1,800,000
 Central Platforms  € 400,000  € 2,070,000  € 2,940,000  € 330,000
Certification € 400,000 € 270,000 € 360,000 € 90,000
Discovery € 1,100,000 € 1,580,000 € 120,000
Research for Society € 700,000 € 1,000,000 € 120,000
 Total  € 2,420,000  € 8,642,000  € 9,230,000  € 1,580,000
Investment plan

As already outlined, the investment plan relies on different sources of funding:

      • An important contribution from the Coordinator to operate the Central Hub (coordination staff) funded by ‘Programmes Investissement d’Avenir’ (PIA 2 and 3).
      • Moderate contribution in-kind from partners depending on their level of commitment (Core Group or partners in Working Groups).
      • FP8-9 funding to develop the infrastructure services and

The Consortium development activities (Working Groups, Projects Preparation Consortia, Special Interest Groups, Core Group) costs are covered through in-kind contributions from partners: 0.1FTE per partner, 0.2FTE per Core Group member. OPERAS-D project (started in 2017, 400,000 euros) provides additional support to these activities.

The Central Hub is funded by the Coordinator, OpenEdition. In the Design Phase (D), the PMT was composed of two personnel holding permanent positions. The growth of the PMT up to eight persons in the Preparation (P) and Construction (C) phases will be funded through the highly strategic French investment programme for the priority equipment ‘Programme Investissements d’Avenir’ stage 2 (PIA2 – 2012–2017: €7,000,000) and stage 3 (PIA3 – 2019–2029): €18,000,000.

The Siting of the Hub is ensured by OpenEdition in their premises at Aix-Marseille University (1000 sq. meters) from September 2017.

The development of OPERAS activities (Shared Services, EOSC Integration and Central Platforms) will be funded through H2020 and FP9 projects, namely:

      • HIRMEOS project (started 2017, end in 2019) : €2,000,000 to support Shared Services and EOSC Integration activities;
      • SwafS-15-2018-2019: Exploring and supporting citizen science (starting 2018, end in 2021): up to €2,000,000 to support the development of the Research for Society prototype;
      • INFRAEOSC-02-2019 (starting 2019, end in 2023): Prototyping new innovative services: €6,000,000 to support EOSC Integration and Discovery platform development;
      • INFRADEV-02-2019-2020: Preparatory phase of new ESFRI projects (Starting 2019, end in  2023): €4,000,000 to support the development of Shared Services and the Certification platform in (P) and first year of (C)
      • Second INFRADEV in FP9 (starting 2024, end in 2028): €4,000,000 to support all dimensions of the Infrastructure Construction: Central Hub, Shared Services, EOSC Integration, Central The INFRADEV funding in (C) will prepare the creation of the ERIC and support its operation in the first two years (2026–2028)

Table 4: Overview of costs and funding sources

Phase Timeline Costs Funding sources Specific Funding
Design 2015–17 2.4 M OpenEdition 0.3 M

Core Group 0.1 M

Partners 0.2 M

EU project 1.3 M

(Various 0.5 M)



Preparation 2018–22 8.6 M Hosting country 1.1 M

National nodes 0.3 M

Participants 0.5 M

EU projects 6.7 M






Construction 2022–26 9.2 M Hosting country 1.6 M

National nodes 0.4 M

Partners 0.6 M

EU project 6.7 M




Revenues from services

Operation 2026– 1.6 M (annual) Hosting country 0.4 M

National nodes 0.1 M

Partners 0.2 MMembers



Revenues from services


The table below presents the main project tracks (apart from the Core Infrastructure), in relation  to ESFRI development and funding sources.

Table 5: OPERAS project tracks






Shared Services








Specific Funding

Design 2015–17 Bilateral projects;

Working Groups;

Proof of concept: HIRMEOS;

Tools: Entities recognition

Books integration: PIDs (DOI, ORCID, Fundref) Development of DOAB (2012),

Isidore (2010),

Hypotheses (2008);

Certification service

Letters of support from institutions;

Core Group MoU;

Design Study;

Countries EoS



Preparation 2018–22 Toolbox;

Best practices;

Business models: Journal flipping model;

Library based model;

Services marketplace

Books integration: Open annotation and (Alt)Metrics.

SSH output integration: Standards; Discovery; Multilingual systems

Discovery Service;

Research for Society service: prototype

ESFRI Roadmap;


National nodes






Construction 2022–26 Toolbox;

Best practices;

Business models: Journal flipping model;

Library based model;

Services marketplace

SSH output integration: Standards; Discovery; Multilingual systems Research for Society service ERIC PIA3



The figure below presents the work breakdown structure. There are four main project tracks: Core infrastructure; Shared Services; EOSC Integration; Central Platforms. Each of these is subdivided into work packages and tasks. The tasks are colour coded to indicate the project phase within overall ESFRI development.

Figure 1: Work Breakdown Structure



Progress of development is monitored in annual reporting and work plans, and measured through Key Performance Indicators. The table below presents the main KPIs (excluding administrative, financial and project management KPIs).

Table 6: Project phases and Key Performance Indicators (to be completed)

Area Activity KPI Metrics Design Preparation Construction
Consortium LoS partners number (no.) 23 30 40
MoU core group partners no. 9 11 13
EoS supporting countries no. 3 5 7
National nodes partners no. 9 12 20
Cooperation Associated partners Global partners no. 1 4 8
Research infrastructures no. 2 3 4
Central platforms Certification platforms no. 5 8 15
publishers no. 100 150 200
publications no. 5000 10000 15000
Discovery unique visitors GA
searches GA
downloads/views GA/COUNTER
impact Altmetrics/ citations
Research for Society research projects no. pilot
blogs no.
media coverage Docs
unique visitors GA
impact Altmetrics/ citations
EOSC Integration Pids implementation/platforms no. 4 8 15
Enitities recognition implementation/platforms no. 4 8 15
Annotation implementation/ documents no.
Metrics implementation/platforms no. 4 8 15
Best practices projects/implementations no. 4 8
Multiligualism projects/implementations no. 2 4
Standards implementations no.
Shared services Tools implementations no.
Multiligualism platforms no. 8 15
Business models Flipping journals OA journals no. 4 8
library base no. 100 350
Marketplace services no. 10 20
customers (library base) no. 300 450


The Governance model describes how OPERAS is run, to ensure that the needs of the community   are served, that it is supported by its members, that it is responsive to changing needs and demands. OPERAS will develop a cooperative Governance model, which means that the main contributors own and control the service on a collective basis, and provide input into all aspects of service development, operating policies and strategic direction7.


At  the start  of  the Preparation  Phase, the infrastructure will  be coordinated  by the  Management Office that undertakes the daily work. It is composed of:

1 Coordinator (OpenEdition) who is responsible for the coordination between partners and committees and for project coordination. The Coordinator leads the management team:

1 Project Manager (OpenEdition): general management of the project, communication and management of specific tasks and assistant for administrative and financial tasks.

1 Chief Technical Officer (OpenEdition): coordination of technical Working Groups and the Core Group.

Communication is organised through the Core Group partners with support from OPERAS-D project until 2018: 1 FTE.

The Core Group is composed of representatives from formally committed partner institutions (the contributors to the service). The Core Group oversees tasks, takes major decisions and supports the Management office. In addition, the individual representatives are expected to secure support in their own countries. The Core Group may invite other partners to join the group, based on their specific contribution (to ongoing projects, overall infrastructure, geographical representation). The Core Group meets three times per year.

Steering Committee (to be constituted in the course of the Preparatory phase) is composed of representatives of the ministries of the Supporting countries. The Steering Committee meets once a year. It monitors the implementation and global coherence of the project. The Steering Committee approves annual budgets and work plans. The representative of the Coordinating country chairs the Committee.

Scientific Advisory Board (to be constituted in the course of the Preparatory phase): is responsible for independent scientific monitoring of the project. The Scientific Advisory Board will be nominated by the Core Group and appointed by the Steering Committee. The Scientific Advisory Board elects     a chair, who will attend Core Group meetings. The Board reviews annual work plans ahead of the Steering Committee, and gives advice on scientific matters to the Core Group. The Coordinator attends meetings of the Board.

Ongoing activities within key areas of interest are organized through Working Groups, led by a representative of the Core Group and consisting of representatives of all OPERAS partners.

OPERAS partners take part in projects (Shared Services and EOSC Integration activities), provide services, and participate in Working Groups.


During the Preparation Phase, OPERAS aims to set up as a legal entity. The aim is to prepare the ERIC as the final legal structure. The preferred interim legal entity is the AISBL, the international non-profit association under Belgian law. It is organised to mirror as far as possible the final ERIC.

With the establishment of the AISBL, the following changes occur:

The  Steering  Committee  will  transition  into  a  General  Assembly  (GA),  consisting  of National representatives of Supporting countries. The GA has the same role and responsibilities as the Steering Committee. The Coordinating country chairs the GA. The Director also appoints the Coordinator after consultation of the GA.

The Director is appointed as legal representative of the AISBL and is in charge of the OPERAS project. The Director chairs the Executive Assembly and prepares the annual work plan and budget. The Director appoints a Coordinator after consultation of the Executive Assembly. The Coordinator manages daily operations, leads the management team and coordinates projects.

The Core Group becomes the Executive Assembly (EA). The EA consists of representatives of National nodes, the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, and Coordinators of the Central Platforms. The EA takes major decisions and is responsible for annual work plans and budgets. The EA can propose changes to the bylaws of the AISBL, to be approved by the GA. The EA can appoint specific representatives: National contact points (for countries that do not support OPERAS); and Institutional contact points (who act as liaison with specific RIs). These representatives are invited to attend EA meetings as observers. The EA can also invite International partners (important partners from outside Europe) to attend EA meetings.

National nodes are the former Core Group members. They are appointed by their Supporting countries. National nodes coordinate the OPERAS partners within their countries.

Working Groups become Special Interest Groups (SIG). SIGs are chaired by members of the EA or EA observers, appointed by the EA.

After the establishment of the AISBL, two other changes occur:

      1. The EA establishes Stakeholder Committees (SC). Stakeholder Committees are established to coordinate key stakeholder groups across Europe. They consist of OPERAS partners and invitees from the respective stakeholder Planned SCs are: the Academic Committee, the Publisher Committee, the Library Committee, and the Intermediary Committee. SCs are chaired by EA members and appointed by the EA.
      2. The AISBL will introduce a procedure for Prospective member countries to become OPERAS Prospective members apply for membership through their Ministry and the application is reviewed by the GA, after consultation of the EA. Prospective members are invited to appoint a representative in the GA as observer, and a National contact point as observer in the EA. Upon acceptance and signature, they are bound by the bylaws and provisions for OPERAS members.

Decision for implementation will be reached at three levels:

The Executive Assembly: representing institutions committing funding and support to OPERAS infrastructure

Scientific Advisory Board: representing the user community across Europe (to be constituted during Preparation Phase)

General Assembly: representing countries of the Core Group institutions (to be constituted during the Preparation Phase)

Currently, nine countries are represented in the Core Group. It is planned that nine to 12 countries will participate in the Executive Assembly and General Assembly at the end of Construction Phase. Decision for implementation will be taken in 2024 by a concurring vote of the three Committees.


The final Governance model will to a large extent be a continuation of the Transitional model. However, the Governance will be established within an ERIC. The model will consist of a General Assembly (representatives from Member States); a management office (Director, Coordinator and management team); an Executive Assembly (Director, Coordinator, representatives of the National nodes, Chair of the Scientific Board, Coordinators of the Central Platforms); Stakeholder Committees; Special Interest Groups.



The General Assembly appoints the Director (ERIC obligation) and  approves  annual work  plans  and budgets. Strategic decisions are made by the Executive Assembly, as outlined above. The EA is responsible for annual work plans and budgets. The Director chairs the Executive Assembly.

National nodes are member of the EA and can chair Special Interest Groups and/or Stakeholder Committees. They are appointed as chair by the EA. They represent OPERAS partners within their country and have a role in coordinating activities for OPERAS within their country.

Stakeholder Committees coordinate key partners across Europe. EA members will normally join the SC that represents their institution.

Special Interest Groups (SIG) are working groups for key subject areas that can have a temporary     or more permanent status, depending on the subject. They are installed by the Executive Assembly and can submit resolutions or propose actions to the EA. SIGs are open to any interested party or individuals, and parties can propose a SIG or respond to a call from OPERAS on a specific subject.

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is consulted by the Executive Assembly on strategic decisions   and for evaluating specific projects. The SAB monitors OPERAS on scientific matters and can propose actions to the EA. The SAB is consulted about annual work plans and budgets ahead of the GA meeting.

OPERAS will work closely with funding agencies to provide services that meet their requirements, but it is expected that there will not be an SC for research funders.

In addition to the governance structure, OPERAS will set up a network of National contact points for communication and coordination purposes. National contact points will be invited to attend meetings of the EA as observer.


The final structure will be an ERIC as the standard legal structure of ESFRI infrastructures and an effective instrument to ensure involvement of the Member States. The transition towards ERIC will be managed through an association combining legal structuration and flexibility and agility in terms of governance.

The final decision about the legal entity for the transition period is foreseen in 2018, as part of ongoing work within the OPERAS-D project, but the aim is to establish a Belgian international not-for-profit association (AISBL), as established by some other ESFRI projects.

Main characteristics of the AISBL:

      • The location in Belgium considering the neutrality of this country towards the partners of the RI
      • Constitute a suitable transitional legal structure on the way to ERIC
      • No initial capital needed
      • Flexibility when defining the Articles of Association
      • Limited liability
      • Full legal personality
      • Tax exemption
      • Fast creation/foundation process (about two months after submission to Belgian Ministry)
      • International image and European character
      • Flexible governance structure, reallocation of shares, non-profit status and benefits
      • Personnel regulations that can be applied to all kinds of employees and allow for staff prerequisites
      • Needs a statute in French language
      • Head address must be in Belgium
      • Not suitable for big investments
      • Members may not receive monetary benefits from the association

In the last phase of OPERAS-D, legal council will be sought, to prepare the decision about establishing a legal entity, and to draft legal documentation to support the Preparation Phase. This will result in   a final decision regarding the Transition phase. If the decision is to establish an AISBL, the legal documentation will include the bylaws, and include provisions for supporting countries and the application procedure to accept new countries that are to become OPERAS members. If the decision is against establishing a legal entity, the legal structure will be to create a Consortium Agreement. In either case, the objective is to establish the Governance structure for the Transition phase outlined above. The final legal framework is planned to be delivered in June 2018, as part of the OPERAS-D project.

Legal framework

In the table below, the legal framework is outlined, in the transition from the Preparation Phase to the establishment of the ERIC.

Table 7: OPERAS legal framework

Preparation 2018 Transition 2019–2020 Construction 2026  


Steering Committee General Assembly (GA) General Assembly (GA) Representatives of Supporting countries and Prospective countries (observer status) Chair GA is the Coordinating country (FR)

Approves annual work plans and annual budgets Appoints Director (ERIC)

Coordinator Director, Coordinator Director, Coordinator Director is Legal representative of AISBL/ERIC Director Chairs EA,

Prepares annual work plans and budgets. Coordinator manages daily operations Leads MT, coordinates projects

Management team (MT) Management team (MT) Management team (MT) Administrative, technical and legal operations Communication

Project Management

Core Group (MoU) Executive Assembly (EA) Executive Assembly (EA) Representatives of National nodes (and National contact points as observer)

Chair of SAB, Coordinator of Central Platforms Annual work plans

Annual budgets Major decisions

Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) Nominated by EA Appointed by GA

Independent scientific monitoring Advise EA on scientific matters Advise on annual work plans

Working Groups Working Groups Special Interest Groups Ongoing activities within key areas of interest Chaired by EA members or observers, appointed by EA
Stakeholder Committees (SC) Stakeholder Committees (SC) Coordinate key stakeholder groups Chaired by EA members or EA observers, appointed by EA
National nodes National nodes Appointed by Supporting country Coordinate national partners Member of EA
Coordinators of Central Platforms Coordinators of Central Platforms Member of EA
National/institutional contact points/International partners National/institutional contact points/International partners Invited by EA to:

Represent non-supporting country/ Liaise with other RIs

Coordinate national partners Attend EA as observer

Prospective member countries Prospective member countries Prospective countries preparing to become Supporting country.

Attend GA as observer

Partners (LoS) Partners (LoS) OPERAS Members Participant in SIGs Can join SC

Can be invited to join projects

Can take part in Shared Services and EOSC Integration activities

Read ESFRI Lansdcape Study Report: ESFRI Landscape Study

doi: 10.5281/zenodo.1009550

  1. ESFRI: European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, see http://www.esfri.eu/roadmap-2018 []
  2. See our bibliography: http://operas-eu.org/bibliography-links []
  3. See HIRMEOS project to have examples: www.hirmeos.eu []
  4. see Raym Crow – The collective provision of OA resources: http://www.academia.edu/17342423/The_Collective_Provision_of_Open_Access_Resources []
  5. http://www.gouvernement.fr/pia3-5236 []
  6. see Raym Crow – The collective provision of OA resources (p 19). []
  7. see Raym Crow – The collective provision of OA resources (p.30). []
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