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John Willinsky to study open access publishing with research grant from MacArthur Foundation

John Willinsky
John Willinsky

John Willinsky to study open access publishing with research grant from MacArthur Foundation

An award of $460,000 will enable Willinsky and his colleagues to examine the potential gains and risks of scholarly publishing cooperatives.

The Public Knowledge Project at Stanford Graduate School of Education and the Simon Fraser University Library announced June 29 that they are launching a new study of open access publishing cooperatives.

This two-year initiative will also involve the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), as well as other key stakeholders. The goal is to explore the feasibility of establishing publishing cooperatives that bring together libraries, journals, scholarly societies, presses and other institutions as a financially sustainable open access model for peer-reviewed scholarly publishing.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is providing a grant of $460,000 to support the project.

“Now that we have widespread acceptance of open access to research and scholarship, we need to carefully assess ways of transitioning from subscription-based to open access publishing,” said John Willinsky, the Khosla Family Professor at Stanford’s GSE and director and founder of the Public Knowledge Project. “While Article Processing Charges work for well-funded research, we obviously need a model that can serve all fields of research and the cooperative has the advantage of building on the shared goals, existing collaboration, and current funding of libraries, journals, and societies.”

The grant is enabling researchers to accomplish three tasks:

  • They will gather financial data from journals and libraries to establish current investment levels in professional quality publishing;
  • They will consult with stakeholders — research libraries, scholarly journals, scholarly societies, presses, funding agencies and others — about perceived gains and risks of a co-op approach to open access funding, governance and structure;
  • They will develop and assess open source co-op publishing infrastructures for running pilot studies to evaluate impact on scholarly and public quality of this approach to open access publishing.

If the results of the first three stages show sufficient promise, the Open Access Publishing Cooperative Study plans to hold a culminating “constitutional assembly” for stakeholders in scholarly publishing. The assembly will apply what has been learned in the study to forge the principles and structures by which such cooperatives might constitute a means of bringing about sustainable and global open access to research and scholarship.

In addition to his position at Stanford, Willinksy is also a distinguished scholar at the Simon Fraser University Library, as well as serving on the SFU faculty part-time. Stanford and SFU are the two anchor institutions of the Public Knowledge Project, which  develops (free) open source software and conducts research to improve the quality and reach of scholarly publishing.

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