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New association champions open-access publishing

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Open Access Day on 14 October was marked with the launch of a new industry body. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) aims to champion the causes of open-access (OA) publishers.

‘For several years open-access publishers have run into each other at trade shows and had informal chats,’ commented Caroline Sutton, publisher of Co-Action Publishing. ‘The number of OA publishers has grown and we thought it would be a good idea to formalise this into an industry body.’

Meanwhile, for many years, thousands of scientists and scholars have operated their own OA journals independently of publishers. Two such scholars were David Solomon of Medical Education Online and Gunther Eysenbach of Journal of Medical Internet Research. They had begun discussing having an industry body to help such journals with things such as purchasing agreements and education. ‘Publishing is a profession that needs to be learned,’ observed Solomon.

Solomon and Sutton explained that it was logical to bring these two sets of efforts together. ‘We want to bring together the community of OA publishers, advance the OA model and continue to advocate gold OA publishing,’ said Sutton. ‘We also want to set industry standards as some aspects of the OA model are different from the subscriptions model.’ OASPA also aims to help publishers share best practices and promote innovations such as use of OA in e-science tools.

Membership in OASPA is open to both scholar publishers and professional publishing organisations, including university presses and for profit and non-profit organisations. Voting members are expected to demonstrate a genuine interest in OA journals publishing by having signed either the Berlin or Budapest Declarations and must publish at least one full OA journal. They must also allow immediate access and circulation of peer-reviewed manuscripts.

‘We are trying to have a common interpretation of OA,’ said Sutton. ‘There used to be the idea that OA was an anomaly but moves such as Springer’s purchase of BioMed Central and SAGE’s partnership with Hindawi show that it is now much more mainstream.’

Other individuals and organisations who support or provide services for OA journals publishing or who are interested in exploring opportunities can also join the organisation. These might be, for example, funding bodies, other industry organisations or databases of OA resources. SPARC Europe, for example, is a founding member of OASPA.

Membership costs vary depend on the size of publisher or organisation and its turnover. The first general meeting will be held during 2009, when priorities for OASPA will be agreed. Until then, the organisation will be run by an interim board of representatives from each of the founder members. The interim board consists of: Matt Cockerill (BioMed Central), Gunther Eysenbach (Journal of Medical Internet Research), Mark Patterson (Public Library of Science), Paul Peters (Hindawi),David Prosser (SPARC Europe), Martin Rasmussen (Copernicus), David Ross (SAGE), Bas Savenije (Utrecht University Library), David Solomon (Medical Education Online), and Caroline Sutton (Co-Action Publishing).