Ongoing funding required for open-access infrastructure, according to workshop

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Although project funding can be used to start up a part of the open-access infrastructure, it does not guarantee the continuation of a service and it can be hard to establish the service as a viable entity, standing on its own feet. These were some of the issues raised at the workshop ´Sustainable business models for Open Access Services´ that Knowledge Exchange organised on 1 October 2013 in Bristol, UK.

With these issues in mind, the workshop noted that research funders should be aware that if they have policies or mandates for making research outputs available they will eventually also be responsible for ongoing support for the underlying infrastructure. At present some services are used globally but the costs are only covered by a limited geographic spread, sometimes only by a number of institutions or only one country and finding other funding sources can be challenging.

Various routes for collecting funding were discussed by workshop participants, including commercial partnerships, memberships, offering additional paid services or using a freemium model.

As more services turn to library sponsorship to sustain them, one strategy might be to bundle the requests and approach a group of research and infrastructure funders or institutions (and others) with a package, suggested the workshop participants. This, they said, would be more efficient for both sides than each service going through the same resource-consuming process of soliciting funding. This will also allow the community to identify gaps, dependencies and overlap in the services. The possibility of setting up an organisation to bundle the services was discussed and a number of risks were identified.

Knowledge Exchange now plans to engage more widely, with other services and with funders, to discuss the role they might be willing to play in supporting international OA services and is organising a workshop with these parties on 11 and 12 February 2014.