Report explores models for coordinating the collective provision of infrastructure services

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The SPARC and Knowledge Exchange report, Sustainability of Open Access Services – Phase 3: The Collective Provision of Open Access Resources, discusses the economic and institutional issues faced by those sustaining free infrastructure services.

The report also identifies strategies to coordinate the collective provision of infrastructure services. These considerations are valuable input for the phases 4 and 5 of the project ‘Sustainability of Open Access Services’.

It is thought that this body of work will lead to practical recommendations for funders and project planners to consider when initiating an infrastructure service. The report was written by Raym Crow and funded by SPARC.

Several key messages from the report are of interest. Providing infrastructure services as a public good imposes specific requirements on the design of the sustainability model. The challenge is to get enough institutions to reveal their demand for the service and express their support for the service.

Arguments for an institution to support can be altruism or reciprocity. In some cases there can be sufficient benefit to the institution for supporting a service. Institutions can also work together on a service through collective action (collecting voluntary contributions) and cross subsidies (funding collected by offering exclusive benefits to contributors).

When setting up a collective model institutions can be asked to participate in assurance contracts. The challenge is to find enough institutions to cover the costs yet to limit the number in order to simplify the coordination of the collective funding model. An approach is to target institutions in subgroups with participation fees that match the value that the service delivers to each subgroup.

For further considerations on collective models for supporting services, please read the full report.

The report is available at: