One of the key aims of the Open Book Collective (OBC) is to support publishers, infrastructure providers and other organisations to build capacity to increase the quantity, quality and diversity of Open Access (OA) books. One way it does this is by awarding grants from its Collective Development Fund. Its first two calls will be funded by Arcadia and the Research England Development Fund, as part of the COPIM Open Book Futures project. Subsequent calls will be funded by contributions from our publisher and service provider members, which are already accruing thanks to subscriptions from supporting libraries.
We are pleased to confirm that we expect the first call for applications to this fund to open in April 2024, and to be open for two months. The final details of the call will be confirmed in due course. However, in this update we would like to provide potential applicants with an insight into some of the core principles that we expect to inform its design.
Given that these principles are still being worked on, we would also like to invite feedback from the OA and scholarly communications community. Individuals or organisations can feed back either by emailing Dr. Judith Fathallah ([email protected]), who is leading the development of the call, or by completing our Scoping Survey, which is open until February 29. To complete the survey in English, click here, and to complete it in Spanish, click here.
Eligibility and Criteria
In this 2024 round, we expect to award a total sum of £45,000. It is likely that this will be split between at least three separate awards, for projects with a duration of no more than 12 months.
We expect that this fund will prioritise projects that support at least one of the following:
Publication of OA scholarly books
Creation and support of infrastructures for the distribution, cataloguing and preservation of OA scholarly books
Networks and advocacy for the support of OA scholarly books and infrastructure
Other projects building scholarly OA capacity
We will be seeking to fund projects working in alignment with the OBC key values. These include:
care for and curation of high-quality OA academic books;
a commitment to bibliodiversity;
collaboration and resource-sharing over competition;
networked community-building over profit-driven centralization;
horizontal working relationships over exclusive hierarchization;
‘scaling small’ and ‘smaller’ over ‘scaling up’; and
growing and safeguarding access to academic books for global readers without barriers.
In keeping with our commitment to equity and bibliodiversity, we expect to be allocating a proportion of our total available funding to applicants from Low- and Middle-Income Countries (as defined by the World Bank).
We expect that some or all of the following eligibility criteria will apply:
That new and established initiatives will be welcome to apply;
That all applicants must be at least 18 years of age;
That we will accept applications from individuals, teams or organizations
That grants may be held alone or in conjunction with other funding;
That applicants can submit multiple applications;
That OBC staff, including employees and current contractors, will not be permitted to apply;
That projects may be local, regional, national or international.
Please note that commercial/for-profit organisations will not be eligible to apply.
Reviewing and Decision Making
After eligibility checks by the OBC, applications will be reviewed and scored by experts from across the OA landscape, and then by a decision-making panel. We envisage that the panel will be comprised of OBC Stewards, the OBC Managing Director, and OBC members representing the caucuses of librarians, publishers and OA infrastructure (service) providers. Panel members must recuse themselves in case of any conflict of interest.
Grants will be awarded following due diligence checks by the OBC, in keeping with our obligations as a registered charity.
Reporting and progress
We are mindful that some potential applicants may struggle with the demands of detailed grant reporting. Therefore, we are working on developing a light-touch approach to project reporting, minimizing the administrative burden on applicants, while also ensuring that allocated funds are appropriately used and managed. For example, successful applicants may be asked to:
Take part in video calls with OBC Stewards;
Contribute blog posts to the OBC;
For larger grants, submit a final report and/or project showcase, whose format can be decided with the OBC.
The Collective Development Fund Call is a work in progress. Once again, all are invited to complete our survey in English or Spanish to help us ensure the funds we have available can best meet the needs of global OA stakeholder communities.
As noted, our work is supported by Arcadia and Research England. We would like to thank the individuals and organisations that have already fed into its development so far. This includes feedback on a draft of our criteria from SPARC Europe, the provision of input and helpful resources by Invest in Open Infrastructures, as well as the contributions of participants at a scoping workshop that took place on November 29, 2023, including the African Platform for Open Scholarship, SPARC Europe, SCOSS, Invest in Open Infrastructure, DOAB/OpenEdition/OPERAS, Knowledge Futures, the Digital Preservation Coalition and Language Science Press. Finally, we would thank Janneke Adema, Simon Bowie, Rebekka Kiesewetter, and Julien McHardy from OBF’s Experimental Publishing Group for supporting that participation of the Open Book Collective in the Experimental Publishing Pilot Call, which is further helping us refine our grant management and allocation processes.