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OBC Collective Development Fund Grant Programme: 2024 Call & Guidance

Published onApr 16, 2024
OBC Collective Development Fund Grant Programme: 2024 Call & Guidance

The Open Book Collective is pleased to launch the inaugural call for applications for funding from our Collective Development Fund.

This document outlines the details of the 2024 call, as well as providing guidance for applicants.

In line with our commitments to supporting bibliodiversity, the information for this call is available in three languages: English, Portuguse, and Spanish. Applicants may submit their application in any one of these three languages.

Call and Guidance for Applications to the OBC Collective Development Fund

One of the key aims of the Open Book Collective is to support publishers, infrastructure providers and other organizations to build capacity to increase the quantity, quality and diversity of Open Access books. One way it does this is by awarding grants from its Collective Development Fund.

The Collective Development Fund is funded from two sources: directly, from funders, as well as from our publisher and service provider members. The Open Book Collective allocates 5% of the Supporter Programme revenue received from subscribers to the Collective Development Fund.

With this call, we are pleased to announce the official launch of the fund, with applications for projects of no more than 12 months, with grants available of between £7,500 and £15,000. We expect Collective Development Fund calls to be repeated annually.

We welcome applications from individuals and organizations globally, who meet the eligibility criteria below. The 2024 call closes on Friday May 31 2024.

Key Dates

April 16 2024: call opens. From this point applicants may also optionally send brief material (see details below) to the OBC for feedback on whether the proposed project appears within scope (‘scope check’) 

May 10 2024: last date to send materials for optional scope check

May 31 2024: call closes 

June 2 2024: OBC pre-review screening and assessment, including the OBC Management Team assessing eligibility and prioritizing applications for review, based on assessment of degree of alignment with OBC values

July 1 2024: eligible and high priority proposals go to reviewers for scoring; proposals not advanced for review notified within 10 days

By August 30 2024: committee meets to compare and discuss reviews, creates a joint summary report on proposals, and selects proposals for funding pending due diligence; some additional proposals also held on a reserve list. Applicants notified of outcome within 10 days

September 2024: due diligence and further information obtained from awardees, as required

By November 1 2024: due diligence completed; grant agreements issued; projects may begin


The Open Book Collective was developed as part of the COPIM project, which ran from 2020 to 2023. It is a UK charity, with a charitable object, as outlined in our Articles of Association, ‘to advance the education of the public in general […] by increasing access to research and academic materials through the support of open-access books and infrastructures’. The Open Book Collective is now playing a core role in the Copim community’s new Open Book Futures project, which is funded by Arcadia and the Research England Development Fund until 30th April 2026.

We have seven key values:

  • care for and curation of high-quality open access (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.

Value and duration of Collective Development Fund grants

In this 2024 round, we expect to award:

  • at least ONE grant of up to £15,000

  • TWO to FOUR grants of up to £7,500

For this call, we aim to allocate at least 30% of our total available funding to applicants from and/or projects benefitting Low and Middle Income Countries (as defined by the World Bank).

The final distribution of funds will be decided by the judging committee, and bids for smaller amounts will in no way be penalized in the judging process.

Projects can have a duration of up to 12 months. Projects funded in 2024 must be completed by the end of the 2025 calendar year. 

Purpose of Collective Development Fund grants

This fund is to support:

  • Work towards the publication of Open Access scholarly books*

  • Work on the creation and support of infrastructures for the distribution, cataloguing and preservation of Open Access scholarly books

  • Building and sustaining networks and advocacy for the support of OA scholarly books and infrastructure

  • Other projects building capacity for scholarly OA book publishing

*Please note that the fund does not support costs directly associated with the production of specific scholarly publications, for example Book Processing Charges (BPCs).

Optional scope check, prior to submission

Potential applicants may optionally send a short project summary to the OBC Collective Development Fund team for feedback on whether the proposed project appears within the scope of the grant funding programme.

Applicants wishing to make use of the optional scope check prior to submission should send in a project summary responding to the following prompt:

  • Please describe your initiative or project in up to 500 words, including its projected outcomes and alignment with OBC values.

Project summaries should be sent to the following email address: [email protected] by 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST / 23:00 CEST) on Friday May 10 2024. Emails should include ‘Project summary’ in the subject line, followed by the project title.

Some important notes:

  • The team will aim to provide feedback on whether the project appears within scope of the Collective Development Fund within 8 working days

  • The team will only offer feedback on up to 500 words of submitted information. Any supplementary information will be discarded

  • The team will only comment on whether, based on the information provided, the application appears within scope of the grant funding programme. They may offer suggestions on how to ensure the application is within scope, but will not be able to offer views on how likely the final application is to succeed

  • In the interests of equity, the OBC Collective Development Fund team will provide feedback only ONCE to each potential applicant in each funding round

  • The team will not be able to offer feedback on any documents sent after the deadline above

  • Whether or not applicants choose to obtain feedback will not impact the final assessment of applications in any way


Applicants should ensure that proposed projects are eligible for funding, as follows:

  • This fund is open to applicants anywhere in the world, except for individuals or countries affected by UK sanctions* or banking restrictions, including Afghanistan, Belarus, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Republic, Crimea, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Donetsk Peoples Republic, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Lugansk Peoples Republic, Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Russia, Venezuela, and Yemen

  • Both new and established initiatives are welcome to apply

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age

  • Individuals, teams and organizations are all eligible to apply. Teams and organizations must nominate a main contact person on the application form

  • Grants may be held alone or in conjunction with other funding. Other sources of funding must be declared as part of the application

  • Applicants should submit no more than one application in each Call

  • OBC members are permitted to apply

  • OBC staff, including employees and current contractors, are not permitted to apply

  • For-profit enterprises are not eligible for funding

  • Applicants must apply in one of three specified languages: English, Portuguese, or Spanish.

In addition, proposed projects should meet at least some of the following criteria:

a) Contributing towards open source outputs / initiatives
b) Enabled for maximal re-use
c) Community-led
d) Supporting non-commercial work / initiatives

We particularly encourage applications from small and medium publishers/infrastructure providers/organizations, in accordance with the principles of scaling small, as well as projects working to sustain OA book publishing beyond the Global North and/or working to support non-Anglophone publishing, in line with our commitments to supporting bibliodiversity.

*Please note that that many UK sanctions relate only to individuals or types of activities within particular countries, not countries as a whole. In such cases, the OBC would explore the feasibility of issuing funding to applicants in the due dilligence process, if an application is approved for funding in principle.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted at this link as a single document, no later than 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST / 23:00 CEST) on Friday May 31.

Funding priorities

Projects will be scored on

  • Degree of need/importance to the OA book publishing ecosystem and to the communities the project serves

  • Degree of alignment with the OBC’s mission, principles and values

  • The feasibility of the project, including timeline, budget, and ability of the responsible team

  • The degree to which the project supports equity, diversity and inclusion, including such aspects as multilingualism, gender inclusion, and/or how the project supports greater bibliodiversity in scholarly publishing

  • Overall priority for funding by the Collective Development Fund

  • For more details, see ‘Assessment Procedures and Criteria’ below.

Budget and what it can cover

Applicants must submit a fully costed budget as part of their application. This may cover:

  • Software and technology, e.g. software subscription, computer costs, hosting services

  • Equipment and supplies, e.g. costs for mobile data and power

  • Fees/salaries for staff/consultants – please provide hourly rate and number of anticipated hours

  • Travel costs. Please provide expected number of team members travelling, and to where

  • Honoraria, e.g. for interviewees and speakers

  • Accessibility services, e.g. translators, closed-captioning, transcribing

  • Indirect costs/overhead

  • Events costs, such as venue hire

  • Other costs, if fully justified, may be eligible at the discretion of the committee. 

Assessment Procedures and Criteria

OBC pre-review screening and assessment

The OBC seeks to balance the limited availability of external reviewers with the need for the Collective Development Fund programme to be open to a wide range of applications. For this reason, before applications are sent to peer review, the OBC undertakes a screening process, to ensure that only eligible and high priority proposals are sent for external review.

Before proposals are sent out for external review, three members of the OBC management team will therefore assess all proposals as follows:

  1. The team will check the eligibility of proposals.   

  2. The team will rank the degree to which the projects align with OBC values.

Proposals that are both eligible ranked as most in line with OBC values will be sent for external review. We anticipate that no more than 20 proposals will be sent for external review.

Reviewing procedure                       

Proposals will be sent to two expert reviewers, selected from by the OBC based on suitability. Reviewers must declare any conflict of interest (see below) with proposals assigned to them as soon as possible; these proposals will be reassigned. Reviewers will independently score the proposal based on the following criteria (application question numbers in brackets indicate the likely areas on which these areas will be scored, though reviewers are encouraged to view the application holistically: this is not prescriptive):

a) Need: the necessity of the project to the OA book publishing ecosystem and to the communities the project serves (application question 4)
b) Alignment with the OBC’s mission, principles and values (application questions 3; 5; 6; 7)
c) Feasibility of the project, including timeline, budget, and ability of the responsible team  (application questions 8; 9; 10; 14)
d) Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, including such aspects as multilingualism, gender inclusion, and/or how the project supports greater bibliodiversity in scholarly publishing (application questions 5; 6; 9)
e) An overall assessment of priority for funding by the Collective Development Fund (application as a whole)

The first four categories will be scored as either:

4 – outstanding
3 – good
2 – fair
1 – unclassified

For the final category, reviewers will be asked to comment on the application as a whole, box and to give an overall rating, as follows:

4 – high priority for funding
3 – medium priority for funding
2 – low priority for funding
1 – not fundable

Consideration by Assessment Committee

Decisions on grant awards will be taken by a committee including OBC Stewards and external advisors.

The committee will include key members of the OBC governance structure  including at least 2 Stewards, the OBC Managing Director and an additional 3 OBC members representing the caucuses of librarians; publishers and OA  (service) providers.

Committee members must recuse themselves in case of any conflict of interest.

The committee will review the reports from external reviewers and attempt to reach a consensus on funding decision. Committee members must declare any conflict of interest with any applications and recuse themselves from decision-making regarding these applications. Conflicts of interest include:

  1. a financial relationship with an applicant or an applicant’s collaborator(s)

  2. a mentoring, or personal relationship with an applicant

  3. professional collaboration with an applicant

  4. affiliation with (e.g. employed by or a member of) an organisation that is applying

If a consensus cannot be reached, the committee will vote, in accordance with the OBC voting procedures. Grants will be made pending a due diligence check and risk assessment carried out by the OBC. We may request further information from the candidate to complete this.

Reporting and progress

Successful applicants must have at least one 60 min scheduled call with OBC every three months. Grant holders of awards up to £7,500 will be required to contribute at least 2 blog posts to the OBC information hub. Grant holders of awards over £7,500 will also be required to submit a final report and/or project showcase, whose format can be decided with the OBC.

The project team is ultimately responsible for completion of the project in line with agreed deliverables and outcomes.


The Open Book Collective (OBC) would like to thank Vanessa Proudman (SPARC Europe) for comments on an early draft of the call and guidance, as well as Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI) and Emmy Tsang for sharing experiences and relevant documents associated with IOI’s Open Infrastructure Fund, which this guidance draws on and adapts in part. Many thanks to all those who took part in our scoping work, including workshop participants and survey respondents. Thanks to Janneke Adema, Simon Bowie, Rebekka Kiesewetter and Julien McHardy for facilitating OBC’s participation in 2023’s Call for Experimental Publishing Pilot Projects, which provided valuable experience in issuing, assessing and managing a funding call which has some similar objectives. We are also grateful to Arcadia and Research England for their continued support of Copim’s Open Book Futures project.


The development of this call and guidance was led by Dr Judith Fathallah (Lancaster University / Coventry University), with additional input from Dr Joe Deville (Lancaster University) and Vanessa Proudman (SPARC Europe).

Application form

Appendix 1: Data management

Appendix 2: Budget template

Sample reviewer assessment rubric 

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