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Support towards the OAPEN initiative (2018-2019)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ERC-OAPEN-2017 (Support towards the OAPEN initiative (2018-2019))

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Europe is firmly committed to achieve open access (OA) to publications. However, when OA policies aim for a swift transition, they usually refer explicitly to journal articles, not books or book chapters. Books are often implicitly included in OA policies when they refer to ‘peer-reviewed publications’. Nevertheless, when it comes to concrete mandates, things look different. For example, the general H2020 policy clearly mandates articles, not books: the guidelines explain that ‘grant beneficiaries are also strongly encouraged to provide open access to other types of scientific publications’ including monographs in the examples. This is the case for most OA mandates from research funders. Monographs are considered a different type of publication, requiring a specific approach. ERC is one of the research funders that does include monographs in its OA mandate. Other examples are FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Wellcome, SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation) and ARC (Australian Research Council). ERC has developed its own approach within the EU policy framework. Although the ERC programme is part of H2020 and the H2020 OA requirements in principle apply to actions funded by the ERC, the ERC Scientific Council explicitly refers to monographs as well as journal articles in its Open Access Guidelines. The H2020 Annotated Grant Agreement also explains in its ERC specific part that for ERC projects monographs and books are included in the OA mandate. These examples from research funders suggest that OA mandates can work for monographs.

Why is it important for society?
OAPEN Foundation believes that the benefits of OA apply equally to scholarly monographs, and that in the general transition to OA, books and other long-text publications should not be left behind. This is why OAPEN is dedicated to support Open Access (OA) publishing of academic books, by providing a platform for the full text hosting and dissemination of open access books and chapters and providing services to publishers, research funders and libraries. By making monographs OA, society can take full advantage of these works, which would otherwise remain accessible only to a very limited number of peers.

What were the overall objectives?
The OAPEN deposit service for OA monographs was set up to support funders' OA policies. It was launched in 2014 and has been implemented for the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Wellcome Trust, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), and the ERC. Through the deposit service, new publications - funded by these funders - are disseminated through the OAPEN Library and (if they have an open licence) the Directory of Open Access Books.
ERC-OAPEN-2017 had built on the established service for ERC and the experience gained from project ERC-OAPEN-2015, and has developed a number of new components to further improve the service and make it more attractive for researchers. The overall goal was to collect and host as many of the books and book chapters resulting from ERC funding as possible, in order to maximise dissemination and scientific and societal impact.
The resulting collection of books and chapters in the OAPEN Library has grown: compared to the ERC-OAPEN-2015 project, more than 2.5 times as many more publications were made freely available. Worldwide usage, measured as COUNTER compliant downloads, grew nearly 3.5 times in size. The OAPEN website contains an extensive section to guide researchers and the ERC funded publications are easily identified and link to relevant information in the CORDIS database.
Aggregation of publications resulting from ERC grants
A large part of the work performed under this project consisted of identifying and aggregating books and chapters resulting from ERC funded research. Both the number of identified publications relating to results from ERC funded research and the number of such publications uploaded in the OAPEN Library grew considerably compared to the ERC-OAPEN-2015 project. The total number of identified publications grew from 139 in the ERC-OAPEN-2015 project to 529 in this project, leading to a total of 668; the number of publications uploaded in OAPEN grew from 82 in the previous project to 216, achieving a total of 298.

The aggregation of titles that were uploaded into the OAPEN Library in 2018 came from 33 publishers. Among them Springer (contributing 14 titles), Bloomsbury Academic (contributing 12 titles) and De Gruyter (contributing 9 titles). The number of different publishers of publications added to the OAPEN Library in 2019 was lower (16 publishers). In that year a framework agreement that outlines good practice for retroactive open access to books and chapters resulting from research funded by the European Research Council was created, in order to achieve retroactive open access to ERC related publications in collaboration with publishers. A first agreement with De Gruyter lead to an increase in the number of publications: 119 publications were added to the OAPEN Library. See also

Usage of publications:
The number of downloads of the publications resulting from ERC funding in the OAPEN library increased by a factor of nearly 3.5 compared to the previous project, from over 18,000/year between July 2016 and June 2017 to 63,500/year between December 2018 and November 2019. The total number of downloads during the project period (Jan 2018 - Dec 2019) was 106,870. The international usage of these publications extends beyond Europe and the United States: among the ten countries with the highest number of downloads were India, Australia and Canada.

New components:
During the project, a number of new components were added to the OAPEN Library.
- Collection view: enables users to easily view the entire collection of publications resulting from research funded by ERC. It provides additional branding of the collection as being related to ERC, thereby improving the overall visibility of the collection and recognition of ERC as research funder.
- Grant information: links to the CORDIS database to retrieve Research grant information. Users can easily retrieve grant information through information buttons, which have been added to the landing pages of all ERC funded books and chapters.
- Altmetrics: collects and displays available sources for Altmetrics data for books and chapters. Altmetrics increases the understanding of the societal and scholarly impact of ERC publications.

Additional actions:
- Review linking: A feasibility study of a service to link publications resulting from ERC funding to existing reviews. While linking reviews to ERC funded publications was foreseen, the results of the feasibility study indicated that it would not be possible within the scope of the current project.
- Improving integration with OpenAIRE: An effort to improve the indexing of the OAPEN collection in OpenAIRE, in particular the available funding information.
The project resulted in the growth of the collection of publications related to ERC, and increased usage of the collection. It also resulted in increased visibility of the collection and of ERC as research funder. Through the Altmetrics service, a layer of publicly available metrics at the level of individual publication increases the understanding of the wider impact of ERC publications.
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