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Report Open Access

Exploring mutuality: A report on independent open access publications in the social sciences

Herman, Kate

In early 2020, Libraria received support from a group of U.S. research libraries to pursue a feasibility study for the Cooperate for Open project. The project, which focused on born-OA, diamond OA, and/or scholar-led open access publications in anthropology and adjacent fields, aimed to identify a model for sustaining these publications, while reducing the risk and workload often associated with this segment of the publishing landscape. 

This feasibility study gathered data through a survey conducted in late 2020, which resulted in 53 responses, and a series of discussion groups held in January 2021 with a total of sixteen individuals representing seventeen publications. As the findings outlined below demonstrate, the publications represented in this study present a cohort defined by difference in certain respects, but united in shared motivations and priorities.

This report argues that leveraging the diverse strengths and resources of this cohort of publications calls for an approach defined by cooperation and reciprocal support. The conceptual framework that most closely reflected the aspirations and principles shared by participant publications was that of mutual aid. Mutual aid can be said to prioritize forms of support and care offered within a community—where support is not predicated on adherence to norms or standards, and resources are directed toward local or context-driven solutions.

Libraria would like to recognize the library systems who contributed funding to the Cooperate for Open project: the California Digital Library; the University of California, Los Angeles; Duke University; Iowa State University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rice University; and the University of Rhode Island.
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