Report Open Access

Towards Better Practices for the Community Governance of Open Infrastructures

Hart, Patrick; Adema, Janneke; COPIM

This report has been created as a research output to support the COPIM project. COPIM (Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs) is an international partnership of researchers, universities, librarians, open access book publishers and infrastructure providers. Funded by the Research England Development (RED) Fund and Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin – COPIM is building community-owned, open systems and infrastructures to enable open access (OA) book publishing to flourish. 

As part of seven connected work packages, COPIM will work on 1) integrated capacity-building amongst presses; 2) access to and development of consortial, institutional, and other funding channels; 3) development and piloting of appropriate business models; 4) cost reductions for presses achieved by economies of scale; 5) mutually supportive governance models; 6) integration of OA books into library, repository, and digital learning environments; 7) the re-use of and experimentation with OA books; 8) the effective and robust archiving of OA content; and 9) knowledge transfer to stakeholders through various pilots.

Work package 4 of the COPIM project is exploring community governance with a view to designing the policies and procedures for community oversight of the infrastructures and models that the overall project is developing. Our aim is to create durable organisational structures for the coordination, governance, and administrative support of the project’s community-owned infrastructures. This includes developing new avenues of outreach, communication, and partnership with diverse stakeholders in open research with a shared interest in these infrastructures, enabling community involvement and collective control. In conducting this research, which is reflected in this report as well as in our previous research and reports, we hope both to learn from the governance models that our colleagues in scholarly communication are utilising thus far and to look to the future of community governance for academic publishing.


The research for this report has been conducted through desk research and draws on and incorporates a literature review of existing research on community governance and the governance of open infrastructures. It follows on from and can be seen as an extension of COPIM’s Exploring Models for Community Governance report, written by Samuel Moore. As the introduction outlines, rather than simply showcasing ‘best practices’ (though it also does this on occasion) this report looks to plot paths towards better practices for community governance by not shying away from the messiness (Adema, 2014), frictions, and compromises that of necessity come with the governance of open infrastructure in development. Next to that this report outlines the process by which the COPIM project itself has developed its governance structures (mostly in relationship to the project as a whole, and to the Open Book Collective (OBC) platform and collective), as a way to be open and transparent about our processes, to showcase in detail what developing community governance might look like in practice, and to document the process of doing so as a resource for the COPIM project itself and for  the governance communities of its future infrastructural outputs. This report outlines our processes until early 2022. Current and future developments will be shared and reflected upon as part of a community governance working paper, to be released later in 2022, which includes the rationale behind the OBC’s chosen governance structures and policies, and an overview of its governance model and procedures, based also on the research conducted for and gathered in this report. As part of this process of documenting the OBC’s governance-in-development we will also be sharing its Articles of Association and other governance documents openly online once we have formally launched the OBC.

Next to desk research, the findings in this report are also based on a series of both internal and external workshops conducted by COPIM during 2020-2022, which are still ongoing as we finalise the OBC’s governance structures and model. The first (external) workshop was conducted in May 2020, and further internal governance workshops have taken place throughout 2021 and 22. The research further draws on informal interviews with COPIM project members on their governance needs. Based on these workshops and interviews several internal documents were created that represent the values, mission, vision statements and governance structures the project aligns itself to. These were developed out of and as part of the workshops through a methodology of co-design (being written in a collaborative manner by the project members) and co-development (being developed in an iterative way, where after each new version input was sought from the project members, both written and orally via workshops, which was subsequently incorporated into a new version). This methodology will be outlined more in depth in the following sections of this report.

Our thanks go out to our COPIM colleagues for feedback on earlier drafts of this report (with special thanks to WP4 colleagues Eileen Joy, Judith Fathallah, Lidia Uziel, and Tobias Steiner) as well as to the members of COPIM’s Community Governance Working Group (with special thanks to Samuel Moore, Marcel LaFlamme, and Leslie Chan), The Next Generation Library Publishing Project, and the participants of our first Community Governance Workshop with external stakeholders.

Community-led Open Publishing Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM) is supported by the Research England Development (RED) Fund, and Arcadia—a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.
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