Published April 2, 2024 | Version 1.0
Project deliverable Open

D5.1 IPSP Sustainability Research Report

  • 1. ROR icon French National Centre for Scientific Research
  • 1. TSV
  • 2. ROR icon University of Zagreb
  • 3. SPARC Europe
  • 4. ROR icon EIFL
  • 5. CONICET
  • 6. ESF-cOAlition S


Understanding the sustainability of institutional publishers and service providers
(IPSPs) constitutes a key step in the DIAMAS project. This research report has one main
objective: to investigate what financial sustainability means for institutional publishing
in Europe and the workforce involved in it.

To fulfil these objectives, we undertook a range of research methods to gain a more
thorough understanding of the complex landscape of institutional publishing and its
different forms of sustainability. The analysis draws on four types of data: a literature
review of economic and financial aspects of institutional publishing, two quantitative
surveys (the DIAMAS survey and a follow-up survey focusing on funding practices), 6
focus groups with national-based IPSPs, and 15 interviews with a range of diverse
institutional publishing representatives.

This report is organised in 8 sections. In the first one, we explain our methodology in
data collection and analysis. In section 2, we look into academic and grey literature on
the topic. In section 3, we categorise the missions of the institutional publisher or
service provider, since what they stand for and how they operate influences their
approach to sustainability. Depending on their operations, IPSPs do not foster the same
type of sustainability. In section 4, we examine the funding models of IPSPs. We look at
full Diamond IPSPs, mixed-models IPSPs (i.e. who publish or provide services for
Diamond and non-Diamond outputs) and the landscape of European and national
funders and sponsors. In section 5, we discuss the constraints that arise from
managing income on several aspects: accountability tasks, funder requests, reporting
and fundraising. In section 6, we highlight the essential ability to have a workforce to
cope with these changes. In section 7, we underline the central role of collaboration and
shared infrastructures that shoulder the burden of sustaining the ecosystem. Finally, in
section 8 we detail the ability of IPSPs to take a medium or a long-term view on their
activities, and we outline their desirable and avoidable futures.

Several results can be drawn from these investigations. Diamond OA is an ecosystem in
which institutional publishers and service providers (IPSPs) interact and perform a
range of specific tasks. Our investigations show that there is no definitive set of tasks
that all institutional publishers share. We rather see a combination of options and
services that are distributed between the IP, its parent organisation, service providers,
and academic personnel. Institutional publishers are diverse in nature and as a result of
their missions, size and service provision, some of them are bound to upscale while
others will seek to sustain their current size. The sustainability options available to
them and the choices they make are also influenced by these factors.

The population of IPSPs that responded to the DIAMAS survey utilises diverse funding
models. Some mix subscription fees or APC with Diamond funding streams. For the
majority of institutional publishers or service providers who are fully Diamond OA, the role of the parent organisation is paramount for their basic support, especially in theform of in-kind support such as personnel, and services. The landscape of funders,sponsors and donors who support institutional publishing in Europe is very clear-cut. Parent organisations and public national or regional funders are the main local
supporters. Research funding organisations and international funders, however,
currently marginally support non-commercial Diamond OA publishing needs, in contrast
to the significant support that they provide to commercial publishing through APCs and

Budget management is a secondary task for IPSPs compared to those of commercial
publishers, where this is crucial. Although only a minority has a financial buffer and a
small majority has an approved budget, almost all track their expenses and revenues in
some form, especially in the interests of their funders, sponsors and donors. One
should point out that grants often place a burden on IPSPs as the search for funding, its
management and reporting activities weigh on them. Moreover, a strong minority (40%)
of IPSPs use time-limited grants to run their operations.

The workforce is more central to the sustainability of an IPSP than revenue streams.
However, the form this workforce assumes is often unclear, since voluntary, in-kind or
paid work for a given task depends on institutional definitions. As a result, part of the
workforce is often employed outside of the boundary of the IPSP and within the parent
organisation, academic bodies or infrastructures, which means that the IPSP has to
negotiate with different institutions for resources.

IPSPs have a clear view of the challenges they face. The main ones are the need for
more financial resources, the lack of stability and permanence in personnel, and the
dependence on parent organisations. With more resources, they would primarily invest
in personnel to extend their services, notably on publishing production tasks. They
generally agree on the vision of tomorrow’s Diamond OA funder landscape: rejecting
author-pays solutions, reinforcing current funders (public bodies and institutions), and
the need to involve research funding organisations as they also call for the provision of
more stable and longer-term funding. Sustainability cannot be considered at the level
of the individual institution alone.

Finally, all those who have helped to sustain the archipelago of institutional publishers
and service providers over the years must be recognised for their continued support. It
is in particular universities, academic libraries, research institutions, and public
institutions that have played a pivotal role in sustaining institutional publishing. We
highly recommend that these organisations continue to commit to providing fixed and
permanent funding for local initiatives to uphold and stimulate bibliodiversity. We
recommend any action that will bring greater recognition to the work carried out,
dedicated budgets, and support from all departments and services at the parent
organisation for the greater sustainability of a more equitable scholar-led Diamond OA
ecosystem. Going forward, It is also vital to support infrastructures that serve many
small to mid-sized IPSPs and efforts that connect and build capacity among them,
where resources are shared to make this ecosystem more technically and financially
sustainable in the mid to long term.

Notes (English)

Deliverable under the review of the European Commission 

Notes (English)

Data from DIAMAS follow-up survey about funding practices:


IPSP Sustainability Research Report.pdf

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Additional details


DIAMAS – Developing Institutional open Access publishing Models to Advance Scholarly communication 101058007
European Commission