Published May 6, 2021 | Version 1.0
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Exploring models for community governance

  • 1. Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University


Community governance is rapidly becoming an important topic in scholarly communication. As control of academic publishing has been largely ceded to private firms within the market, many researchers are now arguing for new kinds of governance by the diverse communities that hold a stake in the academic publishing industry (Fyfe et al., 2017; Moore, 2020). This will allow the workflows and infrastructures for publishing to be accountable to a broader range of stakeholders, such as authors, librarians, early-career researchers, the broader public, and of course, publishers.

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 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 achieved by economies of scale; 5) mutually supportive governance models; 6) integration 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 infrastructure. This includes developing new avenues of outreach, communication, and partnership with diverse stakeholders in open research with a shared interest in this infrastructure, creating genuine community involvement and collective control. In conducting this research, which is reflected in this report as well as in our forthcoming 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.

This report presents initial work on the various models that already exist for community governance and discusses their pros and cons for COPIM’s open access monograph infrastructures, particularly its consortial funding programme. It does this through 1) a landscape study of forms of governance within scholarly communication and 2) an exploratory study of the theoretical literature on alternative forms of governance appropriate for community-led organisations.


This report has also been published in the form of a living document on PubPub:

Supplemental material: bibliography also available as a sub-collection of the COPIM/ScholarLed Group@Zotero.


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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Report: 10.21428/785a6451.0304a2a8 (DOI)