Published September 20, 2023 | Version 1.0
Report Open

Community-Led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs: Final Report

  • 1. Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University
  • 1. Centre for Postdigital Cultures, Coventry University
  • 2. Loughborough University
  • 3. Lancaster University
  • 4. Birkbeck, University of London
  • 5. punctum books
  • 6. Mattering Press


Right from its inception, COPIM has been committed to exploring solutions to some of the most pressing issues and problems that prevent small open access (OA) book publishers from interfacing with large-scale publishing infrastructures, organisations, and processes. This commitment is reflected in the major improvements COPIM has developed over the last 3.5 years (Nov 2019 to April 2023) in the form of a significantly enriched, not-for-profit, and open-source ecosystem for OA book publishing; an ecosystem that is now growing to help support and sustain a diversity of publishing initiatives and models, particularly within Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) publishing.

The alternative infrastructures, business and revenue models, preservation structures, and governance procedures that have been scoped, developed, and proof-of-concept-delivered through COPIM, enable increased economic resilience and enhanced capacities for the publication and dissemination of open access books at a variety of scales. COPIM's Scaling Small approach offers Higher Education institutions and HSS researchers sustainable publishing models that they control, providing them with increased publishing options, new revenue streams, and cost reductions that are designed to help build a more equitable, horizontal, and co-operative knowledge sharing community.

COPIM has used the project's final 18 months (including a no-cost extension of six months due to the coronavirus emergency) to successfully deliver in the areas of collaborative research, infrastructure development, governance work, and outreach and community building, while also contributing to policy consultations in an international context. Further evolving its approach to cope with the continued and compounding challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a heat-or-eat crisis/recession, and UCU strikes for better pay, and further emerging issues on regional and global scales have posed to the Higher Education sector and beyond, the project has succeeded in meeting the vast majority of its deliverables and milestones across all work packages over the last few months, in some areas even outperforming the initial goals set and superseding expectations.

The final list of key outputs and activities delivered across the project's lifespan include:

  • publication of 13 major scoping reports, 3 annual project reports, plus a variety of research papers published in peer-reviewed journals;
  • successful organisation and documentation of 26 workshops, with more than 220 national and international stakeholders representing 25 countries.
  • presentation of COPIM work at more than 120 international conferences, workshops, and events.
  • set-up an iterative extension of an Outreach and Dissemination network that is combining a variety of channels, including social media and open community platforms.
  • following the platform's beta launch in 2021, the successful inception of Thoth, COPIM’s Open Dissemination System, as a Community Interest Company under the name of Thoth Open Metadata CIC. Thoth now makes open access book metadata available in an open, transparent, and participatory way via its open API, and publishers can use the platform's interface to create rich, open metadata for direct dissemination in a variety of global channels.
  • launch of the Open Book Collective platform and community of OA book publishers, infrastructure providers, and libraries that are collaborating to bring about a future for OA book publishing free from inequitable Book Processing Charges. This included generating more than £100,000 in invoiced income to date, and over £14,000 of income expected to be invoiced shortly, 90% of which will flow either direct to OA book publishers and service providers or to the wider OA publishing ecosystem via our grant giving Collective Development Fund. It has also implemented a robust legal, financial, and governance model to ensure longer-term stability of the Open Book Collective legal entity which has been registered as a CCLG in the UK in 2022.
  • further strengthening of the Opening the Future revenue model via the two publishers, CEU Press and Liverpool University Press, that COPIM has been working with. Through Opening the Future, both presses have released 15 new monographs between them, and have accrued enough funding through the programme for approximately 45 titles to be published OA in the coming months/years.
  • launch of the Experimental Publishing Compendium, as a comprehensive online resource bringing together tools, practices, and books to promote and support the publication of experimental book publications.
  • establishing the Thoth Archiving Network, a community-led collaboration between university repositories and national libraries to facilitate archiving and preservation of OA books via COPIM's Open Dissemination System Thoth, particularly those published by small and medium-sized publishers that might not have the resources to invest in other, more expensive means of archiving.

The COPIM project has continued and deepened its engagement with the work packages’ variety of stakeholders (i.e., librarians, publishers, researchers, technology providers, and the general public), bringing together key experts and those interested in learning more about scholar-led, not-for-profit, OA book publishing. Alongside its own event organisation and outreach activities, COPIM has been involved in the Open Access Book Network, while COPIM team members have participated in a wide range of conferences, events, and network events organised by partner organisations and projects such as OASPA, OPERAS, LIBER, the Next Generation Library Publishing project, Invest in Open Infrastructure, OpenAIRE, The British Library, COAR, EIFL, Open Access Australasia, and the European Open Science Cloud.

The sustained progress against the original plan is particularly noteworthy as the project had to work with the continued and compounding effects of the various systemic challenges that COPIM has faced since its inception. As has been outlined in previous reports, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic – along with the systemic effects these events continue to have on the Higher Education sector as a whole – has impacted much of the project work on COPIM. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added further volatility to the sector. As a result, the project has had to accommodate a variety of delays in staff recruitment along with an increase in pandemic-related limitations to the availability of staff members due to extended care duties and the toll on health and wellbeing of all involved.

In addition to that, library budgets have declined due to COVID-19 pandemic cuts in funding for HE institutions and library budgets. As per feedback received from librarians, many budgets have been reduced to ‘essential spending only’. This has directly impacted the outreach conducted by WPs 2 and 3.

Despite these challenges COPIM has, together with its evolving network of stakeholders, now successfully implemented its open infrastructure proof-of-concepts together with the corresponding systems of governance that had been conceptualised over its first two years. The six-month no-cost extension that COPIM requested from its funders to make effective use of the budget underspend accrued during the project’s lifetime due to the above-mentioned systemic challenges, has proven fruitful and enabled the team to succeed in completing its work on the envisioned proof-of-concepts for an alternative ecosystem of open infrastructures for monographs.

Notes (English)

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.


2023 COPIM Final Project report public.pdf

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