Exploration/request for feedback: SciPost implementing a community OAeX-inspired derivative of our business model?

I’d like to test waters for an idea which might be pertinent to other academics-run journals/publishers out there. It’s mostly based on how we do things at SciPost, but also (perhaps more remotely) on the nice ideas expressed in the OAeX paper which I hope you’ve all read. This was discussed internally at the Free Journal Network, and I also indirectly expressed a similar idea in the blog post Opportunities-in-waiting which I wrote for cOAlition S’s sOApbox (in which I mention the idea of an “Operations granting scheme” for Diamond initiatives).

At SciPost, we implement a special kind of business model which tracks the organizations which have benefitted from our activities. These are then approached to encourage them to sponsor our initiative. The weighing we give has resolution down to the fraction of the publication (our PubFractions system). Please see our business model description page for all details (you probably want to read that external page before carrying on here).

In short, we could easily build an infrastructure which extends these services to other journals, and run those services as part of our normal operations.

This service would be restricted to journals which fulfill some of the core principles we implement ourselves:

  • entirely nonprofit
  • no APCs or other forms of author-facing charges
  • editorial decision-making fully in the hands of professionally active academics
  • OA of course, copyright to authors
  • open (non-proprietary) infrastructure; cannot be “taken over” or sold out
  • open and fully transparent finances

and which would be willing to adopt a business model similar to ours.

What we could offer is:

  • an API + human web interface where members could deposit their metadata and interact with our metadata handling system (including Crossref deposit) which is pretty complete (I really don’t mean to brag but I’m not making this up, see this news item )
  • … including the extended metadata we ourselves use for the business model (namely: including all author affiliations and grant instances etc, together with author-defined PubFractions) and which we will further build into a yet-more-fully-featured system being developed (the SciPost Xmeta project)
  • a display of the beneficiaries of any given journal’s activities (like the one we display on our organizations pages )
  • … and more generally, a new set of pages where potential sponsors could find all this information, in a centralized way, and evaluate the sponsorship/financing needs of all members.

Going further, this could actually become an environment where funders/institutions could connect with and arrange support for Diamond-class journals.

So the big question is:

Is anybody interested in this kind of thing?

The intention would be to make this free to use for qualified members (I’d then simply include the maintenance of this in the normal SciPost-as-a-full-publishing-infrastructure, on-our-knees begging rounds to universities and funding agencies).

What would SciPost get out of it? Well nothing directly except extra work. Rather, we’d be happy if Diamond-class journals were better supported in general, which might make all our lives easier through the increased exposure and visibility of this alternative model. All members could jointly contribute to advocacy, and we might find it all easier to gather support.

Of course I’m not promising anything here, just testing the waters… but I feel that nonprofit, scholarly-led OA is now very rapidly losing the war against for-profit machines. Academics and academic representatives are being outmaneuvered by legacy publishers and we need to work together on a large scale in order for our voices to be heard and in order to get the support we need to survive.