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Keep it simple! - Developing Open Access monitoring


AT2OA-workshop “Open Access Monitoring - Approaches and Perspectives”, Vienna, April 2018
Authors: Steve Reding, Patrick Danowski, Andreas Ferus, Anna-Laetitia Hikl, Tobias Zarka, Mario Schautz, Gerda McNeill, Olivia Kaiser, Michael Zojer, Mail:

In Europe Open Access strategies with specific goals like 100 % Open Access in 2025 are getting published. To evaluate the status of this goals an Open Access monitoring is necessary. Different countries like Denmark and Finland have already developed first tools. Other countries like Germany, Switzerland or Austria have started to develop their approaches in projects. During a Workshop, which took place in Vienna on April 9 and 10, 2018,  these approaches were discussed and are now published in a final report, compiled by members of the AT2OA working group on OA monitoring (which also includes members of OpenAIRE NOAD Austria). 

The main advice for developing such a system we got from the experts was:  “Keep it as simple as possible!” which i.e. means that endless discussions about definitions of Open Access types should be avoided in order to save time and resources.

In the early stage of the deployment of a National Open Access monitoring strategy, it is crucial not to be overambitious and to keep the scope of the project as modest and unpretentious as possible. Two problems have to be covered in this regard: the “common denominator” (i.e. the total national scholarly publication output) and the Open Access definitions that are needed in order to determine the numerator part of the operation.


In an early stage of development of a monitoring initiative, a viable option for defining the total scholarly publication output on a national level could focus on all publications which:

1.    can be identified unambiguously via a DOI;

2.    have been published in a journal;

3.    are peer-reviewed;

4.    are not contributions to a conference.

Concerning definitions, the model “Classification of the Open Access Tuples” (http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1244154) was presented during the workshop in Vienna. It is based on 5 objective criteria and was considered as an interesting approach by attendees of the workshop.


For the success of a monitoring tool, it is essential to design a system that is purpose-built and based on existing data sources and adjacent services. A national Open Access monitoring system should not try to satisfy other needs or tasks than its focal functionalities or to position itself as a supplementary system in regard to existing infrastructure.


It is not only an appropriate strategy to separate the monitoring of pervasion of Open publication strategies from Open Access cost monitoring, but that a distinct separation of these two aspects can be instrumental for the overall success of monitoring measures.


Joint agreement on standards and extent of data between partners is more important than the sophistication of the metadata standards, both in terms of depth and breadth of the metadata exchange and storage format. For the purpose of data aggregation via external sources of metadata, the OAI-PMH protocol has been identified as the best choice. Technical interfaces should be designed in accordance to the OAI-PMH protocol, as this facilitates the interoperability with well-accepted metadata harvesters and discovery tools like OpenAIRE. Offering an ingest interface that is compliant with the OAI-PMH protocol would also allow a more flawless integration of an Open Access monitoring tool in the landscape of existing RIMS/CRIS.


As in any academic domain, readily available funding for the development and sustainable operation of Open Access monitoring tools and sources of metadata is scarce. Thus, all stakeholders of the ecosystem – academic institutions, libraries, funding bodies, publishers – should, from the very start of a National Open Access monitoring program, be aware of and make sure that not only the project, but also all services integrated in the landscape of the monitoring project are resourced with funds which enable a sustainable operation.

During the final discussion on the second day of the workshop the question was raised, how a European expert network on Open Access could be initiated and maintained. Besides the idea of installing a “monitoring-mailing-list” another one was to organise a follow-up event within the next year.

For a more detailed documentation of the talks given during the workshop please consider the report of the AT2OA-working group on Open Access monitoring.


AT2OA Workshop April 9-10, 2018 - all photos by Tobias Zarka CC BY 4.0

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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

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