Impressions from the Conference of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, Copenhagen

10 October 2019

The 2019 Conference of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (COASP) was held 24-26 September in the Royal Danish Library in the beautifully designed Black Diamond in Copenhagen.

In the thought-provoking penultimate keynote, Toby Green asked if we’ve really come so far with Open Access or have we, in fact, stalled? Though others were more optimistic about the progress being made, one overarching theme that came up again and again is the need for cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders. Policy, mandates, and an accompanying shift of funds are all necessary, and only the alignment of policies will lead to transformation. 

The conference program featured many inspiring and informative panels and discussions, but I have summarised four topics with particular relevance for IntechOpen here.

Open Access Books

From 2021, Plan S will include books, and the time to prepare is now. The discussion at COASP focused largely on humanities and social sciences, but we must endeavor to make STM books part of the discussion as well. As such, IntechOpen is joining a conversation facilitated by SPARC Europe to establish a network around OA book publishing, along with other publishers and organizations.

Science Europe has already developed some principles of Open Access academic books that serve as guidelines, and presented these in Copenhagen. They include policy for all formats including books, transparent services and prices, quality assurance, copyright retention and dissemination and discoverability. 


Researchers want to retain the choice of where to publish, and in order to ensure a range of options, the OA environment needs to be be inclusive for smaller publishers as well as for geographic areas outside the global north, including receiving recognition for publications in local languages.  In addition, the APC model can carry a risk of uneven geographic representation, and there is a growing need for alternative models..

A panel including Fernanda Beigel (Researcher at CONICET, Professor at National University of Cuyo, Mendoza-Argentina), Professor Robin Crewe (Senior Research Fellow, Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria), and Shahid Jameel (CEO, Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance), highlighted particular challenges for areas outside the global north. 

Small and native Open Access publishers should participate in the discussion; they are often excluded from transformative agreements. Small publishers can help each other by providing or sharing tools but it was also noted that small publishers cannot get in to Web of Science, Scopus and other repositories and this needs to be challenged.

Enabling OA 

The transformation to open research should be enabled through education and outreach, and providing researchers the tools and framework they need to make the transition. In some cases, this may require policy changes. One example is the current evaluation system, which emphasises journal publication, particularly in those with an impact factor, for professional advancement and for job retention. The Declaration On Research Assessment (DORA) supports alternatives such as credit for contributions beyond journal articles, and looking at impact metrics rather than impact factors. IntechOpen is a DORA signatory, and we will be increasing our efforts in support of DORA in the coming months to provide researchers with alternatives and the ability to gain recognition for their research.

Growing our network

It would be remiss not to mention the many opportunities to talk to other open organisations, meeting new friends and catching up with older ones. As is often the case at conferences, there were as many fruitful conversations during the social program as highlighted by the panels. We are proud to be a member of such a passionate and engaging community. 

Jennifer Mand, Director Funder Alliance and Strategic Customer Relations, IntechOpen