October 18, 2019

OASPA Conference 2019 Highlights

Last month I had the privilege of attending the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) conference at the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen. It was my first time attending an OASPA conference and I wanted to share some highlights. As the leader of a company that focuses on research and operates a grants management platform for research funders, I’m interested in the amount of change happening in scholarly publishing and how it impacts our customers.

Plan S

While there were many terrific presentations and speakers at the conference, a good reference point for the Open Access (OA) topic is Plan S.  Plan S is an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018 and is supported by cOAlition S, an international consortium of research funders.[1]  cOAlition S recently announced that Johan Rooryck has been appointed the Plan S Open Access Champion.  Johan is in charge of promoting and developing Plan S and presented an update at the conference.

There are ten (10) Plan S principles, but the summary initiative statement is as follows: “With effect from 2021, all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by public or private grants provided by national, regional, and international research council and funding bodies, must be published in Open Access Journals, on Open Access Platforms, or made immediately available through Open Access repositories without embargo.”[2]

A significant number of funders, including the Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization, have endorsed Plan S and are working on its implementation. cOAlition S is eager to get more funders to sign up and join the effort.


Another interesting presentation was by Heather Joseph, the Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), on “Open Education”.  While many of the presentations focused on Open Access from the perspective of publishing journals, Heather’s presentation was about the need for open textbooks and open education resources.  Some interesting stats that jumped out at me were:

  • 2 in 3 students say they decided against buying a textbook because the cost was too high
  • 1 in 2 students say they have to delay classes because they can’t afford the books

SPARC released a landscape analysis publication in March, 2019 that contains a wealth of information about the changing academic publishing industry:  https://sparcopen.org/our-work/landscape-analysis/.

My overarching takeaway from the conference is that while there is a lot more work to be done to achieve the goal of making science and research results more open and accessible,

Steve Pinchotti

Chief Executive Officer of Altum

Scholarly Publishing and Open Access

My overarching takeaway from the conference is that while there is a lot more work to be done to achieve the goal of making science and research results more open and accessible, everyone involved with research can play a role in getting there.  There are too many organizational and market dynamics at play for everyone to wait for one group to drive the change needed for this transformation to happen at scale.  All organizations that fund, execute, and disseminate research should think about their strategic goals related to Open Science and help drive the initiative forward.

About OASPA (https://oaspa.org)

OASPA is a membership organization that was established in 2008 in order to represent the interests of Open Access (OA) publishers globally in all scientific, technical, and scholarly disciplines.[3]  OASPA has been holding annual conferences since 2009 and the programs and conference artifacts can be found on their website: https://oaspa.org/conference/.

About Altum (https://altum.wpengine.com)

Altum is a software company driven towards the advancement of research. ProposalCentral is a Cloud-based grants management platform designed to empower funders, connect the research community, and extend the impact of grant-making long beyond the award. Altum believes that research is most effective when it’s powered by a community. Altum shares an ambitious vision and an open mind-set, and their organization and platform are designed to foster true collaboration and partnerships. Altum’s headquarters is located in Reston, Virginia.

[1] Coalition S website. Retrieved October 4, 2019, from https://www.coalition-s.org/

[2] Coalition S website. Retrieved October 4, 2019, from https://www.coalition-s.org/principles-and-implementation/

[3] Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association website. Retrieved October 4, 2019, from https://oaspa.org/about/.