OA Week 2023: Community AND Commercialization Through Collaboration

Organized by SPARC, Open Access Week is an annual global event that offers an opportunity for the academic and research community to explore potential benefits of Open Access (OA) in an effort to raise awareness and adoption of its philosophy. OA Week 2023, held October 23-27, is dedicated to the theme “Community over Commercialization,” which encourages candid conversation on the approaches to open scholarship that prioritize the best interests of the public and the academic community, and those that do not. This theme, by design, is heavily rooted in favor of non-commercial, APC-free publishing models. While noble in its quest to spark conversation on the prevention of inequitable profit from publicly funded research, its limiting dialogue to the single perspective that commercialization only hinders the original vision of open access – converging old tradition and new technology to make possible an unprecedented public good.

Rather than setting up a direct opposition between these two concepts, Aries Systems instead advocates for a more collaborative strategy that combines community and commercialization to achieve success in open access and beyond. With this focus, we acknowledge the shortcomings of traditional commercialization and identify opportunities for improvement in equity and policy alongside the scholarly community. We support subscription, open, hybrid models – and everything in between. Many of our strategic partnerships with community-leading providers and initiatives support the continued growth of open access and we are dedicated to investing in that future. Through our ecosystem of connected technologies, we have formed strong integrations with APC payment management tools such as Copyright Clearance Center’s (CCC) RightsLink for Scientific Communications, Aptara’s SciPris, and ChronosHub for journals using Editorial Manager® (EM) and ProduXion Manager® (PM). These collaborations facilitate open access workflows for publishers and researchers.

Additionally, Aries has fostered strong collaboration with the OA Switchboard, which is a community-led initiative that serves as a central metadata exchange hub that facilitates the sharing of open access publication information between stakeholders. As one of the launching sponsors, Aries Systems has donated nearly $50,000 USD since its inception. Jennifer Fleet, Aries Managing Director, also serves as a member of the OA Switchboard Advisory Group. We have also partnered to establish an integration between the OA Switchboard and Editorial Manager, which leverages Aries’ web services API to allow Authors, funders, and publishers to connect and track key funding data and streamline communications between the two platforms. The Microbiology Society was among the first to implement this custom connector between EM, the OA Switchboard, and other systems to enable full article lifecycle view through one of their publications. Furthermore, Aries has also supported Microbiology Society and other publishers in the conversion of their journals to open research platforms.

In announcing this years’ theme, OA Week poses the following question: “Can commercialization ever work in support of public interest?” This phrasing inherently assumes that commercialization, and the corporations that drive it, have not contributed substantial value to the scholarly landscape. In reality, for-profit publishers and corporations have delivered tremendous value and made significant contributions in the industry. In addition to financially supporting various societies and organizations and their events each year through memberships and sponsorships, commercial publishers and corporations have funded, collaborated, or even spearhead important initiatives in service of the community’s greater good. Examples of for-profit organizations supporting industry projects include Elsevier’s recent leading of the Joint Commitment’s pilot testing of their newly proposed gender, race, and ethnicity (GRE) schemas and Aries’ involvement in the NISO Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA) recommended practice to standardize data transfer between platforms since its inception. While there is no doubt that for-profit corporations benefit from these efforts too (e.g. publicity), they are nonetheless instrumental in their success through volunteered engagement, expertise, and resources, and are founded in a desire to support the community.

This OA Week, we reflect on our duty alongside other commercial corporations in the industry to engage responsibly and recognize opportunities to do more, better, and direct efforts to support OA. In considering what roles funders, institutions, governments, and researchers play and how we can all become more aligned is critical to mutual understanding and creating equitable pathways for the future. Aries Systems takes pride in prioritizing a collaborative, not divisive, approach to community and commercialization in the likelihood that collaboration drives joint success in research.