Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Draft bylaws from organization of OA publishers

The incipient Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) has released a draft of its bylaws.  Excerpt:

...Section 1.02. Purpose & Mission. The mission of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association is to support and represent the interests of Open Access (OA) publishers globally. This mission will be accomplished through six main areas of activity:

  • Exchange of Information - Provide a forum for the exchange of information and experiences related to OA delivery of scientific content and models to support this.
  • Set Standards – Promote a uniform definition of OA publishing, set of best practices for maintaining and disseminating OA scholarly communications and a set of ethical standards.
  • Advance Models – Support the development of business and publishing models that support OA journal publishing.
  • Advocate for Gold OA – Promote gold OA journals and policies that support their viability.
  • Educate – Educate the research community and public on the benefits of OA journals, the value publishers bring to the publication process and various policies that enhance and support the delivery of OA publications.
  • Promote Innovation – Contribute to the development and dissemination of innovative approaches to scientific communications pertaining to OA and related activities that leverage the opportunities afforded by OA to scholarly content....

[PS:  The reference to "Gold OA" in the fourth bullet point calls this footnote:  "Gold OA refers to implementing open access the free and open dissemination of original scholarship by publishers as opposed to Green OA where free and open dissemination is achieved by archiving copies of scholarly publications that were previously published with restricted access."]

Section 12.O1. Interim Board. During the first year of operation, or until a first AGM [Annual General Meeting] is held, the Association shall be governed by an interim board consisting of the founding members of the Association, to include one representative from each publisher. The founding members include: BioMed Central, Copernicus, Co-Action Publishing, Hindawi, Medical Education Online, Journal of Medical Internet Research, PLoS, {Others?}....

Appendix I.  Member Classes, Criteria and Basis for Membership....

To be considered an OA scholarly publisher and eligible for full membership, the journals published by the Publisher must:

  • Comply with the Statement on Open Access (By-laws, Appendix II)
  • Comply with the Code of Conduct laid out by the Association
  • Conduct peer review or other appropriate scholarly peer-based control of content
  • Have editorial boards or other governing bodies whose members are recognized experts in the field(s) which constitute the scope of the journal
  • Regularly publish original research or other scholarship content
  • Publish at least one Open Access journal that contains original research or scholarship....

Appendix II.  Statement on Open Access

Full members of the OASPA shall adhere to a common interpretation of Open Access scholarly publishing inspired by the Budapest, Bethesda and Berlin Declarations on Open Access. This interpretation includes the following components:

a. The dissemination of peer reviewed manuscripts containing original research or scholarship immediately upon publication, at no charge to user groups, without requiring registration or other restrictions to access.

b. Requirement that copyright holders allow users to "copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship...."

The full members of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association have signed the Berlin Declaration and have committed their organization or him/herself, in the case of Scholar Publishers, to providing Open Access to original research according to the interpretation outlined above.

Appendix III.  Professional Code of Conduct

Full members would be expected to adhere to the Professional Code of Conduct.

  • Direct marketing to individuals shall be relevant;
  • Recipients of direct marketing materials shall be provided with an opt-out option;
  • Any fees or charges related to publishing materials in the journal shall be clearly stated and be easy to find for potential authors;
  • Publishers who impose processing fees shall provide waivers or partial waivers for authors facing financial hardship including authors from developing countries. Authors’ ability to pay shall be unknown to reviewers and editors until after the article has been accepted or rejected;
  • Company contacts shall be clearly visible on website;
  • All articles shall be subjected to a peer review process, including at least two reviewers not directly affiliated with the publisher. This process and policies related to peer review shall be clearly outlined on the journal website;
  • An organization’s or journal’s licensing policy (including policy on re-use and redistribution) shall be clearly stated and visible on the website;
  • Instructions to authors shall be available and easily located from the journal homepage;
  • Publishers shall provide a contact point for handling complaints;
  • Misconduct may be reported to the Board of Directors.


  • The OASPA hasn't yet launched.  In fact, it appears that the draft bylaws are a key step in the collaborative, consultative process leading to launch.  The closest thing to an OASPA web site is the page, Creating a Gold Open Access Professional Organization, organizing the deliberations of the interested parties --which are still open to newcomers. 
  • I like the draft bylaws, especially the parts I've excerpted.  With one exception, all my quibbles and questions are minor.  For example:
  • Green OA isn't limited to "archiving copies of scholarly publications that were previously published with restricted access."  Green OA covers the archiving of preprints, which haven't yet been published at all, and it covers the archiving of articles previously published in OA journals, not just those from TA journals.  For example, when PLoS and BMC deposit their articles in PubMed Central, they provide green OA for articles that are already gold OA.
  • Why require members to sign the Berlin Declaration but not the Budapest Initiative?  Both are still accepting signatures.  (The Bethesda statement is not.)
  • I can't tell whether the Statement on OA (in Appendix II) is finished or unfinished.  The introductory paragraph says that the association's interpretation of OA "includes the following components", as if there might be more to come.
  • Here's my one question on an important issue.  Will OASPA welcome members who differ in their access policies?  Subpoint (b) in the Statement on OA effectively requires members to use CC-BY licenses or the equivalent, permitting all uses (or all "responsible" uses) that carry an attribution.  While I support the CC-BY license as the best choice for an OA journal, I wonder whether OASPA will refuse to admit members who want to block commercial reuse, for example, or who want to remove price barriers without removing permission barriers.