Investigating peer review overlay services

Today, a new journal in mathematics was launched by Timothy Gowers and Dan Kral. The journal, called ‘Advances in Combinatorics’, is an overlay journal, built entirely on articles contained in the arXiv repository. It is free to read and will not charge authors to publish. The relatively low costs of running the journal are being covered by Queen’s University Library in Ontario, Canada, which is also providing administrative support.

COAR and Queen’s University Library were very keen to participate in the launch of this journal as it offers a model of overlay services on top of repositories, a model that could eventually be generalized beyond arXiv. “This aligns really well with our vision for next generation repositories”, says Kathleen Shearer, executive director of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), “on top of which we can build services such as peer review”.

According to the journal’s founder, Timothy Gowers, research professor at the University of Cambridge, ‘Advances in Combinatorics’ was created in order to “give people the option… to submit to a journal that is not complicit in a system that uses its monopoly power to ruthlessly squeeze library budgets”.

The extreme profit seeking of some of the commercial publishers (it has been reported that Elsevier made profits of approximately $1.2 billion US dollars in 2017) is stretching library budgets to the limit. In addition, it has created significant barriers in access to research and -with the advent of article processing charges (APCs)- it is exacerbating inequalities in researchers’ ability to publish.

Martha Whitehead, vice-provost (digital planning) and university librarian at Queen’s University says, “As libraries, we need to nurture and invest in new models that will contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive system for research communications. We are delighted to be able to support this innovative approach to journal publishing.”

The journal plans to set a high bar for acceptance. Currently there are no non-commercial publishing venues that cater for combinatorics articles at the level envisaged. The aim is to offer an ethical alternative by launching a journal that publishes high quality papers, but does not charge publishing fees or for subscriptions.

Recording and the slides of the COAR webinar by Leslie Chan are now available

The recording and the slides from today’s webinar entitled Open Access in the global South: Perspectives from the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network are now available on Zenodo. Prof. Leslie Chan shared key lessons from OCSDNet which is a research network with scientists, development practitioners, community members and activists from 26 countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Based on OCS experience, he questioned openness and public good, discussed open science definition beyond academy. Prof Chan also highlighted that principles as in the definition of Next Generation Repository should be guiding the technology and the infrastructures, not the other way around.

Webinar with Prof. Leslie Chan | Open Access in the Global South: Perspectives from the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network

COAR is pleased to announce a webinar session with Prof. Leslie Chan, University of Toronto Scarborough entitled “Open Access in the global South: Perspectives from the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network“.

Date & Time: 3 May, Thursday at 15h CEST/ 9h EDT

Webinar recording and the slides

As with science in general, the discussion around open access has generally been driven by the institutions and perspectives of western or global North countries. However, approaches to open access are far more diverse and there are alternative approaches that have not gained visibility, especially in historically marginalized communities. This presentation will present some key lessons of the OCSDNet http://ocsdnet.org. The OCSDNet is a research network that engaged in participatory research and consultation with scientists, development practitioners, community members and activists from 26 countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia to understand the values at the core of open science in development. What we learned is that there is not one right way to do open science, and “openness” requires constant negotiation and reflection, and the process will always differ by context due to historical and socio-political factors. The set of seven values and principles at the core of the OCSDNet manifesto will be discussed for a more inclusive open science in development. More important, we will discuss the implications of these values in relation to the aspirations and features of COAR’s Next Generation Repository.

About Speaker

Leslie Chan is Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media and the Associate Director of the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

An early practitioner of the Web for scholarly exchange and online learning, Leslie is particularly interested in the role of “openness” in the design of network, and the implications on the production and flow of knowledge and their impact on local and international development.

As one of the original signatories of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, Leslie has been active in the experimentation and implementation of scholarly communication initiatives of varying scales around the world. The Director of Bioline International, Chair of the Electronic Publishing Trust for Development, Leslie is a long time advocate for knowledge equity and inclusive development. Leslie has served as advisor to numerous projects and organizations, including the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, the American Anthropological Association, the International Development Research Centre, UNESCO, and the Open Society Foundation, the Directory of Open Access Journal, and the Open Library of Humanities. He was the principal researcher for the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (2014-2017), funded by IDRC in Canada and DFID in the UK. Leslie is also a member of the COAR Next Generation Repository Working Group, and he is the co-chair of the upcoming ELPUB meeting in Toronto, focusing on Sustainable Community Based Knowledge Infrastructure http://elpub.net

Recommendations for Next Generation Repositories – now available on GitHub

In November 2017, the COAR Next Generation Repositories Working Group published a report outlining new behaviours and technologies for repositories.


The aim is to position repositories as the foundation for a distributed, globally networked infrastructure for scholarly communication, on top of which layers of value added services will be deployed, thereby transforming the system, making it more research-centric, open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.

The behaviours and technologies are now available on a dedicated website and through GitHub. We welcome community feedback about existing recommendations and suggestions for other technologies not yet identified.

Registration for COAR Annual Meeting is now open

We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the next COAR Annual Meeting. The meeting and pre-conference sessions will take place from Monday, May 14 to Thursday, May 17, 2018 in Hamburg, Germany at ZBW Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.

Please note – spaces are limited! Therefore, registration is restricted to COAR members, partners, and invited guests until March 5, 2018.

You can read more about the programme and register here. If you need a letter of invitation, please get in touch with the COAR office.

Looking forward to seeing you in Hamburg!

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