Skip to content
Log In

Towards a global knowledge commons

Inviting community input – Pubfair

COAR is inviting community feedback on a white paper authored by Tony Ross-Hellauer, Benedikt Fecher, Kathleen Shearer and Eloy Rodrigues.

The white paper, entitled Pubfair – A Framework for Sustainable, Distributed, Open Science Publishing Services, provides the rationale and describes the high level architecture for an innovative publishing framework that positions publishing functionalities on top of the content managed by a distributed network of repositories.

You can find the white paper online or download the full text as PDF. Please provide your comments directly on the website.

We welcome all relevant input by September 30, 2019.

2 thoughts on “Inviting community input – Pubfair

  1. Hi Pubfair team
    I read your paper with interest. I have a number of points.
    1) It is sketchy with respect to where the servers are located which house the repository layer as well as the platform. This is important because it does matter as to what regulatory compliance standards are needing to be met with respect to both security and privacy.
    2) What happens if the server is hacked and the data stolen and/or interfered with. This is a major concern these days
    3) There is potential for this ambitious entity to become unmanageable with time. What are your plans if your volume of work increases by 50%, 100%, 1000%?
    4) Resourcing is an issue. What is your business model. How will you pay for the additional servers for example if the work volume increases? Plus you will have to maintain a minimum of staff to oversee all of this.

    5) It would really help if you could get regulatory approval from an agency such as the European Commission to go to the next stage. That would provide you with legitimacy and allow you to compete more successfully against the mainstream publishers.

    4) Not all data will be able to be managed via this approach because currently who funds the research often owns the data (and has a say in how it is managed) and may even have copyright over publication. This includes corporations and governments.
    5) You can expect the major publishers to aggressively push back because they will not want to be giving up market share. What will you do if they progressively move more into open access publishing or even preprints?
    6) In most countries promotion up the academic ladder is tied to publishing in high profile journals and or being a member of the Editorial Board. Can you offer anything in the way of Editorial Board status to individuals who undertake similar roles with Pubfair? Because on this matter you will need to demonstrate that you can compete with the established publishers.

    Kind regards
    Deb Verran
    PS I am fully aware of the problems with main stream publishers

  2. Hello authors!

    Thank you for this very interesting paper and for presenting your vision for the future of open publishing! You’re spot on when advocating for open & modular publishing systems as it’s the only way to address the wide variety of workflows and other types of diversity in this space.

    I’d like to offer some thoughts as someone who’s been involved in open source software development in publishing for many years:

    1. When talking about achieving a shared vision between all stakeholders (page 5, among others), it sounds like a large part of the work has elements of a standardization effort. Those can be slow to bring results, but the results they do bring are robust and incredibly valuable, as evidenced also by the modern web. Could you say more about how you expect this level of coordination and consensus(ing) to affect your processes and timelines?

    2. When you talk about the ongoing implementation of next-generation repositories (page 9), it would further strengthen your case if you also provided more details about who is building what and when you are expecting to see implementations in production. The entire platform rests on this pillar, and while many popular repositories are on the forefront of publishing technology, concerted and coordinated action among them is a significant effort. There is strength in the distributed nature of repositories and it would be interesting to expand on it in a balanced way, giving some insight into your past 2 years of experience of interacting and coordinating with various repositories, since the Next Generation Repositories publication in 2017.

    3. From the prominently featured perspective of building on top of existing infrastructure, it would be good to consider the expanded meaning of infrastructure, one that includes existing software and design methodologies as well. For example, in terms of design processes (page 8), there’s an existing approach in the space of open source collaborative design, called the Cabbage Tree Method (, that has been used successfully in a number of projects (disclosure: this was developed by the founder of an organization I work with). As another example, in terms of software, there exists an open source modular framework for publishing, called PubSweet (disclosure: I run PubSweet and its community). Created in 2015, it has since been used to create many publishing systems that are in production (European Bioinformatics Institute’s EuropePMC Plus, Hindawi’s Phenom, eLife’s Libero Reviewer, Editoria). We would welcome a use case like yours to further improve the design and implementation of PubSweet!

    It is laudable that you are approaching this project from a perspective of connecting existing efforts, layering new solutions on top! Contrary to a few years ago, there are now a large number of open source efforts in this sector (Code for Science, ScienceFair, Stencila, Dat, PREReview, OSF, among many others), all of which have similar goals and ideals. While distributed collaboration on this scale brings with it many challenges, it also has the potential for transformative, resilient and sustainable improvements to the way science is distributed. Good luck!

    Jure Triglav
    Lead developer for PubSweet
    Coko (

Leave a Reply to Deborah Verran Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *