Study on OA Diamond

OPERAS is pleased to announce that they have been awarded the tender for a study to explore collaborative non-commercial Open Access publishing models for Open Access (a.k.a. Diamond OA) announced by cOAlition S in March 2020.

To perform the study, OPERAS will coordinate a consortium of 10 participating organizations:


Associate partners:

The study will be delivered by the end of 2020, and regular public updates on progress are planned along the way. The study is financially supported by Science Europe. All data collected will be shared under a CC0 license

It will start with an online survey to collect data from as many diamond journals as possible from all over the world. The survey is expected to be open from July to September 2020. We call for all non-APC Open Access journals to help us build a better understanding of their needs, challenges and perspectives also related to their compliance with Plan S requirements and their sustainability. We will explore opportunities for collaboration and are keen to share lessons learnt from diamond journals in Europe and South America in particular.

Here is a detailed description of the work to be done:

Definition: The landscape of non-APC Open Access journals and platforms, often known as the “diamond model”, is diverse by nature. It relies on many different types of support and funding, including non-transactional cash funding, scholars’ time and voluntary work, and a range of in-kind support (access to digital infrastructure, secondment of personnel, utilisation of shared work spaces). Considering the diversity of business models and arrangements supporting those journals, this study will consider “diamond” all immediate Open Access journals that are free to the reader as well as to the author.

Rationale: The scholarly communication sector is composed of a large number of often small publishers (scholarly societies, research departments, libraries, small university presses) and platforms, with important roles to play in their own right serving specific research areas, in local languages, with local or regional needs specific to various publishing cultures. This variety results in a multi-faceted landscape that serves a range of needs and practices. The drawback of this diversity or fragmentation often entails a lack of connection and collaboration which can result in the unnecessary duplication of effort or inefficiencies. Since many of these non-profit efforts are small, it is a challenge for some to manage operations, marketing, infrastructure, costs, compatible licences or to adapt to new policies and technical funder requirements as issued by cOAlition S for example. The diversity of models, as well as economic and technical limitations, has made it difficult for Diamond initiatives to collaborate in a coordinated way.

This study aims to bridge this gap by providing an overview of the diamond journal and platforms landscape and will carry out an in-depth analysis to identify concrete ways and funding mechanisms to support and strengthen diamond journals and their platforms.

Disciplines: the study will encompass all disciplines.

Regions: The study will cover the global landscape. Considering the limitation of time and resources for the achievement of the study, the analysis will focus on Europe at large and Latin America. However, complementary data will be collected on other regions of the world, e.g. Africa, North America, Asia.

Methodology: This research project will address all six objectives as defined in the project call. It will utilise several different approaches to address each objective appropriately. 

  • The core analysis will draw results from an online survey targeted at journal publishers to provide a view of the global landscape of non-APC journals (objective 1), focussing on Europe and Latin America, but open to all regions of the world. This survey is the core activity of the project and will address sections related to the other project objectives. 

In parallel, work will be carried out to fulfill the other objectives, in summary: 

  • Database analysis (extracting quantitative information) will be used to determine the extent to which researchers publish in non-APC journals and identify trends (objective 2).
  • The online survey and a literature review will identify Open Access business models other than the APC-model (objective 3)
  • To gain an understanding of what the publishing sector needs in terms of shared services or infrastructure and possible efficiency gains (objective 4), we will organize interviews and focus groups, preparing them on the basis of the results from objectives 1–3. 
  • To identify challenges in the non-APC publishing sector (objective 5), we will first draw on results from the online survey (objective 1), and from objectives 2–4.
  • The analysis of the results of objective 1–5 will form the basis for the action plan and recommendations that we will propose as part of objective 6