November 30, 2022

California Digital Library Partners with Public Knowledge Project on Open-Access Software Development


The California Digital Library (CDL) on February 7 announced a “major development partnership,” on behalf of the University of California system, with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) to help develop its open-source software suite aimed at easing open-access journal publication.

The announcement was made in a post by CDL director of publishing Catherine Mitchell on the CDL website. Mitchell told LJ via email that CDL will be providing unspecified financial support and “significant development resources in support of the PKP product line.”

CDL joins the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver; the Simon Fraser University Library, BC; the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University; and the Stanford University School of Education, CA, in the PKP partnership, which has a mission to explore “whether and how new technologies can be used to improve the professional and public value of scholarly research.”

PKP software projects include Open Journal Systems, a freely available and open-source journal management and publishing system to ease open-access publishing for journals; Open Harvester Systems, a free metadata indexing system; and Open Conference Systems, a free Web publishing tool for scholarly conferences. An open-source publishing product in development, Open Monograph Press, aims to create an “online workspace” for the publication of monographs, edited volumes, and scholarly editions.

Which specific projects CDL will focus on is still being worked out, Mitchell said, but she pointed out that the CDL had already done “a great deal of work” on the Open Journal Systems code as part of its own transition to the platform; the software serves as the submission and manuscript management backend for the University of California system’s open-access eScholarship Repository, which first launched in 2002.

“Beyond that, PKP has indicated that we will also be involved in strategic planning for the PKP products—at both an advisory level and in a more nitty-gritty technical capacity,” Mitchell said.

Amid open-access discussion and boycott, Elsevier speaks
The CDL announcement comes as discussion of open access issues is resurging across academia. The controversial Research Works Act, currently in Congress, aims to redefine taxpayer-funded research as “private-sector research work” which could potentially be put behind paywalls, drawing opposition from librarians and open-access advocates. A related boycott of publisher and Research Works Act supporter Elsevier has also gained steam, as more than 4900 academics to date have signed an online petition refusing to publish, referee, and/or do editorial work for Elsevier-published journals.

Elsevier has posted a statement regarding its support of the Research Works Act on its website, which, in part, reads:

As those who invest to deliver the publications, we believe that we should and must be involved in these decisions particularly when governments seek to distribute for free what we have paid to develop….We feel we have no choice but to support the Research Works Act and oppose legislation that would dictate how journal articles or accepted manuscripts are disseminated without involving publishers.

Independent journalist Richard Poynder, in a post yesterday on his Open and Shut? blog, shared highlights of answers to several in-depth questions he recently posed to Elsevier’s director of universal access Alicia Wise.

When asked about Elsevier’s support for the Research Works Act, Wise told Poynder, in part:

Elsevier, along with other publishers and publishing Trade Associations, lobbied for the bill to be introduced…[W]e don’t believe that the government should tell authors and publishers what we can do with our publications. Our support for the Research Works Act is about our concern over government regulation, not access…The bill would prevent inflexible government mandates, and keep such mandates from spreading …We believe that government mandates are unnecessary and that there are better ways to provide access including to taxpayers.

(A PDF of Poynder’s complete post, including the complete questions and answers, is available here.)

David Rapp About David Rapp

Associate editor David Rapp previously covered technology for Library Journal.