SCOSS has met a major milestone. The Directory of Open Access Journals, one of two Open infrastructure services recommended during our pilot funding cycle, has met its funding goal of 1,370 000 Euros. The drive kicked off in late 2018; over the course of the past two years, more than 216 institutions from 19 countries contributed to DOAJ.
“This is such a great indication of the academic community’s commitment to helping secure our Open infrastructure,” said Vanessa Proudman, Director of SPARC Europe, a member of the SCOSS coalition. “All of us involved in SCOSS have learned so much during this process; we’re eager to see other SCOSS-endorsed services absorb the lessons so other services are able to achieve long-term stability.”
To that end, we posed DOAJ’s Managing Director Lars Bjørnshauge a series of questions that other Open services, that like DOAJ intend to stay Open, should find valuable and revealing:
What was most challenging about this fund-raising process?
DOAJ was in a rather good place to start the fund-raising based on the SCOSS-recommendations because DOAJ already had a large number of supporters. So that gave us a head start. The initial challenge really was to convince the existing supporters to increase their support to DOAJ. But we succeeded to convince around 40% of the existing supporters to upgrade their contributions, and actually gained a lot of new supporting institutions.
What has this period taught you? Have you made any changes in how you operate based on this experience?
We are trying to improve the way we work with academic libraries, research funders, publishers and other stakeholders. For instance, by engaging more with discovery service providers and aggregators to learn more as to how we can help the journals having their content integrated into their services.
How has being a SCOSS endorsed service aided DOAJ’s fundraising efforts?
Being a SCOSS endorsed service has really benefited DOAJ. Although our existing membership base gave us and SCOSS a head start with crowd-funding, those who chose to contribute to DOAJ via SCOSS did so at levels that far exceeded our previous member contribution sums. We have also been able to gain the support of national consortia and more members due to their supporting the fuller SCOSS concept, and to the fact that SCOSS is backed by such strong representatives of the academic library community. SCOSS also encouraged us to re-examine our governance to connect more closely with the community we’re serving, which has worked well.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently knowing what you do now?
We are trying to improve our communication about what DOAJ does for libraries, universities and publishers in order to justify the commitments to support us. I think we could have done better in terms of learning how libraries, universities and research funders are interacting with DOAJ. Likewise we still have work to do as to how we are actually helping publishers to improve their policies and communicating that to our community. We will increase our communication capacity in order to sustain and increase the support.
What is the one piece of advice you would give other SCOSS endorsed services at the kickoff of a new funding cycle?
I think it is important to prepare your organization for crowdfunding. Simple things such as for instance to be able to invoice in different currencies, enable credit card payments, provide marketing materials in different formats and different languages are important. Even if you have mostly been dependent on seed money from grants, you have to prepare for a new funding environment.
There are many worthy services out there that could benefit from being selected by SCOSS - but not all will be chosen to participate. What advice would you offer them re: sustainability?
Be visible in the community, spend time on outreach, public relations and marketing; set up pilots.
Have questions about what you’ve read here? Submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The questions we receive will be collected and responded to in a future post here on the SCOSS website.