The many faces of sustaining Open Access publishing




open access, publishing, sustainability, diamond open access, infrastructure


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The concept of sustainability has often been used in both research on OA publishing systems, and as a desirable design principle in thinking of and building any future OA publishing business model. At the same time, the term has gained considerable attention across other domains, mainly in relation to environmental sustainability or sustainable development (especially with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs), which makes it even more important to draw a clear demarcation line between such uses. Despite its social importance, the financial and resource-related sustainability of OA publishing hasn’t been clearly defined and largely differs across countries.

The presentation is aimed at formulating questions that could lead us to gaining transparency and reaching a consensus on the way the term ‘sustainability’ will be used henceforth, especially in the theoretical and practical research of funding OA publishing (diamond OA in particular). It outlines some of the results of discussing this issue within the DIAMAS project with European OA publishers, learned societies, advocacy organisations and researchers.

One of the first obstacles in reaching a better understanding is crossing the linguistic barrier and acknowledging that the term has not always gained equal traction across countries and when used, it has multiple connotations in all languages. The span of meanings could range from simply being durable and existing in the long term, or to enduring without having negative implications for other aspects of the ecosystem, such as depleting resources others might need or affecting their survival.

It is also important to acknowledge the fact that stakeholders involved in OA publishing vary and therefore perceive sustainability (and the ways to achieve it) in different ways: we often witness strategies such as more successful fundraising, efficient use of resources or shared resources, or cost reduction measures. While sustainability goals may range from cost recovery only, to enabling reinvestment or guarding against ‘hard times’, or sustaining revenues ‘at the same level’ - even if that includes high profit margins or companies with shareholders.

The building blocks of the scope and meaning of ‘sustainability’ have evolved from answering questions on the object or unit of sustainability (What is sustainable? Is it a journal, a publisher, a business model or a wider publishing ecosystem?) as well as on the sustainability actors or players (Who is a sustainer? Who holds responsibility for sustainability? Which stakeholder/group of stakeholders?).

A conclusion that emerged suggests that a univocal and obvious definition of ‘sustainability’ is unlikely to be achieved as it is dependent on multiple perspectives of actors in the ecosystem and is necessarily involving dynamics and transformative practices.

In short, this presentation hopes to give the audience a deeper understanding of what sustaining OA publishing means in different contexts. It will encourage listeners to question their perceptions of sustainability before possibly coming to new conclusions to address the topic more thoroughly in their local contexts, and to consider how we collectively take steps towards more unified terms and definitions.


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Author Biographies

Iva Melinščak Zlodi, University of Zagreb

Iva Melinščak Zlodi is a scholarly communication librarian at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences where she leads the development of the institutional OA book platform FF Open Press. She has experience with initiating and developing the Croatian national journals platform Hrčak and repository network Dabar, and is currently preoccupied with launching the Croatian initiative for open scholarly books. She is a member of the Board of Directors of SPARC Europe. 

Didier Torny , Center for the Sociology of Innovation

Didier Tornyis a senior researcher at CNRS. His research works are at the crossroads of the sociology of mobilization, the sociology of law, public policies studies and science and technology studies. In CSI (UMR 9217- CNRS), he works on the political economy of academic publishing, including the making, use and critique of evaluation tools and norms (journal rankings, bibliometrics, altmetrics, peer review), the business models of open access, a sociology of academic fraud and the making and usages of bibliographic tools.

Vanessa Proudman, SPARC Europe

Vanessa has over 20 years’ international experience working with many leading university libraries worldwide. She also headed information and IT at a UN-affiliated international research institution in Vienna for 10 years and has been programme and project manager at

Claire Redhead, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association

Claire was appointed Executive Director in 2016 having led the development and growth of OASPA during her time with the association. She joined in 2012 as Membership and Communications Manager, building on a successful background in scholarly publishing. Prior to working for OASPA, Claire worked for 12 years in the academic publishing sector, building up editorial and management experience and valuable insight into the industry. Claire sits on a number of working groups and committees to represent the views of the open access publishing community and is Chair of the OA Switchboard.

David Pontille, Center for the Sociology of Innovation

David Pontille is senior researcher at CNRS, in the Center for the Sociology of Innovation in Paris. Developing works at the crossroads of science and technology studies, writing practices and workplace studies, he is particularly interested in scientific authorship in various disciplines, technologies of research evaluation (journal rankings, bibliometrics, peer review), and research integrity.

Milica Ševkušić, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Milica Ševkušić is a Project Coordinator at EIFL and a librarian at the Institute of Technical Sciences of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Belgrade, Serbia). As a member of the repository development team at the University of Belgrade Computer Centre she has been involved in the development of a network of institutional repositories in Serbia. She is also a founding member of the Open Science Community Serbia. Her professional interests focus on Open Science, library services aimed at supporting research activities, training in academic services and tools, support to Open Access journals, information literacy and research ethics. 

Iryna Kuchma, EIFL

Iryna Kuchma has been managing the EIFL Open Access Programme (EIFL-OA) since 2008. Working in collaboration with libraries and library consortia in more than 60 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, she advocates for open access to research results, facilitates the development and implementation of open science policies and infrastructures, and provides support and training.

Sona Arasteh, Max Weber Foundation

Sona Arasteh has a background in humanities. In the past she has worked as a researcher at the University of Muenster, editor of the OA journal Textpraxis and Communication Officer for the TRIPLE project. Currently, she is working as a Communication Officer for the EU funded project CRAFT-OA and as a Project Open Science Officer for the DIAMAS project.

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How to Cite

Melinščak Zlodi, I., Torny , D., Proudman, V., Redhead, C., Pontille, D., Ševkušić, M., Kuchma, I., & Arasteh, S. (2023). The many faces of sustaining Open Access publishing. Septentrio Conference Series, (1).