New platform for Open Access Journals at the University of Fribourg

From autumn 2021 on, the University of Fribourg will have together with four other higher education institutions a new platform for publishing Diamond (or Platinum) Open Access journals. This is thanks to SOAP2, one of the project proposals that swissuniversities accepted in its first call for Open Access (OA) projects. The project aims the setup of a shared Open Access publishing platform and the development of services around this platform to foster sustainable publishing of scientific OA journals. SOAP2 thus forms another important building block in the university's OA policy.

SOAP2 (= Shared Open Access Publishing Platform) is a joint project of the University of Fribourg (leading house), the University of Lausanne, the Central and University Library of Lucerne (together with the University of applied sciences of Lucerne), the University of Neuchâtel, and the University of teacher education of the Canton of Vaud. It is financed by swissuniversities with CHF 164'400 from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2023. The core of the project is an online publishing platform that will be setup and managed by an external service provider. This allows the project partners to concentrate their main efforts on the development of a variety of service offers around the platform (which will be available in autumn 2021) and to share the costs of the technical management. Services will include the setup of journals and workflows on the platform, advice of editors concerning organization of their work and implementation of OA standards, help in case of minor issues with the platform and document treatment. Support may also include establishing and facilitating of journal indexing in general and specific information services. Participating institutions will have the opportunity to showcase their journals separately.

Based on Open Journal System
The planned platform will be based on Open Journal System (OJS), the most used software for journal publishing platforms (https://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs). OJS is open source and maintained by the Canadian multi-university initiative Public Knowledge Project (PKP). OJS allows journal editors to manage the entire submission and editorial workflow up to the online publication of articles and issues. It is a very flexible editorial system that can be extended by means of a large number of plug-ins and is fully integrated with scholarly information services like Crossref, ORCiD and DOAJ.

For existing and future Journals
First, the new platform will be open to journals edited at the participating institutions. In this way, the project will support existing OA Journals to which SOAP2 will provide a stable and sustainable infrastructure that facilitates editorial work and increases the impact of the journals. It is also possible to help Closed Access journals to flip to Open Access. And finally, the project invites researchers and students to found their own new OA journal. The project team will be happy to advice and support them on the way to their future scholar-led journal.
But SOAP2 will not only be at the benefit of the participating institutions. In the last year of the project, the platform will be open for other higher education institutions and even small publishers which are looking for a possibility to publish their OA journals.

A further step towards promoting Open Access
By providing an own publication infrastructure for its researchers, the University of Fribourg is expanding its support for OA to Diamond (or Platinum) Open Access journals. In addition to the institutional repository RERO DOC, through which already published publications can be made openly accessible (Green Road), and the financial support of OA publications through Read-&-Publish contracts (Hybrid OA) and the Fund for OA Publications ((Golden Road) to reduce publication costs (APC) for researchers, the university is offering now with SOAP2 the opportunity to publish journals in OA without any publication fees at all.

Further information: Thomas Henkel (project manager), thomas.henkel@unifr.ch